Monday, March 31, 2014

Day 299


March 31, 2014

Day 299

No more rambling posts, I promise!  I am actually feeling somewhat human again.  Friday morning I put myself back to bed after getting Ben on the bus.  As I laid there, it suddenly dawned on me that I knew these symptoms.  I had been so focused on the fact I’d had the flu that it had not occurred to me I might have something else going on, too.  This was a classic sinus infection.  I know that because I’ve had them numerous times before.  I made an appt. with the dr. and she confirmed it.  I got a prescription for an antibiotic (magic in a bottle – until you take it so often that you end up getting a SuperBug and dying from an infected paper cut, that is) and I am now feeling much better.  I am still getting the migraine-like sinus headaches, but they’re treatable and temporary.

Maybe my body just decided that it needed a time to shut down.  The past three years I’ve had minor surgeries, all in March, that required me to take it easy for a couple of weeks.  No surgery this year, but my body was determined to take its rest, anyway!

The circus '03 - I LOVE the expression on David's face!
The other night Lizzie said to me, “I am SO excited about my surgery! (her upcoming tonsillectomy)”  That struck me as odd and so I asked her why.  She excitedly exclaimed, “Cuz I won’t have to do any chores for a whole week!”  Geez, Louise…that makes me feel like Mrs. Haniford (was that her name?  The mean housemistress in “Orphan Annie” who made the poor orphan girls work all the time?)!  Oh, speaking of “Annie” I saw that a movie version is coming out soon.  That should be good.

I took David sandal shopping last Friday.  This was NOT fun.  I found some for him.  I had to spend $100, though.  One kid.  One pair of sandals.  One sighing mama…But this is what happens when your one kid has size 14 shoes and stores don’t carry sizes that large.  I went to Scheels and I knew they’d be a little pricey, but I also knew they had larger sizes.  But the salesclerk told me they only have a few size 15s so if David grows any more, he’ll be out of luck even with them.  Will informed me he needs some new crocs for this summer.  Crocs aren’t even in style anymore, but he is determined to have some.  That’s all he likes to wear in the summer months.  Since he wears a size 15 tennis shoe, I told him “good luck” on the croc thing…

Kathy and I met up on Sat for some shopping.  That was much more fun than sandal shopping for my big-footed boy!  Although, we made quite the pair.  I was still wheezing and blowing my nose every three minutes and Kathy was hobbling on a broken toe.  I kind of shudder to think what kind of a shopping duo we will make when we’re both 80 and still getting together!

I took David to the dermatologist today.  He’s had a real dandruff problem for a couple of years now.  We’ve tried all the over-the-counter stuff and I have even rubbed lavender oil into his scalp and ordered a $26 bottle of essential oil shampoo that is supposed to be good for that problem – no avail.  So I was able to get a prescription shampoo today. While we were there, I asked about a couple of his moles and the dr. volunteered to snip them off today.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I had actually taken David in for his moles about 6 months ago.  We had seen a different dr. but she seemed a little reluctant to do anything with the moles at the time.  But this one was more than willing.  So we had one removed from the back of his neck and one above his lip.  David was less-than-thrilled with the whole needle in his face thing and all day long I’ve been hearing updates about his bleeding and pain levels (they’re moles – it’s not like I had his leg amputated!).  At one point he sighed and said, “I would have left the one on my face alone, but you seemed to think I should have it taken off, so…” He has always been especially good at twisting-the-knife, amping-up-parental-guilt levels!

Tomorrow we see his orthodontist.  I had finally found an orthodontist that takes Medicaid.  A friend told me about this place.  I called them and they told me that they are actually the only place in the entire Des Moines metro accepting new Medicaid patients and as such, they have a waiting list of more than a year.  Yikes.  David is getting his senior pics done in 3 years, so I don’t think we can wait that long.  So I called the ortho he has been seeing for awhile, even though I’ve been told he is the most expensive ortho in the metro.  They were willing to take David’s Medicaid since he’s an established patient.  I’m not even overly fond of this dr.  He is decidedly effeminate which may or may not mean anything, just like his wedding band may or may not mean anything.  But it bothers me just the same.  However, it looks like I have no choice.  Maybe we can get away with just straightening David’s bottom teeth.  Hopefully.

Our 1st homeschool conference - what a fun weekend!  It would be 10 yrs later, almost to the very day, that Paul would die. 
The youth service went really, really well last night.  I was somewhat nervous for Ben and David, but I wasn’t twisted up as tight as I have been known to get in the past.  The entire youth group quoted a book of the Bible, with various kids being responsible for different verses singly, in duos, trios, and other groupings.  I really did not have time to work much with Ben, but David took care of it.  Ben did splendidly.  He didn’t even sway all that much up on stage.  I was pleased.  And then David ushered and spoke.  He did great.  I was really proud of him.

My friend, Mishelle, told me, “I could just hear Paul up there!”  I know.  Another, older, friend told me, “You must be so proud!”  I am.  I am curious to see what David’s future holds.  From the time he was a little guy I have been convinced that full-time ministry is probably in his future.  To my credit, I’ve never said any such thing to him, not wanting to influence him in any way.  But sometimes a mother just senses things.  I’ve always “sensed” with David.  Indeed, as he has gotten older, he has mentioned from time to time that he wants to be a missionary.  Hmm…Iowa could use missionaries, right?  Of course, David’s young yet. There’s a lot of growing that needs to happen between now and then, of course, and a lot of cavernous pitfalls to be steered around.  I’ve got a whole lot of single parenting left to do with him.  So, we’ll see what happens, I guess.

We got home last night and David was typing on his phone.  He handed it to me, so I could double-check his spelling and grammar before he posted to Facebook.  He had written, “I hope my dad was looking down tonight as I spoke at my church for a youth service.” 

Yeah, I choked.  I nodded and told him his spelling was fine.   And then I told him I was pretty sure that tonight was a night that Paul had, indeed,  seen him.  God had rolled back that floor and Paul had a front row seat as he watched his boy take some steps toward manhood and possibly, potential service someday.

But, oh, what I would have given to have him sitting beside me, watching together!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Day 295


 March 27,2014

Day 295


I’m back…sort of.  I have honestly never been so sick in my life.  Well, I seem to recall the Oct. I was 15 coming down with the flu and then pneumonia on top of that.  But that was different.  I had parents to take care of me and very few responsibilities and NO CHILDREN.  This time around…ugh!  In fact, I found myself quite envious of Paul at times.  He’ll never be sick again and it’s just not quite fair.


So, I wasn’t imagining things on my birthday.  I really didn’t feel well all day long!  But that night we were still able to celebrate.  The kids and I went to Fuddruckers which is where we went last year on my birthday.  Of course, everything was different this year, though.  I’m not even sure I’m still the same woman.  At times I have wondered if we are even a family anymore (we are, of course, it’s just that thoughts like that do creep into my mind sometimes).  We had a nice meal and then went home and the boys surprised me with not one, but two presents.  They got me Forrest Gump which is one of my all-time favorite movies, but  I have never actually seen the whole thing – just bits and pieces when they’ve aired it on tv.  And then David got me a book about Duck Dynasty, written by Willie and Korie Robertson.  I loved it.  I already read it.


I have gotten sucked into that show, despite my best intentions.  It’s just funny!  I bought the kids Season 1 on dvd at Christmastime and we’ve been working our way through the episodes ever since.  I still am not overly fond of the family members’ beards and scraggly hair.  I know there’s a verse in the Bible about long hair being a shame to a man.  However, from everything I see and have read now in the book, I really can’t find any glaring faults with the Robertsons’ Christianity.  It’s real.  I guess they’ve found a way to reconcile that verse with their faith.  So I’m just going to enjoy it.


Ben had gone out on my birthday with his now-retired aide.  He insisted they stop at a store and get me a birthday card, which touched me.  He is maturing.  But it was what Will wrote in it that made me cry.  So often during this journey I have wished for some confirmation that I am doing things, “right.”  But the kids aren’t exactly prone to handing out compliments even if they could recognize I was handling things ok.  But Will wrote, “I’m not sure many moms could have persevered the way you have this last year.  We love you!”  Oh, I about lost it – just to know they think I’m doing ok means so much!


Then I blew out the candles on my lopsided cake and we all eventually made it to bed.  Then, when I woke up in the morning I made the terrible realization that I was sick and life hasn’t been the same since.


What is ironic is that about two weeks ago I was commenting about the luxury of having a television in my bedroom now.  I said I really didn’t have time to watch it but maybe one of these days “I’ll get really sick and have to stay in bed!”  Yes, well…when will I ever learn to bite my tongue?


I had lots and lots of time to watch tv this last week.  I didn’t even make it past the hallway until the weekend, I was so sick and dizzy.  I watched so much stupid tv it made me more sick.  I don’t know what is more disturbing – the daytime fare that is offered up or the fact there is an actual audience for such tv!  It’s disgusting and pathetic.


The boys took good care of me – until they got sick themselves.  I don’t think anybody is back to 100% yet.  I cannot quit coughing.  I went from having the flu where even my eyelashes hurt to developing the crud where the entire inside of my head is coated in green goo.  I’m quite convinced I am going to tear a muscle or crack a rib before I get done.   And I am just so weak, it’s aggravating!  But Will and David are complaining of the same thing, so I don’t think it’s indicative of my encroaching age.


I did feel well enough to go out Monday night with my friend, Mari, for my birthday.  That was nice – I totally needed to get out of the house!  I’ve been able to take it pretty easy this week, thankfully.  Tomorrow I will do my bi-monthly grocery shopping, but I may take all day.  Then, Saturday, Kathy and I are meeting in Council Bluffs.  I’ll probably be wiped out after that, but it will be worth it.  Then, the pace picks up a bit again next week.  I hope my body cooperates!


I found that I seemed to miss Paul more the days I felt physically worse.  I suppose it makes sense that the emotional hurt was only compounded by the physical.  Plus, it would have been nice to have him there to help take care of me!  I miss him.


Occasionally, I have asked God, “why.”  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.  I know I won’t get an answer, but I ask anyway.  There have even been times that I have, irrationally, asked God to send Paul back.  I know that’s not going to happen, but I still ask because sometimes the pain just seems to heavy to bear.  But you know, I have found in recent months, maybe the past 4 or so,  that every single time I ask God “why” He answers me with John 9:3, “…that the works of the Father may be glorified.”  This still puzzles me and I haven’t quite figured it out.  This passage isn’t even talking about death, so why does it immediately leap to mind every time I want to know why I had to lose my husband?  I suppose the obvious answer is that God can be glorified through Paul’s death.  I believe that can happen.  I believe it has already happened, to a certain extent.  But  still, I remain a bit puzzled.  It just seems odd to me that every single time I question, this is the response I get. 


But the  more I puzzle it out in my mind, the more hope I am beginning to feel – hope for a reason for the suffering and hope for a future.


And then I watch the news and see things like stories on Flight 270 and the mudslide in Washington State.  I am not the only one in pain.  I have not lost everything like some of these families.  In fact, I am reminded that ALL of life is fleeting.  It is best to hold onto it with a loose grip because when it is wrenched out of your hands it will hurt even more if your grasp is too tight.  I think Corrie ten Boom actually said something to that effect, once.


 100 years from now everybody that is alive now will be dead.  Life is short.  All the suffering will have come to an end – except for those in Hell, of course.


Ah, I’m rambling a bit tonight.  My body hurts and my mind isn’t thinking straight as a result.  I’d better wrap this up.  The thought of my bed seems awfully appealing at the moment.   I just need to pick up the house, make a lunch for Ben, help him memorize some more verses for Camp Coins, and listen to David’s sermonette one more time.  The Youth Group is doing the Sunday evening service and David is “preaching.”  I’m nervous for him, but I know he’ll do well.  If he does end up becoming a missionary someday, as he still insists is on the agenda, then I may very well remember this first sermon with a certain degree of fondness someday.


I just wish Paul could hear it, too.  He’d be so proud.










































Saturday, March 22, 2014

Where I Have Been

In bed.  That's the short answer.  Oh, I've kind of disappeared the last few days, so I thought it would be easiest to just update on my blog.  I have had the most horrible case of the flu - EVER.  I ended up having a very nice birthday with the kids even though I didn't feel totally terrific.  Wed. morning I had to go do a sausage pick up for Zaycon and I knew something was drastically wrong.  I could barely drive.  I got the sausage, came home, and then went to my dr.  I thought maybe I had strep or something that could be treated with medicine.  I hoped I did because I was miserable!  They ran all these tests at the dr while I waited in misery only to tell me I had the flu.  Seriously?  I was given a prescription so I dropped that off, waited in my van for 20 min for them to fill it, and went to pick it up.  They wanted $114 for it! This is the second time I've noticed that the prescription coverage with this new insurance is not as good as what I used to have through Paul's work.   I wasn't about to pay that, I wasted all that time and energy for nothing.  I have been in bed ever since.  I am beyond miserable.  Every single part of my body hurts.

I have had to cancel so many plans this week and I find myself increasingly worried about  how I am going to get all my stuff done now.  I know I can't focus on that, but my mind goes there and gets all panicky.  The kids have all done a great job of taking care of me.  But now - they are all sick, too.  Ben and Sam are the only upright ones left in the house.

But I think I am doing a little better today.  So hopefully, I will be able to take care of the fallen ones on my own soon.

There's nothing like abject physical misery, I am finding, to make one's emotional hurts rise to the surface, as well.  These past four days I have missed Paul intensely and not just because he would have taken care of me.  Sigh...I have also found myself quite envious of him.  He'll never get the flu again!

So that's where I am - not overworked, not ignoring anybody, just trying to survive while this virus works its slow, painful way through my system.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day 286


March 18, 2014

Day 286

Today is my birthday.  I’m finding it even more difficult than I thought it might be.  Paul always made it so special.  He’d awaken me early in the morning so he could be the first to wish me a happy birthday.  Some years he even surprised me by taking the entire day off work so we could spend it together.  He never forgot.  Of course, his biggest coup was three years ago when he planned a surprise party for my 40th.  I went out to lunch with two friends and when I came back to my house, almost our entire SS class was standing in my kitchen.  I had NO idea this was in the works!  Oh, I miss him, today more than ever…

I don’t even like the number 43.  “42” had a much crisper sound to it.  43 is kind of blah.  The only thing in its favor is that the numbers are in order, descending backwards, like 32 or 21.

And it feels weird to be older than Paul for the first time, ever.  He will be forever 42, but I will keep getting older, even though he was born before I was. 

But I’m doing an awful lot of complaining on a day when others seem to be going out of their way for me.  I’ve received tons of Facebook birthday messages already and I had a stack of birthday cards to open this morning.  Of course, I blubbered all the way through doing that, but it was still appreciated!

I don’t feel well and I think that is coloring my perspective, too.  I thought Ben was having a terrible allergy attack over the weekend, but I realize now it was a cold that came on very suddenly.  Since yesterday afternoon I can tell my body is fighting something – I’ve got the sinus headache and awful body aches.  I’m fighting it with my essential oils and Aleve (“Better living through chemistry!” as David’s tutor always quips when she sees me pull  my pill container out of my purse).  I haven’t succumbed yet to being totally sick, but I think I’m teetering on the edge.  I’m hoping to keep staving it off.

Last week was a bit rough.  I had an older neighbor proposition me.  It freaked me out a bit, to say the least.  Despite quickly turning him down and almost literally running away, I still felt kind of  guilty because I know he’s old and lonely.  My pastor’s wife reminded me, “He is NOT your responsibility!”  I know, I know.  It was upsetting.  Since then, he has “apologized,” although the more he talked the more I began to suspect he just wanted another chance to present his “case.” Ugh.  I had to remind him again that what he was suggesting was wrong and highly inappropriate.  I never realized just how much protection marriage offered to a woman until I was no longer married. 

And then late last week things came to a bit of a head with the in-laws.  It looks like we may be meeting with a mediator soon.  I hate conflict and find myself just shaking at the thought of having to sit down with them!

You know, I’m realizing that Paul fought all my battles for me.  He went ahead and made my path smooth.  Now I’m on the front lines All.The.Time.  It’s wearying.  I know God is there with me.  He has answered my many prayers for wisdom and continues to be my strength.  I also know that I have many, many friends and family members who would gladly fight those battles for me.  But I recognize that some battles have to be faced alone.  These two I mentioned are an example of that.  I have to be strong when I just want to run away and hide.  I feel a bit like David facing Goliath on that field!

Well, this is turning into a bit of  a depressing post, particularly on my birthday!  There are better things to talk about.

Saturday Ben needed to go to Iowa City to participate in the state Sp. Olympics basketball championship.  Will and David had a wedding to attend so it was just the Littles, Ben, and me.  I’ve never been to Iowa City in my life!  And I got lost, which was stressful.  Will tells me  he is going to give me his GPS.  He just upgraded to an i-phone and no longer needs a separate GPS unit.  That would probably be good.  Mapquest just isn’t always that reliable – obviously.  Fortunately, I had left early enough to allow myself some extra time.  I finally made it to the university, but by that point I was seriously wondering why I had even bothered.  Ben was so sick.  I assumed at the time it was a massive allergy attack.  Of course, I had NO tissues in the van at all.  So I ran to the bathroom and got as much cheap toilet paper as I could.  The poor kid had a streamer of TP flying out from his hand as he shot baskets.  The Littles were bored and hungry and at eachothers’ throats.  These events are always so, so crowded, no matter what the sport.  Each athlete comes with at minimum, one helper, Many, like Ben, bring a whole cheering squad. You constantly have to be watching out, too, because most special needs individuals, like Ben, tend to be not-spatially aware.  It is not uncommon for them to run straight into you because they just don't see you.  The events are always chaotic and stressful.

But…it’s so worth it.  I stood on the sidelines and just watched in awe as Ben shot basket after basket.  He is good!  And he has nearly NO fine motor control.  This is a boy who can’t eat without making a mess.  He is incapable of buttoning his clothes or zipping up his own pants.  But he can swoosh that ball!  I was bursting with pride when they led his group out to the podium, helped Ben up to the highest step and placed a gold medal around his neck.  I could have cried, quite honestly.  Knowing that he felt miserable, physically, just made me even that much prouder of him.  He never quits – ever.  I remember when he was learning to walk right around his 3rd birthday.   For more than six months he fell more than he took steps.  But he didn’t quit in frustration.  Every single time he got up and tried again.

Afterwards, the kidlets and I went to a nearby, crowded mall and bought tissues and allergy pills for Ben.  Then we ate lunch and headed home.  I really missed having David or Will to handle the Littles.  I was up ordering at the counter and I heard a fuss back at our table.  Ellie was throwing a tantrum because Ben wouldn’t let her come up to the counter with me, as I had instructed (“You all sit here and don’t move a muscle!”).  Argh – what to do?  I was in the middle of placing an order, but I couldn’t leave Ellie to scream and holler and ruin all the other patrons’ lunches.  I really look forward to the day when they are older and more capable of regulating their own behavior!  As it was, I had her come to me and then when I was done ordering I took her to the bathroom and spanked her.  Sometimes single parenthood is the pits.

I got home and in the mailbox was an envelope from the Eye Donor Network.  Inside was a card and letter from a woman who received one or both of Paul’s corneas.  She was a terrible speller but so thankful and expressed real sorrow for our loss.  It really made me feel good.  I do have the opportunity now to write her back and tell her about Paul if I want.  When I feel up to it, I will.  Saturday I was really feeling the grief laying extra-heavily.  This letter made that burden seem a bit lighter.

April '93 - in our first apt.
I had a dream last week.  In it, I had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  My first thought upon hearing the diagnosis was actually dismay.  In my dream I thought, “Oh, now I’ll never re-marry!”  My second thought was a little more cheerful as I began to anticipate being reunited with Paul.  I woke up and I thought about it.  My first response was kind of telling, I think.  I suspect that there is a part of me that is beginning to anticipate the future, just a little bit.  I certainly hope re-marriage is a part of that, someday, although I honestly don’t spend a whole lot of time dwelling on that right now.  But it came out in my dream world.  Interesting!
This morning, Ben was talking about the fact that we used to have only one tv in our house and now we have four.  Yes, well, Mom is a little more into being entertained than Dad was!   I explained to him that his dad wasn’t a big fan of having the tv on continually and found a lot of what was on objectionable.  I agree with that in theory, anyway, although sometimes it is nice just to flip it on without thinking!  Sam piped up and said, “Well, someday if I find my kids watching inappropriate stuff on tv, I’m just going to take my tv right back to the store!”  Lizzie gasped and exclaimed, “Then you wouldn’t have a tv anymore!”  Resolute, Sam replied, “That’s ok.  My kids can find other stuff to do!”  He is his father’s son and doesn’t even realize it…

So, it’s my birthday.  As of 3:08 this afternoon I’ll be 43 years old.  I am older than I’ve ever been, but this year I, understandably,  feel much, much older.  It’s a day of mixed emotions, most of them being a bit melancholy as I miss what I used to have.  But as I blow out the candles on the cake I’ll have to bake myself (another first) I hope I remember that I am having a birthday for a reason.  My purpose on earth has not been completed yet.  Until it is I’ll keep having these birthdays.  If it were up to me, last year’s birthday would have been my last and I would have died with Paul last summer.  But in my attempt to live a life fully surrendered to God’s control, I am willing to keep having birthdays and to live out my days, accomplishing His master plan.

It’s really not a bad thing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Day 279


March 11, 2014

Day 279

I’m coming up on 300 days – in, what, about 3 weeks?  I wonder when the time will be that I no longer count days, but months, and then, eventually years?

I’ve got the girls in the tub and I’m trying to clean up the house – the countdown to bedtime (my favorite part of the day!) has begun.  Lizzie was a real pill at supper, deciding that she didn’t want to eat her steak.  Seriously, if you’re going to pick a food battle, Kid, do it with a casserole or hamburger helper – not a steak!  These were from that cow that was given to us last fall – good eating.  So I’m more than ready to put her in the tub.
I took Lizzie in for a hearing test with my ENT last week.  All this time I have had her I have been beyond convinced she has a hearing loss.  She’s constantly ignoring me (which can be explained, no doubt) and asking to have the tv and radio turned up.  But her test came back perfectly normal!  So apparently, her hearing is quite selective.  I was told that her birth family absolutely blasted their music and tv in their home.  It’s hard for me to believe that would still be impacting Lizzie today, but maybe it is.  Maybe loud noises bring her comfort, in a way.  I definitely won’t be turning up the tv and radio for her anymore, though.  If I can hear them, with my one deaf ear, then I know she can hear them!

Lizzie is going to have her tonsils and adenoids taken out, though.  We met with the dr. after her test and I was telling him about her heavy breathing and the difficulty I have in awakening her and how she has been known to fall asleep standing on her feet.  He is suspicious that she has sleep apnea.  He looked at her tonsils and said they were “huge” which could be obstructing her breathing, causing her to never enter the deepest level of sleep.  He wondered out loud if that sleep deprivation could be causing some of the behavior issues I see. I suppose.  I tend to think that her disruptive early years would have more of an effect than anything, but the breathing thing could be an issue too, I suppose.  So, anyway, that’s scheduled for four weeks from tomorrow.

It was kind of nice to have the dr. give his opinion on what needed to be done and to just be able to say, “Ok, let’s do it.”  Paul was always suspicious of too much medical intervention and I felt like I always had to talk him into taking the kids to the ER at times and allowing other medical procedures.  On the other hand, it’s a little scary knowing your kids’ entire lives rest in your own decision-making capabilities!

A few months ago a friend sent me a link to Pink’s song, “Beam Me Up.”  I really like it.  There’s nothing super-deep about the lyrics.  It’s a simple song, lamenting the loss of a loved one.  The singer croons that she wishes she could be “beamed up” to Heaven to see the one she loves again.  The chorus goes, “Could you beam me up,Give me a minute, I don't know what I'd say in it-I'd probably just stare, happy just to be there, holding your face, Beam me up…”

Like I said, it’s sweet, it’s simple, and I find it relatable these days.  A couple of months ago I was listening to it in the van and Lizzie asked, “Mom, why is she singing, ‘Beat Me Up?’”  Yes, well, one can understand my belief that this child has a hearing loss!  But then, it wasn’t but a few weeks later Will heard me listening to the song and asked puzzled, “Why does she want someone to beat her up?”  So now, whenever I hear the song, I find myself singing, “Beat me up…”  They’ve ruined it for me.

I’m slowly getting this written tonight in between watching tv, picking up, doing Learning RX with David, getting the girls to bed, and texting with my friend, Jenn.  Jenn was Lizzie’s foster mom for a year and a half.  I told her about Lizzie’s upcoming sugery and she texted me, “Um, Lizzie doesn’t have her adenoids anymore.”  Apparently they were taken out before I got her.  I did not know that.  Guess I had better mention that to the doc the morning of the surgery so he doesn’t get confused when he goes in to get them and can’t find them!
Last week when I took the Littles to the dentist, we had to be there quite early.  The day before Sam had worn sweats all day and ended up wearing them to bed, too, since it wasn’t a bath night.  I was in such a hurry the morning of the appt. that I just had him wear the clothes again.  I don’t normally do stuff like that, but it was expedient for the circumstances.  Of course, I will probably never do it again, though, because while at the dentist, Sam announced to the hygienist, “I’m wearing the same clothes I wore all day yesterday!”  Just about that time I noticed a spaghetti sauce stain on his sleeve.  He could have really used some Novocaine right about then!

I met with my financial guy today.  I wrote him a really, really big check – the biggest check I have ever written in my entire life.  I was doing fine and then suddenly on the way home, I turned to Will and, in a panic, asked, “Are you sure this guy checked out?  I just gave him almost all my money!”  He calmed me down and I’m ok now.  Actually, I think things are going to be more than ok.  I may not have to go back to work as soon as I thought I would.  I may even get to stay home until Ellie graduates, which would be wonderful. I'm not so sure who would want to hire a 59 year old woman when the time comes, but I'll worry about that later.   I was thinking that  staying home wasn’t going to be an option.  But this guy seemed to indicate that if I choose a simple lifestyle, I might be able to stretch out this money even into retirement through the beauty of compounding interest.

I found another reason to like him, though.  When he’s not wearing a suit and investing other people’s money, he’s a clown.  Seriously, he is a clown! He gave me tickets to the circus next week (the kids are going to be so excited!) and told us how he is a Shriner’s clown.  His clown name is "Scooter" and he showed us a picture of himself, all make-upped up.  It is so cool!  I’m supposed to text him at the circus and then he’ll give the kids some extra attention.

I am really, really, really enjoying my new bedroom.  It is just so perfect!  Once I get my computer in there I will have everything I need.  If I just put a  mini-fridge in there,  I would never have to come out!  Just kidding…The only thing nicer would be if I got to spend more time actually sleeping in there.  My nights have been so short lately, it seems.  I did get to sleep in a bit last Sat. morning.  I was sleeping when I sensed little feet beside the bed.  The next thing I knew, the covers were being pulled up around my chin and a light, feathery kiss was on my cheek.  It was my girl, coming to check on me.  Sweet…

I now have my new closet, as well.  Our old closet was one that Paul added to our former bedroom.  He simply framed it in on top of an existing wall.  So what Will did was to remove the front of the closet and then that combined with the space left between the old closet and the bathroom wall  created a new, larger space.  He drywalled the hallway side of it and hung a door.  It’s nice.  I have lots of room for my clothes, shoes, and jewelry  now.   I even hung my full-length mirror on the inside of the door.  It’s my dressing area now, too.  For someone who has spent her entire life living in old houses (built when closet space was not a priority for homeowners) I am loving this new space! We hung up a whole bunch of shelves so there’s plenty of new storage space as well. 

When it was just a normal, regular-sized closet, I did have a few shelves Paul had built.  Over the years I had stuffed some of them with cards and notes and miscellaneous stuff.  I cleaned that all out the other night.  There were all these notes and poems Paul had written me over the years.  I re-read them all and found myself in tears as I did.  That man loved me so, so much.  Of course, I remember how awful I was at times and I am just amazed at his faithfulness and never-ending love.  I suppose, in that regard, he taught me a lot about God’s love for us.

I put those things in my hope chest.  That is now in my bedroom.  I remember spending the day with my grandparents around the time of my high school graduation.  They drove me up to this furniture store about an hour from home.  I can’t remember if we went to a place called “Frederick’s Furniture” or if it was in Fredricksburg, Iowa (is there a Fredricksburg, Iowa?)  I just remember reading in the back seat and eating jelly bellies all the way up there. This was the grandma that kept me supplied with the jelly beans and books.  We picked out this beautiful Lane cedar chest for my graduation present.

I had been collecting things for my future home for several years.  I think I kept them in one of my dresser drawers.  But once I got the chest I moved them into that.  It truly was a “hope” chest then.  After I married I used it as a linen “closet” for awhile since the little apartments we rented didn’t seem to have those.  Then, when the boys outgrew their baby blankets, I saved one from each and put them in the chest.  I had a few other odds and ends – a tablecloth my great-grandma cross stitched (that I actually pulled out and used for the first time at Will’s graduation party), a crocheted baby outfit that was Paul’s, etc.  I’m debating about what to do about that.  It’s a sweet little outfit, complete with booties.  I don’t remember Paul’s mom giving it to us but evidently, she did.  I don’t know if I should hang onto it for my grandchildren or if Dorothy would find some solace if I gave it back to her now that Paul has died.  I’ll have to think on that some more.  There have been a lot of times that hope chest has seemed to take up more room than I could afford, but I never once considered getting rid of it.  It’s been scuffed and sat on, and used as a laundry table for a period of years.  Some of the trim on the bottom was knocked off by toy cars.

But now, for the first time ever, it is nearly full.  I have it stuffed with memorabilia.  I have all the things from the funeral I wanted to save.  I have Paul’s wallet, his keys, his pocket contents, and his pills in there.  I have all these little notes from him that I found.  I put my wedding dress in there.  I think that chest will be following me to the nursing home someday.  I can’t imagine being separated from the memories!  It occurred to me, too, that I will have to make sure that the girls are given their own chests someday, too.

I have been struggling again for the better part of a week.  I do so good and then the weight of the grief settles in and I just feel like I am drowning all over again.  Just last night I was driving home from Ankeny after a meeting and as I drove on the interstate the thought crossed my mind that it would be so easy to drive right off the side of the road.  I could probably kill myself pretty easily doing something like that – just head down an embankment, close my eyes, and wait for Heaven…the scary thing was that the thought was really, really appealing for the briefest of moments.  Reason kicked in, of course.  I wouldn’t do something like that.  But now I can understand those that do.

 More and more I am starting to feel this pressure for others, mainly, to be doing better.  After all, 9 months have passed.  It’s time to start moving on with life.  I know people want me to move on, to feel better, to live again.  I think a part of me does, too, but I also know that if I start moving forward, then I’ll be leaving Paul farther and farther behind.  But that’s going to happen anyway.  Even feeling as rotten as I do at times, I can look back on the 9 months and see progress.  I’m moving forward whether I want to or not.

I am reading in my widow devotional by Margaret Nyman again now that I have a bedroom.  This morning I read this sentence that gave me pause, “But losing our choices to God’s choices can give fresh meaning to our days.”

I had to read that several times.  Losing our choices…that’s what happened the day Paul died.  I lost that choice because God chose to take him home.  But “fresh meaning”?  Life feels anything but “fresh” right now.  The author goes on to talk about how when life goes awry and our own plans are blown apart that God’s priorities can then come into being.  I still don’t see it.  I  don’t see God’s priorities at play yet.  I can’t see the good.

But maybe that’s what faith is.  Trusting that there is good, especially when the darkness seems full of bad things.

I am trusting.  I’m not understanding, but then, I guess I don’t have to.

  Only trust.

Worlds of Fun - the hottest day in July 2011 - I loved it when Paul crawled in Snoopy's house so I could tell him that he was finally in the "doghouse" for real!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Day 274


March 6, 2014

Day 274

I hurt.  Tonight my soul feels so incredibly raw.  I miss him.

Just a few days ago I wrote about how I was actually feeling happy.  And now, “happy” is the last emotion I’d use to describe myself. 

Today it’s been 9 months.  But I honestly did not even realize that until mid-way through today, so I can’t say it was anticipation of the date that has caused this downward pull on my heart.  I think it just goes to show that grief is such a yo-yo mixture of emotions. 

Nine months – babies that were being conceived at the time of Paul’s death are now being born – life being breathed in as his was snuffed out…three-fourths of an entire year. 

I breathe in, I breathe out, but all I really want to do is to stop breathing altogether so I can be with him.

Playing with 3 yr old David - Paul played a lot with his boys
But then I am reminded of something I was told three nights ago.  It was our last night at the Amanda the Panda sessions.  An older volunteer has been sitting in on our sessions, offering comments here and there as needed.  Monday night she told us that this very day marked the 18th anniversary of her husband’s death.  18 years!  18 years ago I was a young wife of only 3 years, with a toddler, and soon to discover that another baby was on its surprise way…all the while, across the state, this woman had just begun to walk through the same fire I would someday.

She went on to tell us that when she looks back on herself 18 yrs ago, she does not recognize that woman anymore.  She said that she learned to do things and grew in ways she would have never imagined could happen. And, she softly added, she even learned that she could open her heart to love again (she has since re-married). Her words made me want to weep.  I so appreciated the encouragement from someone who has been there.
The very first night of our Amanda meetings we were asked to fill in a pie chart of our emotions and hand them in.  I was very honest.  I remember closing my eyes so I could really assess what was going on in my head and heart.  Then I began coloring.  We turned those charts in.  Monday night, we were given new charts and asked to do the same thing.  And then our previous charts were given back to us.  I was so surprised to see how, in only 8 weeks, my heart has changed.  Sadness still dominated my second chart, like it did my first.  But my feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed had diminished.  And this time, I had added a generous slice of hope to my pie chart.  That emotion didn’t make it onto my first chart.  I am healing – even when I have nights like tonight.

Will and David are very relieved to be done with the grief counseling.  Their main beef with the whole program was the lack of spiritual centeredness.  I can understand their feeling on that.  I understand, though,  that’s not what the program was designed for.  But when you know where your ultimate healing and comfort will come from, it can make it harder to listen to the world’s babble on what they think will heal.  It was different for me because in our adult sessions, it was primarily all of us just sharing.  I’m thankful the boys went.  I remember one night in my group, one of the widows commenting that she didn’t know how long she could stay.  Her teenage daughter had hurled profanities at her all the way to the session and refused to come in once they arrived.  I think the fact that it was below zero that night eventually coaxed her inside, though!  I have good kids, I really do.

I have a bedroom now!  Tonight will be my third night sleeping in there.  It’s slowly shaping up.  Tonight Will hung my bookshelves and put together my new desk.  He got my ceiling fan up earlier, although he commented that it is only hanging onto the ceiling by two screws and he hopes it doesn’t come down at some point.  I do, too, since it would be coming down on top of me!  That would be one rough awakening!  Bit by bit, I’m getting stuff moved out of the kitchen and dining room and back into the bedroom.  It’s exciting and heartbreaking at the same time.

One of the women in my group the other night made the comment that since her husband’s death she had been doing some remodeling and had re-painted nearly every room in her house.  It’s not like I could relate to that or anything!  She went on to say that as she is doing this she feels like she is slowly excising her husband from the house. 

I get that…so, terribly, terribly well, do I get that.  The basement and main floor of the house have undergone tremendous change in the last 7 months.  There’s not a whole lot left that was the same when Paul was alive.  We’re doing all he had planned, but it has changed, just the same…just like our lives.

And now there is our bedroom.  All those years we were cramped in that tiny little bedroom, we would talk about the day that we would build a new room just for us.  It would be our retreat, our “alone” place…our loving place.  Even when Paul was building temporary rooms back there, he was thinking of our room, running electrical wires that he capped off for the meantime, knowing we’d need them later.  He designed the ceiling to give us more of a “cozy” feel back there.

And he never got to see it.  I’m enjoying the fruits of his thoughts and plans and Will’s labor.  It truly is a special place.  But I am so alone back there. 
Will was 8 here - hard to believe this little boy is the one single-handedly finishing my house right now
I thought the first night I slept in there I would sleep like a baby after all those weeks on David’s hard mattress.  To my surprise, I could not fall asleep, as tired as I was!  Apparently, my body had managed to adjust itself somewhat to that other mattress and it took some time to re-adjust to my softer one.  And then, I didn’t realize just how insulated David’s room is down in that southwest corner of the house.  You don’t see or hear anything down there!  But up in my new room I heard every creak and groan of this old house.  I laid there quite awhile, convinced someone was breaking into the house, before I managed to fall asleep!  I’ll get used to it.

I had to buy a new water heater Sunday – NOT part of the plan.  That morning I had a hard time getting a hot-enough shower.  And then when I went downstairs I could smell something burning.  So I woke Will (boy, am I going to miss him) and he soon discovered that the bottom of the water heater had rusted out.  Ugh.  He stayed home from church to work on the matter.

As I drove to church I found myself really kind of irritated with Paul.  Why didn’t he just buy new water heaters?  It seemed like we were always replacing them every few years and maybe if he wouldn’t have been so cheap, we wouldn’t have had to do that.  I’ve never priced water heaters in my life but I assumed something like that would run in the $3-400 range.  Will called me from Menards before I got home and said, “Uh, Mom?  I just had to spend $950 for the water heater.”  Perhaps that might be why Paul only put in used ones?!  I quickly took back all the uncharitable thoughts I’d been having against his memory earlier!

A friend from church came over and helped Will install it and it ran great until this morning when I had no hot water for my shower because Ellie had chosen to flip the switch to “off.”  Evil, evil, little human…

I was somewhat mollified this afternoon, though.  A guy we know came over to look at our woodburner.  I thought that issue was dead, but he found out about the situation and wanted to see if there was anything he could do.  He was admiring our water heater and said he had installed one identical to it awhile back.  He told me, though, that it is such a high efficiency unit that it cut his propane bill in half.  I guess we’ll see!  If that happens, then I might not be quite so sore at what I paid for it.

This guy asked me how I was doing.  I told him I don’t know how to answer that.  He was widowed young, too, although he remarried pretty quickly, a year ago.  I looked at him and told him it just plain hurts.  He nodded and told me that even though he has remarried he still has days like that.  I read an article not too long ago that asserted the same thing.  Remarriage is not a cure for grief.  While it will lessen in time and the heart may be able to expand enough to love again, the widowed spouse will always hurt over the loss of that former love.

I met my new financial guy this week.  He doesn’t know yet he’s my new financial guy, but I like him, so I think I’ll hire him.  I took my pastor and wife and Will with me to the appointment.  I’m female and clueless about investing, so I figured there might be safety in numbers.  I would be pretty easy pickings for the unscrupulous.  But I came away impressed.  More importantly, my pastor and Will were also really impressed with this guy.  I found him through the Dave Ramsey website.  This guy is a Christian and really into Dave’s teachings.  He also explained the process that it took to win the spot of becoming an ELP for the ministry.  It sounds kind of grueling.  To date, there are only 2 financial ELPs in all of Des Moines and this guy is one of them.  He is going to crunch some numbers and meet all of us at the church next week.  I like the fact that he will be more than just an investment guy.  He’ll tell me when I need to consider going back to work and he even said he’d go through my budget with me if I would like.
The Littles had a dental appointment this morning.  It went well.  Unfortunately, Ellie has several cavities.  Because she is so little I now have to take her to a specialist.  I don’t know how this happened.  I don’t even have her taking a sippy cup to bed anymore and haven’t for several weeks.  She did really great today even though her little body looked so tiny in that adult-sized chair!  So maybe – hopefully – she’ll do well at the specialist’s.
I did get that adoption article written I had mentioned in my last post.  I didn't know what to write, honestly.  There are a hundred different directions I could go when it comes to this subject.  So I finally just prayed that God would direct my thoughts and that whatever He wanted me to write would get written.  You can read it here 
The other night I could not find my slippers.  I was looking all over for them, growing increasingly frustrated.  Then I looked down at my feet…yep.  Paul would have enjoyed that moment!
A week or so ago the Littles brought home little flower pots they had painted in Children’s Church and filled with dirt and seeds.  I had to laugh when I saw the accompanying note.  The teacher had written care instructions for the flowers and explained that they were “asylums.”  Admittedly, I’m not exactly a horticulturist, but I’m pretty certain she meant to write “alyssum”!  But I was glad she made that mistake because it made me laugh!

More and more, the laughter does creep into our house and lives.  It’s a good thing.  I was doing David’s Learning RX with him the other night and he had to do an activity where he had to set the metronome to 120 beats a minute and then do something on every third beat.  I counted out loud to help him catch the beat.  It only took me a minute to realize this was waltz time.  So I grabbed Ben, standing nearby, and cried, “Dance with me, Ben!”  Ever-amiable, he was happy to oblige.  Hand to hand, and hand to waist, we waltzed around the kitchen. All the while, I called out to David, “One, two, three – waltz, one two, three – waltz!”  David covered his eyes with his hand and muttered something about counting down the days until he can leave.  But I had fun.  And judging by Ben’s laughter, I think he did, too.

I know I will never forget this kind of pain and hurt, even after it has faded.  Times like this are burned into the soul.  But I hope I never forget the laughter, either, even when its source is just two clumsy people dancing together in the kitchen…

2003 - with my brother and future sister-in-law - this was the first time we ever met Kirsti