Friday, January 9, 2015
DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
Jan. 9, 2015
Today would have been my grandma's 103rd birthday. But she's been dead for more than 11 years now.
It's cold out - bone chilling cold. It was Ben's first week back to school - kind of. Monday, they had their normal early out at 2pm. Tuesday there was a 2 hour delay because of the snow the day before. Wednesday there was no school at all because the high was -5. Thursday there was a 2 hour delay. Today there was a 2 hour delay. Ben actually had only about an hour of school today. I had to pick him for court before noon, anyway. I suggested to him that, with the delay, he might want to skip school altogether, but he was having none of that. He loves school!
And...it's done. Today, with a flourish of a judge's pen and a couple of signatures from Will and me, I stripped Ben of all his adult rights. I know it's for his protection and an (expensive) act of love, but right now I feel kind of crummy about it. No parent wants to have to do this for their child.
Tuesday I had a phone call from the attorney appointed to represent Ben. It was a nice conversation and by the end she told me she was definitely in favor of having Will and me be Ben's guardians. Well, I would hope so! She then came out to the house the next day. She had to see where Ben lived and meet with him and make sure he was ok with the guardianship.
Then today was the actual hearing. Only, we ended up not having to see the judge. The two attorneys met with him in his chambers while Will, Ben, and I sat right outside the door. I amused myself by reading the schedule of hearings planned for the judge today. A lot of them were "the state vs __________" I wondered what they were in trouble for. There was one domestic violence case and a couple of so and so's vs so and so. Ours was the only guardianship case.
My attorney had told me there probably would be a hearing and even cautioned me that I would have to take the witness stand. But it never happened. After about 15 min, the attorneys exited the room and told us it was all taken care of. Will and I had to sign some papers and that was that. We'll get an official notice from the court stating we are Ben's guardians in case there should ever be an issue.
I did find out that I cannot plan elective surgery for Ben without approval from the court. Since he may be getting his wisdom teeth out this year that was of interest to me. Ben's attorney told me it was any surgery that was non-emergency, but my attorney said it's only for non-necessary ones. It all goes back to some big court case where a guardian had their ward sterilized and it was decided that violates basic human rights.
I had to decide whether or not Ben can choose to marry without my consent. I had to think on that one. Ultimately, I decided he needs permission. I'm not worried about him, but what if someone tried to talk him into doing something unscrupulous (like an illegal alien)? I also made sure he retains his voting rights.
So, I guess he didn't lose all his rights of adulthood. But this is just one of those days where it kind of stinks to be the parent of a child with special needs. The whole thing hurts my heart.
I type that, but the thought wiggles into my brain, that perhaps I should attempt to be a little thankful, instead. Perhaps I need to regard the opportunity to be Ben's mom and now legal guardian as an honor? After all, God entrusted this very special child to my care. Granted, it was my ignorant choices that led to his conditions, but I won't get into all that right now. However, being sovereign, God allowed Ben to be just who he is, the way he is. And He thought I was the perfect person to take care of him. Not because there is anything extra-special about me, but because He knew I could be a vessel through which His strength, mercy, and power could shine. I've gotten in the way of that too often with my own desires and pain, but it's still kind of humbling to think of this in that way.
All this heaviness, so here's something funny to lighten the mood: yesterday a friend of mine posted to a group I'm in on Facebook a prayer request for her son. I don't know if it was a case of overzealous auto-correct or if she was just so rattled she didn't realize what she was typing. But she wrote, "My son has to have surgery for an undeserved testicle." I was about rolling! I shared that with David and Will and ever since they've been cracking jokes about "undeserved testicles." We're probably not the classiest of families...
I have read that anger toward the deceased is a common part of the grief process. I've never felt that. I've always known Paul would not have chosen to die this way and especially not at this stage of his life. I've often wondered how spouses of suicide victims (is that right? "Victim"?) handle this aspect of grief, though. But earlier this week, out of the absolute blue, this surge of rage towards Paul just choked me. And all it was was that I was mad at him for dying and leaving me to handle all that I must do. It was gone as quickly as it came and maybe it had more to do with my bi-polar hormones than actual grief. But it really surprised me. And then I felt bad that I had gotten mad at him for something he had no control over. At least it was short lived.
Last Sat. I was shopping with Sam and as we approached the van in the parking lot Sam commented that my back driver side tire looked a little low. Seriously...he's 7. I don't notice things like tires unless they're so flat they're puddled all over the driveway. And then the next day Will said the same thing. A couple of days later he had me take his car up to City Hall to do some work so he could change my oil. When I came home he had my tire in the kitchen putting a duct tape arrow on it so he could take it to a tire repair place in Knoxville. He said, "You want to know what was in your tire?" He pointed to a little white object. It was a tooth, about a half inch long. I'm guessing maybe a possum or raccoon used to own it. I have no recollection of running over any rodents lately but I suppose a tooth could have been laying in the road somewhere and I picked it up. Crazy!
Monday Marcia took me out for lunch and to get our nails done. She and I have been meeting for two years now, doing counseling, mostly, along with some Bible study. We actually started this before Paul's death. I have come to appreciate and love this lady so much in this time. She has really filled a need that I had for a mentor. I think her real gift is encouragement, though. But Monday was just about having fun and it was such a treat for me. It really lifted my spirits all week long. And my nails - oh, boy, they're nice. They did a procedure called "shellacking" and 4 days later, I still don't have a single chip on any of nails. And my fingers do a lot of hard work, which is usually why my nails are short. They take a lot of abuse. Maybe someday I can be a friend and encourager to another struggling one like Marcia has been to me.
Last night we had a city council meeting - really short, which was nice. Will and I left the building afterwards and as I stepped into the car I was hit by the sudden memory of how Paul and I usually drove straight down to the Checkerboard restaurant after the meetings. We'd take our meeting pay and pay for supper that way. It felt kind of like a punch to the stomach in one way - missing those date nights, missing the routine, missing Paul. But the the memory made me smile, too. I have a lot of wonderful memories.
I had Lizzie's hearing checked last spring or summer and the audiologist told me it was just fine. But there are still times I question that. Like yesterday...she was doing some schoolwork where she had to identify the picture, choose one of the three starting sounds, and then write the letter. She came to me with her book and said, "Mom, we have a problem! There's no 't'." It was a picture of a kangaroo. She needed a K, not a T. I asked her, "Well, what do you think this picture is?" She replied confidently, "A tangeroo." A what? I had her repeat it a couple of times. Both times she said, "Tangaroo." No wonder she was confused!
Today Ellie was helping me do some cooking. I was cutting up cheese and she was putting in a bowl. She commented, "I can't use a knife 'cuz they're too sharp and I might cut my wrist." I agreed with her. And then she added seriously, "And then I turn into zombie!" Thank you, Will and David, for introducing your impressionable sister to The Walking Dead.
My devotional in my Psalms book today was on the subject of joy. I was in a hurry this morning but I felt a strong impression that I needed to take the time to sit down and do some of my normal devotional reading. I've been sensing lately that in this whole grief thing I am missing something and I've been praying about that this week, asking God to show me what it is. I'm wondering - is this it? The devotional talked about how happiness is fleeting but joy is something lasting that is present even in the midst of sorrow. I already knew this, but the truth really penetrated this morning.
I want joy. Right now it still seems just out of reach. But I want that deep seated knowledge and contentment that comes from having a relationship with the Lord and knowing that He will carry me through this trial, too. When I think of joy I think of Paul and Silas in prison - a dank, dark place, cold, and probably rat infested. They were unjustly imprisoned to the point to the point that they probably couldn't even scratch their itching noses because their wrists were shackled. They had been beaten and I can only imagine the kind of physical pain they were in. I bet they were hungry and tired, too. But they sang praise to God in the midst of what had to have been a really rotten day. I want that. I don't want my hurts, fears, anxieties, and troubles to be the first thing I see anymore. I want to be so focused on Christ that joy becomes a natural expression that bubbles out of me.
I think this may be a good pursuit and focus for this new year. I know that I'm still healing and I know things are going to hurt for a long, long time. For the rest of my life I will miss Paul and the life we had, at least to a certain extent. But despite that, I want to return to joy.