Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Pox Upon Lots of People!

Dear John,
 
I did hit the wall last night. I didn't even make it to halftime. And I slept like a log, except for the one time I woke up to an odd sensation on my left side. It turned out that Hunter and Maggie had chosen that spot for their wrestling match.
 
Today I was thinking about my Gentleman Caller's assumption that I was lonely and in need of rescuing - an idea that I disabused him of when I ended his attempt at a relationship. I've realized that there are two distinct types of loneliness. There is general loneliness, when you don't have friends and relationships and a support network. And there is specific loneliness, when you are lonely for one particular person.
 
I have specific loneliness. I have friends and family and lots of contact with people, and all of that is good. I am only lonely for you. And there is no fixing that. "Getting out" doesn't help that kind of loneliness. In fact, it can underline and augment it. Only time can ease specific loneliness. And nobody can tell you how much time you should need. Specific loneliness is a normal part of grieving. It doesn't mean anything is wrong with you. It's not a pathology. It is a part of loss.
 
I am only lonely for you. A pox upon men who think they can replace you! A pox upon people who try to should me! It is completely normal for me to feel this way, darn it! I love you, I miss you, and anybody who disapproves of that can go do anatomically impossible things to themselves.
 
So there.
 
Here I am being normal again. There is a measure of consolation in that. The true consolation lies in knowing that love is eternal and our separation is temporary, not the other way around.
 
Love you forever and ever and ever,
Joan.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dilemma & Alumnicity

Dear John,
 
It's here again, the perennial sports dilemma.
 
Remember that year when UK and Duke met in the Final Four? We had just moved from Durham to Indiana. We'd become Duke fans during our years in North Carolina, but we're both UK graduates. So the question was, what to do? As soon as tip-off occurred, we knew. We yelled for UK for all we were worth. There was no question once the game started.
 
I'm facing a similar question tonight. The Steelers are on at 8:30 and UK is on at 8:00. And, as before, alumnicity is trumping all other loyalties. I'll be watching the Wildcats. That is, I'll watch until I hit the wall and can't stay awake anymore. The game will last long after my bedtime. I don't know how much I'll be awake for, but it will be UK all the way.
 
I'll miss you during the game tonight. It's on ESPNU, if you can get it there. Go Big Blue!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Grief According to the Beatles

Dear John,
 
I was listening to the radio this morning on the way to church. (with the heat on in the car - it was 29 when I got up) Do-Wop Nation didn't do much for me, so I tuned in to Breakfast with the Beatles. They seemed to have a line-up planned just for us.
 
The first song was Things We Said Today:

Someday, when I'm lonely, wishing you weren't so far away, then I will remember things we said today.
Oh, how many days there are to remember, and how many things said! We never, ever left anything unsaid. That's the gift of our knowledge of our mortality. The first thing I thought about, though, was that day at Methodist, right before your first trip to the cath lab, that you sat me down and said there were things you wanted to be sure you said to me in case you didn't come back. I will hold those three things in my heart forever. I'm not sure what meant more, the things themselves, or how important it was to you to be sure that I knew them. We had always known that our time together could be very short. But something in those days made us extremely sensitive to that fact. I so cherish that month we spent in Indy, every day spent together in your hospital room, no responsibilities to distract us from each other and the task of recovery that was at hand. I will always remember the things we said that day.
 
The second song was All My Loving: 
I'll pretend that I'm kissing the lips I am missing, and hope that my dreams will come true. And then while I'm away I'll write home every day, and send all my loving to you.
That's what I do here. You're home now; I'm the one who is away. So I come here at night and write home, and every day I send all my love to you. I doubt this was what anybody had in mind when the song was released. But it has that meaning for me now. And that is why I am here - to tend our relationship, ease my grief, and send my love to you.

The third song is one I've mentioned here before, Let it Be. As Mary said to Gabriel, "Let it be to me as you have said." That is the radical submission to the will of God that is the framework of my grief. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. So this is what is best for both of us. It is easy to see your good; you are healed and healthy at last. My good is not immediately obvious. For that, I live by faith and not by sight. Every day I choose to accept God's will for me and know that it is for my eternal good.

So today I bring you Grief According to the Beatles. I come to send my love to you, remember your words to me, and submit to God in my widowhood. May I not be away from home very long!

Sending all my loving to you,
Joan.





Saturday, October 18, 2014

Grateful for Grief

Dear John,
 
Today I made my monthly shopping trip to Goshen. I went to the Farmers Market and the co-op, to Michael's for crochet thread, to Petco for cat supplies, and to Kohl's for what turned out to be a bunch of things. I went for a second set of flannel sheets and walked into a sale, so I ended up with new bathroom towels and bedroom slippers. Our old towels were threadbare and my bedroom slippers were worn as slick as glass on the bottoms. I spent $92 and saved $140, so I did well.
 
I ate lunch at Wendy's - another pulled pork sandwich. I'd planned to come have lunch with you. But it rained all day and never got out of the 40s, so I ate there. I saw a couple in their seventies come in and envied them, thinking how sorry I am that I didn't get to grow old with you. It didn't take long for my envy to evaporate. They didn't look at or talk to each other through the entire meal. It certainly wasn't how we were. And I realized that I'd rather grieve than live like that. I would rather have had a wonderful marriage ended too soon by death, than have a living husband that didn't look at or speak to me.
 
It seems that there are worse tragedies than being widowed. From the day we met, I never doubted that you loved me. We enjoyed every second that we were together. I know that you fought so hard to live because you didn't want to leave me. And I know that you still love me, pray for me, and are waiting for me. I would rather be temporarily separated from a man I love and who loves me, than be with someone that I don't even want to look at or talk to. That is true tragedy.
 
Thank you for my grief, for being the man that I love too much to want to live without. Thank you for my present pain, so much better than the pain of a marriage like the one I saw today. The depth of my mourning is the measure of our love for each other. My cup overflows with both. And for that, I am grateful.
 
Tonight I'll sleep on new flannel sheets. I will be sad that you aren't here to cuddle up with me. But I'll remember cuddling with you under the other set, and I'll smile. I'll remember all the meals at Wendy's, where we stayed and talked for an hour or more after the meal was done. And my heart will be full and grateful.
 
Eager to look at and talk to you again,
Joan.
 
 
 


Friday, October 17, 2014

On Open Windows

Dear John,
 
It will be a short note tonight. It's late and I'm almost past coherence. So I won't subject you to much of this. 
 
Today was my short Friday so I only worked ten hours. It was reasonably busy but not crazy, so a good day. And this was the day for the fund-raiser pork burgers. Pork burgers for lunch can make any day better.
 
Last night we had a stretch where all four of us were piled up in bed together. I woke up to find Jethro at the foot of your side of the bed, Abby next to my pillow, and Hunter and Maggie cuddled up together lying on my side. This is the first time I've known them to curl up together like that. It was nice.
 
It was also nice and warm. The house was stuffy when I got home yesterday so I opened the windows, and I kept them open because last night's low was supposed to be in the low 60s. It felt cooler than that when I got up this morning, and it was - the thermostat said 59. So I closed the house and turned on the heat. I stayed warm and slept well last night thanks to flannel sheets, a flannel nightgown, and four animals piled up with me.
 
It was stuffy again when I got home tonight, but the low is supposed to be in the lower 40s this time. So I opened the house for a couple of hours to air it out, then closed things up again and turned the heat back on. Tomorrow night we're supposed to go down to 33.
 
I don't believe the windows will be open much more this year. That's always a bit sad for me. I know you were afraid that, without you, I'd never close them again. It would be winter and I'd have icicles hanging from the ceiling. But I'm being good - I do close them, however reluctantly. And when I do, I think about you and smile.
 
Smiling just for you tonight,
Joan.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

County Line Road & Cholorophyll

Dear John,
 
I worked my half-day today, but not the way I expected. I got a call this morning that I was needed in another branch, so off I went. Unfortunately, I'd have sworn that branch was Millersburg. So off I went, west on County Line Road, and arrived to the great puzzlement of all. It turned out that I was expected in Wolcottville. So I turned around and ended up driving the entire length of County Line Road. Other than that misadventure, I had a good day.
 
It was a beautiful drive. The trees are near their peak it's been a lovely fall. This morning was foggy enough to delay the local schools. But the sun was shining by the time I came home, and it was breathtaking. This photo is DeWayne's tree. Remember when they first planted it? It's all grown up now.
 
Ever since I learned about chlorophyll, and the different colors it comes in, and how and why the leaves change color, I've been amazed at the goodness of God. There's no need for those colors to be so beautiful. But here they are, every single fall. And I'm once again grateful that I married another science major, so I can ramble on about the different colors of chlorophyll and know that you understand completely. It really is good we didn't inflict ourselves on innocent bystanders, isn't it? Marrying each other was our way of protecting everybody else in the world.
 
Adore you, with our without chlorophyll,
Joan.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Way to Your Heart

Dear John,
 
I found this today - isn't it wonderful? And, of course, it's true!
 
It makes me think of how bad you always wanted to see an open heart surgery. I'm so sorry you never got to. It is beautiful. And so are autopsies, and you always wanted to see one of those, too. I got to see one of each and I've always been sorry you didn't. So here's a picture for you to look at - it's the best substitute I can find.
 
What were the ways to your heart, other than through your sternum? If you're thinking literally, you can approach through the femoral or radial artery. And there's the transthoracic approach if you need to have a pericardial effusion drained. But I'm being metaphorical now.
 
Reaching your metaphorical heart required intelligence, independence, and a sense of humor. You wanted more spice than sugar. You always said that you wanted an independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed woman. And you were right. But the longer I was married to you, the more I realized that you needed my warmth. You needed a big, roaring fireplace to curl up in front of. You needed a woman that loved you with all her heart and soul, and valued you above all the rest of the planet put together. That is what I really had to offer you. You needed somebody that would love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walked on, but intelligently and without fawning all over you. You needed me as much as I needed you.
 
And you have me, always and forever. Your heart has been reached through the sternum, radial artery, and femoral artery. But when I got there, I never left. You took me into your heart forever. It's exactly where I want to be.
 
In your heart always,
Joan.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Aching Post-Columbus-Day Feet

Dear John,
 
I'm exhausted. And my feet hurt. Do you have time to come and rub them for me?
 
Today we paid for the yesterday's holiday. I usually get the night drop processed before 9:30, but today it took until after lunch. I finally got caught up and sat down at 3:30. I got a whole five minutes to sit down between 7:30 and 5:15. My feet hurt. Up to my waist.
 
I remember my early nursing years. Before we were allowed to wear athletic shoes, we wore white saddle oxfords with no padding and no arch support. And the floors were marble. We learned to come home and put Ben-Gay on our feet, then layers of tube socks. By morning - or whenever we got up, depending on what shift we were working - our feet would feel better.
 
You gave such good foot-rubs! I have some mint lotion you could use. You can come any time. I try to stay up until 10:00 on Tuesday nights because NCIS is on at 8:00 and NCIS New Orleans at 9:00. Tonight I believe I'll head bedward at 8:00. This is why God made Hulu. I can catch both of them later this week. I don't think I could stay awake much after 8:00.
 
I should sleep well tonight. I know you will. And your feet won't hurt, and you never get tired anymore. Pray for me, since I'm still here and subject to fatigue and aching feet. Sleep well tonight. My feet miss you.
 
Love you so, so much,
Joan. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Autumn Rain

Dear John,
 
It's 10:00 in the morning - what is the world coming to?
 
This is Columbus Day and a bank holiday. So I'm sitting up in bed with the laptop, listening to the rain through a window open at the top, looking at the fall leaves through fog, with the dog beside me and the cats on me. It's pluviophile heaven.
 
Autumn rain has me thinking about our trip to Door County. I remember that you were scheduled for a week of training that got cancelled, and Matt already had the restaurant covered without you. So you told him you'd take some vacation, and we headed up to Door County. 
 
We found it closed for the winter. And it rained all week. We didn't do what we'd planned and we had a lovely time doing it, which is typical for us. We spent a couple of days touring Green Bay. We got to see Lambeau Field and visit the gift shop. We wandered a mall, and that's where we got the blue-and-white pajamas that I'm wearing right now.
 
Door County in the rain
We took a day and drove all over Door County. I remember we stopped at a boat ramp on the bay. I stood in the pouring rain for almost half an hour, just gazing at water with no visible land on the other side, and soaking it in - both figuratively and literally. You sat in the car like a sensible person. And I appreciated that, because I could stand there as long as I wanted without worrying about you being miserable. We found a diner on the shore and stopped for lunch, and had burgers and cherry pie.
 
And that must be where I picked up H1N1. Nobody had told us that there was an epidemic bad enough to close the schools. I came down with it while we were staying in Green Bay. But I had a light case, and over the weekend, so we vegged in the hotel room and watched football and had pizza delivered from that lovely little place down the road - no hardship there.
 
On the way up we stopped at Stir Crazy in Chicago. I had found one when you were at the Cleveland Clinic, and was glad to get to take you there. We took the back roads home and found a combination cheese-and-antique shop near the Wisconsin border. We got some cheese, and that's where we got the jadite salt-and-pepper shakers that are in the kitchen.
 
It was a serendipitous and wonderful trip. I remember it every time I put on these pajamas, and especially when there is autumn rain. The memory is special today - this is the 2 1/2 year mark of your death. I wouldn't have believed I could survive this long. I know I never wanted to. But then, I never wanted to survive you by 2 1/2 minutes. It does get better with time. We can get used to almost anything, I suppose. I am adapting; I have a full and good life. Know that I love you no less, feel no less married to you. And today I am filled with memories of autumn rain and Door County and you. Especially you.
 
Thanks for the memories,
Joan.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Frustrated Partisanship

Dear John,
 
It was a nightmare, an absolute nightmare. I was all dressed in my black-and-gold, including my Steelers socks, ready to watch my Steelers play your Browns. In this household, that has always been a day of epic proportions. And what happened? The game wasn't being carried here. I tried to get it on line. The one safe place that I could get free radio streaming wasn't carrying it, and every other place I tried wanted me to download apps that attempted to destroy my computer and eat the dog. I spent part of the afternoon uninstalling and deleting things. It was a tragedy. I was all dressed up with no place to go. Even Maggie was ready - she's always in black and gold. I do have good news for you - your Browns won, and quite soundly. I haven't heard any details about the game yet.
 
Maggie, in her black & gold, is unamused
I've been remembering the times we watched those games together. We each wanted our team to win but didn't want the other's team to lose. So we ended up cheering for both teams. It was a wonderful muddle. Remember the game we watched in Cleveland right after your brain surgery? It was on the day after you were discharged from the Clinic. We stayed in Cleveland for almost a week so we'd be close if there were any problems, so we were hanging out at the hotel. Your glasses had been lost in the hospital. The only thing you were upset about was whether you'd be able to see the television for that game. So the nurses set us up at a local Lenscrafters. We went straight there when you were discharged and you had glasses that afternoon. I have no idea who won - that never really mattered. We just had so much fun watching together.
 
Today I missed you and the game. I hope you got to see it. If not, you can get a replay on the Steelers website. And just a reminder - if you have internet, I'm all set up for Skype.
 
Love you and all the memories,
Joan.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Broken Glass & Barbecue

Dear John,
 
I ran errands in Goshen after work today. While I was in Meijer I heard Annie Lennox' "Broken Glass." I remember how much we both liked the song. It has a different meaning for me now.
The sun's still shining in the big blue sky, but it don't mean nothing to me. Oh, let the rain come down, let the wind blow through me. I'm living in an empty room with all the windows smashed. And I've got so little left to lose that it feels just like I'm walking on broken glass. 
 And that sums it up. I've learned to be content with my life. But this is still my reality. We're resilient creatures; we can learn to be content with almost anything, even walking on broken glass.
 
And, on a lighter note: Remember the guy that wanted to go out with me? I told him that I wasn't going to date anybody, but would meet him at the coffee shop if it was just as friends. That way he'd see how old I am and see if we even want to be friends. It was supposed to be for lunch right after work today. But I got a text from him that his work schedule was changed and he couldn't make it. So I went to Goshen, got Wendy's to go, and had a picnic with you. I sat there on the ground and laughed at myself: I'd much rather have lunch at your grave than at a restaurant with a living man that's interested in me. That says everything about me that any man needs to know.
 
And speaking of lunch: I got Wendy's new pulled pork sandwich. It's not North Carolina barbecue - the sauce is tomato-based - but they did get one thing right. It has slaw on it. It was pretty good, for up-north mass-produced barbecue. The ants and yellow jackets agreed. I was overrun by them. I finished the sandwich and set the open container a yard away, and was left in peace while I said prayers for you.
 
Now I'm back at home and watching Notre Dame beat Carolina. At least, I hope so. The Irish are up by seven with forty-seven seconds left in the fourth quarter. I have to agree with the state of Kentucky: UK blue is what Carolina blue wants to be when it grows up. It's just so pastel.
 
Notre Dame won. All is right with the world. The fall colors are beautiful, the sky is clear, the nights are cool, and animals are asleep, and I'll be off to bed soon. And you can rest tonight knowing that I'd still much rather be with you than any man alive.
 
Love you with all my heart,
Joan.


 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Celebrating Mental Health - Sort Of

Dear John,
 
Today is World Mental Health Day. In its honor, we had a less-crazy day at work. It was very busy, but not off-the-wall-crazy like it's been the last three weeks. A better time was had by all.
 
I actually bought my lunch today. It was Frank's fault. We'd given him money and planned for benefit pork burgers today, and it turned out that the benefit is next Friday. So I walked over to the coffee shop and got the special, which was sausage, corn, and a baked potato. I got the half-order, thank goodness. It was wonderful. I think I need to do that sometimes. I don't cook much now, since I'm cooking for just me, and I need a meal like that occasionally. If I got the full-size I could take half of it home. Since I had a bigger lunch, I wasn't hungry when I got home. And it's a deadly combination to come home tired and starving - bad things happen. Tonight I had some cheese and a piece of bread and butter. Yes, I may do that again.
 
I'm working tomorrow, but I'll still get a two-day weekend because Monday is a bank holiday. I'm looking forward to a short week. I haven't decided what I'm going to do on Monday. I may tackle some more painting, or I may knit Christmas presents. I'll see how much knitting I get done on Saturday and Sunday.
 
In the meantime, I will celebrate World Mental Health Day by believing I'm not much crazier than most folks. Isn't denial a wonderful thing?
 
Crazy about you,
Joan.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bedmates & Playmates

Dear John,
 
It's 9:00 and I'm in bed with the laptop. I'll be up at 5:30 and am working until 6:00 tomorrow, so I'll try to be a bit briefer than I usually am. Sleep would be good here.
 
I slept in until 8:30 this morning. But I didn't get out of bed until almost noon. I got the laptop, then the critters came. Abby curled up in my lap and wanted to cuddle, which is rare for Lady Abigail. So I stayed put and enjoyed it.
 
I had a busy but leisurely day off. I swept, did laundry, baked cookies for work tomorrow, scrubbed the kitchen, and got a good bit of knitting done. It's been a nice day. I had the house open until bedtime. I thought about leaving it open tonight, but I looked at the forecast and saw that it is supposed to go down into the mid-30s. So I thought better of it and closed the windows. Be proud of me!
 
The photos are from early this morning, before Abby decided to cuddle. Hunter was asleep on my legs when Maggie decided she wanted to play. She persuaded/annoyed him into it, Abby looked on from a safe distance, and a good time was had by all.
 
I still hate that you're missing all of this. Do the photos make you any more inclined to come and get us? How much persuasion do you need? Get it together already. At least get on Skype!
 
Love and miss you more than I can say,
Joan.
 
 
 
 
 




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Critter Comfort

Dear John,
 
I finally had a slower day at work. It was welcomed by all.
 
I forgot to tell you something. Sunday night I went to bed hurting bad enough that I had trouble getting to sleep. Somehow the animals knew. Jethro came and cuddled up with me, which isn't unusual even when I'm feeling fine. But Hunter was amazing. He came and lay curled up around the top of my head, put all of his paws on my scalp, and started kneading. He lay there, warm and purring, and kneaded my scalp until I went to sleep. Maggie lay across my waist and Abby curled up around my feet. They were all there rallying around me. And I got a good night's sleep.
 
They look after me. They aren't you, but they make me feel your absence a little less. They greet me when I come home, snuggle on the couch with me, and all pile up on the bed together at night. They need me and love me. And I need and love them.
 
You can't have any of them until I come, too. You have to come and get all of us at the same time. We'll all come through the gate together. Bring Caleb and Naomi with you, and we'll have a family reunion. Hurry the day!
 
Love you, miss you, so much,
Joan.
 
 




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How Not to Celebrate Domestic Violence Week

Dear John,
 
October is Domestic Violence Month. Once again, I have to thank you for never killing me. I used to say that to you when I'd been watching too much television. Today I have a reason from real life. I have a friend whose ex-husband beat her up last night. She got away by jumping out a second-story window. She is injured but alive. Restraining order is in place, arrest warrant is in process, women's shelter information has been shared.
 
I can't imagine what it would be like to be afraid of your husband.  My closest experience was when I was stalked in college; that doesn't begin to compare to being in an abusive marriage. When you marry someone, you make yourself completely vulnerable to them - physically, emotionally, financially, every possible way. I knew at first sight that you were safe. I have always trusted you completely. You might hurt me by doing something dumb like bringing that rose by the dorm, but never intentionally.
 
So I hurt for my friend and all the women like her. And tonight I'm more aware of the wonderful man that you are. So thank you for never killing me, never wanting to hurt me in any way. Thank you for being you. In case I haven't told you lately, I adore you.
 
Thank you,
Joan.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Clock Faces & Jimi Hendrix

Dear John,
 
I had a busy Monday at work. Nine-and-a-half hours went by very quickly. I should sleep well tonight. It was a good day.
 
 
I found this on Pinterest a few days ago. Looks familiar, doesn't it? This is what you had in college. The numbers clicked when they flipped down. Everybody thought they were terrific because they were digital. I disagreed. I still prefer clocks with dials. When I look at a digital clock, my brain converts it into a clock with hands, then I know what time it is. I remember one morning that you told me about. Like everybody else, you had your clock-radio set to play the radio instead of the alarm. You somehow managed to set it for the exact instant that Jimi Hendrix' version of the national anthem began. You said you never flew out of bed so fast in your life.
 
You weren't a morning person when we married. You never were awake at first light like I am, but you woke up much easier as the years passed. When we went on vacation we were always awake early and asleep when the sun went down. You decided you wanted to be a morning person, and you became one. Or maybe, with all the crazy shifts we worked, we both just ended up with no biorhythms at all. That's more likely, isn't it?
 
So look at this and remember your dorm room, and all those hours we spent studying together. Those were good days. We never stopped studying together. There was your MDiv, your doctoral work, my MA, and all the things we were just curious about. I miss studying with you. I miss doing anything and nothing with you. I even miss that awful clock that clicked when the numbers turned over.
 
Adore you,
Joan.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Win for the Misbegotten

Dear John,
 
When everybody was in the right place!
The misbegotten just defeated the illegitimate. Or the bearable defeated the inexcusable. The sad defeated the infuriating. And you - and you alone - know what that means. The Colts just beat the Ravens.
 
I am mostly resigned to the Colts. It's been a long time since they snuck the team out of Baltimore under the cover of darkness. But The Ravens, well, that's unforgivable. Baltimore tried to steal the Browns. Their existence will never be bearable. Funny how Baltimore is involved in both atrocities, isn't it? Just what are they up to in Maryland?
 
Anyway, the Colts won at home today. There was some sloppiness on both sides, but Andrew Luck looked good. Now I'm watching the last nine seconds of Cleveland - wait - the clock just ran out and the Browns beat Tennessee. They came back from, I think, down 20-3. I'm sorry you missed that - get on line and watch it if you can. (And, if you can get on line, why aren't we Skyping?)
 
I've been at home today doing nothing but knitting and napping in alternating fashion. I'm paying for going to Corn School yesterday and riding rides. But I'd do it again in a minute - it was wonderful. Today everything hurts except the end of my nose. And this is fibromite life, this constantly deciding what is worth paying for later and what you can give up. This is one decision I don't regret. Yesterday was great. It's hard to beat riding the Tilt-a-Whirl with your granddaughter.
 
And the Steelers won today and UK won yesterday, so all is right in the football world. At least, it's as right as it can be while the Ravens exist.
 
So glad I married a man who likes sports,
Joan.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Autumn Trifecta

Dear John,
 
I'm sorry I didn't write last night. The internet went down. I put a note on the WFF page on Facebook so nobody would worry about me. If I ever go missing, they are the people who will know it. We're scattered all over the world, but we still look after each other.
 
I hit the autumn trifecta today.
 
First, I put the flannel sheets on the bed. When I woke up it was 37 outside and 56 inside, with an expected high of 43. So I closed the windows, turned on the heat, and changed the sheets. They will feel good tonight.
 
Second, I did the fall decorating this morning - changed the curtains and tablecloth and things. I took this to show you. I don't think you've seen the dining room since we moved your mother's Hoosier cupboard in. It looks like it was built for that spot, doesn't it? Everything feels nice and cozy. And yes, your wooden candy corn is out.
 
Third, I met Jen and Elyssa at Corn School in LaGrange. You would have loved it. They turn Detroit Street into a carnival, with rides and food and a parade. I had a terrific time, and I got to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl with Elyssa and Faith (Michelle's daughter). You know that was always my favorite carnival ride. We gave it a lot of spin.
 
Atlanta has nothing to offer that can compete with our small-town events and festivals. I'm so thankful that you moved me here. The fire department is having a fund-raising dinner and bake sale later this month. We'll all go to the fire station and eat too much together and give way more money than the food costs to support out little volunteer fire department. They take care of us and they ARE us - I know every one of them. Every time they make a deposit at the bank, I tell them to have a quiet day.
 
I also went to Lana today to get my hair trimmed and shaped. It's doing crazy things now that I'm letting it grow out. The gray is curly - how crazy is that? My hair has always been straight as a stick. it wouldn't even take a permanent. Now it's curly. I know you'll have a hard time believing that, so I took a picture for you. See? That's all natural. Crazy.
 
That's all for today. It's probably enough. It's fall, it's spitting snow, and my hair is curly. See what you're missing?
 
Love you with all curly heart,
Joan.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Superfluity of Linguistic Clarity

Dear John,
 
I love sleeping at night. It makes everything so much easier. I wonder if anybody else has stumbled onto that.
 
I got an extra hour and a half of sleep last night because I worked 9-1 today. Work was much quieter than yesterday. Ron came in and we got to talk for a minute. I told him how proud you would be of his son. I can't believe that little Tanner, who you mentored, is all grown up and is the town clerk/treasurer. I'm proud of him, too.
 
I'm sure you remember that Ron's wife died about six months before you did. Today Ron asked, "How long has it been?" And it struck me that, in a conversation between two widowed people, the meaning of "it" is perfectly plain. It is a shared experience that makes linguistic clarity superfluous. "It" can mean only one thing.
 
And that is why the fellowship of other widows is so, so important. As Ron said today, you can't understand it unless you've been there yourself. I suppose that is true for any apolcayptic life event. And this is my own personal apocalypse. I am sorry that there are others going through the same thing, but I'm glad when we can touch and relate to each other. We all know full well what "it" is.
 
Ron is doing okay, which is the best you can ask. We agreed that it sucks and that we're ready to move along to Heaven. But here we are. Give my love to Sallie, and tell her that Ron looks good and is surviving. I know she's proud of Tanner, too.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

That Weedy Word

Dear John,
 
Have I told you lately that I love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on?
 
I had my first day of training on the vault. It was unusually busy for a Wednesday, but both my drawer and the vault balanced and people said I did well. They said I didn't get flustered, and I said that it's hard to fluster me after twenty years of critical care - nobody died, so it's okay.
 
I came home and mowed and, as I've said, that gives me an hour to think. Today I was pondering the word "widow." Some widows hate the word, some don't care one way or the other. I, as usual, am outside both boxes. It certainly isn't anything I wanted to be, but since I am one, I embrace the word.
 
There's a dignity to it. It isn't just a status like "single." It has more meaning than that. I suppose I am single now, but that word implies availability, and I am not. Being a widow means that I have loved and been loved, and that a man loved me enough to spend the rest of his life with me. It suggests that I am in a state of mourning, which I certainly am. And it connects me to all the other widows who have ever lived, that vast sisterhood of strong, brave women.
 
If I have to be here without you, let me always be your widow. That may be the most important thing - I'm YOUR widow. The word binds me to you, says that I still belong to you, which I certainly do. If I can't be your wife, let me always be your widow.
 
Forever yours,
Joan.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Consternation, Cougars, and Cinnamon Rolls

Dear John,
 
I finally slept last night. I got a good night's sleep. And that was good in light of today.
 
I was having a good, busy day at work. Then here came Shelly with a package she found on my car. It was a card and note from a young customer (young compared to me, that is), asking me out. You can imagine my consternation. You can also imagine the good-hearted ribbing that followed. The term "cougar" was mentioned. I can't for the life of me put a face with his name. You know I've never been good with names.
 
I couldn't be less interested in dating, no matter what the man's age. I already have a husband. I'm still just as married to you as I ever was. Men-friends are okay, but I have no interest in anything else. Nobody could ever follow The World's Only Perfect Man.
 
So I did the only possible thing. I came home from work and ate three cinnamon rolls. I know I'm not going on a date - that's a no-brainer. But this is challenging my self-concept. I see myself as a widow, and widows are old. It never occurred to me that a man might be interested in me. The last time I was hit on was twenty-five years ago in the Wrigley Field bleachers. I'm not the kind of woman that men are interested in. Except you, that is, and you're exceptional.
 
Please come by tonight so we can talk. I'm trying to figure out how to handle this without hurting feelings, and I could use some male input. Come and save me from more cinnamon rolls!
 
Adore you and only you,
Joan. 


Monday, September 29, 2014

Good News & Bad News

Dear John,
 
I had a good day at work and I feel like I've been run over by a truck. It turns out that it's hard to get over a fibro flare when you work full time - no big surprise there. The best thing is that I now know that I can work during a flare. That's the important thing.
 
I'll be off to bed soon. It would be lovely to get a good night's sleep for a change. The people who think fibro is primarily a sleep disorder may be onto something. These last few nights, as I've lain awake for hours, I've considered seeing Dr. Patel and having a sleep study done. It wouldn't hurt. Except that I'd have to take a day or so off from work for it, so it would have to wait until after the turn of the year. I'll keep it in mind.
 
The other important thing - I should have warned you that there would be another one - is that I enjoy my job even when I feel lousy. That is also encouraging. And I had a day with no mistakes, which is also encouraging.
 
It appears that there is good news and bad news. The bad is that I'm still flaring and feel awful. The good is that I am enjoying work and doing well in spite of the aforesaid feeling awful. It's good to know that I can do this, being as this thing is incurable. I won't feel flare-awful forever, but I'm unlikely to ever feel what normal people consider normal. And flares will always happen.
 
As I said, I'm off to bed. If you can come by tonight, maybe you can knock me out so that I get some sleep. Don't worry - I've already had three concussions, so my NFL career is already over.
 
Love you so much,
Joan.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Cats Need a Snooze Button

Dear John,

It's been a "nope" kind of day here. I slept for two hours last night, was up for 3 with a stomach ache, and slept another two hours before the animals started jumping all over me. I love my little furry alarm clocks, but I do wish I could set their wake-up time.

 
I only did what was necessary today - made the bed, got dressed, emptied the litter boxes, fed the critters. I watched football and got a good bit of knitting done in between two involuntary naps. I was watching the Packers at the end of the first quarter, and the next thing I knew it was the fourth quarter. I slept through two quarters and halftime.
 
This is annoying, but I know it is normal and necessary. I'll take a shower and go straight to bed, and be ready for work in the morning. I had so wanted to get to church today. But for a fibromite, going anywhere on two hours of sleep is suicidal, especially if it involves interacting with large groups of people. And, even without you here to ride herd on me, I am trying not to be self-destructive. I'm taking much better care of myself because I absolutely have to work full-time. I just wish it didn't mean missing church.
 
I'm off now. Like fibromites everywhere, I take my showers at night because they exhaust me so much that I can't take one then go anywhere. If you get a chance, say some prayers for me - tomorrow is Monday so I'll be busy. Sleep well tonight, and know we love and miss you.
 
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,
Joan.
 


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Drat Glen Campbell Again

Dear John,

I've had a quiet day. I dusted, vacuumed, and did two loads of laundry first thing this morning and got it out of the way. Since then I've knitted - when I was awake, that is. I've slept an appalling portion of the day. I know that I need to do that when I'm flaring, though. When I can fall asleep while knitting, it is clear that a nap is in order.
 
Now I'm watching Notre Dame play Syracuse at the Meadowlands. Syracuse appears to be playing in baseball uniforms. They're in gray, with navy sleeves and knee socks, and red helmets. It looks like they sent the baseball team by mistake. Oops - that baseball team just recovered a Notre Dame fumble.
 

See the tree, how big it's grown.
I took this photo of our locust tree today. I posted it on Facebook so our poor, benighted friends in Florida could see some fall color. My brain started playing "Honey" again, drat Glen Campbell. It hasn't been very long since we planted it together, has it? But there was no relational drama like there is in the song. I love the tree: it's beautiful all year, it doesn't drop anything even in storms, the leaves are too small to need raking, it gives good shade, it's grown fast, and they live a long time. And Elyssa has discovered that it's good for climbing. What more could you ask of a tree? That's why I got another one a year ago. I planted that one with Jim and Irene, not you. And it's growing well, like the other one. But this one is our locust tree - we picked it and planted it and watered it. And see, how big it's grown! Drat Glen Campbell.
 
Enjoy looking at our tree, know that Hunter loves my knitting bag and that I'm watching the game. And know that we all miss you. I can't speak for the tree, but it seems that all of nature should mourn you. Sleep well, and don't forget to pray for your little family.
 
Adore you,
Joan.
 
 
 




Friday, September 26, 2014

A Completely Gratuitous Letter

Dear John,
 
Yes, I'm back. Two letters in one day. Brace yourself.
 
First, Jethro managed to go out without bringing home another kitty. So all is well.
 
Second, I forgot to tell you about last night. I got very little sleep and it was all their fault. The animals decided that they needed to rampage around the house all night. I got up three times to see what they were into that was making so much noise; once I found Maggie playing with the music rack on the piano. And Jethro woke me up three times by lying on me. I wonder if the barometer was dropping. I really have no idea what got into them.
 
Third, I got a credit alert from Equifax tonight. It turned out to be just that I used my Kohl's card a couple of weeks ago. But while I was there I pulled up my credit rating, and it's 806. That's what happens when you get all the mistakes fixed. (No, credit life is NOT the same as defaulting on a loan.) It isn't because of my income; it must be because I live within my income. Anyway, I was excited and had to tell somebody, so here I am.
 
The other reason I'm here is that I'm still having akathesia at bedtime almost every night. Tomorrow night I'm going to skip the melatonin and fish oil that I take at bedtime, and see if that makes a difference. If not, it must just be this fibro flare. It is a common fibro symptom and I've done it before when I was flaring. It's frustrating because lack of sleep aggravates the whole fibro problem.
 
Somebody just set of a HUGE firecracker - either that or the sale barn exploded - and I have Jethro in my lap. So I'd better stop here. I just had to tell you all of this. Sleep well tonight, and pray that this flare ends soon. The good thing is that I've managed to work full-time during it, and I feel very reassured by that. But I'd still like your prayers.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Let the Yarn Orgy Begin!

Dear John,
 
It's the weekend. I'm afraid to say the I have no responsibilities - the last Friday night that I said that was the night that Jethro brought Maggie home. Let's just say that I'm hoping for a relaxing two days.


I told you that I'm making socks for Christmas presents. The yarn arrived yesterday, so tomorrow the fun will begin. For the next two days I will overdose on yarn and football. Sometime I will need to dust and vacuum and do laundry. But the primary weekend activities will consist of yarn and football.
 
I do wish you'd come by for a visit. You could help me wind yarn and watch the games with me. We could heat up some Skyline chili for dinner and you could give me your opinion on living room curtains. I would be so happy just to sit and look at you. Maybe you could tell me what Heaven is like. And you could give me the latest news from my parents, and your mother, and Gus and Mary, and Ray, and Father George, and then take my love and greetings back to all of them. Or maybe even take me back with you when you go. And the furbabies, too, especially Jethro - he shouldn't have to lose his Daddy again, so let's take them with us.
 
I will probably just spend the weekend overdosing on yarn and football. And I will have a lovely time. But it's nice, just for a moment, to think that you might come for a visit and take us all back home with you.
 
Wistfully loving you,
Joan.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Club of the Living Dead

Dear John,
 
I have a screw loose. You know that two years ago I had my verb tenses confused - I kept talking about you in the present tense and myself in past. I seem to be experiencing further mental deterioration.
 
Last night I found myself thinking about the day you died as the day WE died. I spent some time crawling around in the back of my head without figuring it out. So I went to the experts. I asked the WFFs if any of them ever did that.
 
We appear to have a consensus. It seems that I am being normal again. Several of them do or have done the same thing. We didn't get it figured out, but at least we are not alone. And several of us feel like we're dead and alive at the same time - still here, but just going through the motions.
 
Does that make widowhood a sort of Club of the Living Dead? And if so, do we have to walk in slow motion and act stupid? There are certainly days that I do that. But I am maintaining basic hygiene - I promise.
 
That's all for tonight - just my deteriorating mental state. And, as usual, you're to blame because you forgot to take me with you. And no, I'm never going to let you forget it. You may have forgotten me, but you'll never forget forgetting!
 
Your deteriorating wife,
Joan.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This Too Shall Suck

Dear John,
 
I had a good day at work, and came home and mowed. I finished just as it was getting dark. I'm not in until noon tomorrow so I don't have to set the alarm. The animals won't let me sleep much later than usual. But somehow it always feels better to sleep without an alarm on.
 
I was thinking today about how I would describe widowhood to someone who hasn't experienced it. Imagining it doesn't work. I married you knowing that I could lose you in a few years, but when it happened it was nothing like I had expected. I knew it would be the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I just had no idea how bad the worst can be.
 
It seems to me that what I couldn't imagine is the immensity of loss. The magnitude was beyond my conception. I lost my husband and my best friend. I lost the companionship of having someone to do things with and to share my life. I lost the feeling of knowing that I meant the world to somebody. I lost having someone to share decisions, responsibilities, chores, joys and sorrows with. I lost financial security - the majority of our income, our health insurance, our retirement money, our savings, and my credit rating. I lost most of my friendships - almost all of our friends are couples, and I don't fit in anymore. I remind my married friends of things they don't want to think about, so most of them avoid me. And some have lost patience with me - they think I should be over it and wonder why I haven't remarried. My widowhood causes them discomfort. Nobody knows what to do with me.
 
I lost my daily routine - waking up with you, brushing our teeth together, talking at the end of the day, saying bedtime prayers with you, falling asleep with my head on your shoulder. It was very hard to get used to never hearing, "How was your day?" I lost the household routines of cooking for you and doing your laundry. Those things are the skeleton of life, what everything else hangs on. When you're widowed, you find yourself with no routine to give structure to your life.
 
The most unexpected part was that I lost my identity. With it went my self-confidence and my sense of purpose. I seemed to lose my own mental and emotional skeleton. Without you, there was nothing to hang my self on. It's as if I had no inner structure or form. I was so nebulous that I couldn't see myself. I was invisible to me. And I lost my past. There is no one who shares my memories. Losing my parents was hard because there was no one left who remembered my childhood. Now there is no one who remembers any of my life. Sometimes it seems like I not only don't exist, but I never existed at all.
 
It's no wonder life's been hard without you, is it? Something would be very wrong with me if this didn't suck. I suppose I'm being normal again - it does happen every once in a while. And I don't think I will tell this to people who aren't widows. They don't need to know. All we widows really want them to understand is that they can't understand. There's no reason to give them nightmares now - those will come soon enough. I think I'll let them enjoy the present without knowing quite so much about what's coming. I'll just try to be there when it's their turn.
 
In the meantime, don't worry about me. It does get better with time. I'm making new routines. The job is giving me new friends and a purpose of sorts. Some days I even seem to get a glimpse of myself. And soon I'll get my winter reprieve from yard work. The hole you left in my life is unchanged, but I am building new things around it. Like I said a few nights ago, the only gift I can give you is to take care of myself until I can come join you.
 
Hoping you can get the date moved up,
Joan.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

God Bless Tuesday!

Dear John,
 
We finally had a Tuesday. With my days off and two days home sick with the tummy virus, it's been two weeks since I worked anything other than Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Mondays at the drive-up are similar to Fridays, and yesterday was complete and full-blown Friday. Today was finally Tuesday. I was ready for it.
 
The day was steady-busy. I only had about 45 minutes all together that I didn't have something to do. But it was busy without being crazy. I was able to work at a reasonable pace. It's been two weeks since I've worked a day that I haven't gone full-speed all day. I'm too old to work ten- and twelve-hour days at full speed. It was lovely to have a Tuesday.
 
I also got a good night's sleep last night for the first time in a week. The fibro flare is on its way out, so the pain was low enough to not wake me up every hour. You remember I've been having akathesia at night? Well, I finally figured out what was causing it. It was the Benadryl that I was taking to help me sleep. It felt good to get up after actually sleeping for seven hours. It was seven instead of eight because last night was the beginning of the new season of Big Bang Theory. Tonight will also be short because the new NCIS is on at 8:00 and the first episode of NCIS New Orleans is on at 9:00.
 
It's so inconsiderate to have prime-time shows on in prime-time, isn't it? We were always odd about time. When we went on vacation and could sleep whenever we wanted, we went to bed when it got dark and woke up at dawn. We're diurnal creatures. That's why we hated it so much when Indiana started going on Daylight Stupid Time. We loved the times the sun REALLY goes up and down, and it was great to have all the television shows on an hour earlier.
 
This job has returned me to diurnal behavior. When the television doesn't interfere, I go to bed at dark and get up before dawn. And it's good. Especially when we get at least one Tuesday every week. Wednesday is quite a lot like Tuesday, so I expect another good day tomorrow. And we'll see if I manage to last to the end of NCIS New Orleans.
 
Propping my eyelids open,
Joan.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Of Bruised Shins & Cat Shelves

Dear John,
 
If you come for a visit after dark, be careful coming through the living room. I rearranged the furniture yesterday. It's pretty much the way it was when we first lived here. The only problem is the cat tower, and its days are numbered. Not that Jethro is giving up his kitties! But the tower is huge and is showing wear-and-tear.
 
I've been looking for alternatives, and I'm leaning toward shelves. I wandered the internet looking at cat shelves and found some great stuff, but all very expensive. So I went on Pinterest and found loads of great ideas for very little money. Pinterest is becoming my new Google.

Of course, it won't be as elaborate as these pictures. I'm thinking of white floating shelves with carpet squares on the tops. I can arrange them on the living room walls so that the cats have a pathway of their own, up out of reach of the dog. And I'll have to put a larger one up, maybe with sides, for their food dish. That one REALLY has to be out of the dog's reach. I may link it all up with a shelf or wooden valance over the windows.

It shouldn't cost a lot. And I can start small and add on. As soon as they have a place to eat and a way to get there, I can find another home for the cat tower. Maybe Jen's cat would like it. And I'll have to get a scratching post for Abby - she loves to use the sisal supports on the tower.

When the tower is gone, the room will be wonderful arranged this way. It will be better for me to sit farther away from the windows in the winter. You know I've been looking at curtains; now I can get long ones, which will look better, and insulated. There won't be a glare on the television from the low winter sun. And let's face it, I'm just ready for a change. It was getting bored.

That's all the latest! Just be careful if you come through the living room after dark. Bless you, you never minded when I rearranged the furniture, and I know you won't mind now. So come and see. Just don't bruise your shins walking into something.

Adore you,
Joan.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Joy of Plumbing

Dear John,
 
It's a cool, rainy Sunday afternoon. I'm watching the Colts rout Jacksonville, and the dishwasher is running.
 
And that's the exciting part - the dishwasher is running. I discovered Wednesday that I needed one more piece of pipe that I couldn't get locally. I picked it up at Lowe's yesterday, and this afternoon I completely re-plumbed the kitchen sink. I had fun, as always - plumbing is like working a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. It's amazing how much more space I have under the sink now that the garbage disposal is gone. I may actually put in a shelf. Anyway, everything is tight and dry, and I will have clean dishes tonight. I've never had a dishwasher as full as it was today.
 
I spent the rest of the afternoon ordering yarn. I'm making socks for everybody for Christmas. Wednesday and Thursday I browsed patterns and chose what everybody is getting. I made a tentative yarn list Friday night, reviewed and revised it today, and got my order in. I should be knitting socks by next weekend.
 
And that makes me very happy. It's taken over two years since your death for me to get back into knitting. I believe I'm back to normal now - I'm wanting to stay up into the wee hours of the morning so I don't have to put my needles down. And this is good. There are lots of projects in my head that will have to wait until after Christmas. It is a great joy to be knitting again.
 
About half an hour ago I had a moment of panic when I realized that I didn't now what I'm getting you for Christmas. But I can't get you anything, can I? You already have everything. The only thing I can do for you is take care of myself. So I'll try to do that for your Christmas present. I'll keep searching for the line between self-indulgence and self-discipline, keep balancing my responsibilities with the need for self-care, continue to grapple with fibromyalgia and a full-time job. I will care for myself for your sake.
 
So come for a visit to show your appreciation! At least come and look at the new pipes under the sink! Stay long enough for the animals to climb all over you. And let me fall asleep with my head on your shoulder. You can have a snack off of clean dishes!
 
I'll leave the light on,
Joan.