The title is a description of my old life...but these days I ramble on about widowhood, homeschooling, single parenting, adoption, special-needs parenting, & living a life I never planned for or expected - a life that God, thankfully, continues to strengthen & equip me for daily...
Thursday, November 20, 2014
DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
Nov. 20, 2014
It has been one grueling
week, schedule-wise.I'll probably have
to write this in chunks throughout today.
Monday I actually didn't have
anywhere to go.Well, I did, but I
forgot I did.I realized about 40 min.
before my scheduled time that I was supposed to visit the chiropractor.But I had already determined this was a
no-make-up, no hair drying day.So I
rescheduled.Monday was Ben's birthday.He didn't really want to do a whole lot, he
said, which is fine.Part of me thought
we should do something extra-special since it was his 18th and those are kind
of extra-special.But it was his day and
staying home would save me money.Plus,
it was bitterly cold.So I stayed home
and made him minion cupcakes.
They turned out SO cute!The idea came to me sometime this fall as I
was pondering a twinkie and realizing that a half a twinkie is very similar to
a minion in shape and color.I did some
searching on Pinterest and found that I am not the first person to put these
thoughts together.Mine actually turned
out better, I thought, than the site I went to to figure out what supplies I
would need.Ben was so surprised and
thrilled.Tastewise - not so great.Twinkies dry out really, really fast I found
Of course, for Ben, turning
18 makes a few more wrinkles than for the average young adult hitting that
milestone.I filed paperwork a couple of
weeks ago for Disability for him.Monday
we have to meet with some foreign doctor/specialist so they can determine just
work ability has Ben has.This afternoon
Will, Ben, and I have to meet with my attorney to sign paperwork for his
guardianship that we have to get into place pronto.
That kills me - paying a ton of money for the privilege to do what I've already
been doing for 18 years!But it's for
his protection.Ben, in particular,
could be easy prey for people with low ethics he may encounter.This way he can't decide he wants to go learn
to drive or sign up for a credit card or things like that.My ultimate desire is that someday we can
drop the guardianship portion of the papers and just have Will and I serve as
his power of attorney.But right now he
needs more protection.
Yesterday I took Ben to Iowa City.It looks like
that is where he'll be doing all his dental, even preventative, visits from now
on.They just have the tools and skills
to serve him best.I don't have to go
again now until next spring.At that
time they are going to xray his wisdom teeth and see if they are big enough for
extraction.That would take place in the
summer and would be done surgically.I
am really hoping it can be done this year because next summer he will have
graduated from high school and may be employed by that point and I would just
hate for him to have to delay that or take off recovery time.We'll see.
I've been hurting this week -
physically.Well, actually, both ways,
but I'm just talking about my poor, aging body right now.Early in the summer I started having problems
with tennis elbow on my left side.It
was bad, to the point I had my chiropractor look at it.He suggested I might want a brace, which I
never got.I kept applying essential
oils and finally the inflammation seemed to go down after a few months.Now, my right elbow is flaring
up!And my right knee is hurting, too.
Sunday morning I dropped a
full, mega-size bottle of hair conditioner on my ankle in the shower.Oh, that thing swelled up and has been SO
tender all week long!It seems to be
doing a little better now.I think I am
a bit of a menace to myself.
Tues. night I had one of
Paul's former co-workers come over and do a furnace check for me.If my furnace goes down, all I have for heat
is a kerosene heater, which I don't know how to use.I'd probably have to just load us all up and
go to a hotel if something happened.So
I figured it was a good idea to spend a little now for some preventative
work.I got a good report on my furnace
and enjoyed some time chatting with this guy's wife and kids.They told me something that really touched
me.They said that Paul's death had been
such a wake-up call for both of them.This couple was really there for me in the weeks and months following
his death.I didn't even know them that
well, but they were there for both the visitation and funeral.Their little daughter even cleaned out her
piggy bank for me.So sweet!They were both heavy smokers but when Paul
died, they told me they quit, cold-turkey.They'd both tried to quit before, but failed.But after his death they were awakened to the
fact that they didn't want to die young like he did.So now they are smoke-free.That's awesome - one of those
"goods" to come out of his death.
Sunday I went back to my
Sunday School class.I've been avoiding
it for months because they were doing a unit on marriage.I figured I didn't need that kind of salt in
my wounds, so I've been sitting upstairs with the older folks.But I heard they were done with that so I
went back.I didn't know what to
think.It was just kind of odd for me.The teacher was talking about life's
difficulties and responding the right way in differing circumstances and
different people shared about various trials they've encountered.
And I get that.I have daily trials along with everyone else
in the world.Two weeks ago my laundry
sink started spraying water everywhere.It's still in pieces.This week
my kitchen sink backed up and had to be dismantled and last night the main
floor toilet overflowed and now my linoleum is puffing up causing the door to
drag.I get trials.I have trials!
But I also have a perspective
now that I never had before.All this
plumbing stuff?It's nothing.When you have buried your husband there's not
much else in the way of troubles that can really get to you.Everything else in the world is secondary.Try lonely nights, trying to make sense of
mounds of paperwork, attempting to do the work of two people,soothing your children's shattered hearts,
living with the sensation that you have just been ripped in two and suddenly
you have an altered perspective on everything.
So I sat there Sunday just
feeling kind of odd.I could find
some application for what was being said and I couldn't argue with any of
it.But yet, my life has been so
radically changed in the last 17 months that I found it hard to relate to what
was being said.But...it's my life that
has been changed, not everyone else's. I
cannot expect people to pussyfoot around my feelings for the rest of my life
because I've had a shattering loss and they have not.And truthfully, when it's your life,
it's big, whether it's a death of a spouse or a backed up kitchen sink.It's all big.The last thing I want is for my friends and loved ones to feel like they
can't share what's going on in their own lives because it can't compare to what
I'm dealing with.
But all that doesn't change
the fact that I am changed.I am no
longer the person I was before Paul died.
So I had these unarticulated
thoughts/feelings floating around in my heart and brain for the rest of
Sunday.And then that evening a friend,
who had been in the class,came up to me
and put into words what I had been feeling, to let me know that she was aware
and that she cared.She said, "And
this widowhood thing?You shine,
Sarah.You really do."
That made me feel so warm
inside and teary on the outside.To know
that others understand how I've changed, inside, because of Paul's death is
huge because, as humans, we tend to be rather myopic and it takes a huge amount
of effort and sympathy to step outside our own little box of viewpoints and
life experiences to really feel what someone else is experiencing.That's a major run-on sentence.And to know, too, that at least one person
thinks I'm doing this widowhood thing right is huge because it's what I've
desired from the beginning - to handle with widowhood with a grace that comes
from outside myself.Because, I don't
always feel graceful about it on the inside.
Today has been a big day for
me concerning Ben.We did go to my
attorney's office.I had to kind of
laugh at myself about that one.My attorney
is youngish.In fact, all the prior work
he's done for me has either been done at my house or at his.For awhile he was working for another
attorney and then he quit that job and went to go work for an immigration
attorney in Omaha.But he wasn't
real fond of that and then this summer he opened his own office for the first
time on the east side of Des Moines.As
I walked into this tiny little store-front office with its freshly painted
walls and shiny floor I felt almost a maternal sense of pride for my attorney.And I really shouldn't because it's my
checking account that's helping to pay for this new office (lawyers are expensive!)
but I guessI'm enough of a mom that I
did, anyway.And then I thought it was
so cute that when we got there hisdad,
who I have met before, was sitting in there in the teeny tiny lobby.I realized later that he was there
specifically to witness the paperwork that we had to sign.
I questioned my attorney if
this office is just his first step for a lucrative career.Maybe I'm not supposed to ask those kinds of
questions, but when has that stopped me before?I asked if someday he hoped to be a hot-shot lawyer out in W. Des Moines, but he said, no, he wants to stay right where he
is.He gets a lot of business from the
Hispanic population and wants to continue to be able to help them.
It sounds like we may have to
go to court after all.At first, we were
going to do a voluntary guardianship, but the more my lawyer thought about it
and the more he observed Ben today he finally said he thinks we'd be best to do
an involuntary one.That will probably
mean appearing before a judge.
And then this afternoon was
Ben's yearly IEP meeting.At first,
these meetings filled me with stress, but that's not the case now.It's so obvious how loved Ben is by the staff
there.Seriously, the whole meeting is
one big love-in! Everyone just talks about wonderful Ben is - how funny he is,
how responsible, how smart, how social.It's wonderful! I talked quite a
bit with the Vocational Rehab. rep that was there today. It sounds like a lot of things are just going
to be in place for Ben after graduation.They have so many options and available choices for special needs
individuals - particularly higher-functioning ones like Ben - anymore.I'm grateful.
As I sat around the table
today and listened to all these reports on Ben I couldn't help but be reminded
of the head of the NICU who looked at me 18 years ago and counseled, "It
would be best if you never expect anything out of your baby."I know she was trying to help prepare me for
what she believed to be reality and her words crushed me that day.But I also took them as a personal
challenge.I don't say that to my
personal credit because I didn't know what I was doing.I made plenty of mistakes with Ben - probably
more with him than I did with any of my other kids, so far.But if she could just see him now!
The other day the girls
cracked me up.I was in my closet,
trying on a new dress and heels I had ordered from a catalog.I think I'm going to keep them, but I'm still
trying to convince myself I'm ready to wear the color red again.I've just wanted to avoid bright colors for
the last year, which is not like me, but indicitive of my mood, I guess.Anyway, I had the door shut because I was
dressing and because my full-length mirror is on the inside of the door.The girls wanted to come in but I wouldn't
let them, so they sat outside the door and began to pitifully sing, "Do
you want to build a snowman?...ok, bye..."
There was some major eyeball
rolling going on on my side of the door!
My new laundry basket arrived
this week.I don't want it.It has sat down in my laundry room all week
long, its bright whiteness and brand new plastic begging me to fill it with
clothes.I can't do it.I need to do it, but I can't...yet.There's a story.Of course, there's a story.That's what I do - tell stories about my
life.This is the laundry basket story:
I have seven 1.5 bushel round white baskets setting on a 6' table we inherited
when our old church replaced their fellowship room tables.I used to have eight baskets when we had
eight people in our family.I latched onto
the idea a long time ago of giving everyone their own basket.Then, when all 1.5 bushels are filled with
clothing I either unload the basket myself into drawers or summon the more
capable family members to do the job themselves.I never had any problem keeping track of
whose basket belonged to whom.It was a
pretty simple matter of keeping them lined up in birth order and glancing at
whatever clothes were already in the basket.But one day Paul decided that this would not do.Each basket needed to be labeled.So he took a fat sharpie marker and wrote the
name of each family member on the rim of the baskets.Now there would never be cause for mixing up
baskets.Not that ever happened, anyway,
but I didn't say anything.On my basket,
he wrote, "Princess" because that was his name for me and perhaps he
was in a sweet mood that day.So for the
better part of a decade my clothes have come out of the dryer and gone into the
round white basket labeled, "Princess."
The basket is falling apart
now.It needs to be replaced.I couldn't find one in the stores, which
seems really odd to me, but ok...I
found one on Amazon and ordered it.It
arrived.But there's a problem with
it.It doesn't say, "Princess"
on the rim and because of that I don't want to use it.
I don't know.Maybe I'll take a sharp pair of scissors and
cut off that part of the basket and then throw the rest away.But what do I do with a piece of dull white
plastic with faded lettering on it?I
could just put it on the dryer with all the other junk that makes it way into
the laundry room, I guess.But I don't
like that thought either.So I'm
thinking.And in the meantime I'm still
pinching my fingers and catching my clothes on the jagged, broken edges of my
basket that reads, "princess" on the top.
the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.
This - right here, right
now.I had been praying with increased
fervency this last week asking God to just show me, what - if anything - I
needed to be doing regarding the circumstances with Paul's family.In that same Sunday School class I referenced
earlier, someone happened to bring up these two verses.It was like it was a hand-delivered, signed,
and sealed note just for me.I love it
when God does that!
Tomorrow will be another
busy, busy day.The Littles will be
going to Merritt's, which is wonderful for them and gives me a break, as
well.But it's going to be a little
hairy as the day comes to an end.Will
and David have tickets to go see "Joseph and the Technicolor
Dreamcoat" at the CivicCenter.There is also
the Wizard of Oz musical at the school that Ben really, really wants to
see.So, I am meeting Will at his
workplace in Ankeny at 5 to hand off David.Then, Ben and I will dash over to Urbandale in rush hour traffic to pick up my Littles.Then, we'll fight against the hordes of
traffic heading home for the weekend in order to make it to the school in time
for the rising of the curtain.I am
tired and tensing up already just thinking about it.But Jenn has graciously offered to feed
supper to my short people, so that will ease one concern in my mind.I'll just need to pick up something for Ben
And then late Saturday
morning we have to be in Des Moines
for the state bowling meet for Special Olympics.I am crossing my fingers and hoping that
David won't want to go so he can just stay home with the Littles.That thing is always such a packed
madhouse.Talking to Will today, he is
anxious to get started on the bathroom.He wants to put a fan in there, as well as replace the flooring.He'll be home all day on Sat working on that.
Sunday is church, which will
include an extra trip so David can get to program practice.And then Monday morning I have to have Ben
meet with some Voc. Rehab person that Social Security is sending him to in
order to determine if he's really disabled or not.Never mind that I already have reams of
educational, medical, and psychological papers that say he is.
I cannot keep up this
pace.I just can't.
Since that's kind of
negative, I do have a Sam funny with which to end.Today he complained, " Ugh - I just
can't get these ladybugs out of my eyes!"Peering at his bespectled eyes, I sure didn't see any ladybugs crawling
around in there.I shrugged, not sure of
what he meant.And then I got it -
sleepy bugs.That's what I've always
called the bits of dried matter the kids get in their eyes.It's kind of a cute name for something not so
I'd sure rather have sleepy
bugs than ladybugs in my eyes, any day, though.