Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day 535


Nov. 20, 2014

Day 535


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 out.


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.'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.

Later Today

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 guess  I'm enough of a mom that I did, anyway.  And then I thought it was so cute that when we got there his  dad, 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.


Rest in 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.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.
Ps. 37:7-8

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 Civic Center.  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 me.


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 cute. 


I'd sure rather have sleepy bugs than ladybugs in my eyes, any day, though.







1 comment:

  1. I still remember dropping 2 cans of whipped cream on my foot a few years ago. I did quite a number on my toe; didn't break it, but the toenail turned black and the toe itself turned blue. I've been there.

    Yes, you are doing this widow thing very, very well. You are honest about the pain and focusing on God in the midst of it all. AND doing an amazing job with your hurting children.