Friday, May 29, 2015

Day 724

May 29, 2015

Day 724


It's been a busy week.  I seemed to spend quite a bit of it on the phone with different organizations, mostly regarding Ben's summer.  Wednesday I had to shoot over to Pella (42 min away if the speed limit is somewhat disregarded) for a meeting about Ben (more on that later).  I did some running around and lots of emailing and David had a birthday.  I had a lot of baking this week...just stuff.


And as the week progressed the cloak began to get heavier and heavier.  I really wasn't doing too bad when I last wrote.  But as June 6th gets closer, I'm feeling it.  I don't like it.  I wanted to be past this this year.


One night this week a friend, who was widowed just a few months before me, sent me a picture of a gentlemen she's kind of gotten interested in on a Christian dating site.  I was enthusiastic in my approval - for her.  At the same time, I was surprised and thought, "Dating?  Already?"  And then I had to remind myself it's been two years.  That's probably long enough to work through a lot of grief stuff.  Why then do I not feel ready to start browsing through sites like that for myself?  Am I hanging onto something that I really should be ready to let go of?


Maybe it's  the timing.  I should probably just assume until the 6th that my mind will not be working the correct way.


Monday was Memorial Day.  Will worked and the guys came and got some stuff done on the house.  When he got home we grilled hot dogs.  Lizzie spied the citronella candles on the deck and wanted to light one.  I told her no, the mosquitos weren't out tonight.  In complete seriousness, she asked, "Why?  Because it's a holiday?"


I went to the chiropractor Wed. and told them about my TMJ.  So they did some work on my jaw.  And now the pain is SO much worse.  I don't know what to do.  I don't know if their work caused the increased pain or if it was just progressing to this point anyway.   Every bite I take hurts.  I'm rubbing in essential oils which help, as do the Advil.  But I can't poison my liver to save my jaw.  The chiropractor explained that my jaw has gotten "off track" which is causing the pain.  I've been to several websites and I see that people talk about having to literally pull their jaws open in the morning with their hands in order to move their mouths.  I sure hope this doesn't get that bad.


Both Will and David have commented in the last week or so about my "laid back" parenting style.  I'm not sure they were intending to be complimentary, although they weren't complaining.  They made mention of this in comparison to other families we know.  I'll take it as a compliment.  I never wanted to be a hyper mother.  Although, really, it depends a lot on the kid.  Lizzie calls me, "strict" and I bet to her, I am.   Both she and Ellie are such loose cannons that I have to keep them on a short leash.  I've never been the type of mom to worry about bed times overly much - for the boys.  But it gets to be 8 pm here, and I start to get giddy.  The count-down to bedtime for the girls has commenced!  If I get them to bed even one minute after 9pm and the girls want a story I say in a fake-sad voice, "I'm so sorry, but not tonight.  It is way, way past your bed-time!"  I'm dreading the day they learn to tell time.


And I think it was last weekend that all 3 of the Littles were outside washing my van, which was fine.  They were having fun and if I ended up with a less-grimy van as a result, I'm happy.  Well, then I went to wash my hands at the kitchen sink and my new bottle of Bath and Body hand soap was missing.  I started hollering about this and eventually, a kid mentioned that was what had been used to wash the van.  I began to hyperventilate, which is silly.  It isn't like the soap is made out of liquid gold or anything.  But when I wash my van I always use dish soap (although I just read you shouldn't do that - it's hard on vehicle paint) so I just assumed that's what the Littles were using.  I was working up into a full-out yell when Will quietly said, "They're just little kids, you know.  They didn't know any better."  Whoosh...that took the steam out of my temper tantrum.  He is so much like his dad.
But anyway, I'm still kind of basking in the glow of being called, "laid back" at least  by some of the kids.  It makes me feel like I've succeeded somewhat!


Tuesday I drove down to Knoxville so I could see Ben in action at his Hy-Vee job before the school year ended.  I guess on his last day they presented him with his very own, real, Hy-Vee badge.  He was so tickled!  I surprised him at the store and got a picture of him sacking groceries.


I got Sam and Lizzie registered for swimming lessons this week.  They'll be at the Pleasantville Country Club.  I had only driven there once before for some football thing for Will.  I didn't realize until I went this week that the country club is located across the street from the city's trailer court!  I don't think you see that very often.  Small town America, I guess!


A couple of men were mowing the grounds when I showed up so they drove over to me and one took the registration inside for me.  The other started talking and asking how my kids were, by name and I was puzzled until it dawned on me that this was Will's football coach for four years until he retired!  He asked, "And how are you doing?" and I about cried because I could sense the sincerity in his voice.  It's so nice to still hear that, this far removed.


I ended up having a last minute meeting at the Christian Opportunity Ctr in Pella on Wednesday afternoon.  I felt bad because it meant I had to leave my house at 2:15, which meant I couldn't wish David happy birthday at 2:28.  He assured me it was fine.  But if we didn't have this meeting that day then Ben would not be able to start COC until probably July, which is silly since he goes back to school at the end of August.  So I went down and to my surprise, his case manager pulls into the parking spot next to me.  I walk into this conference room and it's a table full of people.  They all expressed disappointment that I didn't bring Ben with me.  I explained that he was at Hy-Vee at this time and I didn't want to pull him away from that because it means so much to him.  I'm his legal guardian and can sign anything that needs signing.  So then I rustled through my wallet and came up with a picture of the kids that was taken just after the adoption and showed that to everyone, pointing out who Ben is.  And then one worker, who I think may be a Christian (she just seemed exceptionally gentle and on her wrist she wore a bracelet that read, "fear not") said that she had been reading Ben's file and was just amazed at all our family had been through.  I looked her kind of surprised and she said, "You know, with your husband so unexpectedly dying and then adopting the girls?"  I was astounded that this kind of stuff is in Ben's file.  I have always assumed that any files on him are solely about him.  Although, I suppose anything that happens in the family is bound to have a bearing on his well-being, too.  It just surprised me, though.


I say that, but I am suddenly remembering something that happened years ago when Ben was a preschooler.  His physical therapist left his notebook at our house that had information on his clients.  Being nosy, I opened it up to Ben's page and found a note written by Ben's previous therapist to this  guy who took over.  In the note, the therapist mentioned that Ben's family was "deeply religious."  I remember at the time being a little offended because I thought that made us sound like of cult-like and what on earth did our faith have to do with Ben's physical therapy?  I guess nothing is ever private when you let others into your world.


 So says the girl who blogs nearly every detail of her life on the internet...


COC is definitely unique.  I found out that the board members had to vote on whether or not to allow Ben to be a part of their organization.  Lucky for us, the vote swung his direction, I guess!  Everyone wanted to meet both Ben and me.  It's not like he's moving in yet or anything.  He's only going to be there for one day a week this summer!  I guess they take it all quite seriously.  But, actually, I kind of liked that.  At Genesis, where Ben will also be one day a week, I only know the program director.  I have no idea who else works with him. 


Will has been working in the upstairs bathroom this week, installing a vent.  The workers had already wrapped the upstairs back of the house.  They have not sided it yet because they're going to replace the two windows up there.  Well, when Will cut through the wall to install the vent, he discovered there was no insulation.  It honestly wasn't a huge surprise, but I think we were all hoping to not know this because then it would add time and expense to the siding job.  We froze that first winter here and it didn't take long for Paul to start insulating the entire house.  I do not know how people survived before insulation.  I guess having a non-insulated house was better than living outdoors, so they counted themselves fortunate.


Will came downstairs and said we just couldn't not do something about this.  So he called the contractor himself who agreed that the work should be done.  The contractor called his supplier and within a couple hours, a warehouse from Indianola was delivering insulation and boards.  Will and David spent the afternoon ripping off the 1800s era wood siding and then insulated everything between the studs.   Early that evening my contractor arrived and by nightfall they had the boards on the side of the house.  So it all ended well.


My friend, Jaydeen, was re-diagnosed with breast cancer today.  This just breaks my heart.  A week after Paul died she was first diagnosed and went through a year of treatment.  And then she and her husband fell into serious trouble and separated.  Boy, did I pray for them!  And then God began to knit together the pieces that had unraveled and they came back together this past March.  They've been working so hard to restore what Satan nearly destroyed.  And now the cancer is back.






Wed. night was our end-of-the-year Patch party.  I was up to my eyeballs in baking both Tues. and Wed.  Not only did I need to bring treats for the party, but I had to bring treats for the youth group for David's birthday and then I had to make his cake and birthday supper.  He has asked for pineapple upside down cake for several years in a row now.  This year he got the brainy idea to put strawberries in the middle of the pineapple rings and then top with Reddi-whip.  It was actually very good.  I think we may have to make it this way every time.


My cute cupcakes
I wanted to do something special for the kids so I found this idea on Pinterest that involved making cupcakes and decorating them in  beach scenes using teddy grahams and gummy life savers, goldfish crackers, graham cracker crumbs, and tiny umbrellas.  Boy, was it time consuming!  But they turned out so cute.  No cupcake was alike.  Some had little bears laying out in the sun, some had bears frolicking in the water.  Some were both beach and water scenes...I outdid myself.


But for all that effort, I never sensed that my Patch kids were all that impressed.  The only thing I heard were complaints if someone else got an umbrella on their cupcake and they didn't.  Really? 


Sam's creation, post Jaws-like attack
But, I did get a kick out this: I saved three cupcakes so the Littles could make their own masterpieces.  I had to run down Pville and they worked on them while I was gone.  When I came home, I found Sam's.  He had crawled up on the counter and found some red decorator's sugar.  Then, he broke some teddy bears in half and created this grisly beach scene of utter destruction.  Oh my goodness, I laughed so hard.  He is SUCH a boy!


Will leaves Sunday for camp.  I am so sad about this.  I do not remember feeling this way last year.  But surely, I must have.  I am wondering, though, if it's actually sad feelings about the upcoming anniversary that I'm transferring to this event.  I'll only see him a couple of times this summer - one of those times will be next Friday or Saturday, so it's not like I have to wait all that long.  I just feel like he is slipping away.


Which is exactly what is supposed to happen at this stage of life.  He will be 21 later this year, after all!  He's a man and he's looking toward a future where I'll be in the periphery.  It's the natural cycle of life and a way to ensure that mankind propogates itself and hopefully, gains an ability to care for their parents at the end of their lives.


It's supposed to work this way.  It's natural.  It's normal.  It's what I want.


But I'm his mom.  And he was my first.  And as Abba sang a few decades ago, he's "slowly slipping through my fingers."  It's the slipping that hurts.


Marcia came over this week.  We were talking about widowhood.  Well, I was talking - she was listening.  She then made a comment that I have been really  mulling over ever since.  She said, "You know, Sarah, your problems in life are not because you're widowed.  If you were married, you'd still have problems.  They'd just be different ones."  Boy, do I know that!  I haven't forgotten that I was married to a sinner.


As was he.


She went on to explain that our problems in life are what the Lord uses as refining tools.  In my case, right now, that's widowhood.


The whole conversation both encouraged and depressed me.  I felt depressed because I like to think that I just need to "conquer" this widow thing - work through all the angst and loneliness and heartache and eventually, it will be smooth sailing once again.  Often, it's tempting to think that a second marriage would do that for me.  It's not uncommon, actually, for the widowed to jump prematurely into such situations for that very reason, among others.  It's somewhat discouraging to realize that we still live in an imperfect world.  No matter our circumstances, there are always going to be times of refinement. 


Ugh.  And I still have a good 40-50 years left yet to live.


But I was encouraged, too, because if widowhood is not the reason I am going through stuff, if it is not the cause of my distress, then perhaps a day will come when I really will be okay, despite my status and situation as a widow.


 A couple things pop into my head.  I remember shortly after Paul died writing here on my blog that a Christian's goal in life is never to be that of happiness.  Of course, being human, it's what we hope and strive for.  But that was never part of the salvation deal.  Our ultimate aim in life is holiness.  And how is this attained?


Through refinement in times of distress - the chipping away of all that is impure and an impediment to being a vessel that shows the light of Jesus.


One of my favorite verses has always been John 16:33.

In this world, you will have many troubles.  But rejoice, for I have overcome the world!


The assurance of tribulation is right there.  It is unavoidable.  We live in a fallen, sin-sick world and as a result, we will always encounter difficulty!  But in the end, the victory is ours.  It was secured at Calvary. 


This is what it means to have a secure hope.


All only temporary.




























Sunday, May 24, 2015

Day 719

May 25, 2014
Day 719
So, this week...not a whole lot to report, I  don't think.  A few things happened, but not a whole lot that is noteworthy.  I'm not complaining.
But there has been something occupying a great deal of space in my mind and I have to write less than I really want to because, while I don't think Will has ever read a single blog entry of mine, I doubt he'd be super-appreciative of knowing that I  broadcasted his business all over the internet. Although, I did get his ok to me mentioning this here (that means I told him what I was going to do), so I'm not about to get in trouble, I don't think!  But the super-short story is that he now has a girlfriend.  And I am beyond thrilled because this is a young lady I have had my eye on for some time and have actually been petitioning the Lord for months that He would stir her heart and Will's toward each other.  It finally happened (without my manipulation) and I am so joyful that God answered this prayer with a definitive "yes."
But...and here it is.  The fact that Paul is now gone colors everything in my life.  We frequently talked about the time that our children would begin to pair up and we'd often dream out loud to each other about what qualities that potential spouse would need to have in order to match our child's strengths and weaknesses.  Here it is - the time has finally arrived...and I can't share this with Paul.  I don't know that he doesn't know.  I like to think that God pulls up the floor of Heaven from time to time, so perhaps Paul has an even greater knowledge than I even do right now.  But I don't that for sure.   I would give anything to be able to talk this over and laugh and smile about with him.
I have a couple of internet widow friends.  We met in another group and eventually ended up forming our own little  FB chat group.  We were all widowed about the same time and all have children still at home.  I was telling them about this new development in Will's life and lamented to them, wondering how I could be so absolutely thrilled at the same time my heart wants to break in two.  One responded that she had heard it said that grief and joy are really not all that  far apart.  I've been thinking about that all week and I think there's a lot of truth to that sentiment.
There's a smudge of grief this week, but mostly there's  just joy.  I am thankful that I get a ringside seat in this new stage of Will's life.  He's been an adult for some time, but it's exciting to me to see him enter this part of adulthood.
God is good.
And while I'm on the subject of Will...he had his wisdom teeth removed Monday.  It really wasn't a long procedure at all.  I only had time to read three People  magazines in the surgeon's waiting room.  The boy (man?) has watched so many videos of people emerging from wisdom teeth surgery that he was absolutely paranoid about saying something foolish himself.  So he gave his phone to David and asked him to hide it.  He was afraid he might try to call someone before he was back to himself!
I got him loaded into the van afterwards and he commented three times on the way home with an obvious sense of relief, " I think I'm coherent!"  He holed up for the next couple of days eating ice cream and watching movies.  Wednesday night I made mashed potatoes out of a box and he set upon those like a starving man, "Oh, man, Mom, these are the best!" he exclaimed while heaping mounds of them on his plate.  I just laughed.  I think it was safe to say he was tired of all the ice-cream, applesauce, and gogurt by then!
Thursday Ben had bocce ball in Ames for Special Olympics.  I didn't take anybody, which really made the entire event so much easier.  This year they held it outside, which was a first.  Fortunately, it was a nice, sunny morning, but I suppose even if it had been raining they would have still held it outdoors.  Ben's team got the gold medal - awesome!
Afterwards I ran a few errands and then when I got home I got busy doing some baking and painting (got my propane tank painted to match the new siding - very nice) and so that evening when I finally got ready for bed I happened to glance in the mirror and was shocked to see that my face and nose, especially, were beet red.  What happened?  I had to think back through my day and finally remembered that I had been out in the sun, watching Ben for a few hours and apparently that was enough to toast my skin.  You'd think after being alive this long I would stop to think that things like this can happen even when I'm not at the pool, but I rarely do.
I read an article this week by a fair-skinned woman who says she purposefully never wears sunscreen.  That caught my attention because I've always been somewhat suspicious of the whole "you gotta wear sunscreen" movement.  Sunscreen didn't always exist and if we are blocking every ray of sun from our body, aren't we also denying needed amounts of Vit D?  And what's in the sunscreen anyway - is it really safe?  But then, I'm not crazy about the idea of getting sunburned or developing skin cancer, either, if sunscreen actually does prevent cancer (I've heard some studies that seem to dispute this).  So anyway, I was curious to see what natural alternative this author uses.  Her objections to using sunscreen in the first place echoed some of my own concerns and questions.  It was kind of a useless article, though. Her solution has been to skip sunscreen but to never be out in the sun in the afternoon and when she is out, she layers up on hats and lightweight, long-sleeved clothing.
I suppose that would work and I suppose that's somewhat along the lines of what earlier generations did.  But it's not really practical, either.  I cannot 100% avoid being out during the sun's brightest part of the day.  In addition, a couple of my boys and I have skin that will burn quickly given the slightest exposure to sun.  Sunburns hurt.  And skin cancer is disfiguring and potentially deadly.  So, I'll keep spraying on the white stuff.
When I remember.
David turns 16 this week.  So he had a couple of friends over Friday and Saturday.  He was supposed to have two other friends, but it didn't work out for them to come.  At first, he was just crushed and wanted to cancel the party altogether.  But, he's always been kind of dramatic.  I was disappointed for him, but convinced him to go ahead with our plans.  And, he had a good time.  I picked up the boys on Friday and then Will took them up to Des Moines for some mini-golf.  We had burger fixings  when they got home and Will grilled the hamburgers.  I even toasted the buns.  I'm a good mom.  The boys went to a late night showing of the new Avengers movie and then I made them pancakes in the morning.  One ended up staying until almost 5pm yesterday and it was just fine.
He told me, "I didn't think I was going to have a good time with only two friends, but it was great!"  Yes, indeed.
I bought all his gifts on-line so I just need to wrap them in anticipation of Wednesday and make him his annual pineapple upside down cake (no cherries) and we're good.
Oh, and I need to buy him a car.  I have got to get this taken care of.  I suppose I just need to bite the bullet and start looking on Craig's List.  But then I have to arrange with a mechanic friend to come look at the vehicle with me which will be a bit of pain.  And it's going to cost me lots of money.  Also painful.
Yesterday, the Littles dug out our copy of "Courageous" and watched it.  It's been nearly three years since we watched that - Father's Day 2012.  I haven't had the ability to watch it since Paul died.
Still don't.
But they had it on and as I would walk through the living room, the little snatches of scenes I caught would sometimes cause the tears to well up.  Such a great movie, such a great message...
Such a great pain on this side of things.
In the movie, one of the main characters and his wife suddenly lose their only daughter in a car accident.  I was surprised yesterday, how much the scenes of their grief moved me.  Again, these were just quick little things I would catch walking through the room.  I wasn't about to sit down and watch the movie.  Not yet, anyway.  I obviously haven't lost a child but seeing the actors portray the hurt of having to commit a loved one to the ground and having to deal with the hollow pain left by their absence...
I could feel it.
I was kind of glad when the movie ended and the kids went outside to play again.
June 6th is 13 days.  I can feel the sadness descending.  But it's different this year.  Last year I felt almost like I imagine a deer on the highway must feel when they see an encroaching vehicle but are paralyzed by the lights and just stupidly stand there, awaiting death.  That's how I felt last year as the one year mark got closer and closer.
I'm not feeling it quite the same.  I'm envisioning more of a cloak that is descending on my shoulders - worn and familiar.  I'll get through the day, probably with more ease than I did last year.  And last year really wasn't all that awful.  The anticipation killed me more than the actual date did.  But really, would I want to not wear this cloak every year about this time?  Because if I don't feel at least somewhat bad, what does that say about my love for Paul?
And here's another question.  After two years now, I'm really doing pretty much ok, most of the time.  There are moments that still slice.  I have days and even weeks, occasionally, where I'm feeling sucked under by grief's weight. A lot of the time, life still feels pretty burdensome.   But the pain isn't so common anymore.  How is it that I could have spent 23 years with this man, him being the most important part of my life, even above my kids...and I'm ok after only two years of not having him?  How can a lifetime can tucked away into neat little memory boxes so quickly?
Is there something wrong with me?
An older widow friend visited me this week.  I asked her if she still struggles around the anniversary date.  She said she did not, but commented that it's been over a decade since her husband died and that was why.
So is it possible that someday I might be surprised when glancing at the calendar to realize that June 6th has once again rolled around and I felt nothing in the anticipation of the day?  That it actually snuck up on me?  I wonder.
But then, I'm a "date" person, unlike some people.  I can remember the date of every single meaningful - and some not so meaningful - event of my life.  So it's doubtful to me that I could ever forget the significance of June 6.
A few hours later
The thing is, as much as it hurts, I want to remember.  I don't want to forget.  I had half the kids with me tonight on the way home from church (the other half are still at church) and against my prior-determined plans, I turned in at the cemetery.
 I get really irritated at Memorial Day time because people totally do not understand what the holiday is about.  It was designed to honor soldiers who died defending our freedom.  It actually began as a way to honor those that had fallen in the Civil War.  But yet, everyone goes out and buys these tacky fake flower arrangements pressed into styrofoam and dutifully treks out to the family plot to place them at their loved one's graves, regardless of who they were or how they died.
Which, really, there is nothing wrong with - if you like fake flowers.  I'm not against honoring and remembering dead loved ones.  I just don't want to feel compelled to have to do on Memorial Day, especially since I'm not related to any soldiers who died in the line of duty.  That was why I deliberately stayed away from the cemetery last year on Memorial Day.
But, we went tonight.  Whoever is in charge of the cemetery lines the center of it with full-size American flags every Memorial Day weekend and Independence Day.  They also place small flags at the graves of the soldiers.  Nice.
I noticed Paul's grave is looking kind of neglected.  I haven't decorated since February.  I suppose I should do that one of these days.  I'd like to plant some flowers there, too.  I'm not sure when I should do that or exactly how to do that.  Do I need to haul the rototiller up to the cemetery or   do I just bring a spade and rip up the grass for planting? 
The girls were running all over the cemetery, like normal.  I briefly wondered - again - how odd this really is, that my kids are now so familiar in a grave yard.  It doesn't depress them at all.  Ellie was trying to climb on markers and I was pulling her off and Lizzie was asking me the names of all the deceased and how they old they were at death.  Their exuberance and life seem kind of out of place in the stillness of this final resting place.  I mean, if you think about it there are hundreds of skeletons and loose bones and bodies in various stages of decomposition right underneath our feet!  That's pretty creepy.
But maybe that's how it should be.
Maybe that's why people like putting flowers, artificial or real, at grave markers.  They represent life and beauty in the face of death, which is not beautiful at all.  They're a form of resilience,blooming (sort of) in the shadow of loss, lending delicacy and color to the gray barreness left behind by death's spectre.
And if I can take this reality a step further, metaphorically (and I can, because this is my blog!) maybe that's what I'm starting to see in the recesses of my own soul.  Flowers - life, if you will - are slowly beginning to unfurl and bloom and that's why the approaching date is not nearly as dark and shadowy as it was even a year ago.
And because of that, I can embrace the future as it concerns my children's lives and the changes they are stepping into as they grow and mature.
And maybe I can embrace a new future for myself, as well.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day 711

May 17, 2015

Day 711


Day 711...I remember when I was kid there were 711 gas stations, precursors to Caseys and QTs of today.  I also remember the Sinclair stations and the ones with the shell on them - Shell Oil, I think they were called? But when you needed to run to a gas station for something you'd say you were going to the 7-11 even if it wasn't an actual 7-11 store - it was just kind of a catch-all name for quick service stations.


Boy, am I  tired today.  I mean, really tired.  My allergies have been giving me fits for the last few days.  I don't know why. This is not the time of year I'm supposed to have trouble with them.  But tell that to my nose.   So, I'm having to take zyrtec and chlortrimeton, which usually work, but at the price of fatigue.  Yesterday was particularly rough.  I was able to sleep off some of the drugs and then Ben and I ran errands last night in the rain.


I came home and thought I'd get some decent sleep but then Will got home from work and wanted to have a real heart-to-heart, which was wonderful, but what we talked about revved up my mind and I was unable to fall asleep until after 1 in the morning and then I woke up at 6:15 for absolutely  no good reason at all. 


Although, I'm still thankful Will talked to me.  Even he commented that if Dad was alive, he'd be talking to him instead.  I suppose I should feel insulted, but I don't, really.  That's just the way it's always been with Will.  He was always more comfortable with Paul and preferred his company to mine.  But now I'm the favored parent by default. 


Which I'll take.



Mother's Day was a nice day.  It went exactly as I had planned - which is unusual!  Things don't typically work out that well.  But we had our lunch at Fuddruckers and then we swung by Penneys and I was able to pick up some athletic shorts for David.  And then we came home and the kids gave me cards and Will had picked up a Jim Beam (!) candle at Sportsmans and a just -released book on the Christian and suffering written by his professor at Faith.  I'm looking forward to reading it.  Actually, 2 summers ago when we were taken up to camp for a day a couple of weeks after Paul's death this same professor was speaking and I still remember his talk.  I'm suspicious that what he shared with us that day probably served as part of the outline of this book.


And then the sky got really dark and we got some rain and that was it - no tornado, not even any hail.  And then I called and talked to my mom and then we went to church again that evening and the kids and I went to DQ and as it turned out, I actually had $18 worth of gift cards in my purse so our entire order cost $1.01 which was very manageable.


It was a very good day.


Oh, and when I came out of church on Sunday morning I found a pretty basket sitting in my van filled with Bath and Body soaps and a card with an Amazon gift card inside from a couple of ladies at church who wanted to make sure I had a nice day.  What a blessing!


Tuesday I attended DMACC's orientation with Will.  What a yawn-fest...fortunately, I wasn't without my kindle, so I spent most of my time reading that.  It was a good story, too, about a Lutheran pastor who helped solve a murder and almost  got murdered himself in the process.  As it turned out, he was a widower, his wife having been murdered by the same guy years before.  Very entertaining.


Then, they had the students go off to register for classes and had a session for the parents.  It was basically all about letting your child grow up, geared to parents who have young college students just exiting high school, I guess.  This time I couldn't sit and read without being obvious.


I've been having trouble getting our financial information to the school so before we left we stopped by the Fin. aid office and asked for help - all they did was give us the phone number for tech support.  Not helpful.  We eventually got things figured out on our own at home.  I hope we did, anyway.


Afterwards, we went to Menards and Will and breathed deeply and said, "Ah- h - I love the smell of this place!"  He is his father's son.


David is going on a missions trip this summer to Detroit.  They gave the parents the details last Sun. night.  It sounds like it will be good for the teenagers.  They're going to do it in conjunction with another youth group at a church in Des Moines.  One day they plan to take the kids into the inner city.  I mentioned this to David and he squeaked, "Alone?"


"Yeah," Will joked, "It's called 'survival of the fittest'!"


No, not alone.  But it will be good for these middle-class, mostly homeschooled kids to see a different way of life.


Will gets his wisdom teeth out Monday.  Today a hilarious video popped up on my newsfeed of a young woman coming out of anesthesia after getting her wisdom teeth removed.  She's very upset that she's "still white and not Nicky Minaj!"  I showed it to Will and he was groaning.  He says he's hiding his phone so he doesn't do anything dumb with it when he's still coming to.


This week he  started making plans for  finishing off the basement.  I'm all for it if it doesn't cost too much.  It would definitely increase the resale value of the house and make things cleaner.  But I'm not sure how much time he would have in reality, to do it, and I sure don't want him getting started and then running out time to finish.  So we'll see.  First, I want him to build my L shaped bookshelves in the upstairs hallway. 


His big project this week was building a rabbit hutch with David.  It's pretty cool - and big.


Ellie had an open house Thurs. night at the preschool she'll be attending this fall.  She was pretty excited.  It's held in the basement of the Methodist church in Pville but it doesn't appear to have any religious base at all.  I was a little dismayed to see one of the values on the preschool sign as, "self-esteem."  Ugh - and no!  The last thing our kids need is to have their little self-esteems boosted.  Humans come into this world full of self-esteem.  Our job is to reduce their self-esteem, not increase it.

Trust me...Ellie already thinks she's pretty wonderful.


So I'm working on the paperwork for that.  Apparently, there are scholarships available to help with the cost.  That would be great if I could get some help. I had no idea that was out there.  I could have sent her to the school's preschool, which would more than likely, have been free for us.  But I deliberately made the choice to go with this preschool, even though it would cost me $85 a month, because it wasn't full-time.  So we'll see if that comes through.


The new superintendent of the school and his wife were there with their children.  I overheard him say that next year's freshman class will have 76 kids.  This is unreal.  Pville normally only graduates around 40 seniors every year.  It's a pretty small district.  But apparently there's growth coming from somewhere.


Actually, this is good for me, with my thoughts of working at the school as an associate in a few years.  The larger of a student body, the higher the chances are for increased students with special needs - and the higher the school's need for associates to work with them.  Job security.


The first day of school this year will be Aug. 31 - four days later than last year's start.  I like that.  I don't like it when schools are starting up the second week of August.  They don't need to get their grubby hands on my kids any sooner than necessary.  Although, by the end of summer, I may be wishing they would take my kids earlier!


It's late Saturday now.  The Littles are all in bed and David and Ben are watching Red Green on PBS.  Paul loved that show - it seemed to satisfy his inner redneck, which was often more out than in I guess.


Tonight was Single Parent Provision.  The kids had a blast, as usual.  I decided to do something different and went and saw the new release, "Where Love Grows."  I had it all planned.  The movie started at 7 and lasted an hour and 37 minutes which would give me just enough time to get back over to the community ctr to get the kids by 9.  I forgot to figure in the I missed the ending of the movie.  And it was SO good!  But this just means I'll have to get the dvd.  It is a Christian movie, although I recognized a number of secular actors in it.  It's about a washed up, alcoholic baseball player and a man with Downs Syndrome.  Their lives intersect and it's a neat story.  The previews, of course, are geared to the audience so I saw several ones that look interesting.  The Kendrick brothers have a new one coming out late this summer on the power of prayer which looks good.  Of course, anything they do is amazing.  There's a revolutionary war movie that's Christian.  And there's a Vietnam war era one coming out in July.  Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty is in that one!   I think they said that one is by the producers of "God's Not Dead."


All of a sudden, there seems to be a glut of Christian movies.  I wonder if, in time, the movies will begin to separate themselves into doctrinally loose ones vs. more sound movies.  Time will tell, I guess.


So, I've been working on my filing over the last few weeks.  I finally got the last loose paper filed this week and quickly realized that the folders have got to be thinned down.  So I've started going through them and getting rid of old statements and anything else we don't really need to hang onto.  I got to the folder that contains all the information on Paul's death, burial, funeral, etc.  And I found his autopsy report yesterday.  I have not looked at that thing since it arrived about 6 weeks after his death.  Against my better judgement I decided to read it again.  I don't know what I was hoping to find - maybe just reading it with a mind that's a little more clear would be beneficial.  I don't really know.  So I did.


A lot of it is medical speak, of course.  I was amazed at how thorough an autopsy is.  They examine and document absolutely everything about the deceased.  They measure their hair length, they take out organs and weigh them, they mention what's under the fingernails, which I suppose would be necessary in the case of a homicide.  They detail the type of cuts they make.  All along I've known Paul had an autopsy, but it never really occurred to me until reading that yesterday that they cut him open.  Well, duh.  That's what an autopsy is.  How else did they pull out his spleen, measure it, and include that information in the report?  But I just hadn't given any real thought to the idea that they took a scalpel, and in a large Y incision, sliced open my husband's body.


A few things made me smile.  They clocked his body weight at 203 pounds.  That would appalled Paul.  He was very determined to keep his weight under 200 and any time the scale began inching upwards, he would declare that he was now on a diet and no longer going to eat lunch.  And I would always tell him that is NOT the way to lose weight and he would say, "Sure it is - watch me!"  The writer of the  autopsy puzzled over a strange combination of letters and numbers written in ink on the palm of his left hand.  I knew what it was!  Paul had this bad habit of writing down part numbers on his body that he needed to find.  The night he died he had been working on an elderly lady's sink and I remember that he told me he had to go to the hardware store and get a part which is why he was later getting home than he had originally planned.  When he did that he wrote down the needed part number.  This made me think of people who die who are heavily tattooed.  Every single one of those tattoos has to be detailed.  Can you imagine how long their autopsy reports must be?


The report also mentioned the high levels of caffeine in Paul.  Again - I have the answer.  He chugged ice-tea like his life depended on it.  He had this gallon jug (actually, he had several - he would wear them out on a routine basis) and every single day, even in the winter, he carried around tea and drank it all day long.


So, I was smiling just as much as I was upset after reading the report again.  I was smiling because it brought back good memories.  And I was upset because the whole thing was just so clinical and not who Paul was.  It was his body, nothing more.  Not the man.  I have that report written on the pages of my heart.


And the other thing I felt while reading? 


Relief.  Over and over again in the report it said, "Accidental death."  It said, "Death caused by witnessed seizure."  Repeatedly.  I've always known, in my head, I wasn't responsible for Paul's death.  But when I've been blamed - and I have been - it has messed with me.  My heart has begun to doubt what my head knows.  Should I have done something differently?  Could I have saved him?  Am I to blame, even in the smallest of ways?


I'm not.  It was an accident.  He had a seizure disorder that caused him to lose consciousness.  He fell.  That was it.  I mean, as a Christian, I know that's not it, of course.  God allowed the circumstances to occur as they did.  But I could not have saved him because his day of  death was written before he even began to form as an embryo.  All of ours is. 


It was an accident.


And like all accidents, those left in pieces eventually find the strength to start moving again and I am.  Slowly.  But with more of a sense of purpose.  I'm tucking Sam into bed tonight and he comments that he wishes "I was a monkey."  He further explained that monkeys have prehensile tails (like everyone automatically knows what "prehensile" means.  Actually, I did, but I read a lot.  And I have Sam who has a deep interest in the entire animal kingdom and has been feeding us all tidbits of animal trivia for most of his life) and he thinks that would be cool to have a tail to help you out.  Of course it would.  I  need a prehensile tail, myself. 


These are my reasons for moving on.  Well, some of them, anyway.  But they're sitting in my bedroom at night when I desperately need to sleep telling me the dark and deep things that alternately bother and thrill their souls. They're dreaming about their futures.  They're coloring bits of cardstock and paper while leaving my stamping supplies scattered all over the floor and proudly giving them to me, explaining that the scribbles mean, "I love you, Mommy!"  They're asking to drive by their dad's grave again and they're talking about the coolness of prehensile tails.


And so, I keep moving on.