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

1 comment:

  1. Great effort on meeting with the financial guy. Necessary to make that first step. Nice photo!