Sunday, December 1, 2013

Day 179


December 1, 2013


Day 179


We survived Thanksgiving.  Now we’ve done 5 holidays and 4 birthdays without Paul – only a lifetime more to go.  We drove out to Council Bluffs for the day.  I think it was good that we went.  I did enjoy seeing our friends and found it helpful to talk with them since they have a unique perspective on Paul’s family that friends around here do not.  But truthfully, I was enduring the day.  I didn’t want to go.  I wanted to see my friends, but what I really wanted to do was to skip the day.  I’ve noticed, though, that I don’t want to go anywhere since Paul died.  I’m not really sure why I get balky about traveling, but there’s something inside of me that just recoils at the thought of leaving town.  But I do it anyway.  And I’m always glad, later, that I did!  But if I’d had my druthers, I would have treated last Thursday like any other day.  If I didn’t have children at home, I probably would have.  I’m not so sure that’s healthy, though.  At some point I have to learn how to do celebrations – and to enjoy them – sans Paul.

And now Christmas is here.  I wish it was over.  Normally, I would have whipped out that tree and cranked up the Christmas carols already this weekend.  As it is, my too-short fall garland is still hanging half-on, half-off the fence.  My new fall wreath is beaming beside the front door.  It’s a wonder I got those items up, now that I think about it!  Now I have to find the time and energy to take them down and put up Christmas.  We’ll get through it, one way or the other.


One thing that will honestly help with the Christmas decorating is my “new” house.  When the church guys ripped out the wall between the living room and back room three weeks ago and raised the floor in the back room, I honestly thought I would be living in that mess for weeks and weeks.  I had even told the kids that we would not be putting up our tree this year.  Instead, I would get something small from Hobby Lobby and we’d light that up and stack the gifts beside it.  But, trim and baseboard aside, my main living areas are done!  I’ve got brand-new carpet, freshly painted walls, a recliner on order, and a lot more space!  I am still not understanding how taking out one wall could create so much extra space!  And one of the best things is that now my living room has light in it!  That was always such a dark room with its limited windows and the weeping willow in the front yard.  But now with the south room opened up and all the big windows Paul put out there, I have a delightfully sunny living room!  How I wish Paul could see his plans realized…but maybe he is.




Ben’s IEP meeting was last week.  It went well.  They always do.  I know that they will, but I still find myself tensing before every meeting.  I wonder why?  Maybe I’m flashing back to his kindergarten year when every meeting was just terrible.  This year, one of his teachers told me during the meeting that she wished all her students had a mom like Ben does.  She said that I’m so easy to work with and have both high expectations and practical, realistic goals for him.  His case manager was there and nodded her head and said she completely agreed.  That just made me feel so good because I have had so many moments where I have doubted the quality of my parenting with Ben.


During the meeting, Ben was questioned about what he would like to see in his future.  Ben commented that well, he’s always wanted to move out on his own (to which I am inwardly rolling my eyeballs – there is NO way this child is going to live independently unless he gains a whole lot more skills.  And he might.  But that’s way, way in the future, if it ever happens at all) upon high school graduation.  But, he said, he’s been thinking that maybe since his dad died, it might be a good idea for him to stay home for awhile so he could help his mom out more.  I was blinking back some pretty fast tears when I heard that.  That was the first time I had ever heard that thought from Ben and it just melted my heart.


Tonight I shaved Ben for the first time.  I sure hope I get better at it!  Paul used to take care of that and Will took it over, but I get tired of asking Will to do it and I get even more tired of looking at Ben’s hairy face.  So I figured it was time for me to learn how to use the shaver.  Will gave me pointers and I managed to get most of the scraggly stuff off Ben’s face.  Of course, it would help if he would move his head and neck just the way I’d like him to!  Shaving my nearly grown son was never on my list of moments to look forward to.  But, like a lot of things in life, you do what you have to do.



Will and I were talking the other day.  He confessed that he’s chafing a bit being home this year.  As time goes on, he is really getting anxious to fly the nest.  He’s leaning pretty strongly now towards applying to work full-time at camp this summer.  There’s no guarantee he’d get hired, but I have a feeling he might.  He said he feels like he’s tethered down because we all need him for so much yet at home, but yet he just wants to start his own life.  I get that.  We do need him, but I remember being 19, too.  I want him to be able to go without worrying about the rest of us.  But I really wonder how we’ll make it without him!  But I don’t want him to know that.  I want him to feel the freedom to move to Timbuktu if that’s where God calls him.  Although, I sure hope he doesn’t get called there



I finally had some good news from the IRS this week (does that ever happen?).  I had been dealing with them since last Feb. when we filed our taxes, claimed the girls, and found out that their birth mom claimed them as well!  A number of calls (and calling the IRS is always an exercise in sanctification) and letters later, I finally took a break when Paul died.   I remember thinking, “I don’t need the $900 (what we were owed) right now – I’ll just forget the whole thing!”  But by late August I decided I would continue to pursue it.  That was my $900 and the IRS didn’t need it!  Reluctant to call them, I just wrote one last letter and included some more documentation.  I about fell over yesterday when I got a letter from them stating that yes, I was right, and actually, I was owed $1400.  I checked my bank account and it was already deposited.  Praise the Lord!  I think I’m mostly excited by the fact that I don’t have to deal with the IRS any more!



Today we attended a memorial service put on by the funeral home that took care of Paul.  This is an annual event they host every year for the families of those they buried and cremated in that year.  The kids weren’t too wild about going (in fact, Will told me the other day that he just doesn’t like to dwell on the fact that his dad died with overt ceremonies.  This was after I suggested we sing Christmas carols at his grave on Christmas Eve.  “Why?  He can’t hear us!” was his response.  Later, I was mulling out loud some possibilities for remembering Paul’s death day next summer and that’s when Will said he doesn’t like the idea of doing anything – “Thinking about the fact that he’s dead isn’t going to bring him back and it’s just going to make us sad” he said.  Later, he commented, though, that if it would make the rest of us feel better, he’d participate) but they cooperated.  Anyway, I’m glad we went.


This was held at a Pentecostal church in Indianola.  Ben was thrilled when he ran into his program director from Genesis there (her husband is one of the pastors at the church). 
They flashed the pictures of all the dead with their names on the screen.  As we went in we were given crystal and gold ornaments with our dead person’s name written on a gold tag.  Then, in what took a terribly long time, they read off every name of the dead this year and one by one, the families arose, walked to the front of the church, and hung the ornament on a lighted Christmas tree.  In many ways it was very moving.  However, most of my time was spent attempting to occupy three little people so I missed some of it.   Plus, there were over 160 names read, so by the time they got to the S’s I was inwardly cheering!  However, I did find tears welling up as they played, “Blessings” by Laura Story at the end.  That song has been very special to me ever since it came out, but especially since June.

During the ceremony, Sam leaned over to me and whispered, "I wish they'd tell us how each of these people died!"  I think this boy may be his mother's son...Every time I visit the cemetery, I find myself wishing the same thing as I read others' tombstones.  I'd love to know all the stories.


Afterwards, we were treated to cookies and punch and were able to reclaim our ornament.  It’s so pretty I may keep it out year round – maybe hang it from a window or something. 


A year from now there will be another memorial service for 160 more dead people.  Most of those that die will be gray haired.  For a lot of them, death will signify a release from bodies that had become a burden. Some might be younger, but their deaths will also be a relief from the ravages of disease.   Some deaths, though, like ours, will have come far too soon and unexpectedly.  No matter the reason or timing, though, all the deaths will leave hurting hearts in their wake. 


A year from now I won’t be at the next memorial service (God willing).  But I know my emotions will still be tender.  I like to think that I’ll be well on the road to recovery, but realistically, I know that’s unlikely.  You don’t recover from a loss this shattering in only a year and a half.  My heart will still be sore and the kids and I will still be trying to figure out how to be a family without Paul.  We will have survived more – more birthdays, more holidays, and more empty days without him.  I will have made it through our first wedding anniversary…alone.  I am hopeful that this continual, sorrowful ache that fills my heart right now will have diminished.  But I don’t think it will have.


But on the other hand, I’ll be another year into learning what it is to “lean into Jesus” as my friend, Christine, always tells me to do right now.  I’ll know His heart even more fully and hopefully, the refining process will have continued.  More of that tarnished brass will have been rubbed off and I’ll be closer to becoming the beautiful vessel God always desired for me to become.


I just wish the process didn’t hurt so much.




































1 comment:

  1. You are so brave. I don't have words. I appreciate your being so REAL. This is going to hurt for the rest of your lives but I hope and pray the pain will get less sharp with time. It always makes me MAD when people suggest someone should "get over" their grief. It takes years, decades, and likely we never really get over it this side of heaven. God bless you.