Thursday, December 5, 2013

Day 183


December 5, 2013


Day 183


I am typing this as unobtrusively as possible here in the family room while watching the kids out of the corner of my eye.  Five of them are glued to the tv, watching the live performance of the “Sound of Music.”  I’m getting an special kick out of the fact that Will and David are just as enraptured as the youngest three.  Of course, at this moment, I am laughing.  David asked me about the political undertones of the movie (just prior to Hitler’s conquest of Austria).  I explained to him the history there and he immediately began talking in a funny accent.  Will jabs him in the ribs and cackles, “Austria, you dork – not Australia!”


I had to do some shopping this week.  I was doing some clothes shopping for myself, which, in my old life, was something I loved to do because I’m a bit of a clothes horse. But now – it’s just another chore.  I do find it interesting that I am drawn this year to comfy type clothes – fleece pullovers, sweatshirts, pj pants.  Normally, I prefer classy type clothes – button down shirts, blazers, crisp jeans.  But this year those things just feel cold and unyielding to my grieving body.  I want warmth and comfort.  I never imagined that grief would affect even the way I dress.  As I was leaving one store, I found myself sinking into another abyss of sadness.  So much of the pleasure I received from buying new clothes was imagining myself in scenarios where I might wear the new things for Paul.  And now he’s not here to see anything.  There aren’t any more dates, no more time together, no planned anniversary trips.  His eyes will never light up in appreciation to see me in something new.  But I stopped myself as my mind wandered down this familiar trail.  I forced myself to, right there and then, walking through the mall, thank God for the 23 years that Paul and I DID have together.  I had 23 years of dressing for a pretty special guy.  That was gift.  I don’t think I’m going to “thank” myself out of grieving.  Everything has its place, of course.  But I have to keep a proper perspective at the same time.  Grief so easily can send one down the “poor me” path.


I was also shopping for Lizzie this week.  That poor girl…She has been blessed with a typical black booty and, as a result, a lot of her size 6 pants are not fitting correctly.  However, she’s not exceptionally tall, so she needs the length that a size 6 gives her.  This is so different than what I’m used to with my scrawny white body.  I’m the girl who was still stuffing socks in my shirt at age 14 because I was curious to see what I would like when I finally did start to develop a chest – something that happened far too late, in my teenage opinion!  I am so average in my size that it’s never been much of a problem to find clothes that fit.  But now I understand why it’s not uncommon for women in the black community to dress what I refer to as, “skanky.”  Of course, that’s not something reserved for that race group – plenty of white girls dress pretty badly, too!  But, I now have more sympathy for the black ones.  When they’re short, but bountifully blessed in their backsides, it’s hard to find pants that actually fit everything! Add in the current craze for skinny and low-rise jeans, and a shopping mom can't win! I might as well just send her out in her underpants... I figured out that, waist-wise, Lizzie needs a minimum of a 6X.  And then I’m sewing up a 3” hem in all her new pants.  I hate sewing – have  I mentioned that?  So this is a real labor of love, let me emphasize!  I have a feeling I’m going to get very good at it…about as good as I have gotten taking care of Ben’s pants over the years (Ben, who has the opposite problem of Lizzie!).


I was standing in the Customer Service line at Walmart this week when this black woman in front of me turned around and nicely asked if she had cut in front of me when she had gotten in line.  I assured her that no, she had been there first.  I added that I was just admiring her hair while I waited.  I pointed at Lizzie and commented that I’m still learning and boy, hers looked SO good – so soft looking!  She laughed and told me it was a wig!  So then I had to tell her I would have never guessed.  It was kind of hard to sustain the conversation after that…

Speaking of hair...


I had an unsettling experience earlier this week.  I uneasily fell asleep one night because I thought I heard footsteps in the house.  But I was too scared to get up and investigate.  If Paul were alive, I was at the point where I would have shook him awake and told him to go investigate!  I’m sure it was probably just this old house settling.  I eventually fell asleep.  But about an hour later, I awoke because I thought we were having an earthquake (in Iowa?).  My bed was shaking!  Only, I realized within a moment or two that it was not the bed.  My heart was pounding so hard and so fast that I felt like the bed was moving.  I don’t know what that was, if it was related to the fear I was feeling before I fell asleep or if it’s medical (approaching menopause?).  It hasn’t happened again, so hopefully that was a one-time experience.



Every morning Ben and I watch the first few minutes of the Today show while we wait for the school bus.  This is one thing I’m enjoying about Paul being dead (is it ok to say that?).  He was not a big tv fan, and he especially did not like to have it on first thing in the morning.  So, Ben and I would kind of stand around, twiddling our thumbs, while we waited. I’d be trying to keep from falling over, too, because I’d be so sleepy without anything to wake me up.  This is much more enjoyable – plus, it’s an experience that only the two of us share.  Anyway, this morning they were covering about the planned nation-wide fast food protests.  This is the fast food workers and liberals thinking that workers in that industry should be earning $15 per hour.  They interviewed a worker this morning who is a single mother of a two year old and expecting another baby.  This prompted my still-sleepy brain to start thinking…


First of all, I really think the reporter would have been better off to find a different subject to interview.  This young mother spoke with a lisp and was barely articulate.  Secondly – and this is the biggie: Her problem is not that she isn’t earning enough money.  The problem is that she is a single mother.  Now, I know better than anyone how quickly one can find themselves in that position.  However, I suspect that this particular subject chose single parenthood.  And in doing so, she chose poverty by not waiting on motherhood until she was married and in a financial position to care for two children.  That’s the real problem that needs to be talked about, not about whether or not fast food workers should earn $15 an hour.


But I have to wonder, still – how dumb are these people?  I mean, do the proponents of the wage hike really think that a raise will change these peoples’ lives for the better?  Do they think these restaurants will be able to stay open and pay their employees double?  It’s just simple math.  And I’m not even that good at math!  But, anyway…



Tonight, at midnight, it will be 6 months.  I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around that.  SIX months –a whole half a year.  I am honestly baffled at the passage of time.  The mind is powerful thing and my mine is firmly stuck in June.  Time has not progressed a bit since that fateful night.  Except, of course, it has.  How have I been able to survive six months without my other half?  It seems like my body should have simply shut down and faded away.  But it keeps going.  And so do I.  I get up every morning, get Ben ready for school, feed the others, coax them into picking up the house, and sometimes we even crack open a school book or two (don’t ask me about homeschooling this year – it’s not pretty).  I go shopping and I cook and I drive to church and sometimes I go eat supper with a girlfriend. 


And every single night I crawl into a cold, empty bed.


We took a little Christmas tree today up to Paul’s grave.  Tomorrow we’ll pull out our tree and put a wreath on the front door – finally.  I don’t want to, but the kids do.  But I wanted Paul to have a tree, too.  I couldn’t find the perfect ornament, but I found a little metal sign that reads, “Hope” and I leaned that against the base of his tree. 


Christmas is a celebration of hope, after all.  The Israelites had waited with no word from God for over 400 years.  But yet He had promised a Messiah would come.  He would free them from their bondage and oppress those who oppressed them, they thought.  Sometimes that hope of that promised One was all they had as they toiled in bondage.  Hope kept them going.


The Messiah came and changed everything.  Suddenly, all the world had hope.  No longer would sin have the final say.  Death was defeated at the cross and eternal hope was granted to all who chose to believe.


And this Christmas, more than any other in my entire life, I cling to hope.  I cling to the hope that while my heart is shattered right now, someday it will heal.  I hope for happier days, to be able to anticipate holidays like I used to.  I have hope that my children  will grow to live out the convictions and beliefs that their father taught them.  I hope that Paul  - but most importantly, God – will be pleased with the job I now shoulder alone.  I have the hope of knowing that my separation from Paul is only temporary.


Hope was a tiny baby in a manger.  Its flames, barely discernible, still manage to flicker in my heart this sad, sad year.






































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