Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Day 321


April 22, 2014

Day 321

I’m watching the number count on my posts – it won’t be long before I’m at Day 365. 

Completely safe with Daddy...David '03
I don’t have any definite plans yet for the actual one year anniversary day.  Maybe it will end up being just a normal Friday.  Will will be coming home late that night from his first full week at camp.  Sam and Lizzie will have VBS and that night is the program.  I have to be there for that.   The next day the boys have their final games and picnic.  Then, later that afternoon, we’ll do a balloon release at Paul’s grave.  I know the idea is a bit hokey and overused these days, but I like it.  I think we’ll do green and yellow balloons.  My friend, Julie, is going to photograph that and then we’ll do some family photos.  I just talked with my friend and neighbor, Lynne, yesterday, and she’s pretty confident she and her cousin will have our quilts (made out of Paul’s clothing) done by then so we can incorporate at least one into the family photos.  And then, maybe we’ll go out to eat.  Or maybe we’ll do that the next day.  I don't want to be a slave to the anniversary date, but I don’t ever want to not observe it, either.  At least that’s how I feel now.  I don’t know – maybe 25 years from now I’ll pause from whatever I’m doing and think, “Huh – it’s June 6th.  I had forgotten!”  Except, of course, I never will.
Saturday I had a really special time with my friend, Vivian, who has been widowed for 12 years, beginning when she was 41.  Her husband’s death was very unexpected, as well.  As I had previously, mentioned, Vivian took me for my first pedicure.  I’m not so sure I’m the pedicure “type” although my nails are never not painted in warmer months.  First off, the people at the place we went to were all Vietnamese and spoke very broken English, to the point that my gal was having to gesture to me because I could not understand what she was saying!  I felt a little rude sitting there talking to my friend while this little gal worked on my ugly feet.  It seemed kind of rude, somehow, like she was a servant and I was this pampered princess!  They put me in this vibrating chair.  I know it’s supposed to feel good, but all I felt was pummelled.  Eventually, I had to turn the thing off.  It was vibrating so hard I was afraid I’d spill my pop all down my front! 

I happened to look at the price list hanging on the wall.  Wow – paying someone else to do your nails is pricey business.  I could see it maybe for a special occasion, but not as a regular thing.  My toes do look awfully pretty, though!

Vivian had a birthday present for me, too.  She gave me a brand new GPS!  I have never had one and have always relied on Mapquest, which is not always extremely reliable.  Plus, it’s not always that safe to be shifting papers and trying to figure out directions while in the midst of driving.  But ever since Paul died I have gotten lost more than it seems like I used to.  My brain is just not all there, I don’t think.  Now I don’t have to worry about it!  Vivian said buying a GPS was a lifesaver for her and she wanted me to have that same reassurance when I’m on the road.

Sweetness...Ben - age 6
Vivian took me to lunch, along with her mother, who was in town.  Her mom had a severe stroke a number of years ago and still struggles with the effects from that.  I found myself feeling very tender towards her – I am sure it’s because of my own stroke and being reminded of how badly that could have turned out.

Vivian and I talked about all kinds of things, widow-related.  She shared how she used to be a lot like me – very dependent on her husband and feeling so lost when he died.  But now, she’s grown to be extremely independent.  Paul always complained I was already too independent for his preference (I don’t see that.  I never did when he’d comment on that.  All I see are the ways I needed him and how much I’m floundering without his help and guidance) so that makes me wonder just how independent I will be a dozen years from now!  That could make the issue of a potential re-marriage a bit tricky, I suppose.

And we  talked quite a bit about the option of re-marriage.  I found myself thinking on that later.  Vivian talked about other widows she had known who remarried very quickly for a variety of reasons – to have a father for their kids, for security, etc.  I suppose one could come up with a long list of reasons to re-marry.  But I don’t want that.  If I remarry at some point I want it to be because I’m in love and can’t imagine my life without this person as my spouse and because I know that God is directing my steps toward this other person.  Right now, I feel very incomplete as a person.  I think that’s understandable.  Half my life, identity, and future was ripped away in minutes.  But I know it would not be fair for me to marry another person while in this state.  I need to be complete before I ever contemplate re-marriage and expecting another person to complete me.  It won’t happen.

I say that, though, and have to wonder if I’m just idealistic and have bought into this western notion of the soulmate and true love topping the list of all human experiences.  The very first Christian romance stories I read as a teenager were Jeanette Oke’s, “Love Comes Softly” series.  Paul actually owned those, too, believe it or not! He bought me the entire video series a few years ago.  I wasn’t overly fond of those because they deviated so much from the books.   Her books were set in the mid to late 1800s during America’s westward expansion (although she’s Canadian – were the books actually set in Canada and I just assumed all these years they were about the United States?  Hmmm…).  In the first book, the main character, Marty, is a pregnant newlywed when her young husband dies unexpectedly (thrown from a horse, maybe?  It’s been decades since I last read these).  Rather than remain in the wagon train she is encouraged to marry a local farmer, a widower with a young daughter.  They don’t love each other, they don’t even know each other, but for pragmatic reasons, this couple decides to make it work.  Eventually, the love comes and they live out their very happy life together.  So there’s nothing to say that love HAS to be at the top of reasons for a couple to choose marriage.  But I would think it would help.

I’m not going to be able to figure this all out.  But as long as I keep asking God for wisdom and rely on Him to direct my footsteps, I don’t think I can go too wrong when it comes to the possibility of choosing another mate someday – or really, any decision I have to make along this journey.

I have realized, lately, too, that I am questioning Paul more these days.  What I mean by that is that he was very opinionated on a number of things.  If there was any subject that arose that was addressed in Scripture, or had a Biblical principle that could be applied,  he was all over it.  Once he decided something, there was no changing his mind – that was true of everything, whether we were talking doctrine or the right way to make pancakes.  Some things I disagreed with.  If I felt it was important, we’d fight about it.  Other times, I just kept my own counsel and let him have his own (wrong) opinion.  And, sometimes, I accepted his beliefs as my own.  Some things – a lot of things – I completely agreed with him about.  But other things, I didn’t have an opinion, so it was far easier to accept my husband’s, than to think things through for myself.

But now I’m thinking.  I actually realized this a few months ago, but I’m even more aware these days of what is happening inside me.  I find myself questioning Paul’s stance on things like divorce and remarriage, alcohol consumption, dancing (only because of Nathanael’s upcoming wedding – I’ve had to think this one through), and even silly things like wearing pants to church.  He had definitely opinions on these things, along with other things.  I’m not backsliding, I’m not turning into a heretic.  I’m thinking.  I find myself searching for answers in Scripture myself more than I ever have before.  That has to be a good thing.  What I end up determining will influence how I live the rest of my life and how I raise the kids still at home.

A widowed friend recently commented to me about how we share the commonality of single parenthood.  Seeing that in print startled me.  Obviously, it’s not a news flash.  I’ve been aware for some time that I am doing this alone now.  But, I think I have been so focused on being a widow, that I have tended to not look at my other role, that of single parent.  I’ve done it, of course, because I haven’t had a choice, but I haven’t had long thinking sessions where I’ve mused about single parenthood.  I’m thinking about it more right now.  

Re-siding the old house.  10 yrs later I am getting ready to re-side this house - it's going to be a different process this time around - but I think the boys learned more the first time.
I have had at least one divorced friend comment to me that I have it “better” than she does and I can see that.  I don’t have an ex-spouse I have to try to get along with, even though the sight of him makes my heart ache and my fingers tingle with the desire to wrap themselves around his neck.  I don’t have to worry about my kids’ safety when they spend a weekend with their father or fret about the influence of his family or a new stepmom.  I don’t have to worry about going back to work because my deadbeat ex won’t pay child support and the local collections office is backed up.  My children aren’t looking at me with betrayal and anger in their eyes because I split up their home and took away their security.

But…I don’t get a break, either.  I am “on” all the time now.  I have to grieve while making lunches, cleaning the house, figuring out why the van is making that funny noise, and carrying load after load of laundry upstairs.  Sometimes I can cry once all the kids are in bed, but I’m usually too exhausted by then.  Nobody else is responsible.  If I have a child stray off the right path, it’s going to be all my fault.  If I have to make a major decision about a child, the repercussions are on me. 

I guess any way it happens, single parenthood is just plain tough.  And I chose this, but I have to think that there is a pretty vast difference between being a single parent to one child, versus six.

It can be pretty easy to feel sorry for myself because my life IS hard these days.  But then I remind myself that God knew all this.  He gave us all these kids knowing full well I’d be raising most of them myself.  He allowed Paul to die, knowing that would leave me to parent alone.  He knew that would put me in a nearly impossible situation where it’d be unlikely I could cope. 

He knew that it would bring me to the end of myself, forcing me to look up…

which is where He wanted my eyes all along.

1 comment:

  1. Sarah, I am greatly encouraged by your blogs and at the same time I'm reminded to pray for you and your family! Thanks for opening this "window" to your life. It's been a long time since we were in the same church and our paths just crossed briefly then. I didn't get to know you well then, but from reading your blogs I feel like I know you more than I do! As your sister in Christ, I pray that none of your children stray off the right path but I want to remind you that if that would happen, it will NOT be "all your fault!" I think too many parents take on that guilt when, in reality, once your children are grown and on their own they are responsible for the choices they make! You can already see them maturing - Look at all the Responsibilites that Will has taken on, I don't know about other areas of his life but in sports Ben shoots for Excellence and often hits the mark, the Heart that David has to spread the Gospel through missions, and these are just a few things I have gleaned from your blogs. I think you are doing a great job with your children! Continue to surround them in prayer and I'm going to join my prayers with yours and those of many friends and family of yours who are praying for your children! It's easy to say "I'll pray for you" and then forget and let it slide but I've just written down their names on a paper to remind me. Love you!