Thursday, August 27, 2015

Screens, Dustpans, & Benadryl

Dear John,
 
I've had a lovely day off. I took Jethro in for his yearly vet visit today. He is at his ideal weight, and June says he's very fit and muscular. And his teeth are perfect. He's a healthy, happy dog.
 
After I got back, I took two of the screens out of the windows and had the hardware store re-screen them. Well, not the store itself. JJ and Dave. But you know what I mean. It's lovely to have intact screens in the windows. I have one more to get done, but it isn't as bad as those two were. They got clawed up one day when Murphy decided that he absolutely had to get to Abby. I came home to find him hanging from the living room screen by all four feet, yowling at Abby, while she spat and hissed at him. Unrequited love, I suppose, like Abby's for Jethro. We have so much drama here.
 
I made my monthly Goshen shopping trip today, and I found the most wonderful thing. I got one of those long-handled dust pan/broom sets. When I got home, I took about two minutes with it, walked around the house and swept up the animal hair from the usual places, and it looks wonderful. It will help keep the house clean and tidy between cleanings. I'll probably use it every day in the workroom. Hunter has decided he has to have an open litter box - he's really too big for a closed one - and he kicks litter all the way across the room.
 
So this is a good time for a visit! We are mosquito-free and there's no cat litter on the floors! And I'm tired and happy after having a lovely, domestic day. Jethro is sleeping off his shots and the cats are in the windowsills. I'll be taking Benadryl again tonight - I got bitten twice by a spider at work yesterday, and my right wrist is red and swollen and very itchy. Don't worry - I'm keeping an eye on it and taking Benadryl when I can.
 
I'm off to bed now. Do come and visit me tonight if you can. I love and miss you immense amounts.
 
Forever,
Joan.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ginger, Mary Ann, or Annie Savoy?

Dear John,
 
On the way home from work today I heard The Year of the Cat. Of course, it always reminds me of our last year of college. But today it knocked something else loose in my head. So I've been thinking about an inner struggle I had that I never told you about.
 
I'm clearly Mary Ann and not Ginger, and I'm glad. But there were times I wanted to be, as Annie Savoy said in Bull Durham, exotic and mysterious. When I listen to songs like The Year of the Cat, or Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, or anything by Stevie Nicks, I feel inadequate. I'm about as exotic and mysterious as a gingham apron. And I know that you like me that way. But there's still this little voice in my head telling me that I'm less than I should be.
 
I've always ignored that voice, first, because, as Popeye the Sailor said, I am what I am and that's all that I am; second, because you didn't want Ginger or Annie Savoy, you wanted Mary Ann. You wanted a woman who could hold an intelligent conversation on theology and then go and plumb the kitchen sink, who you could trust with a credit card,  and who knew what to do with a bushel of green beans. Your favorite lingerie was long flannel nightgowns - that says it all.
 
Bless you, you wanted just what I am. I didn't have to change for you, and I never wanted you to change. So I'll listen to those songs and know that you love me just like I am. Exotic, mysterious women make good songs, but they probably make lousy wives. I tried to be a good wife, and I know that you thought I was. I could have been better. But I made you happy, and that is what matters. I'm gingham and flannel, and I'm glad.
 
Thank you for wanting what I am. Thank you for being what I want. I like the symmetry.
 
Love you so much,
Joan.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Letter About Letters

Dear John,
 
I need to talk to you about something that makes me a bit uncomfortable. So sit down and prepare to help me figure out what's going on in my head. You've always been good at that, and I need you to do it again.
 
I've noticed that my letters to you have changed. That isn't surprising - I've been writing to you for well over three years, and so much has changed during that time. I've been trying to figure out just what is different. It's not the way I feel about you; it's not that I wouldn't give everything in this world to be with you. It's not emotion; it's subject matter.
 
What I talk about to you is different than it was three years ago. I spend more time now telling you about what's going on in my life. Maybe I was doing that from the beginning; maybe it was just that what was going on was largely processing of the past. I still talk to you about things that happened to us years ago, but not as often. And, on reflection, it seems that our conversations are getting more normal.
 
We always talked - for hours and days and years. We could easily talk for all eternity, and I hope we do. Every night we sat down together and told each other about our day. And that's what I'm doing now. I tell you about work and friends and family and the household and the animals and current events. I send you diatribes and reminiscences and ruminations and hopes and fears and plans and complaints. And it's all just like it used to be when you were here. The only thing is that I can't hear your end of the conversation. I know what you'd say to almost everything I tell you, but I don't get to hear about your day. That may be just as well - if I could hear you tell about being in Heaven, it would make it so much harder to stay here.
 
Thank you - you've made me feel a lot better. I've been feeling guilty about this, and you've helped me to see that it's not a change but a return to normal. You're probably glad; it must have been hard for you to hear how much pain I was in those first couple of years and know you couldn't fix it. It has to be nicer for you to hear that I love my job and the bills are paid and the animals love me and each other. I love and miss you no less. But I'm getting better at living this strange, new life. So our conversations are more like they always were. And that is good. Thanks for helping me understand.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Yarn & Bedtime Warmth

Dear John,
 
Today was one of the most beautiful days I've ever seen. Excuse me - yesterday was. It's past midnight now. But it's still a lovely night.
 
It was in the 70s with low humidity, mostly sunny with a few clouds. Perfect day. I got up early, ran errands, did a bit of housework, had some social time, took a nap, walked the dog, and knitted.
 
The knitting provided the excitement of the day. I made a mistake on the heel and had to take the whole heel out to fix it. Then I started on the foot and found another mistake where the foot meets the heel. I left it and came to bed. I'm too tired to be trusted with sharp, pointy objects. I'll fix it tomorrow, after I've had a good night's sleep.
 
We've been having lovely nights. It's been in the low 50s and, since it's me, the house is open. So I've slept the last two nights in a flannel nightgown. It's wonderful to snuggle under the covers in flannel, with just my head out in the cool night air. All the critters help keep the bed warm, too. But not like you did! You put out so much heat. I'd snuggle up to you in the winter and keep my distance in the summer.
 
Our nights are going to stay cool. I could use your warmth at night. Come by if you can - cuddle with me again on a cool night. The animals will gladly make room for you.
 
Miss you,
Joan.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

On All Kinds of Security

Dear John,
 
My biopsy result was finally run to earth. It showed a fibroma, so normal. Much ado about nothing. I have to have a follow-up mammogram in six months. Joe was incensed about the confusion and the system of notification in general. I didn't bother to tell him what happened with your lung biopsy. While we're quoting probably-de Vere, all's well that ends well.
 
I worked my half-day today and went to Elkhart to the Social Security office after work. My income is well below the level that would keep me from collecting your full Social Security. Yours now is three-quarters of my current income. I have an appointment next month to go over and file for it. I could have filed today, but I have to bring our marriage certificate and my birth certificate. I can get yours until I retire, then I can file for yours or mine, whichever is more. If I work until I'm 66, mine will be almost three times what I'm making now. So at that point I'll switch over from yours to mine.
 
So I should be okay. I'll start getting yours in November - maybe December, since my birthday is late in the month. I can put half into savings and half toward the mortgage, and have the mortgage paid off by the time I retire. And in about a year I'll have replaced the money I will spend on the new roof.
 
It's a little funny. The Social Security people say that it will pay you about 40% of your current income. That seems to be based on the assumption that you will make more money later in life. But I'm the exception. I used to make about twice what I do now. So Social Security will pay me much more than I'll be making at retirement.
 
It will be nice to have some security as I get older. We saved, we invested my inheritance, then lost almost three-quarters of it when the economy crashed and spent the rest taking care of you your last year. I'm glad we had it when we needed it. But I ended up at zero. Which is much better than ending up in debt - the only debt I had when you died, and still the only debt I have, is the mortgage. I've achieved solvency and been able to put a little back. I'm glad to not have to worry about the future.
 
So know that I will be okay. And the people at the Social Security office were wonderful to me. People are so kind to widows. And that is nice, since the one inconsiderate action of your life was leaving me here by myself.
 
Oh, I forgot. On the way home I stopped at the Dunlap Verizon store and got my new phone. I got an I-Phone 6 - it's the 5 on steroids. It's faster with more memory, but the important thing is that it's a little bigger and I can play Sudoku without reading glasses. With my average usage - since I run the phone off the Wi-Fi when I'm at home - I could get the cheapest plan. It will save me about forty dollars a month. I'm very happy about it.
 
So I'm taken care of in lots of ways. My phone number is the same, so you have no excuse for not calling or texting me. Send me some pictures! I'd love a photo of Mama and Daddy, and my grandparents. Give them a hug for me.
 
Sleep good, and know that I adore you,
Joan.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Have You Seen Me?

Dear John,
 
I'm having the strangest medical issue. You won't believe this one.
 
After the biopsy, the mammo people told me to call my doctor if I hadn't heard results from them by Tuesday. Today was Wednesday, a week from the biopsy, so I called. They said they hadn't gotten any results from the mammo people and said they'd call them and get back to me. After waiting a couple of hours, I called the mammo people myself. And - get this - they couldn't find any record of my biopsy.
 
I know I had it done. I can show them the steri-strips if they'd like. And I have the titanium chip they implanted. And the bill. It really was done. They're looking into it. I hope they eventually find it. They removed all of it
, so there's nothing left to re-biopsy.
 
This, of course, reminds me of the debacle surrounding your lung biopsy in 2011, the one that was supposed to pin down the genetic variation you had so that chemo could be tailored to it. The mass was in a very vascular area of the lung - they hit a rather large blood vessel - you ended up getting your lung drained and two units of packed cells - and we waited for the results. And waited. And kept waiting. After six weeks of waiting, we finally found out that the sample they took was too bloody to send and there was no biopsy done. Lack of communication delayed your chemo a month and a half.
 
It ended up not mattering, because it wasn't the cancer that killed you. It was the damage done by radiation for the first cancer when you were nineteen. If that had not been the case, I would have involved lawyers. I hope this lost biopsy is settled in less that six weeks. It's so unbelievable that it's funny. If they can't find it, I suppose we'd go to a PET scan next. And they'll eat the cost.
 
I'll keep you posted on my missing biopsy. Maybe we should put it on the side of a milk carton. And now I'm remembering Crow's Halloween costume of MST3K. I'll take that into consideration!
 
Missing but not entirely lost,
Joan.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Everyone Belongs in the Kitchen

Dear John,
 
I've been thinking about how much I like the kitchen. And so I'm remembering how it got to be this way. And that, like everything else, involves thinking about you.
 
We never wanted or intended to build a house. After all, we like old houses, so why would we ever build a new one? When we moved here we had no choice. So build we did. We needed three bedroom and two baths, and picked the only floor plan with a front porch. And here we are.
 
Since we built, we got to design our own kitchen. We got oak cabinets, beige countertop, and beige appliances - in style back then. But a few years ago the appliances were all dying and the countertop was coming unglued - literally - so it was time to make changes. We went with black appliances and countertop, and changed out the brass hardware for oil-rubbed bronze. At the same time I replaced all the overhead lights in the house with schoolhouse-style in oil-rubbed bronze. We had already redone the floor. It all went together perfectly.
 
It made so much difference that I don't think we ever convinced your mother that we hadn't replaced the cabinets. We loved it, and I still do. The layout of the kitchen is great, and even better since we had the island built about ten years ago. I'm glad we got the over-the-stove microwave when we replaced the appliances. I use the old microwave shelf for the toaster, since there's an electric outlet there.
 
Not much has changed since you left. Hanging in the window is the glass flower we got in that little shop in Holland. I got new curtain this summer. You'd like them - they're blue and green and yellow plaid. There are a couple of new things on the fridge door, but the magnets are all the same. There are potatoes and onions in Mama's colander, like always, and a bunch of bananas under the place where the phone was when we had a land line. Nothing new. Our first dishes are even in the cabinet.
 
Anyway, I still love the kitchen. Thank you for helping design and update and decorate it. Thank you for all the hours we spent cooking, eating, and cleaning up together. Remembering them makes the kitchen even more special.
 
Remembering,
Joan.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Joy of Order

Dear John,
 
I had a lovely day. I got the house cleaned, and Junior mowed the yard for me while I swept out the garage, watered the petunias, and filled the bird feeders. So all is neat and tidy and orderly, which just delights my little anal retentive heart no end. It feels good to go to bed tonight with everything, inside and out, like it should be. Even the bills are paid.
 
Bless you, you put up with my analness. You even learned to appreciate it. You used to say that I wanted to put the whole world in matching, labeled containers. And you were absolutely right. I feel like a failure if I have to look for anything; this is my house, after all - I should be able to instantly put my hand on anything in it. And it's rare that I can't.
 
Disorder is painful to me. It's distracting and ugly. And it takes so much less time to put something back where it belongs that it does to hunt for it the next time you need it. But there is more to it than that. Order has a kind of beauty to it. That's why I'm so drawn to Shaker design. Sensible, practical, order is beautiful.
 
Order didn't matter as acutely to you as to me, but it did matter and you did understand that part of me. Your mother was much the same way. And, bless you, you never threw dirty socks - or anything else - on the floor and expected me to pick it up for you. Your father would have spanked you within an inch of your life for that, wouldn't he? And I did get to see your dorm room when we were dating; it was as clean and neat as mine was. So, of course, I married you.
 
Thank you for liking order. Thank you for not being surprised when the first thing I got up and did after getting out of the hospital after the car accident was re-organized the linen closet. I guess what I'm really saying is that I'm grateful to you for letting me be me, and valuing all that meant.
 
Now I'm learning to keep house for just myself, not for you, and that is challenging. But I'm doing better with time. And tonight, all is as it should be.
 
Your anal retentive wife,
Joan.

Of Socks & Corn

Dear John,
 
Work was good today, a bit slow for a Saturday, but nobody minded. After work most of us met up at the grocery store. There are days we could have a staff meeting there. It's so good to have a little grocery store here in town. I remember how excited we both were when it opened - it meant not having to drive twenty minutes to Walmart for everything. We can keep our money local, which is also good. And it's not such a disaster if I forget something.
 
I didn't do much after work, just knitted. I'm feeling much better, but still a little sore and tender. It's going to be hot and humid this weekend, so it's not the time for yard work. I have 2 1/4 pairs of socks finished out of a total of 11 pairs needed by Christmas.
 
Dinner tonight  was wonderful. I had a tomato sandwich with a fresh, garden-grown tomato, and some fresh sweet corn. I did the corn a different way that I learned from Pinterest. I trimmed off the lose husk and silks, left it in the shuck, and put it on the rack in a 350-degree oven for half an hour. And it was perfect. It was just like off the grill. And so easy to shuck! I will never boil corn again.
 
So if you're not on Pinterest yet, go check it out. And, for goodness' sake, get yourself on Skype. There are lots of us down here that want to see you and talk to you. I can't imagine how happy Jethro would be to see and hear his Daddy! He still sniffs your Nikes and wags his tail, then gives me the big, sad eyes.
 
Speaking of the dog, we had two bands of thunderstorms come through last night. As usual, I was up with him both times. He's so funny. When I'm sitting up, he will lay his head in my lap and be content through any storm.  But if I'm lying down, he has to protect me from it by covering my head. He takes his position as man of the house very seriously.
 
That's all for today, just a good, quiet day and a new and improved way to cook corn. How would you live without this?
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Do You Make House Calls?

Dear John,
 
Recovery from the biopsy has taken longer than expected. I ended up missing work today, which I especially hate on a Friday, but the people at work were very nice and supportive about it. Tomorrow I only work four hours, so I should be okay for that. I haven't gotten very much knitting done because I can't stay awake.
 
I need you to make a house call. You need to come and explain some things to me. I'm not understanding the non-Southern mindset. As this Confederate flag controversy continues, people are expanding the list of Southern things they don't like. We're beginning to feel a bit beleaguered. I even had a Facebook friend tell me that it wasn't possible to like the flag and not be racist. Of course, she's never been further south than Indianapolis. But she believe she understands the South better than I do. It's okay for people to mock and belittle me for the way I talk, but not okay for me to  want to honor my land, people, and heritage.
 
I'm confused. You came to understand me very well, in spite of the fact that you grew up in Ohio. You were North/South culturally bilingual. So I need you to come and help me understand all this. And please tell me what constructive action I can take. I want to be authentically who I am without being inflammatory, especially on Facebook. Bless this town, it takes me as I am and never pokes fun at me. I feel less like an expatriate here than anywhere else I've lived in the Midwest. Maybe it's because the town is small enough that everybody knows everybody else. Maybe we're just too well-mannered here to poke fun at each other.
 
So come any time you can and stay as long as you like. This is the kind of thing you could always help me understand, and I really miss having you to answer my questions. This, like everything else, would be easier with you here. But a house call will do!
 
Watching for you,
Joan.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Gratuitous Drama

Dear John,
 
I had the biopsy done today, after two hours of gratuitous drama. I got a call around noon from the mammo center saying that Joe's office hadn't precertified it. After several phone calls, I discovered that they'd called the insurance company three weeks ago and found that they didn't require precertification for this, but they never told me or the mammo center that. We found out just in the nick of time that all was well. So it did get done.
 
The biopsy was stereotactic, which means they used mammogram to guide the needle for biopsy. The kind of calcifications I have don't show up on ultrasound. Besides taking the sample for pathology, they placed a very small titanium clip so it can be located again if necessary. You're not the only one in the family with titanium now - I have some too.
 
I have limited activity for a couple of days - no lifting, pushing, pulling, jumping around. That means no mowing, which is a shame because this evening was perfect for it. But I'm being good. I don't really want to do any of those things at the moment. It's not painful, just tender, and moving around isn't comfortable. I'm walking very gently tonight. For twenty-four hours I have to wear a sports bra and keep ice on the incision. So I will spend tomorrow knitting and watching Netflix. It's not a bad way to spend a day off.
 
I'll get the path results early next week. I'll let you know what I hear. You probably know already, don't you? That's okay - I won't ask you to give me a hint. I'm not anxious about it. Whatever comes is from God and is what is best for me. That's all I need to know. I really don't have a preference. I just hope I can wear my regular bra by Friday morning when I go back to work and that the grass doesn't eat the house before I can mow. Those are my big concerns.
 
It's getting dark and the animals are already asleep. I'll be up for a while - we're expecting a meteor shower tonight and I'd like to see it. After that, I should sleep well. I hope you do the same.
 
Love you so much,
Joan.


Monday, August 10, 2015

I've Got This!

Dear John,
 
It's been a lovely day. Work was busy and the day went by quickly. I'm getting the hang of the ATM. It was hot and muggy until we had a thunderstorm this afternoon. Now the humidity has gone down and the wind is out of the north. So I've opened the windows, and the window sills are filled with cats.
 
I got a second roof estimate today - $1500 more than the first one. I know and trust the first guy. so half an hour after the second crew left, I decided to go with the first estimate. And, just then, Leon called me to follow up on his estimate. It seemed so divinely ordained that I had to laugh. So my choice is made and I'm scheduled for December or January. It feels so good to have that settled. I'm happy with my decision.
 
See what a big girl I am? I've hired a roofing company. And I've become comfortable making these big decisions. We made decisions together for so many years. But, as I've said before, Mama raised me to be independent and be able to take care of myself, and you would never have married me if I wasn't that way. So here I am, at my advanced old age, being independent and taking care of myself. And my roof, furnace, water heater, air conditioning, and goodness knows what else. And I'm comfortable with it.
 
I suppose it's part of the growth that widowhood requires. And yet, it isn't really anything new. I've always been this way. The way that I am just has more opportunities now. Tonight I'm a little bit proud of myself. And I know that you and Mama are, too. It's good to have my cheering section. Give Mama a hug for me tonight, and thank her for bringing me up to be this way. Thank you for wanting an independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed woman. Thank you even more for still wanting that after thirty-four years with me!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

I'm Ready for Some Football

Dear John,
 
I rested and knitted today, and am feeling nearly human tonight. I did lots of simultaneous knitting and napping, but the sock is none the worse for it.
 
The Hall of Fame Game was tonight, signaling the great change of the seasons. It's Steelers and Vikings this year. I made it into the third quarter before having to go to bed.
 
The good news is that Jerome Bettis was inducted into the Hall of Fame yesterday. There was a long interview at halftime. It was lovely to see him again. I still miss him on the field. I well remember watching his last game with you. It was terrific that it was in Detroit. And what a heart-stopper of a game!
 
The bad news is that Frank Gifford died today. All the posts on Facebook were referring to him as the husband of Kathy. I, of course, pointed out that he was important in his own right. I probably puzzled the young folks, but that's nothing unusual. I'm old - I remember him playing, I remember him on Monday Night Football, and I completely forget who he married. It's a matter of priorities.
 
So tonight as football starts up again, I'm thinking about you and remembering how much we enjoyed watching it together. From our first date to your last post-season, it was one of our favorite things to do. Now I watch for both of us. But never without missing you.
 
Still glad I married a man who likes sports,
Joan.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Knitting & Sleeping Sequentially

Dear John,
 
I had a good time with your family. Yesterday we went out for Mexican after I got off work. Jim took out the two dying crabapple trees and replaced the posts the bird feeders were on, and Irene did some work in my flower beds. The house looks so different without those two trees. I'm debating about new ones. I'll probably just have to go across the street, sit in DeWayne's yard, and stare at the house for a while to make up my mind. Today we all went to Shipshewana for a play day, and had a lovely time. They left for home this afternoon. I enjoyed their visit so much. I appreciate their help more than I can say, but I enjoy the time with them even more. I may have said this a time or two: Thank you for having such a nice family.
 
I am so, so tired now. And I can enjoy being tired in a clean house that has no dead trees in the yard. Tomorrow I'm going to sleep in and do as little as possible. I have one load of laundry to do. And there are always socks to knit! I have eleven pairs to make for Christmas. I have a good start, with 3 1/2 socks done.
 
I've always loved knitting socks. There's infinite variety within a fairly fixed structure. And they are small and portable. It's so interesting to knit socks in public. Half the people come closer, are fascinated, and ask you a hundred questions. The other half move as far away as possible and look at you as if you're an escapee from a lunatic asylum. And many of us have had strangers come up and inform us that socks can be bought in stores.
 
I'm glad you understood the point of making socks. You enjoyed wearing them and watching me make them. You realized that I have a need to create beautiful things, and you supported that. You enabled my yarn addiction, bless you!
 
I'm starting to ramble again. To sum up: I've had a lovely weekend. I'm exhausted and will knit and sleep tomorrow, hopefully sequentially and not simultaneously. And I'll miss you, but that is no different from any other day.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Fridge Door Tradition

Dear John,
 
It was quiet last night. No beeping at all. I did enjoy sleeping. I should do that more often.
 
I had a busy day today - worked until 1:00, met a friend for lunch, dusted, swept, mopped the whole house, cleaned the kitchen, did general straightening, washed the pink cat pee out of the blanket and bedspread, did other laundry, and tried to plug the holes in the screen that the mosquitoes are getting in.
 
It's been so wet this summer that the mosquitoes are terrible. They're coming in the holes Murphy tore in the screen and eating me alive. As a temporary measure until I can replace the screen, I bought some 2X2 screen squares today and put them in. After my shower tonight I put tea tree oil on over forty bites. I even have two on my right upper eyelid.
 
I found this tonight - do you remember when it was first published? We were in Durham them. I remember cutting it out of the newspaper and putting it on the fridge door. We always did love The Far Side. And you could always tell everything you needed to know about us by reading our fridge door. You'd find humor, politics, religion, everything there. That's still true. Who I am is on the fridge door for all to see. The tradition continues.
 
Jim and Irene got here a little while ago and unloaded tools and stuff. We'll have a fun and productive couple of days. Come and join us if you can!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Concerning Abby's Parentage

Dear John,
 
Whatever-it-was did whatever-it-was-doing again last night, but for three hours this time. It startled Jethro when it started, so he woke me up. But I had the fan on so I slept through most of it. It I hear it when I don't have to get up early for work, I'm going to put on jeans and a tee shirt and go find out what it is.
 
Add caption
Remember the little imposter, the littermate of Abby's that tries to get into the house? It turns out that he's Murphy, Richard's cat. Their mother was his also. The litter was born in Tiffany's shed. How Abby ended up under Janet's bush I have no idea. I discovered all this when Richard came by to give me some of his cherry tomatoes. The cat came up and I told him that this was the cat I'd talked about, the one that clawed the holes in my screen. And he said, "Oh, that's Murphy," and the cat came up to him to be petted. So it seems that Richard and I are related somehow - I'm not sure what it's called when people adopt siblings.
 
I do hope to sleep tonight. If this noise keeps up, I really will track it down and find out what it is. Want to come along? It should be fun, out at 3 AM with a flashlight, trying to follow a noise. I do hope nobody calls the police on me. You're not here to bail me out! I'll keep you posted on all nocturnal adventures.
 
Love you so much,
Joan.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Whatever-it-Was Did Whatever-it-Did

Dear John,
 
I'm tired. I was sleeping so well last night, then at 2 AM there came this loud, piercing beeping noise from the general direction of Lake Street. All the animals were frightened, even the cats. I couldn't see anything outside and never figured out what it was. It lasted until almost 3, so I missed an hour of sleep in the middle of my night. And it's still a mystery - I can't even find anybody else that heard it. Of course, everybody I know was sleeping with their windows closed. I have no idea why, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s, but they were. Of course, I'm getting all kinds of comments about this noise that only I heard. I just hope whatever-it-was doesn't make a nightly habit of whatever-it-was-doing.
 
The drive-up was closed part of the day while they trenched and laid the power line to the new building. And the gutters went up this afternoon. And I learned how to balance the ATM. Normal people hate doing it, but I think I'll love it. After I was done I spent about an hour figuring out the procedure and paperwork and putting it into a form that is useful to me. You know I've always thought in diagrams and flow charts. I can handle written instructions because my mind is busy turning them into diagrams and flow charts.
 
I realized that there are three parts to this that have to be done and documented: money moving from the vault to the customers and the AMT teller drawer, from there to my drawer, and from mine back to the vault. That makes it easy - the paperwork is just in- and out-slips and transactions. I should enjoy the precision of it.
 
Hunter continues to improve. He has time to get to the litter box almost all the time. Tonight he was asleep in my lap when the dog barked and scared him. That nightgown is now in the washer with everything else that has cat pee on it. But I was glad to see that his pee isn't pink anymore. And he's eating and drinking very well.
 
It's past my bedtime. I'm very tired from last night, so I need to get as much sleep as I can tonight. I'm leaving the windows open, of course, and hope to get through the night without any mysterious outside noises.
 
Miss you every minute,
Joan.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hunter is Better

Dear John,
 
Hunter is better. I called June when they opened and she said to bring him right in. She wanted a urine specimen, and he promptly peed on her countertop when we took him out of the carrier. Very thoughtful of him! His urine showed blood, WBCs, and bacteria, so a urinary tract infection. There were no crystals; than mean he's probably at lower risk for kidney stones.
 
He'll be on an antibiotic for two weeks. June gave him the first one before we left, and he was feeling better by the time we got home. When I got home from work he was so much better that, if I didn't know he was sick, I wouldn't have been able to tell. He chowed down on dinner with great enthusiasm, ran around the house with the other cats, and is drinking plenty of water. It's amazing how fast he's turned around.
 
Bless him, he's not hard to give pills to. I've given pills to all three of mine and never had a problem. But I grew up giving pills to dogs, and it isn't all that different. We won't have any trouble with two weeks of one pill a day. He's a sweet cat.
 
Thank you for praying for him. I didn't realize how worried I was about him until I relaxed tonight. Like I said last night, I have a lot to learn about cats. But at least I know how to give them pills!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Feline Distress & the Cat Cavalry

Dear John,
 
We have a sick child. Hunter has a bladder infection, bless his little heart. It's so hard to see him feeling bad and not be able to do anything to help.
 
I'll be taking him to the vet tomorrow. Bethany and I are both going to be working the drive-up, so I can leave for a while without causing major disruption. I'll go in at 7:30, call the vet after they open at 8:00, and slip out whenever she can see the poor baby.
 
Bless Jen - she's my Cat Cavalry. I call her with all of my cat questions. She knows absolutely everything about cats. And she somehow manages to not make me feel stupid, even when I am. It's so good to have expert advice to lean on. There's so much for me to learn about cats! Hunter is taking after me, getting sick over the weekend.
 
So please pray for the cat tonight. Everybody can tell he feels bad. Abby snuggles with him, Maggie lies down and grooms him, and Jethro just keeps sniffing his rear. Leave it to the dog! I'll let you know what June says. Poor baby - I wish I could make him feel better.
 
Pray for your distressed family,
Joan.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Widowhood as Fertilizer

Dear John,
 
I was right - all the sunburn is brown today. And I got more sun. Today I've mowed, dusted, vacuumed, changed the sheets, and have the third load of laundry in the dryer. It's been a good, busy day. There's plenty left to do in the flower beds, but not today.
 
I was thinking again as I mowed this morning, this time about the growth I've found in widowhood. I've become more compassionate. I never noticed the pain around me like I do now. And it's all kind of stuff. Brian left for three months in Greece a few weeks after your death, and Bekah felt bad about telling me how hard it was while he was gone. I told her not to be silly - you and I were separated for three months once, and I hated every minute of it. Pain is pain; there's no competition as to whose pain is worse. There's a fibromyalgia meme out there that I hate. It says something about, "I'm in pain all the time; don't tell me about your tummy ache." Well, that's rot. Please tell me about your tummy ache! They can be awful! Those who suffer should care for each other, not play pain-one-upmanship.
 
I've also gotten more patient. I know - there was lots of room for improvement. I still get impatient and irritable, but with inanimate objects. I'm a lot more patient with people, maybe because I'm more aware of their difficulties. Maybe I'm just not in so much of a hurry anymore. My priorities have changed - I've talked to you about that a few times.
 
I've always heard that suffering gentles a person. It seems that is correct. I still have a long way to go. But I appear to be going in the right direction. I'm just sorry you don't get to benefit from any of this. But I always was my gentlest and most patient with you, so maybe you didn't suffer too much. I know you were happy with me; thank you for being sure I knew that. It makes so much difference now, that I can be sure about that.

Elyssa's birthday party is tomorrow - we'll all miss you. Can you believe she's nine already? It's a good thing we don't age as fast as they do. If we did, we'd be old. But in a few months I'll turn 60 - just think about all the new senior discounts I'll get! But I'd rather have you.

Adore you,
Joan.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Two Words: County Fair

Dear John,
 
It's Friday night, which means I'm tired and my feet hurt. And I'm off tomorrow, which means that I don't have to set an alarm. The animals will wake me up early, but it's a much nicer way to wake up.
 
The fair was great. We were there from 2:00 to 7:00. I saw all the animals, ate a buffalo burger and half an elephant ear, got sunburned, was nuzzled by a goat and headbutted by a Belgian, and had a wonderful time. As I continue to turn into my mother, my skin is also getting more like hers. I was beet red this morning (but not tender), and am now moderately pink (and still not tender). I should be brown by this time tomorrow. Yesterday was the best day of the fair for weather - 80 and sunny. It was good to go back.
 
I'll mow tomorrow morning. I thought about doing it tonight, but by the time I got off work my feet hurt so bad that I decided not to. They'll feel better by morning. There's never a shortage of things that need doing around here. But I'm not going to push myself too hard tomorrow because Elyssa's birthday party is Sunday afternoon. It's always necessary to prioritize.
 
Tonight I'm remembering days we spent at the fair. It was always good. And it was good to go back yesterday. As always, I'm thankful that I can still live here, where we lived together for so long. Not long enough, but there can never be enough time with you, can there?
 
Miss you,
Joan.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Life Without Context

Dear John,
 
I've been thinking again. Remember that I've talked to you about adjusting to living when there is nobody who knows your past, nobody that was there for it? Tonight my mind is coming back to that.
 
It seems that people can adjust to that, too. It's taken a while to learn to live without context or background. Thank goodness there are people who've known me for a long time - Becky since college, Donna since eighth grade, Claire since childhood, Jim and Irene since we started dating. But none of those people live around here. My oldest friends here have known me for twenty years. I'm so thankful for that - it's one reason I don't consider moving away.
 
But there are different levels of "knowing." There are parts of my childhood that nobody but a sibling would know, parts of my adult life that only you know. You were the one I griped to when things weren't good at work, restored the house with, went to seminary with, took turns having health problems with, and on and on. No one has ever known me like you do. That deeper knowing is what is hard to to live without.
 
But I appear to be doing just that. I only rarely feel that lack now. I guess I've just gotten used to it. I'm comfortable with being contextless to the people around me. They're here and they care in the present, so it matters little that they weren't here for the past. There are days that are uncomfortable, especially around Christmas and New Years. But that's probably true for everyone who has lost a family member.
 
I'm pleasantly surprised that I'm becoming comfortable with this. I know I haven't explained it very well and I hope it makes sense to you. I'll let you know if I get it nailed down any better. I am alone in a sense that I never have been before. It feels different, but no longer sad or uncomfortable. And that is good.
 
That's my report for the day regarding what my mind has been up to. I may not write tomorrow - I'm going to the fair after work and may be late getting home, and I have to be at work at 7:15 Friday morning. So don't worry if you don't hear from me tomorrow night. I won't subject you to exhausted incoherence - you had enough of that from me during finals in college. And you married me anyway!
 
Love you so much,
Joan.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More More than Much

Dear John,
 
Pinterest is down. The world may end.
 
I had a good day at work. The excitement was caused by the demise of my microphone. I spent the last two hours having to shout back and forth through the open drawer. Having come from a long line of school teachers, my voice will easily carry through bullet-proof glass. Hearing my customers is another issue. They're going to try to get out and fix it in the morning. It can't be soon enough. I'm hoarse already.
 
I need to mow but I'm not going to. It was 90 when I got off work, still 80 now at bedtime. I will let the grass grow in peace until the heat and humidity break. As I said to Dallas today, we're just not twenty anymore. I don't know how that happened, but it did. If I mow in this, I'll flare for two weeks. It's not worth it. From the looks of the neighborhood, I'm not the only one who has made that decision.
 
That's all the excitement here: it's hot and the drive-up microphone isn't working. It seems that you aren't missing much. I, of course, am missing you, and that is much more than much. It's still hard to go to bed without you. But Jethro is asleep beside me and the cats are under the bed, it's almost dark outside and the lightening bugs are out, and I have to get up early for work. I'll lie down and turn out the light without you yet one more time. I'll reach out in the dark and touch the dog, glad he's there so I have something warm and alive to put my hand on in the night. Abby will curl up at my feet and Hunter will drape himself over my ribs and purr, and I will know that they love me. And Maggie will arrive and attack my fingers at 5 AM, because that's what kittens do. I'll pry myself out of bed at 6:00, to be glad I did when I get to work at 7:30 because I enjoy my job. I'll enjoy it more if the microphone gets fixed.
 
It's bedtime and I'm starting to ramble, so it's time to turn out the light and miss you even more. Your little family loves you.
 
With all my heart,
Joan.

Monday, July 27, 2015

When I am Old

Dear John,
 
Tonight I'm pondering what I will be like when I'm old. There are two underlying assumptions here: first, that I'm not old yet; second, that I will have to live long enough to get old which I'm not yet. I already wear purple and have a red hat, so that is moot.
 
I will still love and rescue animals. Heaven only knows how many more kittens Jethro will rescue, but I can't imagine myself ever being without animals. I don't mind being known as a crazy cat-and-dog lady. I'm bipetual.
 
I will knit as long as my hands hold out, than I'll learn how to use my feet. I'll probably still knit socks in public, cause fascination and consternation, and not care a bit.
 
I will be eating racist PBJs and drinking black-market raw milk. And possibly sitting on my illegal rain barrel with the Confederate flag painted on the side. I will not be anywhere remotely near politically correct.
 
I will still love barbecue and Delta Blues. And yes, there is some kind of organic connection between the two. And I will still talk like this. I won't ever pick up this funny Midwest accent, no matter how long I live here. And, speaking of that, I intend to keep living here. Bob will still take care of my car, Lana will deal with my hair, I'll still drive an hour to see Joe for primary care. I'll bank at Farmers State and shop at the pharmacy. I'll leave this town in the back of Yeager's hearse.
 
I'll still have a vast fund of nursing horror stories to tell anybody with the stomach to listen. I'll still be a story-teller. I hope I won't drive people crazy telling the same ones over and over, but there's a good possibility of it.
 
I'll still wear jeans, peasant tops, and bandanas. So there. And most of the people that know me will still think I don't wear enough make-up and I wear my skirts too long, just like Mama always did.
 
I'll still love college basketball and any football. I don't know if I'll ever be able to get back into baseball. I haven't been able to since you died.
 
I'll have the windows open when it makes other people think I'm crazy. Car and house, I love the windows open.
 
And I will still be your widow. I will never be wife to anyone else. I'm yours. You're stuck with me. Maybe, as I get older, people will stop pushing me to remarry and guys will stop hitting on me. I do hope so. I will love you with all my heart, no less than I do today. And every day that passes brings me closer to being reunited with you. I will still be waiting and hopeful, as long as I'm in this life. I'm glad you are waiting for me, too.
 
Well, there's your summary of my thoughts today. See what you're going to miss as I get older? The only thing I'll be missing is you. I wish we could get old together. But I know you're watching, sometimes laughing, always loving me. Thank you for that.
 
Keep the light on,
Joan.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Relative Nature of the Relative Humidity

Dear John,
 
I stayed inside today. The weather has figured out that it's July - it's been in the upper 80s and humid. My fibro has never liked that. All of us fibromites are sensitive to weather - some can't handle heat and some cold. I can take the cold with no problem, but days like today do unpleasant things to me.
 
This kind of weather always reminds me of Durham - decent town, dreadful climate. I swear the temperature and humidity were both above 95 for half of the year. You could squeeze the air and get a glass of water from it. And, as you pointed out, it just got worse after it rained. We lived in a house with no air conditioning or shade, and I was working third shift. I'd come home from work, put on a bathing suit, get in the shower and get it wet, and sleep on a stack of towels with a fan blowing on me. Horrible climate.
 
I worked with a nurse from Maine and you worked with a guy from Cleveland, and everybody else we knew was local.  Midge and I would go to work in cardigans when everybody else came in wearing coats and hats and mittens. You and the guy from Cleveland were the only delivery drivers who would get out in snow, and you always got huge tips those nights. Remember the day they closed the mall on us because an inch of snow was predicted? To be fair, they didn't have any road equipment and nobody ever got much practice driving on snow. We lived there for four years and I wore my winter coat twice. Dreadful climate.
 
So it's warm and humid here, but nothing like Durham, thank goodness. I try not to laugh when people here talk about how miserable the humidity is. What's humid here is dry in Durham. I'm glad we went there and have good memories of it, but none of them happened in the summer. Horrible climate.
 
It's bedtime here. Your little family loves and misses you. Nobody misses the weather in Durham.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

First, Last, All, & Always

Dear John,
 
I had a good, busy day. After work I went to Goshen. I exchanged the wrong toilet seat for the right one, ate lunch, then brought ice cream out to eat with you. In case you noticed my unusual manner of consuming the sundae, they didn't give me a spoon, probably because I got it to go and they assumed I was taking it home. So I tore up the top cover and used a chunk of it as a scoop to eat with. It made a bit more of a mess, but the ants had a good time. And it was lovely in the cemetery today - 85, cloudy, and the breeze smelled wonderful. It's that July smell - Queen Ann's lace, sun on the grass, trees, and whatever else it is that makes July smell so good. I enjoyed being there. On the way to our spot I was grinning like a teenager, so excited that I was coming to see you. Well, not see you physically, but visit you. Whatever it was, it was good.
 
On the way home I heard Cheap Trick doing "The Flame," and the words struck me: You were the first, you'll be the last. It feels good to be able to say that about you. You're first, last, all, and always. It's good to know that. And I am all that to you, as well. I enjoy my life - I get to keep the house, I love my job and my animals, and I have friends and family who love me. Life is perfect except that you're not here. That is a major issue. But you're there, and that's better for you. And I'll get there.
 
Your first, last, and always,
Joan.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The All-Important Mammary Suspensory Ligament

Dear John,
 
We finally had a busy Friday. With the plants taking breaks this month, they've been unusually slow for a few weeks. Today we were back to normal Friday, which means I ran full-speed almost all day.
 
I did get time to make phone calls and schedule the biopsy. They normally do them on Fridays, but I explained my work situation and they arranged for me to be done at 3:00 on Wednesday, August 12th. That way I can work until 2:00 that day and be off the next. We don't have any vacations scheduled in August, so I will attempt to get all my disruption done before September starts.
 
The all-important mammary
suspensory ligament.
The Elkhart County Fair opened today, and I've been remembering all the fairs we went to. We tried to plan our day there according to the schedule of animal judgings, and we learned so much from watching those. I'll never forget the year we saw the female goat competition. That's where we first heard about mammary suspensory ligaments and their importance in judging. Hey, maybe that's what's really wrong with me! Maybe it isn't abnormal calcification, just a mammary suspensory ligament problem! Think so?
 
Only you and I would think that is funny, but I'm sure you're rolling in the aisles laughing. And so am I. It was one of those phrases that became part of the family vocabulary. And it still is, but I don't say it out loud anymore whenever I pass goats in a field. I just think it, remember, and smile. See, I even found a drawing of one! Look at it and remember good days together at the fair.
 
I'll finally be going to the fair this year - the last time we went was 2010. In 2011 I'd just broken my collar bone, 2012 speaks for itself, and since then I haven't had anybody to go with. So Richard and I will be going together this year, and I'm looking forward to it. We have a small rivalry between pie and elephant ears, but we'll just get one of each. I never could stand elephant ears. I'll miss you at the fair, but it will be good to go back. And I'll remember and smile.
 
Yours always,
Joan.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

On Being Atypical

Dear John,
 
Today I flunked my diagnostic mammogram and will be getting a needle-aspirate biopsy. It's what I was expecting. Nothing to see here. I have some calcifications that need to be checked out. It will be done at the mammo center with just local anesthesia, so no great life disruption.
 
Remember, right after your lung cancer was diagnosed in July of 2011, when the cancer center counselors were fluffing over us, all worried because we weren't acting upset enough? At first they thought we didn't understand the diagnosis, then they decided that we were stuck in the denial stage. So they cornered me one day over a jigsaw puzzle. They started the tactful probing and I knew what the problem was, so I stopped them and said, "You're worried about us because we're not showing the appropriate stages of grief." They looked startled and said yes, so I told them your medical history and said that we'd done that over thirty years ago. Then they were happy and went away.
 
Long digression, but today was a bit like that. The x-ray tech came and told me that the radiologist wanted to talk to me, and everybody knows exactly what that means. He started explaining what they'd found and what the next steps would be. Then he kept repeating himself and they started looking at me funny, and I realized that they thought I didn't understand because I wasn't acting upset. It was obvious that intervention was necessary. So I told them that I'm a retired critical care nurse, I've been thorough three rounds of cancer with you, and this was exactly what I was expecting. Like the counselors in 2011, they were happy and they went away.
 
I understand perfectly. The lack of understanding isn't on my part. As is usual, what is going on in my head is atypical. First, I know that few biopsies come back positive. Second, I'm a critical care nurse. I've seen worse. Heck, I've HAD worse. Breast cancer has a much higher survival rate than gram negative sepsis. The third reason is one I didn't even try to tell them: My survival instinct left with you. I'm content and happy and enjoying my life. But I'm ready to join you any time. The fourth reason I wouldn't dream of trying to tell them: I know with all my being that whatever God sends is what is best for me, so I have no preference. My little brain isn't very bright. I have no idea what's best. I'll just wait and see what comes, and give thanks for the gift that it is, whatever it is.
 
Yup, I do believe I'm being atypical again. Imagine that. I can tell all of my reasons to you and none of them will surprise you. I'm being me. And I'm just being logical. I'm so glad you liked me this way. You were the same, you know. This aspect of us always puzzled our health care providers. They eventually got used to us.
 
I'll keep you posted. Joe's office has to order the biopsy and get it cleared with insurance. I'll call them at lunch tomorrow, and then try to get this thing scheduled on a day off in order to minimize the disruption. I'll try not to cause too much excitement.
 
You loving, atypical wife,
Joan.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Joys of Mowing Dry Grass

Dear John,
 
I had a good day and I'm completely exhausted. So let me sum up.
 
Work was busy in spurts. I actually felt decent today; the fibro flare seems to be winding down, to my joy and relief. After work I mowed - the house was about to disappear. It only took an hour today. We've had two days without rain, and the grass is finally dry enough that it didn't clog and stall the mower. It's the first time this year that I haven't had to stop, turn the mower over, and clean out the grass. It was a delight. I'd like to get used to this.
 
The basement continues to dry out. Somebody said today that their dehumidifier has run for three straight weeks, and so has ours. It's down there bravely doing its job, bless it. We aren't expecting rain until Sunday. I do hope the basement dries completely before winter comes and I have an indoor ice skating rink.
 
I'm off to bed soon. Tomorrow I get another chance to pass my mammogram, so I have to get up early. I'll do some shopping in Goshen after I get done there. We need dog food, and we're low on toilet paper and Kleenex. I'll get all my errands run while I'm out tomorrow. Then I hope to get some time to relax before working Friday and Saturday. After I get off work Saturday afternoon, I plan to do just what the picture says.
 
:Love you great bunches,
Joan.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Vacations, Dreams, & Huddled Frogs

Dear John,
 
That was an odd choice you made in dreams last night. I started the dream with the guy I dated before you. We traveled a ways together, then I had to go on by myself. I had a very long way to walk to get to you. I looked for a shortcut, but there wasn't one. I just had to put on my walking shoes and head out. I was a bit concerned about my stamina, but it didn't matter because I was in such a hurry to get to where you were.
 
On another topic, it seems that all of us widowfriends are struggling with the family-vacation season. The first year, I couldn't even bear the commercials. It's gotten a bit easier each year, but it's still sad for me. I'm so proud of myself for finally being able to take a vacation last month. It only took me three years after you died to take a week off. I still didn't go somewhere by myself - I'm not quite ready for that yet. But I did travel, and I did enjoy it. And I'm proud of myself. It's a big step for me.
 
It's a step that some of our little widowgroup are taking now, and we're not quite sure how we feel about it. It's like everything else - we're feeling our way along in this strange new landscape. And that's why I like this photo so much. It's us, all of us, looking for shelter from the rain, huddled together, caring about each other. Even if I was traveling alone in last night's dream, know that I'm not alone. I get by with a little help from my widowfriends.
 
Now, about that dream issue. You were supposed to make an appearance last night. Looking forward to seeing you isn't a dream; it's real life. Instructive as that one was, I would like for you to think up something fun tonight. You never had any problem planning dates in college. To be fair, we were usually studying. But I wouldn't mind doing that again. It doesn't have to be anything special - it never did. The point is being together.
 
Hope to see you tonight,
Joan.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dreams & Nightmares

Dear John,
 
I felt good enough today to get to work, and even good enough to enjoy it. Then I came home, the adrenaline level dropped, and I feel like I was run over by a herd of something large and hooved. I'm still dealing with this flare. Heaven only knows what I'll feel like in the morning.
 
For some reason, I've been sad and missing you today. Maybe it's because I've been feeling bad - that always makes me miss you more. Maybe it's because it's summer and everybody else is talking about family activities. Maybe it's just that widowhood is not linear.
 
Whatever it is, I would so love for you to visit my dreams tonight. Right now I'd be glad to have a nightmare if you were in it. So how's that for an invitation? Plan the dream of your choosing; just be a part of it. Tonight I'd rather be in a bad dream with you than in a good one without you. Medical emergencies, zombies, psychotic tax accountants - take your pick. I'll be happy with whatever you decide.
 
Can't wait!
Joan.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mixed-Up Confusion

Dear John,
 
It's been a quiet day - outwardly, anyway. I did laundry, put stew in the crock pot, and froze ten pounds of blueberries. And I finished one Christmas-present sock and started the second one. And there's some good news: Netflix finally has NCIS, eleven seasons of it. I watched four episodes, long enough for the dish receiver to turn itself off because it thought I was dead.
 
There's lots of emotional stuff going on inside me. I'll try to be brief. You know that's hard for me.
 
I've realized that I can't see my life as a continuum, at least not now. I could until you died. I could see my childhood, teen years, marriage, and adulthood as all one piece. Now I can still see that, but not how it connects to who I am today. I seem to have sprung forth fully-formed from the chaos of your death, with no past, no history, no connection to anything. Not having any family of my own is probably a factor. But the moment of your death became a chasm between what is and what was. I can't bridge it. Maybe someday I'll be able to, but not now. This is all a bit disconcerting.
 
The current political issues rage on, and I find myself struggling with no longer being able to define myself as a liberal. It's a difficult metamorphosis. I see postings on Facebook deriding liberal positions, and my knee-jerk reaction is to be angry. But I step back and realize that I agree with the posting. I realize that it's the liberal position, not me, that has moved. But shifting tectonic plates are always disorienting, whether we're talking about a literal or metaphorical earthquake. And I struggle with that disorientation.
 
The fibro flare continues and I feel awful. Flare are always frightening because you don't know how long they'll last. Remember that one in 2010 that lasted over six months? And that was when I could stay home and take care of myself. Now I have to work full-time to support myself, and it's scary. I tell myself, as you always told me, that this didn't take God by surprise. And in these last three years, I've certainly has an opportunity to see the providence of God in action. So I try to step back, take a deep breath, and remember that I'm in His hands. It's not always easy to keep my eyes on that.
 
I guess I've already told you what I'd like you to pray for tonight, haven't I? As Dylan said, I've got mixed-up confusion, and it's a'killing me. I know that you can pray much better now than you could before. But I miss hearing you pray for me. I can't tell you how much that meant to me. If I was sick, or scared, or woke up in the middle of the night with a bad dream, you'd hold my hands and pray for me, and everything got better. If you can, stop by tonight for prayer. I have new blueberries in the freezer - you can take some out and put milk and sugar on them, let the milk freeze, and eat it like you always used to. And, as I keep telling you, you can finally meet your cats! I'll leave the door open for you.
 
Missing you so much tonight,
Joan.