Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 126


October 9, 2013

Day 126

Tonight at church someone asked me how I am doing.  Normally I respond to that question with a quick, “fine” or, “I’m getting along.”  Tonight I just looked at this person for the longest time and finally just shook my head, unable to articulate an answer. I nearly started crying at the compassion and hurt I saw in her face for me.   I feel like I am lying every time I tell a store clerk “good” when they politely ask me the same question.  But I am quite sure they don’t want to hear, “My husband died 4 months ago, I’m 42 and wonder if I’ll spend the rest of my life alone, I have six children, half of whom are quite unruly, my house is torn up, my kids are threatening to leave home if I serve them one more frozen pizza, and my cat keeps missing the litter box!”  It’s just easier to say, “I’m good” than all that.  If I feel guilty about being less than truthful with an anonymous store clerk then I’m going to feel horrible if I present myself untruthfully to someone I care about when asked the same thing.

I’m not good.  I am struggling.  I hurt.  I am mourning.

I probably should not write these things at night.  Things do seem a little bit better by daylight, but not by much.  By daylight I just keep moving, doing what needs to be done next.  There’s no shortage of those things, that’s for sure!   On that note -  single parenting is hard work.  I never knew what a burden those moms carry until I became one myself.  Perhaps it does gets easier, though, when one is not wearing the heavy mantle of grief on top of performing all parenting duties alone.

I am at about my wit’s end with Sam and Lizzie.  Today, we had to go pick out new frames for Sam because yesterday he and Lizzie were horsing around (fighting?  I’m not sure what really happened since everyone has a different story) and the bow on his glasses snapped as they were hurled across the living room.  I do not recall it being this difficult when Will, Ben, and David were small.  I’m reluctant to start spanking because I never really know who is at fault.  Most altercations seem to be the result of one or the other provoking the other.  And of course, each of them is always perfectly innocent and the wounded party.  I need wisdom.

I’ve had a big decision I’ve been wrestling with for several weeks, too.  I won’t get into all the details mainly because they’re tedious and don’t really matter.  The short story is that a friend of Paul’s wanted to take our family on a fantastic trip as a way to do something nice for us and to be an encouragement.  I couldn’t find a logical reason to tell him no so I told him yes.  But then I couldn’t shake this nasty feeling in my gut every time I thought about it.  I prayed and prayed about it, but just didn’t feel like I had a clear answer one way or the other.  I reasoned (and Will reasoned with me, too, because he really wanted to go!) that that feeling was a combination of fear and grief.  Quite honestly, I don’t feel like going anywhere these days.  I didn’t even want to go to Family Camp back in August – but I’m glad I did. So who is to say this trip would have been any different?  I had finally decided I would seek some pastoral counsel on this after our pastor gets back from vacation.  But then last night I finally decided, “enough!”  When Paul died one of my first prayers – and I have continued to beg God for this – is wisdom in all areas.  If I had such a crummy feeling about this trip, then maybe there was a reason beyond what I could logically assess.  To my surprise and gratefulness, Will was very supportive of my decision to turn down the trip.  He is truly a man already.  I was nervous about calling this friend of Paul’s.  He’d put such thought and effort into thinking out this trip.  But he was extraordinarily gracious with me and said he absolutely did not want to do this if I had any reservations at all.  He said he didn’t want to do anything that would cause me stress and seeks only to be a friend to us.  That was a relief to hear!

Of course, now I’m kind of beating myself up.  Did I just screw up a chance for my kids to experience a once-in-a-lifetime trip?  I wish I had confidence in my decisions.  I still don’t know if I listened to fear or to wisdom.  Perhaps the confidence will come in time.  Paul was always so decisive about things (it took him forever to make a decision but once he did, he rarely doubted himself) and that took a lot of the burden off me.  I let him decide most things, which is probably a good way for marriage to work – talking things over, weighing each opinion if they differ, but leaving it to the husband to ultimately make the decision.  This is new territory for me.

I finally had a repairman come out and look at my clock last week.  This is the clock Paul surprised me with on our last anniversary.  It’s a grandmother clock.  Ben broke it a few weeks later when he was in agony with the chicken pox and couldn’t sleep well.  The donging of the clock drove him insane and he grabbed the pendulums and snapped them right off.  Thank you, Ben!  Thank you, Autism…  Paul attempted to fix it but just couldn’t.  That was unusual – he could always fix anything!  So it has sat quiet for seven months.  Shortly after Paul’s death a man in our church asked if there was absolutely anything he could do for us.  He couldn’t do any of the work on the house, but wanted to be used in some way.  I finally thought of the clock and asked him if he had any experience.  He didn’t, but did some research and within a week or so brought me the name of a clock company in Des Moines that does house calls.  I finally called them a few weeks ago and they came out last week.  Since the clock is second-hand, the repair guy did not know if he could even get parts for it.  That made me a little anxious.  I really, really want that clock running again because of its significance.  Well, he called me Tuesday and told me that he can get the parts.  It’s going to cost me, but the cost will be less than half of what I was mentally allotting for this, so I think it’s ok.  I have a feeling Paul might disagree, but this clock is important to me right now. 

Yesterday Ben commented to me about how he finds highway sounds, “soothing.”  He talked about how it’s the nicest, most comforting sound.  I immediately knew what he was talking about.  When I think of highways I think of my grandparents’ home east of Waterloo.  It was a secluded acreage off one highway and near another.  I loved the “shroom” sound of diesel engines coming around the bend.  It was both eerie and comforting at the same time.  I also have memories of riding in the back seat of our family car, coming home from our annual trip to the Wisconsin apple orchards.  I’d be half asleep and my parents might be talking quietly up front or perhaps the Hawkeye post-game show with Jim Zabel would be airing.  The cluck-cluck-cluck sound of tires going over the highway would slowly lull me to sleep. I shared these memories with Ben as we drove along yesterday.

And then I marveled that Ben and I were even having this conversation.  He wasn’t even supposed to live after his birth but here we were, having a normal, adult conversation.  I can remember when he was a preschooler with severe developmental delays, including his speech.  When I asked him a question, all I would get was a “yes” or “no” from him.  He could not talk to me other than that.  I despaired, wondering if this would be the sum of conversation between us his entire life. And then later we realized that autism had taken him even farther away from us and even when he was capable of more speech, he remained locked inside his little mind.  But look at him now!  He’s nearly 17 and he can tell me how he feels and how certain sounds evoke special feelings in his mind.  I used to wonder if he even had any feelings at all!

Do you suppose that someday I will look back on this dark time of grief and marvel how far I have come, just like I do now with Ben?  I have a hard time imagining that, but I could never have imagined Ben talking to me about highway sounds, either.  A handful of hope…

We are being given a tremendous food gift.  A friend called us last night.  She and her husband just butchered a steer and want to give us ¼ of it – about 250 pounds of meat!  She instructed me to call the locker today and tell them how to prepare it.  I did and it will be ready in about two weeks.  I had already been toying with the idea of buying another chest freezer because I just ordered a large amount of chicken breasts and bacon from Zaycon foods.  It’s my first time ordering from them, but I’ve been hearing about them from my friends, so when I received notification that they were coming to Des Moines and I could save all this money by buying in bulk, I ordered a minimal amount (a minimal amount of bacon is 36 pounds (or is it 16? - guess I'll be surprised when I pick it up in a few weeks!) – can’t remember how much chicken I am getting, either) just to try it.  So, today Will and I went freezer shopping.  He assures me that he will be killing lots of deer this December, too, so we’d definitely have need of more freezer space.   I had hoped to find one on Craig’s List, but didn’t.  But Sears was having a sale and Kenmore is a good name and it will pay for itself in the long run,  so…Every morning I watch the Today show while waiting for the school bus with Ben.  They tell me that the economy is about to collapse, interest rates will skyrocket, and milk will soon cost $8 a gallon (all the fault of the Republicans, of course!).  Even if that happens, I don’t think we’re going to starve for while yet.

As a mother, I don’t think there could be a worse feeling than watching your own child starve to death.  We’ve all seen the pictures of dark African women with their hopeless eyes, holding their children, pencil thin and with bloated bellies.  They cannot do a thing for their babies except hold them until they die.  During WWII many English children starved to death.  It’s not something limited to third world countries.  I am thankful that for now, though, I have enough – more than enough.
God has not forgotten us.












1 comment:

  1. Many times I fear the future, especially with Jim gone.
    God reminds me often of Isaiah 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gathter the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

    When I was pregnant I applied that to me "being with child" but I also apply it to me who "is leading these young toward adulthood"

    God promised us, Sarah! Rest in His promises.

    By the way, I am proud of you for making that difficult decision (and other tough ones). It is difficult to discern the Lord's will sometimes and our grief makes it all the more difficult. It might not be issue of trip not good for you in some way, but could be by not being on the trip you will be here or somewhere else God wants you. ONe year I planned to go somewhere but felt God closing doors. Turns out my sister in law needed me to walk by her side while her grandmas died. God knows, rest in His wisdom without Him explaining.

    Praise the LORD for His blessings! proud of you for realizing the amazing blessing your conversation with Ben was.

    How to respond when other asks "How are you doing?" sometimes I would tell the clerks "No matter what, God is Good" or simply a simple God is good.
    Sometimes I would only mutter good to keep from crying. But friends know, don't they, and their care is so needful to our hurting heart and so precious to us. Letting them see how you really are is beneficial for both of you.
    Praying for you as you come up with your own creative response to clerks.