Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 28


July 5, 2013


Day 28


11:50 pm tonight will mark the one month mark since the seizure that ended Paul’s life.  I hope I’m sleeping then.


I dreamed about Paul the other night.  But it wasn’t a pleasant dream.  We had buried him the back yard (which is where he always joked that he wanted to be buried), but we had done it settler-style – no coffin, just a shallow grave with dirt shoveled over the body.  In my dream, the dirt on top was washing away and I could see the top of Paul’s head.  That was bothering me so I asked Will to fix things.  He came outside with a shovel and instead of covering up his dad, he began to uncover him.  Paul was there in the dirt – and had no beard again!  I sure wish I knew what that recurring theme was with that.  But anyway, his hands were crossed over top of each other, corpse-like (although, in real life, Paul’s hands were not crossed, as I recall) and his body was bloated from all the accumulating gasses.  How I knew in my dream that that is what happens to untreated bodies, I do not know.  Just one of those snippets from my years of reading that lodged in the crevices of my brain and sneaked into my dream world, I guess.


Yesterday was our first holiday without Paul.  Well, I guess we went through Father’s Day without him, but that day was pretty much a wash-out with the freshness of his loss.  And it’s not like it’s a major holiday like July 4th is.  I didn’t do much for the 4th and I wish I would have done more.  Next year we will.  I did take everyone to the Pleasantville parade, which is a tradition.  The fire truck sirens scared Ellie to death and she spent the entire parade latched onto my front, koala-bear style, her hands secured in a death grip onto my body.  I did grill hot dogs for the kids, which is another tradition.  Unfortunately, I have been too scared to use our grill since I nearly blew up the house once with it.  Will was working.  So, I used my George Forman grill inside.  They tasted the same and had the little brown lines on them, which is all that matters, I guess.


We went to the Indianola fireworks, which was a first for us.  It may be a last.  The kids were underwhelmed by the firework display, although they did have a free carnival for the Littles beforehand..  We have always gone to Pleasantville’s fireworks and they are amazing.  I guess we’ve been spoiled.  I was already feeling a little queasy about sitting in that same field, though, and not having Paul beside me (where he would have been busy taking pictures of every.single.firework. – used to drive me nuts when it was time to develop my pictures!).  A couple days before the 4th Will suggested we all go to Indianola’s.  A friend of his was planning to be there with her parents and the parents go to church with my parents.  I’ve been hearing about this family for years, but I didn’t know who they were.  It was a very good decision!


The mom of the group, Norma, and I hit it off right away.  I just felt so comfortable with the entire family.  Midway through the night, Norma commented to me that her son-in-law, who was there, had been left fatherless as a child, just like my kids.  I don’t know why, but in that moment, I just knew.  I looked at her and asked, slowly, “Is his mother’s name, ‘Vivian’?”  Of course, it was.  My new friend, Vivian, that I met at camp a week ago?  The one who was widowed 11 years ago and left with three children to raise?  Uh-huh – her son married the daughter of these people!  I hope that I never lose my awe at God’s “coincidences” in my life right now.  You can’t tell me that He doesn’t exist or He doesn’t care!  I know, because I am seeing it every single day right now!


We got home at 11:30 after the fireworks (and yet another reason to stick to Pleasantville’s!),  dumped the sleeping Littles in their beds, and Ben went straight to bed.  Will, David, and I looked at eachother and I finally said, “Well, we did it!  We survived our first holiday without Dad.”  I don’t know that it was necessarily a victory statement, but it still felt like something of an accomplishment.


You know how I said in my last post that there are things worse than what has happened to us?  There are.  I’m slowly reading a blog right now written by a widow.  Two and a half years ago her family of 6 was in a horrible car accident that killed her husband and very seriously injured all her children.  She’s a very good writer, but I am finding it best to read her blog in small doses.  Emotionally, it’s difficult.  I don’t know if I can say I feel “blessed” yet by all this, but I am definitely thankful that we were spared that kind of agony.


It occurred to me recently that I now have a new opportunity that would not have been afforded to me had my life continued on its merry little course.  I am no longer married – obviously.  Whether or not that remains a fact for the rest of my life remains to be seen.  But for right now and for many years to come, at least, I am not going to have a husband.  But I do have children.  I now have the ability to intently focus on my kids.  I don’t think I ever didn’t before, but a good share of my attention had to go to Paul, as well.  That’s the way it is and should be when you are married.  If you don’t focus on your husband, then when the last child leaves, you’ll turn, look at eachother, and ask, “Who are you?”  I don’t intend to smother the kids, but I am grateful for this opportunity to be able to give them each more attention.  I have to believe I will reap the dividends from that someday.


I went tombstone shopping today.  Does anybody call them that anymore – “tombstones”?  I don’t think so.  Death is so euphemized in our culture.  Nobody dies – they “pass away.”  There are no more mortuaries, only “funeral homes.”  Tombstones have turned into “headstones” or simply, “markers.”  I actually find it a little irritating.  My husband did not pass away.  He died.  That’s it.  Except it’s not it because for the Christian, death is only the cessation of one life and the beginning of another. But I still prefer “died” over anything else.   Anyway, I may have found one.  And they are actually cheaper than I thought they would be.  However, we could still take a nice family vacation on what it will cost to buy a stone for the grave.  I’m going to spend the extra money and have his picture put on the stone, too.  I know Paul would tell me, “Don’t do that!” but it’s one of those things that I think I will regret if I don’t.  And besides, I’m not going with my first stone color choice as a way to save some money.  If I’m skimping there, I can spend elsewhere.   I think I would find it very comforting to be able to look at Paul when I’m up there talking to him in the cemetery.  Besides, that way everyone who visits the cemetery can see how good-looking he was! J


I also got my permit-to-carry license today and I drove to Ottumwa (which is a long, long ways from here) and showed Social Security my marriage license because they insisted they had to see an original copy of it.  And what did they do with my original copy?  They photocopied it!


Twice during my long drive today I found myself suddenly crying.  I am still quite mystified by this whole grieving process.  I don’t even have to be thinking about Paul or listening to a sad song and yet, I will be perfectly dry-eyed one moment and weeping copiously the next.  I suspect it’s going to be long, long time before I am ever able to wear eye make-up again.


I’m reading a book on Heaven right now.  It’s comforting.  One thing the writer points out is this: there is a real lack of anticipation about Heaven amongst Christians today.  He says that the popular “health, wealth, and prosperity” teachings have convinced so many that they can have “Heaven on earth” even if it’s not phrased like that, exactly.  If all good is available to us now, then what is there to anticipate later?


It kind of dovetails with a conversation I was having with my friend, Kathy, this week.  We are so used to having things good, especially in western cultures.  As Christians, we equate “blessing” with good things.  And, of course, they often are.  But do we still have God’s blessing when bad things happen?  What if His blessings are, indeed, wrapped up terrible packages?


I read this quote just last night in a little booklet on grief my pastor gave me the day of Paul’s death.  I’ve been reading bits and pieces every night since.  I found it thought-provoking:


To believe in Christ’s rising and death’s dying is also to lie with the power and challenge to rise up now from all our dark graves of suffering love.  If sympathy for the world’s wounds is not enlarged by our anguish, if love for those around us is not expanded, if gratitude for what is good does not flame up, if insight is not deepened, if commitment to what is important is not strengthened, if aching for a new day is not intensified, if hope is weakened and faith diminished, if from the experience of death comes nothing good, then death has won.


(Nicholas Wolterstorff in Lament for a Son)


That really doesn’t have a lot to do with what I was talking about just before, but I wanted to write that down because I just thought it was so good.  Even as I work my way through the grieving process, what will the final outcome be?  Will death have won?  Or will I be so profoundly changed that someday I view this experience as the biggest shaping tool of my lifetime?


Something to ponder, even as I still wipe away tears…











1 comment:

  1. Yes, you did do it. You made it through your first holiday. You kept some traditions, did something different, and God showed you once again how detailed He is about our lives.

    We have Jim's picture on his memorial stone and I love having it there. It is worth the extra. I may share more about that in an email.

    Ugh! dealing with Social Security was emotional for me. Tears come unexpected and it is okay. Just think of it as a pressure release valve.

    Many hugs to you as you face this completion of 1 month without your beloved.