Wednesday, June 11, 2014
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.