Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Day 209


January 1, 2014


Day 209


A new year with an old hurt…sigh…


Last night we went to church for the New Year’s Eve supper.  To my surprise, I actually had a good time.  But I was teary-eyed by the time I left.  This time it wasn’t for myself, though.  A friend of mine shared some of the hurts in her heart and I ache for her.  There truly are things worse than unexpected widowhood.


I loaded up Ben and the Littles and we left.  Will and David stayed at church longer to play games and hang out.  As we drove home, the kids started asking questions about the night Paul died.  Why they picked last night for this, I don’t know.  But for the first time, they demanded details – what did Dad do in a seizure, when did I call the ambulance, when did our pastors come, etc.  I answered every question honestly.  But by the time I was approaching Swan, I was a bit of a wreck.  Plus, it was New Year’s Eve.  Paul and I spent every single New Year’s Eve together since we were dating.  Every single year I got kissed at midnight (except for the years we turned in early, which was becoming an increasing habit the older we got!).  So I turned into the cemetery and stumbled out of the van over to Paul’s grave.  I stood there and just sobbed.  Sam and Lizzie soon got out of the van, too.  Lizzie walked straight into my arms and cried her little heart out.    You know, this particular child can be a real pain in the neck, but I have had the thought more than once that she may end up being a tremendous source of comfort to me, especially as she grows older.


Sam stood by Paul’s stone and gasped, “I just miss him so much, Mom!  I want my daddy back!” And then he collapsed in my arms as well.  This is the first time Sam has ever expressed real sorrow since the morning I told the kids that Paul had died during the night.  I held my children as the tears froze on our faces.  It was, without a doubt, one of the more heart-breaking moments in my life.  When we got home, the three of us all cuddled on the loveseat (well, four of us – Ellie insisted on joining the party) for a long time.  We talked about Dad and Heaven and how God will use this hurt for good.  It is a helpless feeling to not be able to kiss your children’s hurts away.


But yet – God is good.  It’s not a platitude.  Even in the hurt, He is good.  He is there.


I’ve had the chance during this lazy week between Christmas and New Year’s to work on my scrapbooking.  I ran across this picture Paul took the summer of 2012 when he was counseling up at camp.  It’s the most glorious picture of a sunrise I think I have ever seen.  It made me wonder, though, if Paul saw something like that the morning he awoke in Heaven.  The thought of that made me smile.


I finished my painting in the basement this week  - finally!  I’ll be doing David’s new room here, shortly, and my laundry room too, but I mean the painting of the big, non-roomed-off areas.  As I painted, I found myself pleased that I was touching cement blocks that Paul had also handled at one time.  Of course, there are a lot of things in this house we both touched, but it just seems especially poignant to be touching these blocks.  Putting in the basement was a huge project.  Paul started it all and I finished it by painting.



I am going to lunch tomorrow with a new widow friend and another widowed friend of mine from church.  This other lady was the wife of one of my college professors at Faith.  Her second husband is now in hospice care, at the end of his life.  My friend and I are bringing her lunch at the hospice house.  I’m looking forward to it.  When I first started talking to this lady via email, I commented to my church friend that one of the things that scares me about the idea of remarriage someday is the knowledge that I might have to bury a second husband.  My friend looked at me and said, “Ah, but you don’t have to bear that  right now.  If the time came, then you would have the grace to do so.”  She’s right.



'91 - our 1st studio pic - we were both 20
I was up for 21 hours yesterday.  The night before, I was having a dream where I had a migraine headache – the kind where you just want to beat your head on the wall because the pain is so bad.  I woke up very suddenly from that dream, assuming that a bad headache had awakened me.  I stumbled out of bed into the kitchen, popped a migraine pill, and then realized – I didn’t have a headache!  And those migraine pills are chock full of caffeine!  I just could not fall asleep after that.  I ended up showering at 5:30 and started cleaning the house after that.  But I really didn’t struggle all day to stay awake, which is good.  Maybe I’m developing some early-morning abilities?  That might be good, because…


I have a feeling I’m going to have to be starting my days earlier.  David has a number of learning disabilities.  We had him evaluated as a 7 yr old by the local AEA when he couldn’t read.  As it turned out, he didn’t learn to read until he was 10 ½.  At the time, the school and AEA wanted me to bring David to school every day for remedial help.  I just couldn’t see the wisdom of that at the time and declined, hoping that maturity would take care of a lot of his struggles.  He has progressed, but I have been increasingly alarmed in the past couple of years as high school is looming and he is still struggling with very basic reading, comprehension, and math issues.  I had hoped to be able to focus more on his schooling this year, but it hasn’t happened.  I finally got to the point a few weeks ago where I began to evaluate my options.  Is school, private or public, the answer?  Is private tutoring?  Des Moines offers a couple of different companies that claim to actually re-train the brain through tutoring and exercises that I’ve heard about.  But they’re quite expensive.  So I didn’t know what to do.


I finally sat down yesterday with our asst. pastor, who is a former teacher and principal.  He’s served as Ben’s advocate at the school and is so knowledgeable about education.  Plus, since he’s taken over the youth group he knows David.  I typed out this sheet on David – his academic areas of struggle, areas of concern, his personality, etc.  Terry read it, nodded, and said, “Yep – you nailed him!” 


After talking for an hour, it was decided that I would contact one of those brain re-training centers called Learning RX.  As it turns out, Terry has been working with them as he works with a man in our church who suffered a brain injury, so he’s very familiar and enthusiastic about what they offer.  But it’s going to take a huge commitment on my part.  I will have to work with David for an hour every single day at home.  This is on top of his regular school work.  In addition, I’ll be making a weekly trip to W. Des Moines to meet with the tutor/facilitator there so progress can be monitored.  It’s going to be wildly expensive.  I can afford it with the life insurance money, but I cringe at the thought of spending that much.


But – I have a peace about this.  I did not have a peace about public schooling, which would be free.  But there’s no guarantee they would meet David’s needs.  And I’m fearful of what that environment would do to David’s spirit.  Terry agreed.  I could easily spend $18,000 or more on 4 years of Christian schooling for David and there’s no guarantee they’d “fix” him either.  I could do nothing and hope that David finally catches up as time progresses.  But that hasn’t happened so far.  And if David has a limited life because of his learning struggles and I could have done something for him, but did not, I will kick myself for the rest of my life.


So, this coming Monday I’m going to fork out $150 for David to be assessed.  And then my days may be starting earlier as I try to figure out how add one more thing onto my plate!  David is not very happy with me right now.  He thinks that I think he is “stupid” and “has special needs” as he said.  Will quietly told me, “Mom – he’s going to thank you someday.  Just wait!”  Pray for us!



I have heard adoptive parents claim that after awhile they “forget” that their children came to them through adoption and not birth.  I don’t think I’ve gotten to that point yet as these two little strangers and I continue to adjust to eachother.  It’s far better than it was, but it has taken a long, long time.  However, the other night Ellie was sitting on my lap in church and I looked at her hands and realized that she really has long fingers, like I do.  My honest thought was, “She must have gotten those from me!”  Oh, yeah…But it was kind of a neat thought, all the same.


Paul’s birthday is this coming Saturday.  I’m dreading it, like I dread all the other significant dates on the calendar.  I’m going to get him a birthday balloon for his grave (will mylar pop in sub zero temps, I wonder?).  We’re going to meet some friends in town and do something fun and then we’re going to eat fried chicken and apple pie at my house that night with these same friends (Paul’s favorite foods).  We’ll get through it.  At least I don’t have to come up with a birthday present for Paul.  That could be hard!  Actually, though, I already had an idea for this birthday.  He had been wanting a 20 guage shotgun for some time.  I was planning to get him one.  I won’t, of course, now.  I’m fairly certain that’s no longer on his wish list!  The other night I was working on my two week menu and I came to January 4 on the menu.  Since we’re grabbing chicken from Hy-Vee, I didn’t need to plan anything.  But that realization brought a pang.  If Paul were here, I would have dutifully been adding drumsticks and a marble cake mix and chocolate frosting to my grocery list.  I would give anything to spend half my Saturday afternoon frying chicken (a messy, time consuming chore, which is why Paul usually only got it on his birthday) for him instead of planning ways to remember his life this year.

Jan '91 - Paul's 20th.  He insisted that his mom make him a cake that read, "Over the Hill."  We all thought he was being silly, but he was right.  By his 20th birthday, he had already lived almost half his life.

Even though the calendar marches on, right through Jan. 4, he will forever remain 42.


But is God good?  Yes, yes he is.  Even when I struggle under the weight of new responsibilities and my heart aches until it feels like it can bear no more.  He is my Provider, my Comforter, and my Deliverer.


He is - - when the world around me is not.























































  1. I have been thinking of you yesterday and today. As I said good-bye to 2013 last night (I only saw midnight because I was at my brother's house playing games. I was half-asleep, but I was also half-awake. And, that's what counts.), I couldn't keep from thinking of you.
    The picture of Paul in January 1991 when he was 20 - today is my niece's 20th birthday. When that picture was taken, she was 1, and now she is that same age. Time goes SO fast! (I also absolutely can't believe that I'm old enough to have a 20 year old niece. Not only do I have one 20 year old niece, but I have two. And a 23 year old one. EEK!)
    Anyway, I'm just rambling a comment, but I did want for you to know that you're on my mind and in my prayers.

  2. You write so powerfully and so poignantly. I pray for God's continual presence and love and power in your lives in the midst of your grief. I so appreciate that you don't sugar coat the situation. Too many people mouth platitudes but you are real. This is agony. It will be painful until you join your husband in Heaven, though I have hopes it'll get less painful with time.

    Thanks also for your discussion about your son who is struggling academically. Our4th child (age 9) is struggling more academically than our other school age children. We haven't felt led to do anything outside the home YET but it is good to read about your thought processes and how the Lord is guiding you to help this precious young man.


  3. Answering questions, crying together, cuddling together, it is all grieving together which is very healthy for all of you....even though at the time it hurts so deeply.
    Pressing on together....pressing through the pain together....healing waiting for spring....but healing comes.

    Big hugs!