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.


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