Saturday, June 30, 2012

Our Exhumations Could be Complicated

Dear John,

Our backwardness was by design. And no, it wasn't personal. Fred said that in that cemetery, they place the headstones so that the names are read from behind the graves rather than across them. That way, when you go to read a headstone, you are standing on a stranger's grave rather than one of a family member. I do hope Goshen has very few exhumations; they could be challenging.

So I told him that in all of my family cemeteries - and being southern, there are lots of them - the print always faces the grave. I suppose that way when the last trumpet sounds and you rise right out of the ground, you can check the stone in case you don't remember your middle initial or something. Fred was floored that I've never in my life seen headstones facing away from the graves. He is being very nice - this evening after the office closed, he spent an hour turning it around. The only problem is that your name will be over my side and my name will be over your side. But we can sort out where we want to be under the cover of sod and no one need be any the wiser. And if either one of us ever gets exhumed, they will surely be able to tell us apart by gender, and by your metal plates and screws and hardware.

On a different note, I was putting some of Jen's laundry away and came across a pair of your boxer shorts that she sleeps in sometimes. I picked it up, buried my face in it, and cried. (I promised Jen that I will not do that when she is wearing them.) Sometimes little things hit me unexpectedly. I washed, dried, folded, and put away those shorts so many times for you. I'm glad to see Jen in them, but felt like I should be folding them for you, putting them in your closet.

I miss doing your laundry. It is sad to clean the bathrooms and find the underside of the toilet lid is perfectly clean. I clean the sinks and there is no hair in them. I have so little laundry now, so little cooking, so little shopping. I'd give anything in this world to do those things for you again. I only do for myself now, and that has no meaning. I'm hard pressed to think of anything that has meaning without you. Only church, but that is not without you - the church on Earth always worships with the church in Heaven, so you are there every time. And I do find meaning at church. Everywhere else, I feel like I've died already so nothing means anything to me.

But enough about my pathology. I love you, I miss you, I want to wash your underwear again. I look forward to resting under our headstone with you. We won't care which name is over which one of us. Love you forever,

Friday, June 29, 2012

Rain & Incorrect Rotation

Dear John,

We finally got rain today, but not nearly enough. It dropped the temperature from 95 to 64, so the house is open. (I know - imagine that: me having the house open.) I was at Walmart when the rain started. I had my umbrella with me, but it felt so good walking in the rain that I never put it up. Jethro was howling when I got home - there was quite a bit of thunder and lightning - but calmed down as soon as he realized that one of his humans was home. Open windows won't last long; it's supposed to be in the mid-90s again tomorrow. Most of the fireworks have been delayed or cancelled because it's so dry. I worry about all the private fireworks, though.

I forgot to tell you: DeWayne was at the annual Central District Conference meeting last week at Normal. He told me that your death was announced and you were honored. So many people in CDC love you. (Of course they do, says your wife!) CDC was home to us for many years, and it means a lot to have them remember you that way.

There's one other news item, and you'll get a laugh out of this. Your headstone is up - that's not what's funny. Fred emailed me a photo of it, and they put it in backwards. I'll call him tomorrow. Only us! I'll keep you posted on my efforts to get it right.

Hoping to join you as soon as the headstone is facing us,

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Let's Huddle Together to Keep Cool

Dear John,

My eyes feel and look better today. I got some work done organizing our room - it's been the general dumpling place for the last few weeks. It looks habitable now.

I worked inside all day. The temperature hit - get this - 107. The only reason any of us are still alive is that the humidity was only 45%. And 107 at 45% feels better than Durham did at 90 and 90%. Wretched climate there! I kept everything closed up tight today, including the garage, and turned the thermostat up to 78 to try to save some on electricity. This house is so well-insulated, thanks to Al. Even Jethro spent as little time as possible outside today. I got excited tonight when the weather alert radio went off, but the storms are all going south of us. You know it's a bad drought when you're happy to hear the weather radio go off.

I probably won't be coming to visit you for a week or so. The long-range forecast is for continued 90s, dry and sunny. We may soon be known as the Michiana Desert. I've given up on planting annuals in the window boxes this year. No matter how much I water them, sitting in full sun and full wind with the air this dry, they won't stand a chance. I'll see about putting something out in late summer or fall. Nobody's outside to see them, anyway.

That's all the news - 107 is enough news, I suppose. If you were here, we could huddle together and keep cool. :)

Love you so very much,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Post-menopausal PMS

Dear John,

Today was guilt day. I stayed home and rested - slept about half the day. My eyes burned and ran much more today, but were a little bit less red. So as usual I feel terrible about not being productive. It was always hard for me to go down while you were working, but you and I took turns at that which made it a bit easier. I feel so bad about going down while Jen is working so hard every day. Your sister pointed out that I am 22 years older than she is. But I still feel guilty. I can be as illogical as anybody when I put my mind to it, can't I? And I suppose it is illogical to expect yourself to be logical all the time.

I do believe I'm premenstrual. How do I manage that at my stage of life, you ask? I suppose that insecurities and the tendency to self-loathing can trump hormones. Or the lack of hormones. I just know that I'm feeling sensitive and unloved and generally worthless - you know, PMS.

Life is harder without your unconditional love bracing me. There's nothing to fall back on. And I miss the little things. It amazes me how much I miss just having somebody to ask how my day was. Thank you for always doing that, and caring about the answer! My days weren't always interesting to hear about, but it was really me you were interested in, so you cared about the little things that made up my days.

I really don't want PMS to turn into a pity party, so I'd better stop. Know that I love you more than life, and I miss all the little things that made you, you. And I can't wait to see you again.

All my love,

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

John Wins and the Last Campaign Promise is Kept

Dear John,

You are going to be so happy with my news for today! I'm going to make you guess:
  1. You've wanted it for years.
  2. I didn't want it at first, but you convinced me.
  3. Corporate interests didn't want it.
  4. It will simplify the New Years season.
  5. And this should be a give-away: It was the last presidential campaign promise that you were waiting for Obama to keep.
That's right - the BCS is dead and playoffs are in. College football has moved into the 20th century (we can hope for the 21st someday). It's short and simple now. There will be a selection committee and the 4 top-seeded teams will play - #1 plays #4, #2 plays #3, and the winners play for the championship.

Jen wondered if you pulled any strings to help this happen. If so, she thanks you. I'm so terribly sorry they didn't do it last year so you and I could have watched it together. But then, I wish they had put Ronnie in the Hall of Fame while he was alive, too. I know you'll still be very happy about it though. It won't happen until 2014; I suppose killing something as large and out-of-control as the BCS will take some time. But we have a tournament to look forward to. I'll keep you posted!

Other than that, I have pinkeye. I can't work, since work involves handling cosmetics. And Kathy is wise enough to want to keep away from me for the two weeks it will take for me to not be contagious. Now I'm trying not to give it to Jen or Eylssa. Jethro must be immune, since we share bedding and he licks me on the face. But don't worry - I'll keep a close eye on him and take him to see June if his eyes get red. I am under medical orders to stay home and do nothing but rest for two weeks. Melinda was planning to come over on Thursday, but since she has a cold we'll avoid having a germ-fest and reschedule. Lately I feel like I could sleep for two weeks. So this seems to be a gift that is allowing me to do what my body needs. Jethro won't mind having mom at home.

We miss you - be glad you're missing pinkeye! That would certainly keep you out of work, too. Love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on,

Monday, June 25, 2012

Our Footer is at our Heads!

Dear John,

I was so excited when I came to see you today, to see that our headstone footer is in! And I'm so glad it will be at our head and not our feet - it's a toss-up at Oak Ridge Cemetery. So our names will be on the right sides, and we will be on the right sides, and nobody will roll over and shove their wife out of bed onto the floor like happened on our wedding night! (Who knew then, that we'd still be laughing about it now?)

I wish I could have stayed longer, but I'd worked a long day and still had to go to Walmart. And it was hot in the sun there with you. In late summer I want to talk to the groundskeeper and see if I can plant a tree that would shade our spot a bit. We're in a newer area and there aren't any trees close by.

Oh, our garbage can finally fell apart after 17 years. The lid cracked, so the flies could get in, and I really don't care for maggots, and you're not here to take care of them for me, and I have to be a grown-up and do it myself. So I spent $12 for a nice new one today.

I wonder how it will feel to see my name on our headstone? I know it will be good to see it next to yours. Today I sat where I'll lie someday - I promised Jen I wouldn't dig. For now. :)

I love you, and I so look forward to lying down beside you someday!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

NOW I Get What John Mellencamp Meant

Dear John,

I heard Jack and Dianne on the way to church this morning. And now I get it! You know - I've talked to you about that line, "long after the thrill of living is gone." I've told you that I wondered when in life that's supposed to happen, because it hadn't happened to me. Well, now it has - I finally get it. And that describes very well the way I feel. The thrill of living went away when you did. I didn't expect to have to be widowed to understand John Mellencamp!

Church was good, a lot of work, and typical for June: I was the only chanter in town this weekend, so Great Vespers and Orthros were done solo. Bless Steven and Samuel - they read psalms between Orthros and the Liturgy and gave my voice a break. People are being so nice to me, even though they will be happy when Brian gets back. Our little choir is doing very well. I got them together for a few minutes today to review the A-flat - a perennial problem. Tone 2 doesn't come easily in the West.

I forgot to tell you - I saw a hummingbird at the roses Friday morning. It was a beautiful teal color. I haven't looked it up yet to see what kind it was. They're such tiny little things, and so lovely. 

We have a break in the heat coming. It's been mid-90s all weekend and will drop to 50 tonight, mid-70s tomorrow. There's still been no rain. Please pray for rain for us. The corn is curled up and the grass is tan and crunchy.

And please pray for me. I love you so very much.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I'm Being Gentle with Myself - I Promise!

Dear John,

I think I'm finally paying the price for going full speed since January 15th. I'm anazed by the schedule I've kept since then and all I've done. I'm too old for this. Not to mention having fibromyalgia.

Don't worry - nothing drastic is happening. I've just had four days of fibro flare and complete exhaustion. I've been waiting for this since the first week of February, like waiting for the other shoe to drop. So I've done very little these four days. Kathy didn't need me Friday so it worked out perfectly. I've knitted and napped, and done a few chores every day but nothing strenuous. I really don't have time for a tenth round of mono. So I'm taking good care of myself.

Job applications are still on hold. I need to be rested and healthy first. I'll know when it's time. Remember when I was hired at Baptist in 1979? I'd thought about applying there for several months, and I knew they always had a waiting list of RNs. When I felt like it was the right time, I walked in wanting 2nd shift in CCU two hours after Florence had turned in her retirement notice, making an opening on 2nd shift in CCU. And Kathy had thought about asking me to work for her for a few months. She asked me just when I'd decided to look for a job; if she'd asked a month or two earlier I would have said no.

So the Lord will work it out. I have a couple of months of financial leeway. And I suppose it's okay to need some recovery time. The last two years have been amazingly hard, physically and emotionally. You were always the one that made me not be so hard on myself. Be assured Jen has taken over that job! And I'm being gentler with myself now, too, since you're not here to ride herd on me.

I'm tired tonight, but less so than last night. I just wish I was sleeping with you and not the dog - nothing against the dog. I love you and miss you more than I can say. Sleep well,

Friday, June 22, 2012

Glimpsing God

Dear John,

I am slowly suturing myself back together. My pain ebbs and flows. It seems that there is an inner mechanism that allows me to feel only as much pain as I can bear at any given time. As I allow that mechanism to work, I will gradually work through the stored-up well of anguish. I'm telling myself no shoulds; what I feel is just that. I'm allowing my emotions to be whatever they are.

I've talked to a few friends who are concerned that I know it is alright to hurt. There is still that strain of Christian theology that says we will have no pain if we have sufficient faith. That, of course, is rot. How can sinful creatures in a fallen world hope to live without pain? That belief seems to me to be a way of keeping fear of pain at bay. And as I've thought about it, I've pondered that personal theology can be used as a drug, a way to alleviate our fears and discomforts. 

And so I'm very grateful tonight to be Orthodox. Orthodox Christianity never shrinks from pain. Whatever God sends is what we need. So I can be at peace in my pain, with no need to deny or repress it. And I think of Job - rest did not come to him by having God answer his questions, but by glimpsing enough of God that his questions became irrelevant.

May we both sleep peacefully tonight, glimpsing God! Love you,

We Were So Wholly One . . .

Dear John,

There's been a break in the heat but not the drought - we're in the severe area on the weather maps. But the windows are open tonight, and that is good.

Today I was reading between chores. Remember how I discovered Edna St. Vincent Millay when I was in high school, and loved her poetry? I got Renascence and Other Poems  free on the Kindle - some of it I haven't read since I was 16. One of those was Interim. It's about grief, and it gutted and filleted me like a fish. I don't know much about her life but can tell she had intimate knowledge of bereavement. You should read all of it - it's one of her long ones - and know it's how I feel now. This is just a bit of it:

We were so wholly one I had not thought
That we could die apart. I had not thought
That I could move, - and you be stiff and still!
That I could speak, - and you perforce be dumb!
I think our heart-strings were, like warp and woof
In some firm fabric, woven in and out;
Your golden filaments in fair design
Across my duller fibre. And today
The shining strip is rent; the exquisite
Fine pattern is destroyed; part of your heart
Aches in my breast; part of my heart lies chilled
In the damp earth with you. I have been torn
In two, and suffer for the rest of me.
What is my life to me? And what am I
To life, - a ship whose star has guttered out?
A Fear that in the deep night starts awake
Perpetually, to find its senses strained
Against the taut strings of the quivering air,
Awaiting the return of some dread chord?

I loved it at 16 and understand it now. I wish I had lived out my life just loving it and never having the opportunity to understand. I didn't know, at 16, that I would read it forty years later as a widow. I'll leave you with the end of it:

Ah, I am worn out - I am wearied out -
It is too much - I am but flesh and blood,
And I must sleep. Though you were dead again,
I am but flesh and blood and I must sleep.

Love you so much, so much, so much.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Re Nothing

Dear John,

There's nothing going on here. There's nothing to talk about, but that never stopped us, did it? We could talk happily about nothing at all for hours on end. It was being together, or hearing each other's voices over the phone, or reading each other's texts, that mattered. Subject matter never mattered.

Oh, about hearing your voice: You know I saved your phone for Jen. Tonight she recorded your voice mail message onto her phone and mine. We both got a bit teary listening to you, but kept listening to you because it felt so good to hear your voice. I still have the answering machine, even though I got rid of the land line, because your voice is on the message. I'll go into the nursing home someday carrying that answering maching, and they'll probably put me in the dementia unit for it. (I'll also be in my five-pocket jeans, like I told my mother when she took me aside after my 25th birthday to tell me that I was too old to wear jeans.)

So tonight I get to go to bed with your voice in my ears. Thank you for that. I miss you so much.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Plumbing Problem Solved

Dear John,
We have new toilets! and they work! and I'm so happy!
Luke and Lacey came over today and we got both new toilets in. Charlie wants one of our old ones; the other will go to Habitat for Humanity. While they were here they went through all those books you and I were ready to get rid of, except the ones that are earmarked for Father to get first dibs on, and took a good number off our hands .  .  . and shelves, and boxes, and tables, and floor, and most flat surfaces in the basement. It will make it much easier to set up Elyssa's playroom. I know you're glad for Luke to have so many of your books. He'll enjoy and appreciate them.
We also got some time to sit around and talk, which was great. So I'm pondering the fact that so many of my friends are younger than I am. I'm very glad of that - I really enjoy my younger friends. The young people you worked with loved you, too. Either we aged well or just never matured. I probably shouldn't ask which. Either way, it's good to be relevant in their lives.

I've said a few times in Facebook comments lately that at my age, things that used to make you wierd and dangerous now make you endearingly eccentric. This is a great age to be. You can get by with more. I wonder if that increases with increasing age? I'll let you know!

Oh, Lacey said today that she had wanted you to be her godfather. I told her that you can pray for her even better now - that she has a good one in you.

Pray for me, too - for all of us. Love you so much!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The House Lives and Breathes Today

Dear John,

Had a wonderful day other than the fibro, and a better day after Vicodin. The house feels alive again with all of us living here. It was good to come home from work and receive human greetings along with the canine ones.

Jen and a friend took the van back to South Bend, and Elyssa and I had a good time playing, eating dinner, and playing some more. She and Jethro have discovered tug-of-war - they're about equal in weight, so advantage goes to the one standing on the rug. Yesterday I taught her about salad forks. Tonight at dinner we talked about symmetry - I went around the room pointing out things and letting her tell me if they were symmetrical or asymmetrical. She's so quick and bright and curious.

This evening after Elyssa was in bed, Jen and I had some time to just talk. I told her that I'd known for years that I loved her like our daughter. But I've also realized that she's one of my best friends. And that is good. A daughter is truly a wonderful thing. She's such a gift. I know it's been said before: God gave me a child in my old age to take away my disgrace among women. And even grandchildren, too!

The house really does feel alive again. It won't be settled for a while, and since children grow it will never be settled the way a house is for us older folks. But the growing is good and the unsettling is good. It's a living thing. Homeostasis doesn't mean stasis, and equilibrium doesn't mean immobility. It is good to have the four of us here - three women and a dog. This is right for all of us now. It is good.

Missing Grandpa, and Dad, and husband/best friend/everything in the world to me - oh, and the world's best human daddy! We all love you very much,

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On Not Sleeping with Paper Bags

Dear John,

Jen and Elyssa are here, tired but fine. Three generations of women in one house - too much fun, definitely for Jethro! He's ecstatic and exhausted.

Goshen's Relay for Life was yesterday. Brandy was there - she hadn't planned to go, but said she just felt like she was supposed to. When she went inside, the first thing she saw was the paper bag with your name and dates on it. She got to light the illuminator in it, and brought it to me at church this morning. I hugged it like it was you - hope you don't mind! I'm so glad to have it. I had no idea they did that. It's like a little paper headstone and it makes me a little teary, but it's so good to see you remembered and honored publicly.

I'm off to bed - I promise I won't sleep with the paper bag. Or Bert the Hippo. Just Jethro!

I love you so much,

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Painting with Fibro" - The New Reality Show

Dear John,

Typing hurts tonight, so just give me a call when you can. Okay?  :)

The girls will get here tomorrow, so I decided I just had to get the primer on the walls in Elyssa's room. I hadn't realized how dirty that yellow paint was. I got to thinking about it, and believe I painted it about 15 years ago. It's held up rather well, actually! I had just - and I mean just - enough primer to finish the room. I looks so much better, even without actual paint. I hope to get the curtains up after church tomorrow. We'll pick out a paint color after they get here.

This is the first time I've painted since the fibromyalgia. Everything except the end of my nose hurts. I'll take motrin at bedtime and try to concentrate on the end of my nose. I'm not sure how my arms will like directing the choir in the morning. But this is the first Sunday I've done that isn't a special feast day, so that will make it easier.

I remember our painting routine. Before you left for work you'd move all the furniture into the middle of the room and away from the walls. When you came home you'd put it all back in place. In the meantime I'd get the painting done. And you always brought dinner home, bless you! My cooking wasn't to be trusted those nights. I also remember when I wanted to get rid of the white walls. You said that you liked them that way, but you'd trust me to do something different. And I said that if you didn't like it, I'd repaint it in the original color. Then every time you saw the walls, you loved them. You got to where you couldn't stand white walls. I guess I changed you a bit, too, didn't I? I inherited my grandmother's love of color. Thank you for letting me try things, and being to open-minded about it. And so generous. And so strong - I appreciate you moving all that furniture for me!

Well, it still hurts to type, so I'll stop and wait for you to call. I wish you could - I love to have a two-way conversation. But it is good to be able to talk like this. And after all these years, I know what you'd say anyway.

So good night - I love you so, so much.

Friday, June 15, 2012

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Paperclip

Dear John,
Yep, we definitely need a bigger paperclip. I have an ever-growing stack labeled: Insurance Pending - Date of Death Problem.  Today I got a bill from IU Methodist because Anthem just took back $5500 that had paid them. So I spent 20 minutes on hold (during which time I left the Post Office parking lot and drove to Honeyville) listening to decent music and a very good occasional recorded message. When I got through the lady was very nice and apologetic, as they all have been, and it isn't their fault at all. Anyway, they'll join the crowd of facilities that are resubmitting their bills to Anthem, who must be getting a big enough headache from all of this that they're regretting their typo. I've heard so far of them taking back funds from 2 providers, so it seems that this will be a long, complicated haul. It's a good thing I have so many cell phone minutes.

And speaking of cell phones: I have a new project going. I have all of our text messages since March of 2011 on my phone. I'm word-processing them so I can't lose them if something happens to the phone. Tonight I got to early May 2011. It's wonderful and heartbreaking to read them, but mostly wonderful in early 2011. Most of it was my play-by-play of the NCAA tournament games. Your messages are so tender and gentle, no matter what you're talking about. And both of us end every message saying "I love you." The way that we never took each other for granted shows so clearly in those texts. They're sweet and funny, and totally us. I'm so thankful to have them! When I read them I hear your voice, just like I did the first time I read them.

Thank you for sending them. And thank you for the character and the feelings for me that show in them - for having them and for showing them. This project will get harder as I get toward the end of them. I know that there will be some bad times. But it's worth it to hear your voice, and to preserve your words so I can't lose them. Our grandparents kept letters - we type out our text messages. It's all the same, isn't it? Either way, it's how we say "I love you."

And I do love you. From the day I met you until eternity. Sleep well tonight. I love you with all my heart.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Maggots and Burn Notice

Dear John,

It was another busy day off - I need to go back to work tomorrow to rest! I made a recycle run, took care of the maggots in the trash can (boy, do I miss you!), balanced the checkbook, put together a rolling file cabinet for my bedroom, got almost everything from the office put away, got the new printer set up, finished the paperwork for my items for the Topeka Quilt Show, and saw the first episode of Burn Notice for the new season. And I did remember to eat. I won't have everything done when the girls get here, but I'll have most of it. The office closet is the next big job to tackle. Most of it will go to the basement to be dealt with later.

I also made some phone calls. I got some bills today that had been submitted when Anthem was saying that you had died in January. I'm trying to call everybody that would be filing with them, to tell them that it is straightened out and they can re-submit. I opened a bill from Goshen Hospital today that was for over $155,000.00. I just stood there in the post office and laughed. Everybody I call is so apologetic and nice - they all say I don't need this stress right now. What I can't get anybody to understand is that it isn't stress, it's more like entertainment. It will get straightened out. The worst that can happen to me is filing for bankruptcy and losing the house. And compared to losing you, why on earth would I care about that? I'm amazed at how nice everybody is being. I just want them to get paid. (Who, me, have trust issues with health insurance companies?)

To sum up: The business end of things is fine. The house is slowly getting done. All the maggots are dead. Burn Notice was really good. I'm not stressing over any of this because I just don't care. I'm coasting through all of this.

So don't worry about me. You said when we got married that you had to marry somebody that wouldn't fall apart if they were left alone. You had that faith in me even when I didn't. I'm doing okay - I won't fall apart - and someday, I may even care. Right now, I just want to be with you.

Love you, want to be with you,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Another Anniversary, Another Lawsuit

Dear John,

It's been two months today. It seems like 20 years. I know I'm having an issue with time, but really - only two months? Wow.

Another lawsuit - the more the merrier. I got a letter today from a law firm in response to my letter to a credit card telling them about your death, and that the will wasn't being probated because there were no assets.

Because of privacy laws and since the credit cards involved were in your name they can't tell me who they're representing, they can only tell you. I can take them to your grave and they can talk to you; I'll visit Kevin and listen in, since he's only two doors down. Think they'd go for that?

Anyway, I thought legal consultation was in order. Galen said since there really are no assets, all they can do is take me to court in LaGrange and try to get a lien on the house. But we have so little equity in it that they probably won't think it's worth their time and trouble.

(By the way, there's no more word about the lawsuit over the car accident last year. Allstate has that covered anyway.)

It's funny - a couple of years ago I would have been terribly upset about these things. Now I don't reallly care. What will happen will happen; I have a good attorney; the Lord will take care of me one way or another. But the real thing is that you're not here, so what does anything else matter? I'm acting like a grown-up and doing everything that needs to be done, but I can't make myself care about any of it. This planet has just lost all interest for me. (I hope I don't hurt it's feelings - it's nothing personal.)

It's no wonder I feel like it's been longer than two months - a lot has happened in that time. As Crash Davis said, we're dealing with a lot of stuff here. It's all working out, and this will too, eventually. In the meantime I will lose no sleep over lawsuits!

Love you, miss you, feel like it's been forever!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Pox On Summer

Dear John,

I wish it was winter. Summer is making me miserable. First, there are Mother's Day and Father's Day to get through. I have no idea what I'll do with the town 4th of July celebration - I can't imagine missing the parade, but can't imagine going without you. Summer is supposed to be about celebration, vacation, and spending time with family. So here I am - miserable, going nowhere, and trying to get used to being alone. I don't fit into summer right now. Winter would be better - it's more solemn and solitary. Christmas will be a problem, but if I keep my focus on the Feast of the Nativity I'll be okay. Summer makes me sad. (you know - like the color yellow)

On a lighter note, get this: Dallas is coming back on TV. With the same cast. They look older, which must mean that I look older, too. What decade was that show, anyway? The 1980s? From the commercials it looks about the same. And Bobby still isn't dead.

I will take my summer miseries off to bed. Maybe I can sleep in until Fall - a sort of reverse hibernation. I miss you so much - wish I was with you instead of here. I wish I could go to sleep here and wake up there with you. Someday!

Until then, I love you and miss you, and am waiting for winter.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Heads, Hearts, and Address Labels

Dear John,

You know the weather has been hot when you think how much nicer and cooler it is, then find out that the temperature is 87. It will be much cooler tomorrow and there's a good chance of storms tonight. I'll have the Benadryl handy for Jethro. Poor creature - after this year with us, it's no wonder he's neurotic.

The bathroom flooded again last night - bailing was required. At least it was all done before midnight this time. I suppose that's an improvement. I hope to look at toilets Wednesday or Thursday. I miss having you here to wield the plunger, but am so glad you taught me how to use one.

My new address labels came today. We've gone for years using the free ones that come around Christmas. But between thank-you notes and medical bills, I only have a few left. So I got on VistaPrint and ordered some. I got three different kinds - one that's all business, one that's all fun, and one in between. I wish you could see them. You'd like them.

For some reason I've been sad and missing you all day. I know I'm way beyond tired so my emotional resistance is down. Between tea and toilets, I haven't had nearly enough sleep this week. And I'm having a fibro flare, probably also triggered by not getting enough sleep.

So shut up and go to bed, right? Every time you've been in the hospital,we talked on the phone at bedtime. It was so good to curl up in bed and talk to you. This is the closest I can get to that. So I hate to stop, no matter how tired I am. But I can still curl up in bed and talk to you! And if I get desperate to hear your voice, I have it on the answering machine. And in my head and heart.

Love you with all my heart, and all my head!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chess as a Sedative

Dear John,

I love you SOOOOO much! I couldn't wait to talk to you today.

I needed you last night. I had iced tea for dinner and a cup of chai at 9 PM, and was still wide awake at 2:30 AM - after Ambien, 50 mg of Benadryl, and Vicodin for the fibro. I needed you to talk to me about chess. Remember the first year we were married, when I was working 3rd shift? (as if you could forget The Hospital From Hell) When I'd come home wired and couldn't get to sleep, you'd lie down with me and tell me about chess matches. It always worked - I was asleep in 15 minutes. Your memory is amazing; it's really not normal to remember every move of hundreds of chess matches played over 50 years ago. I loved for you to tell me stories about simultaneous chess matches. And you were so glad to do it to help me get to sleep. I finally got to sleep last night by thinking about simultaneous chess matches. See what you've done to me?

This morning was wonderful. Lacey was baptized and had asked me to be her godmother, which I was thrilled and honored to to. I got teary standing beside her while she received communion for the first time; the look on Luke's face was wonderful. I remember watching you receive communion the first time. I always loved seeing that. I told both of them, and Luke's mom, how much you loved them. I think you and Luke could sit down and talk for 20 years straight. He misses you.

Oh, I did get an answer to the bat signal (you know - the one shaped like a plunger). Luke is going to help me put new toilets in, bless him. And Father is coming over to look at your books - I want him to have first dibs. He suggested that I put TDNT and TDOT in the church library. We may have to get a whole new bookshelf!

Jethro and I have had a restful evening, including a nap. Now The Glades is coming on, then we'll go to bed. Sleep well. And feel free to come and tell me about chess matches. Love you so much!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

How I Got Kicked Out of Church

Dear John,

I had a good time with Jim and Irene today. Jim put Elyssa's bed together, and he and Irene hauled the big cabinet and chair downstairs. I have a good start on setting up my workroom in the basement and getting Elyssa's room ready.

I went to church for Great Vespers tonight - I hated to leave Jim and Irene, but thought I would be the only chanter there. Father found out that they were in town tonight; bless him, he asked Charlie to chant and sent me home. He's such a sweet man. He was willing to do it without a chanter, but I would have balked about that. He has enough to do.

I'm up way too late for a Saturday night, but I had to say thank you for having such a nice family. Because of you I have a second mother and a sister, and Jethro has Uncle Jim to play with him. Thank you so much for all of them.

Love you,

Friday, June 8, 2012

Plumbing Problems

Dear John,

So, where were you last night when the toilet overflowed because I'm not as strong as you and couldn't push the plunger hard enough? Huh? I was all relaxed and headed off to bed early. The next thing I knew I was pulling towels out of the closet and trying to keep the dog from drinking the water. At least I got the bathroom floor scrubbed. But it was not my idea to be doing it at midnight.

The toilets are definitely the weak point of this house. Tonight on Facebook I put out an SOS - I need somebody to help me change these two toilets out for power-flush ones. I know how to do it, but carrying them around is a bit much for me. I miss your muscle!

And speaking of muscle, Elyssa's bed and chair arrived yesterday. I can't put them together until I get more furniture out of her room, and most of it is too big for me to take downstairs by myself. So for now the boxes are in the living room because there's no room anywhere else. I'll see if I can rope Jim into helping me on Saturday. I just need to borrow some testerone for a few days - then I'd be fine!

I'll apologize to you ahead of time: The house and flowerbeds will be a wreck when your family gets here tomorrow. There's too much stuff in transition right now. And Jethro is in the middle of his summer shed - yesterday his undercoat started coming out in big hunks. So the floors are hopeless. I could vacuum all day and it wouldn't look like I'd touched them. I'll do the best I can, but it's bound to be embarrassing - I'm sorry about it.

I miss you at unexpected times. Who would have thought about  missing your expertise with the plunger? I'm used to having you here; there are so many little ways that I depend on you. Something happens and I realize all over again that I'm on my own. The two became one flesh - we worked as a team without even realizing it. Now half of me is gone and I don't know how to live as half a person yet. But I do know that it would be easier with power flush toilets.

I'm off to bed now, hoping for no crises tonight. I love you.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Demise of Microsoft Money

Dear John,

Reporting in: I got some rest today. June says Jethro is tremendously healthy. A good time was had by all at the vet. And Microsoft Money bit the dust.

Actually, it's doing okay in the old computer. But more and more parts of it are falling off now, since it's no longer supported. Only the shell would transfer to my new laptop. So I've spent the day setting up Quicken and hand-transferring six months of financial transactions into it.

The new checking account was easy - I worked from the check register. That's where the easy part ended. For the rest of it I had to set the laptop up next to the old monitor and transfer things that way. Between Quicken, Microsoft Money, and the bank, I had three programs running on two computers at the same time - one mouse and one touchpad - and no brain by the time I stopped at 10:30.

The bank accounts are done - the new checking and savings in their entirety, and old checking from January 1st to its end. One exciting thing about Quiicken is that you can keep credit card accounts on it, too. I'm putting this year's charges on it because some are tax-deductible medical expenses. That requires working from the credit card site to Quicken. No wonder my brain is fried.

I think you'd like the changes, and you'd like Quicken. I know you'd planned to switch over on January 1st this year, and life got in the way. So I'm doing it for you, six months later than planned. Nothing in the last year or so has gone as planned has it? I'm glad I couldn't see 2011 and 2012 before they happened. I may have run back and hid in the 1950s. Heaven help us!

Dog and I are off to bed. I conquered the cereal last night, to Jethro's great disappointment, and hope to do the same tonight.

Love you much,

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Great Cereal Calamity

Dear John,

You missed a disaster last night. I'd told you that I was tired, but I didn't know how tired I was. I was following my usual bedtime routine. I got ready for bed and was sitting in bed reading and eating my bowl of cereal. I was so tired that I fell asleep while I was reading and eating, and dumped 2/3 of the cereal on the bed. The cold milk in my lap woke me up. Jethro pounced on the cereal and was wolfing it down as fast as he could. I was trying to scoop it up with my hands before it soaked through the sheet. It was quite a mess.

So instead of turning off the light and going quietly to sleep, I took the top sheet, blanket, and pillow case off the bed and put them in the laundry room. The bottom sheet had a 6-inch damp spot on it, so I put a towel over that. Then I got out a blanket, threw it over the bed, and went to sleep under it. Jethro and I camped out in the bed all night. I got up at 6:30 and started laundry, and finished it when I got home around 6. I really will try to do better tonight. I don't want to wash the sheets two days in a row. And it dawns on me now that it may be a good idea to have more than one set of summer (as in non-flannel) sheets. I was so tired this morning that I was eating Doritos in the car on the way to work, so I could stay awake to drive. Not a good beginning to a long work day!

See what trouble I get into without you? I haven't gotten rested up from January yet. I really have been running full-speed for six months now. In that time I've taken two complete days off to rest. And I have no idea when the next one will come. But at least I'm headed to bed earlier tonight. And all I have scheduled tomorrow is Jethro's yearly appointment with June at 11:00. So I can sleep in - theoretically, at least. The dog is waking me up at first light to go for a walk, and first light comes early in June. I forsee naps in my future.

I hope the rest of the evening goes without incident. And I hope Jethro doesn't expect cereal in the bed every night.

I love you with all of my sleepy, pea-picking heart!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'm Back

Dear John,

Yep, two posts in one day. I wrote you too early. It's after 10:00 now and I need that chat room. This just isn't a cheerful part of the day. My heart starts to break when the sun goes down.

There's one thing I need to tell you tonight: It's not the memories that make me sad - all the memories are happy and make me feel better. The sadness is for the memories we'll never get to make. There was so much that we wanted to do. I remember all that time you were in the hospital, all we could think about was taking a week and going up to Holland, running around southwest lower Michigan. It's such a simple thing, but it was so wonderful to think and talk about. We never got to go to San Francisco to visit St. John's tomb. We didn't get to drive Route 66 and explore. We didn't get to go to the Farmer's Market together this summer. Most of all, we didn't get to grow old together. That's what hurts - not remembering what we did together, but knowing what we'll miss doing.

That's all - I just had to tell you that. And sit here and cry a bit. And frustrate the dog, who is ready to go to bed. Tonight I'm ready, too - being asleep sounds better than sitting here thinking.

I know I keep saying it, but it's all there is: I love you, I miss you.

There's Probably a Chat Room for That

Dear John,

I've had a busy and productive day off. I spent the morning calling more medical providers and telling them the usual: Whatever it is, if Anthem denied payment you can resubmit it now, because after four weeks of phone calls they finally got the date of death corrected. It's been a nuisance but it's actually gone better than I expected. I have two places left to get in touch with and that should be it. Goshen Home Medical won their appeal and persuaded Anthem to pay for your home oxygen. Just one appeal is pending - the first heart cath in Indy. And since Methodist didn't pre-certify an inpatient procedure, they'll have to work that out between themselves.

Today I took bagel packs and thank-you notes to the hospital - to ICU (day and night shifts) and the Cancer Center (office and infusion room). It was good to see familiar people and places again. And I realized this morning that I still have ICU on speed dial; I suppose I really should change that.

I've told you that I have a hard time going to bed - nighttime is hard for me, without you. Muddy Waters said it well: Late in the evening I feel like going home; I woke up this morning and all I had was gone. It sounds better with the music. That's the great thing about blues - when something hurts, you know you're not alone. And neither am I - it seems common among widows to have trouble getting to bed. We all tend to be up in the wee hours of the morning. There's probably a chat room for that. But for now, I'll stick to playing Minesweeper and cuddling with the dog.

Love you so much - wish I was cuddling with you instead.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Dreaded Juicy Fruit Song

Dear John,

A short Monday at work - ran errands afterward - and I hate shopping these days! I never realized how much of the piped-in music in stores is old love songs. It's so hard to listen to when you're newly widowed. Occasionally I have to duck down an aisle alone somehere. So I came home tired and down, took a nap, and woke up rested and down. And as always, when I get really down the right person happens to call me.

Deb and Terry were traveling and called to share something with me. They had recently gone to a One Way House reunion, and there had been a hand-out of words to old songs. (Are we getting old enough to need the words handed out? That's scary!) Anyway, Deb said my favorite song was in there, and I knew what was coming. It was the dreaded Juicy Fruit Song.

I had to explain why we called it that - the tune was so similar to music that Juicy Fruit was using in a commercial in those days, and the theology was about as nutritious as Juicy Fruit. We so loathed that song! Terry said he was going to send me the words in case I'd forgotten them; I replied that I'd spent the last 30 years trying hard to forget them, thank you very much. So we all had a good laugh, and now I have the Juicy Fruit Song stuck in my head. I may have to go out to the car and get Robert Johnson so I can go to sleep. That song would probably give me nightmares. And, to paraphrase Thomas Merton: Is this really an improvement on Byzantine  chant?

I knew you'd love that. And you'd groan over the song with me, just like we used to. It hasn't improved with age. So let's hum Robert Johnson and be done with the wretched thing!

I love you so, so much - and all our years of shared jokes!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pentecost and The Glades

Dear John,

It's Pentecost today. My voice is tired - there was lots of different music this morning, and Father and I did Orthros alone just like the old days. Actually, it was kind of fun. I haven't done Orthros alone in a long time. I really miss having you there at church, though. And tonight was one of those nights that the sun started going down and I stopped and thought: Now what time does John get off tonight?

The best news of the day is that the new season of The Glades started tonight. I'm sorry you didn't see it with me - it was a good show. Actually, you probably don't miss it at all, but I know you liked it, and I liked watching it with you. I'm still amazed that we liked the same television shows. We differed a bit on movies, though - I never did understand why you liked the Godzilla versus Megadeath movies. We both liked film noir, though - I remember watching Double Indemnity with you when you saw it the first time. "I never knew murder could smell like honeysuckle." Great line, great film.

I have the office about half moved into the bedroom - I'm writing to you on the bedroom desk tonight. After church I came home, ate lunch, and then - you guessed it - hauled furniture around. The dog gave up and went to sleep. I'm not nearly as sore tonight as last night. Just tired, and the dog's on the bed making complaining noises, so I guess we're off to bed.

Sleep well - I love you so, so much.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Husband's Worst Nightmare!

Dear John,

It will be a short note tonight because my hands are killing me. So is the rest of me. The end of my nose doesn't hurt a bit.

No, there's not a front coming through, but the fibro is in on it anyway.  I put the second desk together today and then hauled furniture all over the house. With all that hauling, it was necessary to vacuum and dust. So the dog had quite a day. While I was putting the desk together he crawled under the bed, and stayed there with just his nose sticking out. Smart creature - he could watch everything without getting stepped on. And he did his usual thing of attacking the vacuum cleaner. He's now out cold, sleeping it all off.

So next I'll get the office moved to the new desk in our bedroom. Then I can get Elyssa's room put together, which will involve great hauling of furniture up and down stairs. Be glad you're missing this - all this rearranging of furniture is a husband's worst nightmare, isn't it? Actually, I missed your muscle today, and your advice and opinion on the furniture arrangement. Actually, it may have been just you that I missed!

Crazy about you,

Friday, June 1, 2012

Take the Back Way Home

Dear John,

This is the first day of June, and the high was 52.  The house is closed and the heat on. Wierd.

I can't believe it's June.  We would have gone to St. Ignace last week - in between our anniversary and the Lilac Festival, before the tourists arrive and the prices go up. I can't imagine I'll ever go back. There would be no point in being there without you, and there are too many memories of being there with you. I can go there in my mind any time I want to, and I do occasionally. But in my mind you're there with me.

You were always so nice about letting me ride the front row of the top deck of the ferry. It's not quite like what I did when I was a kid - straddling the front of an outboard motor boat and hanging on to the rope - but it was the closest I could get. I really never minded when it was cold and you stayed below like a sensible person. You understood how much I love the water, even though you didn't feel the same way.

I know you did love going to the Island, though, and going to Whitefish Point. From the beginning we enjoyed the same things. We loved driving around new places, wandering through little shops, finding little local places to eat. We didn't have to be doing much - the thing was just being together. We both loved the back roads and the long, slow route - what we saw on the way somewhere was as much a part of the trip as the somewhere was. We had wanted to drive Route 66 together and explore more of the Lincoln Highway. I may do that some day; if I do, I'll wish you were with me.

Now I'm off to bed, wishing you were with me. 

Loving you and wishing you were with me,