|Love, Love, love this picture! Taken at Worlds of Fun on the hottest summer day of 2011|
Sunday, April 6, 2014
DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
April 6, 2014
10 months ago today…dear, merciful God, it’s been 10 months…All week long I’ve been so heavy hearted, feeling a deeper burden and hurt inside than normal. I just want him back! I don’t know. Spring is slowly coming to life and Paul died when it was warm out. So maybe the weather is affecting me. Maybe it’s just another grief wave and it will pass in the coming days and weeks. Last week I was thinking about the 6th coming up but I actually lost track of dates as the week went on and kind of forgot about it. But then today my brother texted me and reminded me and my friend, Sara, emailed to let me know she had remembered. I was appreciative, but had to laugh at myself. Typically, I’m so “date” minded, but apparently not this week!
I find myself, more and more, wanting answers. I know I wrote about this not too long ago. Why? I know all the answers. I know that if God wanted me to know, I would. I know that to insist He filter events through my understanding would lower Him to my human level and then He could not be God. I know He is all loving, always good, and possesses wisdom that I cannot begin to fathom. I know that all that happens is for my good. I know all this. Most of this time this knowledge provides the comfort and assurance I need.
But right now, in my stubborn humanness and hurt, I want to know. Because it just doesn’t make sense. But mostly I just want it to not have happened. I know I won’t always feel this way. I think that someday I will find a measure of happiness again and I will be able to thank God for His sovereignty in allowing the events in my life – even the death of Paul – but right now I’m not there. Right now I just hurt.
I was in a store the other day and I heard a child cry out, “Daddy!” The hurt zinged me in a way that was nearly physical. In fact, a physical jolt would probably have hurt less, I think. It gives me great pain to know that my kids will never, ever have a man they call “Daddy” again. I carry their hurt, too, and at times, the load of all our grief seems nearly impossible for one woman to carry.
Well, I’m just a bundle of sunshine tonight, aren’t I? But I am hurting and there is relief for me in writing it out. Unfortunately, I then transfer that hurt to those that read my writing and then they worry about me. I’m fine. I’m not going to do anything foolish and someday, I will pass through this valley. Just continue to pray for me, for the kids. That’s all that can really be done.
This week we started eating meals together again as a family. It’s not that it’s a new thing, but for the past 4 years, it’s been an inconsistent thing. I’ve made it happen on most Sundays since Paul’s death, but that’s really been it. Four years ago Paul started the basement project, which quickly became all-consuming. He would come home from work and immediately jump on the skidloader or grab a shovel. It was a tremendous project. And because he was so limited on time, it became more expedient to just serve supper from the stove and for him to eat after it got too dark to work. It definitely made less work for me. A few times Paul would suggest that we probably should make more of an effort to eat together as a family and I’d agree in theory, but we never got consistent.
Will has been pretty consumed with the work on the house since November. Knowing his available work time is limited, I haven’t wanted to interfere with progress. But he’s nearly done now. So, anyway, I decided this week that we’re going to make family meal time a priority again. Anytime we don’t have to rush off somewhere in the evening, we’re going to sit down together – and figure out how to be a family around the table without Paul there, too.
The first night Sam was a little beast. I couldn’t believe how poor his table manners were! But then I mentally subtracted “4” from his age and realized he had not been exposed to regular family table times since he was 2 years old. He hasn’t been trained and that’s my fault.
I’m figuring other things out, too. Wednesday I was up at City Hall working. I really don’t have time to be the clerk anymore. I don’t feel like I do that great of a job because of my time limits and because I’m really not all that smart. But even if the city could find somebody willing to take over for me, I don't have time to train anyone, so I kind of feel stuck. But I am appreciative of the little bit of money the work brings in, too. Anyway, I opened up an email sent a month ago from the USDA, through which the city has a loan for their water system. I was supposed to file an annual report with them last Sept. and now our loan was out of compliance. The thing is – I don’t get those reports. There are two reports that have to be filed a year (well, now I know there are two reports – I had no clue until Wed!) and I’ve never understood how to do them. I managed to muddle through the needed water budget last spring, but I was never trained well, the report forms are extremely complicated, and my brain just does not naturally fall into a pattern of thinking that does well with forms and budgets. And because of that the entire city was in huge trouble. Our loan could be called in at any moment and the loan amount is for more money than the city has in all their budget columns.
I sat at my desk and bawled. All of a sudden, all these plates I’ve been spinning for months – parenthood, Learning RX, grief, homeschooling, college planning, Ben’s care, Lizzie’s needs, housework, my finances, remodeling, this little part time job with the city and more seemed to come crashing down, breaking on top of eachother. I can’t do all this. Or, at least, I can’t do all this and do it all well.
I called the USDA and spoke with a couple of very nice women there. They were horrified at my tears and assured me that I had options. I didn’t know I had any options. I thought I had to do these forms if I want to keep my job. But they gave me some ideas to present to the council which I did the next night. I told the council that if they wanted to keep me, something else had to be done. They want to keep me. So now I have the job of calling some banks and local CPAs to explore some suggested options.
But that Wednesday I couldn’t work anymore. Well, I really could not have anyway, because I had to take Ellie to a pediatric dentist to find out what to do about her mouthful of cavities. Earlier that day, I had taken Lizzie to her pre-op physical (and had gotten lost in downtown DM – I am so dumb at times – how long have I lived here?) and I was fitting the work at City Hall in between appointments and before evening church. See what I mean about my time? I couldn’t work anymore because I was upset. I came home, still crying. Will and David were putting up a suspended ceiling in one of the basement bedrooms. I think they were kind of nonplussed by my tears. I don’t normally cry in front of the kids, or anyone, for that matter. But I couldn’t stop. I was just so overwhelmed and feeling like such a failure because I’m not living up to my responsibilities.
I ended up sharing this in my prayer group Wed. night, just asking my friends to pray for wisdom for me so that I can figure out how to do things better. The next day at Learning RX I talked with David’s teacher. I definitely don’t want to quit LRX, but it is a huge time-sucker right now. But it’s temporary. As I thought about my options I briefly considered spending another $2000 and having David do the program solely out there, eliminating my home training portion. But that wasn’t such a good idea, either, I didn’t think. When I started this in Jan. I was encouraged to always sit through David’s sessions with him so I’d understand what is going on. But since then I’ve realized that his trainer does a whole lot more with him than I do at home. I’m only asked to do a handful of exercises. And I know how to do those now. For the last couple of months I’ve spent that hour and a half, twice a week, answering texts and reading my Kindle. It occurred to me that if I did not have to be back there with David for those 3 hours a week, I could bring along a Little and get some homeschooling accomplished. Don’t even ask me how homeschooling has gone this school year…So I talked to David’s instructor and she was very encouraging of my thoughts. She’ll pull me back for a few minutes once a week to give me some tips and how-to’s on the home instruction, but the rest of that time is mine.
So that’s one thing figured out, anyway. Then today, I humbled myself and asked my friend Mishelle at church if she would take the Littles for an entire day later this month. I hated to do that. But if I could have one day without them the boys and I could get the garage cleaned out (the city is renting a dumpster for residents’ use in a few weeks and we have lots to put in it) and maybe I could even work on my very messy basement. When I asked Mishelle she told me “yes” immediately. And then she told me she’d been thinking since I had shared Wed. night and she wants to figure out how to do something for me on a regular basis. She said, “You can’t do all this, Sarah, and I want to help!” I wanted to cry. But my mind is mulling this over as I try to think of possible scenarios of how to best accept her generosity.
We’re into softball season now. Well, we will be soon. The first game is April 15, but practices have started. Will is coaching Sam’s team. That wasn’t planned, but Thursday I got a call from the homeschool softball director telling me that Sam’s coach had backed out at the last minute. He was wondering if I’d be ok with him asking Will to take over. He didn’t have to do that, but it was appreciated, just the same. Will agreed to the offer and is actually pretty tickled. We had to make a trip out to Scheels the next morning to get some bats and balls for his team and Will had his first practice with his minor leaguers yesterday afternoon. What’s kind of neat is that David’s coach’s daughter is on Will’s team. They had back-to-back practices yesterday afternoon so during David’s practice, Sam ended up just going to the coach’s house, which wasn’t too far away, and hung out with their kids. I’m getting a kick out Will. He’s so enthusiastic about coaching! Considering he wants to go into coaching as a career, I suppose this is a good thing!
The games will start up and my Tuesday nights will be gone until mid-June. It’s set up so that the kids play by age – minor league for an hour, major league for the next hour, teens the last hour. I’ve got kids on the minors and teen teams so it will be a full night for us. Softball season represents sacrifice on my end. I enjoy watching the teen games, but everything else I could do without! Although, Will is telling me that Sam is really, really good, so he might be entertaining to watch. But I don’t enjoy freezing in the beginning of the season and sweltering by the end. I don’t enjoy chasing small children or eyeing foul balls, trying to judge whether or not we need to duck. I don’t enjoy carting chairs and drinks, and gloves, and bats all over the fields. I don’t enjoy the time it takes. And now I'll be doing it without Paul's help.
I bought Ben an alarm clock a few weeks ago but have been too busy to get it set up for him. This week he came to me and asked me to teach him how to set his alarm. He said, “Mom, I need to be more responsible!” Alright, then. And you know what? He is! He is getting up now at 6:30 every morning, dressing and feeding himself. I stumble out of my bedroom, bleary-eyed at a quarter to seven and Ben is sitting quietly in the lazy boy, eating his pop tarts and watching the news. Glimmers of hope…
But then, there are other moments, like yesterday, when he dumped the entire contents of the fry daddy all over my kitchen floor. My kitchen floor that had been mopped less than an hour before. Of course. Any idea how slippery a wood floor gets with cooking oil all over it? Deadly slippery. Fortunately, Ben’s SCL worker was there at the time and he suggested I use Dawn dishwashing soap. I did and it cut through all that grease like magic. Now I have just have a section of the floor that is really, really shiny. But it’s not going to be a death trap, like I had feared. But still – if I hadn’t been around, Ben would not have known how to take care of the mess. How can I even think of having him live somewhat independently someday?
I had some song lyrics to post tonight but I think I’ll wait. This post is getting way too long as it is.
This week one of my Facebook friends posted about her husband being out of town and how “hard” it was. My hand actually hovered above my keyboard for a moment. I so badly wanted to say something, but I didn’t. The truth is, it is hard to have your husband out of town. A year ago, I would have totally commiserated with my friend. But now, I wanted to shoot off, “Well, at least he’s coming back to you!” Sigh…But I can’t make my pain everyone else’s. It’s not right for me to try to make them feel guilty for the normalcy of their lives. But anymore, I just feel like I can’t relate to people. It’s almost like I’m in this glass box made up of loss and suffering and everything I view through the box is distorted by the type of glass I am now looking through. Will the day ever come that I step outside that box and rejoin humanity? I don’t know. Maybe.
But I know I won’t ever be the same as who I was before.