Saturday, February 1, 2014

Day 240


February 1, 2014

Day 240

The month of pink, red, hearts, and Cupids…for us, it was always the best month of the year because our anniversary fell in it, too, just a few days after Valentine’s Day.  This year there’s hurt instead of joy, dread instead of anticipation.

Taken on our 9th wedding anniversary - look at that old cell phone!
I’ve had a rough week.  A lot of stuff has come at me, emotional and otherwise.  And it’s still cold.  I’m ready for spring, except for the fact that that puts me closer to the one year anniversary of the death.  But I’m still ready to be done with winter! The other night Sam was praying before bed and I heard him say, “And, please God, make summer come quick!”

I did get some propane this week.  They would only deliver 150 gallons which means I’ll be needing it again before too long L.  I have already spent in 7 weeks what we normally spent in a whole year on propane.  However, I did find out that there is something called “energy assistance.”  I had never heard of such a thing until Will happened to catch it on the news the other night when they were running a story on the high price of propane right now.  So I called and found out we qualify.  I had an appt the very next day and was officially approved.  I have very mixed – leaning heavily towards the negative – feelings about the idea of taking charity like this.  However, if it helps keep my kids warm and delays the day that I have to return to work, then I’m willing to grit my teeth and accept the help.  This particular program offers only a one-time help per calendar year.  But it’s appreciated.

When our delivery guy brought the propane he gave me the hard sell on signing a contract with them.  We’ve always been a cash-only customer, ever since we got burned a number of years ago after signing a contract with another company and then the price dipped.  But after talking with him and calling the office, I found out that they will honor a lower price.  I really can’t lose.  I just need to get through the rest of this winter for now, though.

Earlier this week I found that I was nearly distraught over concerns about money.  I don’t know if it is just me or if this is a female-type thing, but I equate money with security.  Paul was always so good at being able to trust God for our needs and He had no problem with writing a check and cheerfully commenting, “Well, we’ll just see how God is going to cover this one!”  That drove me insane!  I’m not real big on faith-filled gestures like that!  But there has been this sick feeling in my stomach all week as I ponder the future.  How long can I stay home?  How far do I let my savings dip before seeking employment?  Will the Littles be ruined if I put them in public school?  What kind of work could I do?  And so on.  It’s consuming.

At the same time I strongly began to sense God stirring in my heart, telling me that my job is to focus on right now.  Am I ok, money-wise, right now?  For the most part, yes.  Do we have food?  Yes.  Shelter?  Clothing? Heat? Yes.  Can I homeschool right now?  Yes.  Then – stop.  Trust Him to guide my steps, to give the answers when I need them, to provide.  One morning, towards the end of the week, I sat in my recliner after reading my Bible and devotional books and was able to turn these worries over to Him.  That’s not to say I won’t borrow them back from time to time, because I will.  I know me!    But, I have felt a lot better since giving all this worry and turmoil to God.  I know, I know He doesn't want me to live the way I was earlier this week.

Monday night was our Amanda the Panda meeting.  It was my week to share about Paul and his death.  It went well.  I brought in the dvd that the funeral home made from the photos I hastily submitted in the first couple of days after he died.  I showed that to the group so that they could see Paul and maybe get a sense of who he was.  I shared about our somewhat normal life and mentioned some of the struggles we had experienced together – Ben’s birth and subsequent life, the miscarriage, secondary infertility, my stroke.  And then I told them about the other struggle we had – one called Epilepsy.  From there I shared the events of the night Paul died.  I found that it is one thing to write a story, but a different thing to verbally tell it.  I must have done all right, though.  I didn’t cry, but it seemed like most of the group was.  In fact, I saw them passing around a tissue box!  Oh, and then I passed around the pictures of the tombstone.  I told them that I realize that for some, grave markers are really, really difficult, and I wouldn’t be offended if they wanted to hand off the pictures without looking.  I love Paul’s stone.  It was one of the final things I could for him (not that he would care – so maybe I did it for me?) and I put a lot of thought and time (and money) into it, wanting to have it just right.  Because that is me, I assume that is true for all bereaved.  But in the months since, I’ve learned it is not.  Some can’t bring themselves to set foot inside cemeteries, let alone pick out a stone.  The task is too daunting and sad.  But I think everybody looked at my pictures.

One of our many camping trips - Paul was never happier or more relaxed than when camping
I wrapped up my talk by quoting 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, which has become a very special passage of Scripture to me in the past 7 months.  Amanda the Panda is definitely not faith-based, but I figured this was MY time to talk and besides, what did I have to lose? I wanted to convey to my listeners that yes, my husband is dead and this is the most horrible, terrible, excruciating thing to ever happen to me, BUT – this is not the end.  There is hope and it’s a hope that far exceeds anything I am missing now.   To my surprise, there were several nodding heads as I read those verses.

They had the teenagers making pillow cases where they could write memories of their loved one.  One side was to be filled with happy memories and the other side was to have any regrets they might have.  David is determined to be a witness to his group and tells me he thinks it is his responsibility to share the Lord any way he can in his group.  I (the one who definitely does not have the spiritual gift of evangelism) suggested to him that perhaps he should use this time to focus on his own healing.  He shook his head at that idea.  He’s always been my little missionary.  So while they were making the pillow cases David asked if they would play the cd he brought and they agreed.  It’s a collection of Sunday morning specials Paul sang over the years at church.

When I read Ben’s pillowcase, I nearly wept.  He had written, “I wish my dad could see me graduate.”  Me, too, Buddy – me, too.

Will bought himself some new tennis shoes this week – size FIFTEENs.  Since it had been nearly 2 years since he needed new shoes, I figured he was done growing.  Apparently not!  The other day David commented that one drawback to having large feet (he’s a 14) is that sometimes he loses his balance on the steps because his feet are bigger than the boards!

The other night Ben was squawking because his brother, tyrant that he is, insisted on turning on the basement lights while he did plumbing work for the new bathroom.  Ben, of course, is addicted to Wheel of Fortune (no, seriously – all who know him know this – years ago a therapist explained this addiction to me in his autistic brain as having the same pull for him that a drink does for an alcoholic).  Every night he likes to retire to the basement, turn off all the lights, and play his WOF Wii game, providing commentary for his imaginary audience.  We hear him bellowing, “I’ll have an ‘A,’ Pat!...”Ok, we’ll give this wheel a final spin”…”No, I’m so sorry, there is not a ‘P’!” all throughout the house!  Well, he was very irate that his only option was to play with the lights on and he came thundering up the stairs to express his displeasure to me.  I finally had enough and told him he was done playing the game for tonight and to get his pajamas on and get ready for bed.  He demanded to know why and I told him, “Because you are throwing a little-kid fit and I’m done with it!”  Ben looked at me, stood up straight, threw back  his shoulders, and said, “I am not throwing a ‘little-kid’ fit.  I am throwing a Teenager Fit!”  Well, then!

The Littles are quite enamored of all their electronic/media sources of entertainment – the tv, computer, and  ipad.  Even Ellie is a whiz on the ipad.  I don’t even know how to use that thing and she’ll show me!  But I’ve gotten tired of the constant need they have to be entertained in this fashion, so I started a “ticket” system where they get so many tickets a day and they have to choose wisely what to do with them.  When they’re gone, they’re gone.  It’s working well, but I still get exasperated with the constant requests as they scamper to fish cardstock tickets out of their envelopes and hand them off to me.  So, every so often, regardless of how many tickets they have left,  I tell them, “Go play with toys or read a book!” They don’t want to.  That takes work.  They’d rather be mindlessly entertained.  Tonight Sam seriously told me, “Well, the reason I really don’t like to play with toys much anymore is because I’m becoming a grown man and grown men don’t play with toys!”  He’s 6.


Yesterday, a local radio host was chatting about some new study that has come up with  a list of the top ten male and female names that typically have lasting marriages.  Curious, I listened to see which names made the list.  Both “William” and “David” made the list.  And actually, “Andrew,” which is David’s middle name, made the list, too.  So does that mean he has an even better chance?  And for girls, both “Elizabeth” and “Lucy” made the list.  So it sounds like Lizzie stands a good chance of sailing into her sunset years with her same mate, too!

Both “Paul” and “Sarah’ were on the list, too.

We’ve been doing our best to keep the heat down for the past week.  It’s actually not as hard as I thought it would be.  Yes, it’s colder in here than I like and I have taken to wearing one of Paul’s old flannel lined jackets around the house, but we’re surviving.  We have two small electric heaters so we brought those into the kitchen and plugged them in during the day.  Together, they put out a good amount of heat, despite their individual small sizes.  Those things scare me, though, so I’m really vigilant about keeping them unplugged when we’re away from home or at bedtime.  But when we get too cold, we can go warm ourselves in front of them.  But nighttime has been what’s been awful.  I’m sleeping under about 8 blankets (seriously), bundled up in fleece pajamas, and I’m still cold!  The kids are not complaining, so evidently they are warmer-blooded than I am.  I finally started bringing the heating pad to bed, which is nice for warming my top half, but it goes off after awhile.  So I would be waking up periodically throughout the night, fumbling with my flashlight, and trying to turn it back on.  But then I had a lightbulb moment this week – an electric blanket!  I didn’t even know if they still made those things.  I remember my grandma had one and I remember how uncomfortable it was, with all those thick wires running throughout it.  I also remember hearing some stories about people who fried themselves to death while sleeping when the blankets shorted out.  But it occurred to me that technology has advanced a lot since I was kid.  Could it be that electric blankets are better than what they were?  So I decided to check.  Yesterday at Kohls I discovered that they have invented a micro-fleece electric blanket – glory be!  And, it was 50% off and I had a coupon to use on top of that!  I used it for the first time last night.  Oh, my…with my new blanket, who needs a man?

I have a speaking engagement in a couple of weeks.  Doesn’t that sound grand, a speaking “engagement” - ?!  That sounds a lot more formal and honorary than what I’ll  actually be doing.  But I will be talking to a group of ladies.  Fortunately, most are my friends already.  So, it’s really not that big of a deal!  However, it’s become kind of a big deal in my mind because of the subject matter.


Since I was asked to do this before Christmas, I’ve been ruminating a bit, tossing around ideas.  As we got into January I told myself that I would focus on getting my presentation ready for Amanda the Panda, but after that I had to work on this other one.  Today was the day.  I warned the kids away, sat down, and prayed for wisdom.  I have actually been praying for weeks because when I would think about the subject of marriage, I would just feel this blankness in my heart and in my mind.  It’s not something I want to think about.  It hurts on so many levels.  Quite honestly, I even have a hard time right now even sending anniversary cards to family members and the thought of attending weddings makes my stomach turn over – that’s how much the thought of the subject pains me.

But as I sat, not even knowing where to start or what to cover, the words started coming.  I began jotting down thought after thought.  It was almost like God was moving my pen, showing me what pages to look at in my books I’d brought down to the basement (where I was hiding from the kids, working).  I felt flickers of excitement as my thoughts came together.  There was no doubt in my mind that God had heard my prayers for direction.

Father's Day '02 - the boys were 7, 5, and 3
I cried, too – more than once.  I cried because I miss being married.  I miss my husband. I miss being a wife.   I remember the hours I spent reading these books I had brought down.  I so much wanted to have a great marriage and I would read nearly anything I could get my hands on that might help me.  To what end, now?  And I cried because I have regrets about the marriage I did have.  I could have been a better wife to Paul and made his life so much more enjoyable. 

But I got it done.  And I didn’t even have this sense of, “Whew – now I don’t have to think about that anymore!”  I actually found myself , for the first time, anticipating this upcoming meeting and talk and throughout today, after I surfaced from the basement, I found myself jotting down more ideas.  Even though I felt like I had just ripped a scab off a very red, puffy sore, I think, that long-term, that this just might be a healing experience for me.

And if communicating my experiences and the words God is giving me can reach someone else, then perhaps this is a way of proving the adage that “God never wastes a hurt.”

1 comment:

  1. Praying for you! I understand propane issue
    Even more so the grief.....
    This is our grief zone from SuperBowl Sunday through the 11th.
    Running into memories and the tears like rivers, and the ever companion of missing my beloved. God is merciful and gives grace...
    But I agree I am ready for summer!