|April '93 - in our first apt.|
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
March 18, 2014
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.
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.