Monday, April 30, 2012

Sleeping With a Neurotic Dog

Dear John,

I had a much better day today, which is surprising since it started with a thunderstorm at 3 AM that had me up for 2 hours. Jethro kept jumping on the bed - landing on me, of course - and pacing. He had to pace between my head and the headboard, which included stepping on my head. The only position he would be still in was sitting on my head. Honestly. He wouldn't sit or lie down next to me, didn't want to hang out in the closet, couldn't do anything reasonably normal. He'd pace a few times then sit on my head. So I slept a good bit of the night with the dog sitting on my head. Since I sleep on my side, it was rather comfortable - much better than being stepped or jumped on.

After work I saw Galen and signed the new will, advance directives, power of attorney, and health care power of attorney. He witnessed that I was of sound mind even after I told him that I'd slept part of the night with the dog sitting on my head. I suppose that's the advantage of being friends with your attorney. He had one of his usual terrible jokes - I know how much you've always enjoyed them. Where do one-legged waitresses work? At  I-HOP, of course. Classic Galen. You've got to love it. 

It rained last night and most of today, and the basement is dry as a bone. Thank you so much for getting the sump pump put in! I appreciate all the hard work you did to give us a dry basement. 

That's all the news - I suppose that's enough for one day! 

Love you with all my heart,

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Comfort Television

Dear John,

This was one of those days to curl up in a fetal position and whimper - except that I curled up with the dog. I didn't get to church - got up and dressed, but couldn't do it after all. Social contact with small numbers of people is good right now, but I just couldn't handle that many people at one time.  I'm just not ready yet. TV was awful - it's not football season yet - so I watched ID all day. And cuddled with the dog. And kept forgetting to eat, which is probably the best thing about today. I can always stand to miss a meal or three. 

My new Facebook post is depressing. I asked the local people to recommend a monument company that does good work for a reasonable price. It won't be long before the ground is firm enough to place one. I'm going to get one that will be for both of us - you on the right and me on the left, as always! Except our wedding night, when we went to bed with me on the right, and you pushed me out on the floor in the middle of the night. Who knew how funny that would get over the years? Remembering it just gave me the first laugh I've had today. As you said at that night, at least we could be certain that both of us had always slept alone! I'm sleeping alone again now, but I'm well-trained - I always stay on my side of the bed. 

Wishing you were still on your side of the bed,

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Was So Happy With You

Dear John,

A slow, sleepy, rainy Saturday - did some housework, did laundry, vegged in front of the TV. I saw a very good documentary on Billy the Kid and a show about a transsexual-white-supremacist-militia-bank-robber that made Billy the Kid look downright wholesome. And I saw a commercial that talked about how terrible it was that the life insurance most people get at work is only for around $200,000. Yours turns out to be $ 15,000 - with your health history, I'll be grateful to get that much! We're so far off the societal radars, aren't we?

Today I was thinking about the things I'll never say again, without you.Things like - I'm so glad I married a man who likes sports - I love, you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on - I married the world's only perfect man. But I was especially remembering all the times I looked at you sitting on the other end of the couch, and told you that I was so happy with you. I'm so thankful that I always said it out loud! And I really was, you know - always. I'm thankful that I never was able to take you for granted. I always knew how happy I was with you - knew it so well because I was afraid it wouldn't last for very long. It was longer than anybody expected, but of course not nearly long enough. Now I'll never say that again. But you knew it, and I'm so glad for that. It was the world's worst-kept secret; everybody knew it, even the few people that couldn't understand it!

(I'm nowhere near ready to think about the things I'll never hear you say again. I'll get there someday, but not now.)

I can still say it to you here, and hope you can hear it, and know that you know it already - I was so happy with you. And I know that all of my life will be happier because of you, even though you're not here with me anymore. I knew from the first, before you realized that we weren't just friends, that I'd rather have a week with you than 100 years with anybody else. I made my choice with my eyes wide open, and would do it all over again gladly. 

Thank you for making me so happy,

Friday, April 27, 2012

To Grandpa

Dear John,

Today's news is mostly about grand-kids. 

The bad news: Danica has pneumonia. Bless her, you and I both know how bad she feels!

The good news: Elyssa lost her first tooth this evening. I was on the phone with Jen when Elyssa wiggled it out. There was a great quantity of grunting in the background, which turned out to be about trying to get up the courage to pull it out. She ended up pulling it out herself, with no help from Jen. Be proud of her - she's getting to be such a big girl!

I got things changed over with Verizon this morning. We'll end up saving about $150 a month - down to one line, fewer minutes, more texts. They were very nice and helpful about changing our contract. I went to the new one near Wal-Mart. And I took my lens prescription in today. For trifocals, even Lenscrafters take two weeks. But with the insurance and basic frames, they only cost $70.  That's with lines, but I'll be wearing contacts most of the time so the lines won't matter. The insurance won't last long enough to cover the contacts, so I may wait a couple of months for those. Trifocal contacts won't be cheap, and waiting won't be a problem, especially since I'll have glasses. No more balancing two different strengths of reading glasses on my head at work! How long did it take you to get used to trifocals? I seem to remember that you loved them from the first. I'm looking forward to getting them. 

That's all the news. You've been gone for two weeks today - I have good moments and bad moments. For your sake, I don't want you back and sick. For my sake, I'll join you as soon as the Lord allows!

I love you so very much,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

An Unproductive Day

Dear John,

I didn't go to work today - Jethro and I woke up with upset tummies around 4 am. After sleeping in and doing nothing, we're both feeling better. And we're still up - in spite of protests by the dog - because I'm having one of those nights that I don't want to go to bed without you. So I've been watching a Big Bang Theory marathon. But I draw the line at Conan, so we're off to bed now.

When I go to bed and when I first wake up, I still think that I should call the hospital and see how you're doing. I got a text when I was in the shower this morning; I heard the ding and got all excited, thinking maybe it was you. But I doubt that even Verizon reaches to where you are - not on our calling plan. While I was in the shower, I moved all your stuff out of it. Then I re-did the bathroom cabinet. I had to stop there - baby steps. 

This afternoon I actually had to cheer for one of the neighborhood cats. It was stalking, but not near the bird feeders. It was crouched and watching a mole hill by the driveway. So there is something good about having them all hanging around the front yard, after all. Go, cat!

I'm off to bed now - miss you so much!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Productive Day

Dear John,

Whew! I spent the first half of the day on the phone and the second half on Microsoft Money, and made great progress on re-working everything. And I give in - I like Microsoft Money. If it had been available in the 1930s my grandmother Keistler would have loved it, too. I'm still finding cool features in it. You were right, as always!

Charlotte called today, bless her. There's nothing quite like talking to another new widow, especially with the four of us have known and loved each other for years. It was so good to talk to her.

Gotta run - a thunderstorm just started, and I have a hysterical dog crawling up me. I need both hands for the poor little 55-pound creature. We have such brave dogs!

Love you so much,
Joan, and a shivering Jethro.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On Being Scrambled

Dear John,

I had a nice talk with your mother tonight - it seems that she and I are both being normal. Disconcerting to be normal, but I suppose it can happen to anyone. 

There's good news on the legal front. The will won't need to be probated since everything was owned jointly and there is nothing to distribute. But I'm getting good advice and have good backup, so that side of things feels much better. 

Jen flew home today. I miss her, but realize that I need some time alone now. Except for the 55-pound lap dog, of course - there's nothing that isn't made better by warm dog fur. Except an allergy to dog fur. And my unwillingness to form a complete sentence. 

There's not much to say tonight, except that I'm sorry I got so mushy yesterday. That much honesty probably wasn't necessary. But you know how I feel anyway. Tonight it's good just to sit here and know how near you really are - how thin the veil is between this world and the next, and how short earthly life is compared with eternity. I remember years ago when Leon and Glenda said about marriage, "You can't unscramble an egg." I'm glad for that inseparableness, and I have no desire to be unscrambled from you. We have, on occasion, been accused of being thoroughly scrambled, in every sense of the word. :)

Your loving, scrambled-up wife,

Monday, April 23, 2012

More Novocaine, Please

Dear John,

I saw our optometrist today; I'll get glasses tomorrow, and will get bifocal contacts like my last pair. So I'll be able to see everything everywhere again. They'll be soft lenses - that will be new for me. And it will all get done this month before the insurance goes away. He'd heard about you, and was very nice to me. He's such a good part of our infrastructure; I'm glad he came here.

I went back to work today - my brain is still Swiss cheese (soft, with lots of holes in it). It's a good thing I have such an understanding boss. I was surprised that being at work didn't make me feel better. I've figured out that it wasn't just a bad day yesterday - it's that the numbness is wearing off. It's most unpleasant, but normal and unavoidable. I've been weepy all day. I've always tried so hard to not inflict my uncomfortable emotions on innocent bystanders, but it's never been this hard before. I'm glad I have so much to do - otherwise I'd just curl up in a fetal position and wait for the Lord to return. But necessity and Jethro won't let me, so don't worry. 

I'm going to bed early tonight, since Jen and I have to leave at 4:15 in the morning so I can get her to the South Bend airport. I have lot of errands to run tomorrow, some in South Bend. I think I'll be starting with the 24-hour places! And I have the appointment with our attorney tomorrow afternoon. I have everything together that I can think of, and a list of questions. I'll feel better with all of this in experienced hands. Especially when my brain is Swiss cheese. 

All day I've been remembering the way you always looked at me, and realizing I'll never see that look again. Theoretically, I suppose I can survive that. Right now I can't imagine how. That look made me happier than anything in the world ever has. Your face was so expressive - in that look was all that you were and all that you felt about me. You never had to tell me you loved me - not that I minded! - but it was all in that look. Thank you for loving me as much as I love you.

Going to cry myself to sleep, loving you.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

And the Effects of Said Status

Dear John,

Wow, what a hard day I've had. Who knew that changing your Facebook relationship status to reality could have such devastating emotional effects? I've spent the day alternating between pain and paralysis. I had planned to write thank-you notes and finish my resume today, and ended up getting nothing done at all. I knew anything I wrote today would come out wrong. I know - I'm being normal again. It's just that being normal can be so terribly uncomfortable at times.

Tomorrow I'll go back to work. First I need to run by the bank and get some problems straightened out with online bill paying, so I told Kathy I wasn't sure when I'd get there. I have my eye appointment set up tomorrow afternoon. I need to get all that done before the end of the month, when your insurance will run out. I have information on the way about COBRA. When your death benefit information came from the company, they had you listed as no longer in management. I know you must be, because the insurance continued. So I have upper management looking into it for me. I'll take whatever and be grateful for it, but the difference is so huge that I had to question it. I should hear tomorrow, and I'll let you know how it comes out. Either way I'll make it, so don't worry about me. 

I'm off to bed, probably to snivel myself to sleep. I wish it was you on the other side of the bed, instead of Bert the Stuffed Hippo. His arms are way too short to cuddle with, and yours were so long.

I love you with all my heart,

The Status of My Status

Dear John,

Good morning! I dreamed again last night, and actually remembered part of the plot this morning. I stayed home from church - my adrenaline level is dropping, and my lungs and tummy are feeling it. Normal but annoying.

I had to tell you: I just got on Facebook and changed my relationship status to "widowed." A heartbreaking moment. It makes it seems so final. Illogical, but I can be just as illogical as anyone else when I put my mind to it.

Now I just hope I don't get guys hitting on me. 

Want you back,

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I'm Dreaming Again

Dear John,

You'll be happy to know that I'm dreaming again. Until last night I'd gone a week without dreaming - a normal thing for you, but downright alarming for me, since I've always had lots of long, complex, cinematic dreams. It wasn't that I was too tired to dream; I've been this tired for weeks now. I just woke up with no memory of any dreams at all.

All is well. I've dreamed for the last two nights. My mental condition must be moving in the general direction of normal. (Which I won't recognize when I get there, since I've never seen the place before.) I still don't remember much of what I dream, but it's been disappointing. I've heard lots of stories about new widows dreaming conversations with their husbands, and I was so hoping for that. But you haven't shown up at all. So please, get it together and show up for my dreams! There's nothing on earth that I want more than to have a conversation with you. (Actually, I can't think of anything else on earth that I want at all.) In the meantime I'll continue my one-way conversation here - rather like talking to you after you were entubated, but you communicated so well without talking that it sometimes seemed like you were.

Somebody threw a perfect game today - the bad news is that it was for the White Sox. Sorry to have to break that to you. The Cubs stink so far; nothing new there. I'm ready for football season. The Blue-Gold game was today but I'm holding out for the Steelers. 

I'm headed to bed, and to church in the morning. It will be good to be there, but I'll miss you. Remember to pray for me.

Good night - I love you.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Our One-Week Anniversary

Dear John,

It's been a week now that you've been gone and I'm trying to get used to this new world I've found myself in. I've learned that I have to balance rest with being busy; just where the balance point is seems to change every day. 

Today was a busy day, mostly with legal stuff. The bank got a copy of our mortgage faxed from LaGrange, and I found that we do have right of survivorship. So the house will come straight to me - no probate, no creditors. I've decided to let our attorney handle probate. I know we said we'd never do that, and that we did it ourselves when my parents died, and did it in South Carolina. But the emotional landscape is very different this time and things are a bit more complicated with the medical bills, so it will be well worth it. I hope you don't mind too much.

In between the legal errands I actually did something for myself today. I thought about 12:30 coming and wondered where I wanted to be at our first-week anniversary. So I went to a knit shop. Obvious, isn't it, that I'd go for the comfort of beautiful yarn and friendly people? It helped, and I think I made a new friend. So I've passed the one-week milestone, the first of many.

I only cried a little today. I've realized that all your past medical emergencies were really rehearsals for me. I knew that they had made me plan for this. But they've also been short episodes of grief that helped get me ready for the long one. So this landscape is a bit familiar to me. The four months you were in the hospital is helping now, too. In that time I've learned Microsoft Money and gotten a handle on the finances. And I've gotten a little bit accustomed to being here alone, to you not coming home at night, not eating breakfast with you in the morning, going to church and the grocery store without you. It's cushioned me a bit from the shock of losing you. I know those months were so hard on you, and they were hard on me, too. But now I realize they've made things a little bit easier.

I've survived one week. I suppose that's an accomplishment.

I love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Trouble With Tenses

Dear John,

I'm still mixed up - I keep talking about you in the present tense and myself in the past tense. Jen says I have a free hall pass right now, so mistakes are okay. Verb tenses are getting away from me these days.

Your family came over for breakfast before heading home. Jim and I took Jethro outside to play; a good time was had by all. At one point Jethro got in the boxwoods - completely in the boxwoods - with nothing but his head visible. I had my cell phone out to take a picture to show you, then realized I couldn't go see you at the hospital any more. I wonder how long I will do that. (I also wonder what was going on in the dog's head - why hide in the boxwoods?)

Jethro had a good time with Uncle Jim. But he misses his Daddy terribly. And so do I. In every conceivable verb tense.

Love you so, so much,

You Missed a Great Funeral

Dear John,

Your viewing and funeral were wonderful - it's a shame they were held when you couldn't be there. People came from all over. Donna from Louisville, Deb and Terry from Sidney, Michael and Kathy from Kansas. The travel award went to Chris, Heather, and the girls who came all the way from New Orleans.

There were a lot of tears at the viewing. I was surprised how many people didn't know that you'd had  Hodgkins Disease twice, the first time when we were 19; they assumed you'd been healthy until the last year. A lot of people didn't know what a long battle it had been for you, or that you'd had many more years than anybody ever expected. 

For pallbearers I had Jim, Paul, Brian, Matt, Chris, Ron, and Terry. I hope that was what you wanted. It's quite a cross-section of our lives, isn't it? Brian, Adrian, Charlie, Paul, and Steven took off work today to read and chant, and it sounded beautiful. Father couldn't help getting choked up sometimes. He said that what defined you was being a servant; I still need to tell him that when we met, that was your goal for your life. You met it.

The crowd was as big as I'd expected. The church was full. The ladies did a wonderful job with lunch, and I have lots of leftovers. The meal was a bit more cheerful. The friends I sat with were telling funny stories about you. I'm afraid we were a bit undignified - that won't surprise you at all. You would have enjoyed it.

The funeral cost less than I had expected. I kept to what I knew you would want, and that was what kept the cost down. Planning it was a bit like the time we planned our wedding - people trying to get me to do things neither of us wanted. There wasn't a flower drape over the coffin - that always reminded me of the Kentucky Derby - and, being Orthodox, your shroud was there instead. I didn't get those printed cards you hate and didn't use their guest book, which saved us $250. For a guest book I used the last part of our wedding guest book. Sentimental, I know, but it felt good. To balance things, the grave plots were more expensive because we don't live in Goshen. Our plots are in Oak Ridge Cemetery, and almost next door to Kevin. (It was a nice, respectable neighborhood until we arrived.) There wasn't room in the Orthodox section. There are beautiful big shade trees, and we're right next to the creek. This is our new second home on the water. 

Love you bunches! Sleep well tonight, and pray for me.