Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 383

June 24, 2014

Day 383
Busy day…I ran the Littles over to Mishelle’s, then home for a couple of hours.  I dropped David off at Learning RX and spent the next hour and half at Menards with Ben, where he was in self-stimming heaven.  He has no idea how hard he makes shopping for me…
Then I ran into Younkers and found a set of sheets for my bed – the first pair Paul has not slept on.  I had three sets prior to his death.  I folded up and saved the ones that were on the bed the night he died.  One set now has a big tear in the fitted sheet and the other set has paint streaks on it.  I left David in the van because his allergies were bothering him so much.  I came out and wondered out loud why the van was so hot.  David told me had turned off the van to save gas.  I left him in there so he’d have the AC for his allergies…
I picked up the Littles and then headed over to my friend, Diane’s, so she could tighten up Sam’s glasses (that I found under a blanket on the basement floor yesterday after being missing for several days).  While there we discovered her husband is raising rabbits to eat.  They look just like Bauer, but are huge.  But apparently rabbits grow for a good year.  I did not know that.  David took some notes on the cages John built because he wants to build something for Bauer this summer.  He’d better, especially if that rabbit is going to get  as big as John’s are.
I’m trying to put some supper on now.  Lizzie is walking around the house sobbing because I’m a big meanie.  The other kids jumped in the pool but I told her she had to find her swim cap first.  The pool chemicals dry her hair out so badly that detangling it is a painful, painful mess later on.  So I bought her a $15 silicone swim cap that she was delighted with when it arrived yesterday – and then she promptly lost it.  I’m not her favorite mother at the moment, I don’t think…
I am thinking my riding mower died.  That thing has been a rickety mess ever since we got it.  I can’t remember where or when Paul got it, but I suspect it has come to the end of its life.  I’m going to have Will look at it when he comes home in 3 weeks just to confirm its death.  In the meantime David can use the push mower.  Then, I’d like to find a John Deere rider if they’re not too terribly expensive.  It needs to be something I can drive in case David ever gets incapacitated in some way.  Or, should he leave immediately following his high school graduation, Sam will only be 10, which is kind of young for being totally responsible for mowing.
David got stung by a yellow jacket a week ago, right under and beside his nose.  He came screaming into the house and I put some frankincense oil on it which took away the sting.  He seemed fine but then the next day his lip started to swell.  It would be another couple of days before he looked normal again.  But he wouldn’t let me take a picture of him – bummer!
I took my van to Walmart yesterday and paid them to change the oil in it for me.  Never in my entire life have I had to do that.  I could practically hear Paul yelling from the afterlife.  But, it’s not a task I care to learn how to do myself.  He’s gone and Will isn’t around anymore, either.  So, what else could I do?  I am slowly learning how to live my life without Paul's approval.
It looks like I’ll be getting new siding and a couple of new upstairs windows in October.  A contractor from church came over last night and gave me a bid.  His was the cheapest, so I was happy to give the job to him.  It will be really nice to have that done.
I’ve really been making progress with my painting list.  I think I may actually get done before school starts.  Then what will I do, I wonder, with absolutely NO projects to trip over?
I’ve also been making huge strides with my scrapbooking.  Considering that I am two years behind, that’s a good thing!  I actually finished a book last week and I am well on my way to getting another done soon.
I am sitting here hiccuping really loudly.  I can’t remember the last time I had the hiccups this bad. They’re so deep that they are hurting my chest.   I am reminded of a time that I got them in my sleep.  I woke up to Paul holding a pillow over my face, threatening to suffocate me.  Even though I had just been awakened out of a sound sleep, I still remember how that made me laugh – which made me hiccup all the louder!
I got my Pleasantville paper last week, which is a story in and of itself.  If I had the time, I would love to march down to that office and take over the writing.  I have never seen a publication so poorly written in my life with its pages and pages of fragmented sentences and horrible, first-grade grammar, capitalization, and punctuation mistakes.  I only ordered a subscription a year ago in January because they do “senior spotlights” for each of the graduating seniors and I wanted to see Will’s when it came out.  It was supposed to expire this Jan. and then I figured I’d renew it when Ben is a senior.  Finally, in March or April I received a notice stating that my subscription was up.  I intended to let it lapse, but I’m still getting this paper every week!  I’m guessing their bookkeeping dept. is run by the same person who does the writing.
So anyway, they had a story on the kindergarten graduation at the school.  I skimmed through the names because I’m always curious as to what people are naming their children these days.  Names fascinate me – always have.  One little boy was named Jesse, which is a name I absolutely love.  If I had had a few more boys, I’d probably have ended up with a “Jesse” myself, before too long.  But this little Jesse will probably always wish his name was Kaden or Kyle or LeRoy or something…since his last name is “James.”  Seriously?  Who DOES that to their child?!
Ellie pulled up her shirt the other day and dramatically informed me, “I have an owie on my nipple!”  I almost hate to wonder who she might have learned that word from…but it did make me laugh!
And that’s good because I haven’t been doing a whole lot of laughing lately.  I have really been struggling the past couple of weeks with grief and I have found myself surprised by that.  The morning of the 7th I woke up with such a feeling of relief and I felt pretty good for the next few days.  I had survived a whole year, which felt like a real accomplishment.  And then I crashed.
I have just been so sad for days and days now.  I don’t know if I’m just coming down off the high of surviving the first year or if reality is striking that I still have to keep doing this.  I have heard numerous widows state that the second and third year are often more difficult than the first.  That blessed early numbness is totally gone and others have, more or less, gone back to their own lives, while the widow is left, bewildered, at the mess hers is in.
Yesterday I had my annual appt. with the neurologist.  He checks me over once a year to make sure I’m not in any imminent danger of re-stroking and tries to see if my left side has come back yet (it hasn’t- probably won’t after all this time).  Since my last appt. was more than a year ago he didn’t know yet of Paul’s death.  So, we were talking and he made the comment about Paul’s death that, “Well, it’s been quite a long while then.”  I looked at him and said, “Not to me, it hasn’t.”
But it has.  It’s been an entire year – 54 weeks now, actually.  Every holiday, every season has passed one time.  And they will keep right on passing, even though much of my own life seems to be at a standstill.
I miss his smile.  I had that thought the other day.  Paul had an ornery streak a mild wide.  Between that and his sometime gruffness, it was a miracle when I could actually get him to smile for the camera.  But there were other times he smiled, even when I didn’t have the camera out.  Those times when he saw me and his face would light up…I’ll never forget those moments.
I like to think that that smile is one of the first things I’ll see when I cross that silvery divide someday.  The thought of that makes me smile now.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 376

June 17, 2014

Day 376

Down today…Missing Paul…it’s probably a combination of things.  My day didn’t start off too well.  I had to hustle to get out of the house to take Ben to the dentist.  Shortly before I was to leave I happened to look at my 6 month old leather recliner and saw that there were red and white paint streaks all over the seat.  David said, “Oh, I meant to tell you about that…”

I about fainted.  I’ve gotten a lot of new stuff this past year, more than I ever have at one time in my entire life.  It’s all come about as a result of the remodeling.  I’ve told myself that I don’t care about the stuff anymore and honestly, haven’t gotten too excited about anything I’ve bought.  But, apparently, I DO care somewhat about my stuff because I was really upset over my chair!

The paint is from my front door that I’ve been stripping over the past week.  What a mess.  I will never strip again – just buy new, instead.  It’s not worth it.  But apparently somebody’s backside brushed up against the wet door and then they sat in my chair.  I immediately applied the leather cleaner that Homemakers gave me to the spots.  Then I went on a frantic search for the chair receipt.  I DID purchase a protection plan.  However, it looks to me like that excludes paint on leather…grrr….

Then, to top things off, Homemakers didn’t register my chair right with the protection company.  It took them forever to find record of my purchase and they are saying that Homemakers registered it as a “fabric” purchase rather than leather.  So, anyway, I spent considerable time on the phone with both companies and it still isn’t straightened out.

I took Ben to the dentist and found he has three cavities.  I had a raging headache by this time.  We ran to Walmart and got a few things I needed and then I dashed home and got on the computer to see if I could still get tickets to the pre-season NBA game coming to Wells Fargo this fall.  I could, but they wanted to charge me $35 in handling fees!  So I’m going to drive up there tomorrow morning to save the money.  Hopefully, there will still be tickets available.

Then, I started working on the chair and was, fortunately, able to get the white streaks of paint off.  The red is being more stubborn but it’s a dark red and really doesn’t show against the dark brown leather.  So I feel a lot better about that now, even if I can’t get the warranty people to clean it.

Also on my down list…the wedding Saturday…actually, the wedding was beautiful and I’ll write more on that later.  But it was my first wedding without Paul.  I did ok that day and actually enjoyed myself.  I had a couple of sensitive friends ask me that day how I was holding up, knowing that this was my first since Paul’s death.  I appreciated that.  It helped that I adore the groom, too, so I was genuinely filled with happiness for him that day.  But after the festivities, when I was home alone, and my feet hurt, and I tucked the kids in for bed, knowing that I will be tucking in kids and returning to an empty bedroom for a long, long time yet…it stunk.  And it still stinks.  Paul loved weddings and I loved them because they always made him extra romantic towards me.  It’s natural to look back on your own wedding day and remember the excitement and newness of everything (and in my case, bone-chilling cold!)  So, that’s still weighing me down a bit, I think.

And then there was Father’s Day.  I really tried to ignore it this year and for the most part, I was successful.  But then at church they had all the dads stand up so they could be recognized and the thought crossed my mind that maybe I should stand up, too.  But I imediately rejected that idea because the truth is that I can’t be both Mom and Dad to these kids.  It’s foolish for anyone to think that’s possible.  All I can do is be the best mom I can be and let God fill in the gaps.  But I didn’t want to listen to the message that followed because it was all about being a wonderful, Godly father.  So I tuned that out and instead sat and stewed in my own juices of discontent and hurt.

It will all pass…


Ok, so the wedding…like I said, it was beautiful.  It was sweet to watch because I knew the bride and groom were sharing their first kiss at the alter.  And two of my kids were in it, so I definitely had an interest in the proceedings!

Lizzie was the flower girl and did a fantastic job.  She was so serious and diligent as she carefully dropped the petals down the aisle.  And Will…oh, my…he sure cleans up nicely.  This was his first time to ever wear a tux and even I was impressed!  Afterwards, a lady from church came up to me and gushed about how “handsome” Will is and how he’ll probably be “next”!  During the ceremony as I watched him standing up there I did feel a pang wishing Paul was here just to see how fine he looked.

  At the reception a lady I did not know figured out I was Will’s mom and had to tell me how surprised she was because “you just don’t look old enough to be his mother!”  Um, thank you!  I’ll take that!

The groom, Me, and Will
The reception was held at Vermeer there in Pella, just down the road from the church.  It was held in a non-air conditioned facility, which I could not believe!  The day wasn’t broiling, thankfully, but it is June and it did get rather warm in there.  The couple did a bunch of pictures after the wedding.  That’s  just not a good idea, all around.  The guests had to wait and wait and I saw a number actually get up and leave.  Finally, they set the food out but nobody knew what they were supposed to do.  Eventually, an awkward line was formed and people fed themselves, still waiting on the bride and groom to show up.  Things went downhill from there, time and schedule-wise.  Will plopped himself down in a chair at my table and announced, “Well, now I know what not to do at my own wedding!”

Love this picture so much - look at their intertwined fingers!

I don’t mean to disparage the whole reception because in concept it was nice – it was scheduled and the food was good and the decorating was pretty.  But it just didn’t quite work out in reality.  By the time the dancing started the only people left were the wedding party and family.  And us!  But it was still fun.

During the reception Sam asked me if the bride and groom would be having a baby soon.  I told him it would probably be a few years.  Sam shook his head and said, “I don’t know, Mom…Babies have a way of surprising people, so I bet they have one in just a few months!”  I’ll have to text that conversation to Nathanael one of these days!

The next morning I sure could “feel” it, though!  Oh, my…my joints hurt, my body hurt.  I am so out of shape and definitely not accustomed to moving my body like that!  I mentioned that to Lizzie and she matter-of-factly stated, “It’s because you’re old, Mom.”  Just a few minutes later I was doing her hair and she seriously asked, “Do you have a baby in your tummy, Mom?”  I assured her there was no baby and she replied, “Well, it sure looks like it!”

Maiden voyage
Easy going on West Street
Not so graceful now
So, guess what I bought the next day?   A bike.  I’ve been thinking about it for awhile.  Actually, it was this winter while reading an article in “Our Iowa” that my interest was really piqued in the idea.  Someone wrote an article about how they had purchased and were enjoying a cruiser bike.  I remember how much I enjoyed the 3 speed cruiser I bought when I was 13.  A number of years ago Paul got me a 10 speed bike but I never cared for that overly much.  I don’t like hunching over when riding or the wedgie feeling I get riding on a 2” seat.  So I started looking around and pricing cruisers.  The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.  I could ride up to City Hall in nice weather instead of driving.  And maybe the kids and I could hit some trails together.  I found a really pretty aqua one at Walmart.  I’ve been looking at it for weeks.  It’s just a one speed bike.  It was actually the cup holder and wire basket that sold me on it, though!  So now I have my bike which will hopefully lead to a flatter tummy and stronger muscles.  If not – well, I’ll look good tooling around on it in our neighborhood!
Maybe the basket is actually for hurling into when 43 yr old moms can't make it up their  own street...
Enough exercise for one day...


Ben came home from Special camp on Friday.  He enjoyed himself, he said.  But he did comment on his frustration with some of the Bible teaching, which was apparently geared to a lower functioning crowd.  “All they talked about was how Jesus was born and how He died for our sins.  I already know this stuff!” he exclaimed to me.  It’s too bad they can’t have separate teaching times, one for the higher functioning individuals like Ben and one for the lower functioning ones. But maybe parents and caregivers might be offended at having to “categorize” their child?  But as much as Ben can comprehend he still can’t really function that well at a regular camp.  He came home saying he wanted to also attend Senior High camp this summer because the senior highers get to do “really cool stuff”.  That’s not happening, for financial reasons, if nothing else.  But, as Will pointed out to me, Ben could only watch those activities happen.  He wasn’t able to participate anyway.

I was very careful when I packed Ben’s bag.  I made sure to separate his clothes and things into carefully labeled ziplocs.  I pointed out to him the special pocket in his duffle where I placed his underwear and socks.  I wanted him to be able to have as much independence as possible while away and to not get confused or overwhelmed by the contents of his bag. When he came home, Ben  was quick to assure me that he had showered every day, brushed his teeth twice a day, and used deodorant every morning (good!). So, as I was unpacking his bag Friday I was a bit dismayed to discover all 5 pairs of his underwear, still neatly folded and smelling fresh. 

“Oh, so that’s where they were!”  Ben exclaimed when questioned.

…pounding my head onto the top of my washing machine…


I joined a Facebook group awhile ago geared towards those in transracial adoption situations – parents as well as grown adoptees.  I am seriously considering dropping the group from my feed.  Primarily, they seem to be a very angry, quick-to-be-offended group.  I’m referring to the parents here, actually.  I’d be scared to death to actually post a question because I know somebody in the group would read racism into my words, no matter how carefully I framed them!  That’s the kind of people they are, unfortunately.  But one thing I did find helpful was a link to a blog that listed 25 of the best books for black girls.  I saved that list and I ordered my first two books off it last week.  I noticed that Ellie, in particular, seems very drawn to the one book that has arrived.  It’s about a little girl’s first trip to the library.  The little girl is black and has her hair done up in a typical black hairstyle (a billion little puffs all over her head).

I’m sensing that Ellie is beginning to realize that she has dark skin.  She hasn’t said anything about it yet, though.  I remember when Lizzie came to us she was very conscious of the fact that she was black – and that I was not.  She was 3 ½ and Ellie will turn 3 in a couple of weeks.  Lizzie would point out other black people when we saw them in stores and she was constantly contrasting her hair to mine and her skin to mine.  With her, I think it was more of a cultural thing.  She had just spent 7 weeks in a black foster home that was, oh how do I say this?  It wasn’t an “educated” black home.  It was what you see on the news – a single parent, lots of kids, poor section of town,  and it sounds like there was a lot of transience going on there.  Gangster types were in and out and Lizzie picked up some questionable words and habits during her time there.  Prior to that she had spent 18 months in a home much like mine, so I’m sure that spending time in this other foster home was a real eye opener for her. 

But anyway, that was then.  She rarely, if ever, says anything about race now.  I think age 3 must be about the time that children begin noticing differences.  I have noticed Ellie rifling through her package of Pull-ups that have children’s faces on them and without fail, she pulls out the ones that have a little black girl on them.  She is identifying.  That’s why I’ve ordered these books for the girls and I plan on getting them more.

Our church association has a black church in Des Moines in its membership.  Actually, I used to sit by the pastor in some of my classes at Faith all those years ago!  I’m sure he would not remember me now, though.  I’ve toyed with the idea of contacting them, but I’m not sure what to ask them.  I’d love to find a black friend to kind of mentor me while I raise the girls because I don’t have one.  But that seems kind of racist to seek out someone’s friendship based on the color of their skin!  If I did contact this church, what would I even say?  I guess I’d like to sit down with someone from there and ask them if I’m harming the girls by raising them so “vanilla.”  The majority of that I’m not going to be able to help, of course.  And I even hate the idea of it being said that someone is being raised “white” or “black.”  Can’t we just raise our children and leave it at that?  Maybe I should just leave it alone and if God wants to send black adults into the girls’ lives He will when the time is right.  He gave me these girls, knowing full well what kind of home in which they would be raised. 

 I just want to do this “right,” I guess.  I don’t want the girls to grow up and say that they wished I would have done more to help connect them with their black roots.  But neither do I want to even make a big deal out of the color of skin.  Why should that even matter?  But somehow, in 2014, it still does. 

Well, the truth of the matter is that right now I don’t have time to worry about it too much.  My days are consumed with caring for the girls and their brothers, training them, educating them, and attempting  to teach them to love the Lord with all their hearts. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand or be purposefully ignorant, but for the time being I don’t have a lot of time to be worrying about potential racial repercussions down the road - that may never happen, anyway.

At the wedding reception Saturday I had an older woman approach me and ask where  I had “gotten your girls.”  I laughed on the inside, thinking that this was the kind of question that would drive that Facebook group up the wall.  Some of those moms would have come out swinging at such a question!  But I answered her, “Des Moines!”  She explained that she and her husband had adopted 7 children from Korea back in the 70s and 80s and so her curiosity was piqued when she observed our family.  We ended up having a really  nice conversation.

Sometimes we just need to lay down our defensiveness and desire to be right and to be heard.  Sometimes we need to listen to the heart behind some questions.  Along the way, we might discover a commonality we might not have otherwise…no matter what differences we think we see.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Day 371

June 12, 2014

I am feeling productive tonight.  Today I finished the touch-up painting in the girls’ room, finished tidying up the basement, made a hot breakfast for the kidlets,  washed and hung two loads of laundry, took David to Learning RX, found two pairs of needed summer shoes for myself at Penneys, exchanged David’s new bike,used my new carpet shampooer for the first time in the living room, made cookie dough,   dealt with a very naughty Lizzie, supervised David’s weedeating and after a couple of go-backs, now have the yard looking all nice and tidy, did 4 scrapbook pages, made supper and had a sit-down family meal,  spraypainted a chair for the girls’ bedroom, spraypainted the porch swing (I love spray paint – one of the greatest inventions ever), bathed the girls, including hairwashing and detangling, got some ironing done,   and started picking up all the rocks, bricks, and cement chunks out of the yard.  I should be exhausted, but I could probably go a couple more hours yet. 

I wonder if getting past the Big Anniversary has given me an energy boost?  I haven’t even been feeling all the greatest this week, either.  My allergies have been kicking it up, which is unusual for this time of year.  I have a feeling that the date has a whole lot to do with all I accomplished.

Ben comes home tomorrow afternoon from Special Camp.  I am anxious to hear how his week went.  Monday, my friend, Maureen and I took our kids up together.  Her daughter has been up twice before, but this was Ben’s first year.  Since Paul isn’t around anymore to counsel/watch over Ben at regular camp, I knew we had to do something else.  But even before Paul died, I was starting to look at the idea of Special camp over “regular” camp for Ben.  He’s old enough now that he would do fine with the other adult, mentally handicapped adults who attend.  Actually, they don’t even have a minimum age requirement.  It was kind of fun just being up there for the hour or so that it took to get Ben checked in, find his cabin, and meet his counselor.  Maybe some year I could go up and counsel on the  girls’ side of the camp.  Ben’s counselor is a pastor down south of us and seemed really nice and attentive to everything I mentioned to him about Ben (which was probably too much, hovering mom that I can be).  I have been praying like crazy for Ben this week and I haven’t gotten any phone calls so I’m assuming that no news is good news!

What else?  Despite the significance of this last week, life has had a way of “happening,” too.  I seem to recall it sort of stood still the week of Paul’s death, but I may not be remembering all that clearly, either.  So, I have a handful of those “happenings” I jotted down to share in my blog.

The other night Lizzie asked me if I would be “picking out Ben’s wife someday.”  She added, “You know – ‘cuz he has special needs?”  I guess she sees all the other things I do for him that aren’t quite normal for an almost 18 year old and figured this might fall into the mix, too!

But then, the other night at the fellowship after our VBS program, Lizzie asked me something about little Rebekah, my friend, Jenny’s 4 year old who has significant physical needs.  It is obvious to anyone who sees Rebekah that she was created uniquely.  I answered Lizzie’s question and then explained, “Rebekah has special needs, you see.”  Lizzie’s mouth opened into an O and she exclaimed incredulously, “She does?!”  To her, Rebekah is just Rebekah.  I thought that was so sweet and such a good reminder of how God views us, His creation.  We are all so unique to Him and created exactly how He intended us to be.  When He looks at us, He sees us, not conditions or ailments by which others might define us.

I got my obituary written finally.  I have a list of things I need to get done that are related to my eventual death.  This was number one on my list.  The only thing is, I found myself being really modest about what I wrote about me.  Most obituaries are not and they laud the deceased, pointing out accomplishments, talents, etc. It makes for interesting reading and helps the reader “know” the one now dead.   I didn’t put any of that stuff in because I didn’t want to sound like I was bragging.  But all that was left was a pretty dry account of my life.  So, I may attach a sticky note and suggest that I would not be a bit offended if others want to expand what I’ve written by a bit.  Or not – I won’t care because I’ll be dead.  Honestly, some of my reasoning for writing my own obit is so I know the spelling and punctuation are all correct.  If someone adds to my obit, they have GOT to make sure they do it correctly.  Maybe I need to refer to my earlier comment about it not mattering, since I'll be dead?!

Speaking of death (and when have I not this last year?)…a couple of weeks ago I idly asked Will how decomposed he thought his dad might be by now.  I know, I know…normal mothers do NOT ask this kind of question…Will was quick to assure me that Paul is still quite intact.  Rats…I still struggle with the irrational desire at times to bring a shovel up to the cemetery and shovel down to his coffin and pop the lid just for one last look.  I won’t.  I have a feeling I’d tucker out after about a dozen digs with the shovel.  I’m not too big on manual labor.  But the thought still lingers… If I knew Paul's body was already breaking down and he didn't look all that human anymore then I think the desire would lessen.  I sure wouldn't want to see that! 

Will went on to tell me that he had seen some news program that explained that bodies remain relatively unchanged for years and years because of the embalming process combined with the airtightness of vaults and coffins.  Oh, you know, even if I dug six feet down, I wonder if there is some sort of cement lid to his vault?  I didn’t stick around the day of his burial to watch.  I had had enough of people and just wanted to go home. 

The Littles excitedly brought in a handful of strawberries one night this week (21 to be exact – Sam counted).  They’re from the bed Paul planted quite a few summers ago.  I haven’t done a thing with them but the berries keep coming back.  I suppose eventually they’ll all be choked out.  But for now it’s like having a little bit of Paul return to us every June.

I had to take David shopping this week for church pants – AGAIN.  The kid will not quit growing.  One night last week I warmed up corn dogs for a quick supper.  He ate 10 of them.  Earlier this week he cooked and ate an entire 12” pizza in one sitting.  I thought maybe with Will gone now my grocery bill might decrease a bit.  Something tells me that was just wishful thinking!

I had an encounter with my randy neighbor again this week, but I feel kind of good this time.  He asked me to copy some pictures for him at City Hall  I hated the idea, but didn’t have a reasonable way to squirm out of the request.  I didn’t even have a spare kid I could take with me at the time to discourage his advances.  I made his copies and then he, quick as a snake, reached out one arm to hug me.  I stepped back and told him, “No- I am NOT hugging you!”  He told me he didn’t like that, but accepted it.  Hmph…I should hope so!  Of course, there was the nice part of me that felt bad for hurting his feelings.  But mostly, I just felt really, really good that I had stood up for myself and for what’s right.  I AM capable!

Well, tomorrow’s another busy day, so I should take my capable self to bed.  I actually get to stay home all day.  I am hoping to start stripping the front door.  That’s going to be a messy job.  But it was either strip the door or buy a whole new one.  I don’t think it’s in bad enough shape to justify purchasing a new one just quite yet.

Will will get home in the afternoon and then he and Lizzie have to be in Pella by 5:30 for the wedding rehearsal.  Saturday is the big day.  We’ll all have to be in Pella before 8:30 that morning for pictures.  Ugh.  The hardest part will be keeping the rest of the kids occupied and out of the way.

Better scoot…I can tell I am slowly losing steam just by sitting down here…

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Day 370

June 11,2014
Day 370

A year ago today was Paul’s funeral.  It was the last day ever I was able to gaze on his face, the last time I touched him…

We survived.  We made it through the one year anniversary of his death, the one year anniversary of the start of our new lives (that we never wanted).

Friday morning I awoke with a bad feeling.  This was the day that I had been dreading for so long.  I have heard it said that anticipation of a death day is often worse than the actual day.  It wasn’t for me.  The day itself was difficult.  I went and had my nails done, which I still can’t reconcile myself to ever paying for.  Sarah did a beautiful job and I was so grateful for her gentle ministrations.  But I must use my hands my awful lot because they were all chipped by the next morning!  That’s why I say I don’t think I could ever bring myself to pay for such a service (this was a gift to me by friends at church).

I then bought some flowers for Paul’s grave.  My legs were literally shaking as I did this.  I don’t know why, other than emotion.  I drove up to the cemetery and laid out the flowers.  I had already told myself I wasn’t going to force myself to cry.  I’m not a huge cryer, by nature.  I’ve done more of it this last year, of course, but I don’t break down easily.  No forcing was necessary.  I sat up there, talked to Paul for a bit - and cried my eyes my out.  But then I was really ok.

All day long I received phone calls and texts and cards in the mail.  I was shocked.  I didn’t expect others to remember the date.  Not everyone is as date-minded as I am and obviously, Paul’s death didn’t affect others like it did the kids and me.  The Littles had their VBS program that night so I went to that.  I received a lot of pats on the back and hugs as others remembered the day’s significance.  I did find myself tearing up then again.

I think one of the texts that made my day was from my friend, Debbie.  She told me that as she was texting me she was sitting on a dock with her husband while he fished.  She said, “A year ago I wouldn’t have been doing this, but Paul’s death changed the way I think about spending time with my husband.”  That is SO great and really touched me (one of the "goods" I look for to come out of Paul's death).  Of course, it reminds me of all the times Paul would have preferred my company, but I was either too bored with what he was doing or too busy to give him my time…

When I awoke on Sat. morning I found that I felt this huge feeling of relief (along with sickening fatigue – it was 6 in the morning and I was getting up for the boys’ final softball games and picnic).  I had made it through the 6th!  No more anniversary for another year – and I have a suspicion that the next one might be a little easier than this year’s.

I finally made it up to the north side of Des Moines and was able to watch Sam play a game.  Originally, the plan had been that each  age group of players would play two games and a picnic lunch would conclude the season.  This is probably  my least favorite Saturday every year.  I can only take watching so much softball, even if it is my own kids playing, the Saturday is invariably scorching hot, and I’m just not a big fan of outdoor eating, on top of it.  But rain was moving in.  So, the softball powers that be declared that one game for the Minors would be it.  Sam’s team was undefeated.  Of course, it probably helped that he had the best coach in the entire history of coaching homeschool softball! J  

Will looked up the radar on his phone and suggested I go ahead and head home.  He said, “Mom, they’re going to cancel the rest of the games and picnic.”  I didn’t have to be told twice!  Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

So, all of us took naps, which is unheard of on a Saturday.  We were supposed to get our family pictures taken, but I managed to get that rescheduled for the next day because of the rain.  After a lazy day, the kids and I drove up to Hickory Park restaurant in Ames.  Paul and I had been there once, but it was a new experience for the kids.  I wanted us to go someplace special to commemorate the significance of the weekend. It was.

And then the next afternoon we had our picture-taking session.  It’s the first time we’ve ever done them outside a studio.  It was kind of fun and I can’t wait to see the proofs! It seemed like a good way to conclude this important weekend.

Today I took David and the Littles on a picnic (which is a big deal for a non-picnic person like myself – I have an aversion to bugs, salmonella, and wind-blown paper plates).  We even went down to Hy-Vee first and picked up fried chicken, Pringles chips, and Hostess cupcakes – all kinds of healthy stuff!  Sam did talk me into buying a watermelon, too, but consumption of that had to wait since I didn’t have a knife on me.  The kids loved it and I’ll even admit that I had a good time.  I found myself waxing kind of poetic as I watched the kids laughing and playing together on the playground equipment – here we were doing this picnic as a way to cope with the memories of what a year ago today was.  We’re living – thriving, in fact.  What better way to cement Paul’s legacy?  He was all about life and today he experiences it more fully than we can comprehend.  But while the veil separates us, we are living, too.  And in doing so, we pay tribute to the legacy he left us.

And now…year two.  I have heard it said that the first year of widowhood is all about survival.  The next few years are about learning to live again.  There are times I really feel like dragging my heels.  Sometimes, I don’t want to figure out life without Paul.  It’s easier to remain in the past. It’s comfortable.  It’s where he is.  I’d rather curl up, do the minimum required to fulfill my parental responsibilities, and wait to rejoin Paul.  But…more and more, I feel like David’s new rabbit.

When we brought Bauer home a few weeks ago, he was one scared little bunny.  David would put him in the middle of the floor and he wouldn’t go very far.  He’d curl himself up into a little ball, point his whiskers at the floor, and quiver.  Once David placed him back into his cage, he’d dive with relief into the corner.  But now, that bunny loves being let out.  He’s slowly venturing farther and farther way, exploring the house.  David frequently has to search for him when it’s time to go back in the cage.

I’m getting curious about the future.  I am anxious to see who I am without Paul.  I am excited for some of the adventures the kids and I might have together.  I’m starting to feel free – not free of Paul, but free to discover what God has for me without him.

 That’s not to say I’m not still sad, because I am.  I still wish I was married.  I wish with all my heart that that June night Paul’s seizure had been a run-of-the-mill type and the next morning he would have awoken like normal.  I probably would have said something to him about him having a seizure the night before and then he would have replied that he had wondered if that’s what had happened, because he felt a little “funny.” And then he would have eaten his disgusting runny egg and toast with jelly on it and headed off to work, like every other Thursday morning  of his life.

Tonight I learned that my high school home ec teacher (the woman my children can thank for teaching me how to cook!) only has a few weeks left to live (cancer).  I remember being so surprised and touched when she and her husband showed up a year ago today at Paul’s funeral – they live 2 ½ hours away!  I feel sad because I know the hurt that awaits her family and especially her husband. I hate the thought of the physical pain she may endure before crossing Heaven’s bridge.  But I’m thrilled for her because she gets to go to Heaven really, really soon!  She’s going to get to talk to Paul before I do.  I’m actually kind of envious, I think.

But, it’s not my turn.  I have a whole lot of loved ones counting on me to live a long and full life.  And I’m starting to get  kind of curious to see just the rest of that life is going to look like.  I suppose I’ll do a lot of looking back for a long time, but more and more, my eyes are going to be trained towards the future.

It’s ok that I don’t know what it looks like yet.  Just as God wrote the story of the years of my life with Paul, He’ll write this next chapter.  With Him as my author, I know I can open the pages with confidence.