Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Feeling A Bit Less Lumpy

Dear John,

I'm still going through a time of missing you terribly. But I do feel less lumpy tonight. Thanks for praying for me.

I realized this morning that part of my problem (I know - which problem?) is that I'm stressed about putting in my job application. In this market and at my age, it's very different from any other time I've looked for a job. I know that the Lord has taken care of me and always will - I needed to be reminded of that.

Now I need to go to bed - Jen had a work dinner after work, and Elyssa and I had way too much fun this evening. So grandma is tired! But not quite as tired as Elyssa and the dog.

So please continue to pray for me - that I remember that the Lord is in charge of my finances and career, and that I do what He wants me to. And that I actually get to the grocery store tomorrow, or we all may starve.

Love you so much,

Monday, July 30, 2012

There's a Lump in My Heart Tonight

Dear John,

It's been a long, uncomfortable day. I woke up missing you and I felt all day like I had a lump in my heart. Sometimes I don't know why a day is hard. I went to work, and worked 7 1/2 hours without taking a break. I came home, and the lump is still there. I feel like picking a fight with somebody then crying myself to sleep. Don't worry - I probably won't do either one. I really am a grown-up. So I will control all these emotions and not injure any innocent bystanders. Maybe part of it is that all three of us seem to have a viral sinus infection of some sort. Maybe part is that Kathy's gone this week so I was by myself all day.

.  .  .

Okay, this is bad. I just got up to let the dog in, so the laptop went to screen saver. It's set to put up random photos from the Family Photos file. And I've been sitting here looking at pictures of you - with and without hair - and crying. It's time to quit this and go to bed. Please pray for me tonight. I'm not sure what I need (other than you), but you and the Lord can take care of that part. I just need your prayers tonight, since I can't have your arms around me.

Love you more than life,

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Art of Crying Discretely

Dear John,

It was a good day at church, as measured by the fact that I was there until after 2:00. Do you think I managed to find people to talk to?

I had an odd emotional reaction during the prayers after communion, and just figured it out. I started crying and didn't know why. What I've realized is that I was standing where I stood for your funeral. You'll be happy to know that I've finally mastered the art of crying discretely, due to lots of practice lately. Nobody else knew that I was crying.

Anyway, as I stood there I suddenly had an overwhelming sense of your presence comforting me. It helped, and I was okay after that. I still missed you very much and felt sad, but I've reached the point that I can sometimes feel sadness without the excruciating pain.

So thank you for that. It is good to know that you're still watching out for me. In the Prayers for the Departed we ask that our loved ones be given the grace to pray for us, so it doesn't surprise me. And I should tell you that, since I asked you to pray about my dreams, I haven't had another nightmare. Thank you very much for that.

I know you will always love me. It is good to know that you also pray for me. We're not as separated as it seems, are we?

Love you so much,

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Spoiler Alert: Contains College Secrets!

Dear John,

I got to watch the Psych episode "Dual Spires" while I was eating lunch today, and so wished I was watching it with you. I don't know anybody else around here that saw Twin Peaks, so there's nobody to laugh with me at all the wonderful parody. (What a small group that must be of overlapping subsets - Psych fans, that taped every episode of Twin Peaks,  and live in northern Indiana. No wonder I can't find another one.)

Anyway, there is a line about Randy tying Jack's shoelaces together, and you know very well where I'm going with this. So of course I got to thinking about that day in college when you and I were dating, and Frank wanted to marry me, and the two of you were playing some kind of strategy game, and he was getting angry because you were winning, and I tied all eight of your shoe laces together. And he didn't see any humor in it at all.

Frank didn't want to marry me because he loved me or anything - it was just that he was going to graduate from Asbury Seminary soon, and in those days there was nothing more essential to a Methodist pastor than a pastor's wife. Mama always knew that one day I'd have a Methodist pastor wanting to marry me - she'd had one, and her mother had had one, and so it's a long family tradition. (Remind me to warn Jen.)

And Frank's last-ditch effort was to tell me that you wouldn't live long, but he was healthy and would live a long time and be able to take care of me. (He never said just why I couldn't take care of myself.) Then he got cancer right after we were married, and died within a year. And he died angry, refusing to see either of us. It's so sad. 

I wouldn't have married Frank for any reason, even if I'd never met you. (or if there were no other surviving men on the planet) He didn't understand marrying for love - prefering one day with someone to a hundred years with anyone else. And I guess it goes to show you never can tell - a death sentence can be beaten, and anything can happen to anybody at any time. The Lord is in charge of life and death.  

So you beat Frank at the game, won me as the prize for victory, and lived another 36 years. I'd say that was a pretty good day. And I had so much fun tying all of your shoe laces together!

Love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on,

Friday, July 27, 2012

Danger: Unforseen Meltdown

Dear John,

I had an unscheduled meltdown tonight. I even surprised myself this time - something you know I do only on rare occasions.

Tonight Elyssa and I watched Wall-E together - she wanted to see it with Grandma. It was good, and we enjoyed the time together. But there was a tiny bit near the end that kicked me in the gut. Walle (the boy robot) was injured, and for a while he didn't recognize or react to Eva (the girl robot).

It hit me so hard because that was my greatest fear in all of your medical adventures. I've told you how, before your brain surgery, I was so afraid you wouldn't be the same person afterward. (When I was allowed to see you the next morning and you were sitting there, without glasses, watching Sports Center with the television 6 inches from your nose, I knew you were just fine.) I never told you how afraid I was during those last three months, especially after you were trached and couldn't talk.

It never happened, and I'm so thankful. After the movie tonight I was telling Jen how hard that part was to watch, and she said, "Well, that certainly never happened!" It was good to hear that from an observer. You were always yourself, right up to the end. Even when you couldn't write notes to me anymore, your face was so expressive that I didn't really need them.

I'm not sure why I'm telling you this - I suppose it's just that I've always told you about my  fears and feelings, and you've always made me feel better. So now I need to feel better, please! I'll go to bed soon, and pretend you're there with me. I only wish I could be there with you.

All my love,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It Was Harder than You Let On

Dear John,

I'm talking to you at all times of the day now - oh, what chaos is unleashed upon the world!

Yesterday afternoon I drove up Main Street by the hospital and had an almost overwhelming urge to turn in. Habit, wanting to see you, general fondness for Goshen Hospital - I don't know exactly what. As I was pondering it at a stoplight, my first thought was that I wished I could still go visit you there. My second thought - generally the more reliable of the two - was that I was so thankful that I couldn't.

I'm so thankful that you're not suffering anymore. You'd had to deal with health issues since you were 9 years old and had rheumatic fever, and with cancer since we were 19. That's a long time. Most of that time you felt fine, but we always had this thing hanging over our heads and a constant awareness of our own mortality.

The last 4 years have been so hard for you. Since you had myocarditis with that bout of mono, I know you hadn't felt good. Your energy level had been low and we were constantly dealing with your fluid status - CHF, peripheral edema, then pulmonary edema and pleural effusions. The lung cancer was just one more thing. You dealt with it all so well. You stayed positive, worked hard to take the best care of yourself that you could, were never irritable or discouraged or self-pitying. But it was much harded than you let people see, I know. It was harder than you wanted me to see, but you can't fool an old critical care nurse.

It's so hard to never feel good. And it's much harder to know you may never feel any better. The radiation saved your life when you were 19, and took it when you were 56. In between the two, it caused one problem after another. It didn't take us long to figure out that the complications wouldn't stop until one of them was fatal.

And one of them finally was. When the end came, I think you were more than ready for it. You fought so hard and lost so gracefully. And as much as I miss you, I wouldn't for all the world have you back to suffer any more. As a nurse, I know that pneumonia and sepsis was the easiest way you could have gone. I don't know what terrible things you were spared by getting MRSA in your lungs, but with my experience I can imagine quite a lot.

So I'd love to see you - but not in that hospital bed, trached, and on a vent. My favorite photo of you was taken on the front porch of the Governor's Mansion on Mackinac Island. The way you were that day is the way I remember you. And now you're even better than that - for the first time since you were 9, you're healed and healthy. And I'm thankful for that. If it means that I'm alone for a while, that's a small price to pay. We'll be together again - and both of us will be healed and healthy then. That's what I hope and work for!

Love you, love you, love you!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fair Week Without You

Dear John,

I've been thinking about you so much today. This week is another first - I'm missing the Elkhart County Fair. I just can't face going without you. In the 24 years we've lived here  I think we only missed the fair twice - last summer (since you were in the hospital and I had a broken collarbone), and a few years ago when we were both sick.

We always went for the 4-H part of the fair - we walked the barns and watched the livestock judging. And we learned some things and had a boatload of fun. I still can't see a goat without checking the quality of it's mammary suspensory ligament. Remember the year when I stopped the hog that was charging out into the fairgrounds? I'm glad to not know how much homemade pie we ate.

It's a great fair - one of the country's biggest and best. I love it. And I just can't go without you. It wouldn't be any fun. And there are too many memories at the fairgrounds - all the fairs and all the relief sales. I may go back some day, but not this year. It hurts just to know it's going on.

So please keep praying for me - this week is hard. (Just like Rosanne Rosannadanna's father said: It's alway something.) I love you so much, miss you all the time - especially at times like this that were special for us.

Love you always,

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Alien Staircase Appearance

Dear John,

Twice in one day - whatever did you do to deserve this?

Just a quick update: I feel a lot better after Percocet - better living through chemistry. The barometer is settling so I should feel fine tomorrow. I did get a good amount of knitting done. I have two hats ready to take in to the Cancer Center - a purple one for pancreatic cancer, and a light blue one for prostate cancer.

And I forgot to show you this yesterday. You'll love it. I woke up yesterday morning only to discover that the aliens had landed and were napping in the stairwell.

Sleep good. I love you so much,

The Barometer Did It

Dear John,

I know - a morning letter? Is the world ending?

It's been raining and storming all day. I've had Jethro in my lap and the heating pad around my neck and shoulders. With the barometer so low, it's a painful day for fibromites. It's well worth it for the rain, of course, and I've loved sitting inside while it's dark and stormy outside. But, oh, do I hurt!

So I just wanted to come here and talk to you, because cuddling with you is the best analgesic in the world. You always make me feel better. While it rains today, please pray for your aching wife and your neurotic dog - not necessarily in that order!

Love you so much,

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Humidididity Did It

Dear John,

I'm mildewed. The humidididity did it.

It rained this morning, then came the thunder and lightening (very very frightening, according to Jethro). Then the sun came out, the temperature went up to 95, and we all got a steam bath.

I wouldn't be so mildewed except that I wanted to come see you and bring you ice cream, I got caught by a 15-minute train, and I had to go grocery shopping (we were out of milk and Cheerios). So I'm a wet, sweaty, stinky mess. Jethro thinks I smell fascinating - it's probably not a good thing when your dog is that interested in how you smell.

Anyway, I'm heading for the shower. I can't face dinner until after I get cleaned up a bit. But I had a nice time visiting with you, as always. And I sat through the train listening to my Son House CD and reading the liner notes, so I was quite busy and happy.

Love you big, huge bunches,

Sunday, July 22, 2012

On Being Ringless

Dear John,

It's a cloudy, sleepy Sunday afternoon. I so wish the clouds would put out some rain. The local radar shows us as dark green, but whatever it thinks is coming down isn't making it down this far.

First, I found out this morning that I still have the music next week. The choir is bearing up very well under it. I was hoarse all weekend, I think from Friday night, so they sang on their own for most of this morning's Liturgy.

I've been meaning to tell you and keep forgetting - I had to take my wedding band off. I woke up Thursday morning and it was gone. I turned the bedroom and bathroom upside down, even took the sink trap apart. (didn't find it there, but what I did find was very interesting) I finally found the ring on the floor beside the bed. It had fallen off during the night. I've lost enough weight that it won't stay on, and I can't risk losing it. So it's in the jewelry box.

I feel rather naked without it. This is the first time that finger has been bare since I got my high school ring. My hand looks so funny, and there's a dent in my finger that may be permanent. I plan on taking my engagement ring and getting a different stone put in it, and wearing it on another finger. But I'll have to wait a bit. I'm in the black for July, but won't be if I do that right now.

That's all the news. I could just sit and chat with you for hours, you know. Please keep praying for me, as I do for you. Love you hugely,

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Nothing Going On

Dear John,

It's been a quiet Saturday. Adrian and I did Great Vespers. We got stuck in Tone 6 like everybody does, but I don't believe we invented any new tones tonight. It was good. Tomorrow I'll direct the choir for the last time - Brian will be back for next Sunday, to everybody's great relief, I imagine. I'm glad I was available to cover for him. Heaven only knows how many times he covered for me! Everybody needs to have a backup.

Elsie said tonight that she visited you and our neighbor Kevin a few days ago - she likes the headstone. I told here that, no matter what the stone says, you're on the right. If you weren't, you'd manage to shove me out like you did on our wedding night. She loved it.

Did I tell you that I called your mother yesterday? I don't think I did - it was late when I got home last night. We had a good talk. She still says I'm being normal. Shocking, isn't it?

I have to be up early in the morning, so dog and I should get to bed. We love you! We especially miss you at bedtime. Sleep well tonight!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Driving in the Dark

Dear John,

I just got home, so it will be a short note tonight! I was at Kathy's year-end awards celebration. It was good to see people again and to be able to put faces with names of some consultants I hadn't met before.

Driving home tonight was also good. It was cool  enough to have the windows down, and everything smelled so good. I was thinking about it, and I'm not sure when I last drove after dark. Of course, it's light so late this time of year, especially since we go to Daylight Stupid Time now. But when you were in the hospital I tried to get home before dark because of the dog. It may be that the last time I drove when it was completely dark was in Indy last winter. I do love the county roads in the middle of the night. This is such a beautiful place to live. Thank you again for bringing me here.

I'm off to bed while I can still get there! I love you so, so much.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It Rained & Anthem Paid Up

Dear John,

I know I'm hours earlier than usual, but I had things to tell you that couldn't wait.

First, it finally rained. It started this morning. We had several hours of good, gentle, steady rain - Weatherbug says we got about 2 inches here. Jethro was funny - he hasn't heard rain in so long that the sound of it beating on the house scared him a little. He woke me up, then wanted to cuddle, then sat on my head for a while, and ended up sitting on the pillow by my head looking for all the world like he was standing guard over me. The German Shepherd in him comes out in the most interesting ways. So I was amply protected from the rain falling on the roof this morning - aren't you happy to know that?

Second, I've been making phone calls all day. I'm tying up loose ends, making sure Anthem has paid everybody. Two groups are waiting for their re-submitted bills to be processed, one person I haven't been able to get hold of, and the rest have been paid in full. Evidently the cardiology department at Methodist prevailed - Anthem seems to have paid for that first heart cath after all. So we're in good shape on the medical bills.

That's all - I just had to tell you both of those things. The way I used to call you at work when I was really excited about something. Oh, and "Kill Screen" ended the usual way last night - it was great.

Love you bunches,

PS - I wanted to tell you that we just got some sprinkles later in the day, and a very good new episode of Burn Notice at 9 PM. And I finished the first posthumous cap for the cancer center patients, and it felt good to be back in the saddle again. I was making 3-4 a month for them, then you went to Indy and I was making 1-2 a day there, with nothing else to do. I'm just getting back into the rhythm of making them; tell Micah that there will be many many more to come.

Love you - sleep well tonight! *kiss * snuggle* smile*

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rain & Kill Screen

Dear John,

Come quick - NCIS is on USA, and they're showing "Kill Screen." If you get here soon enough, you'll get to watch Gibbs shoot up the computer again! I know you love this episode, and so do I. The end is just so satisfying.

We had a little bit of rain today. There were scattered bits of rain all over, but it never rained longer than a few minutes in one place. But at least it was cloudy; it kept the temperature down to 105.  I feel like I live in Texas but there's no good barbecue within a few hundred miles. It looks like I'll be getting the sprinklers out tomorrow. Our trees are doing fine - I know some people who are losing trees because of the drought.

You know what I'd love to do? I'd love to cuddle up with you on the sofa while it rains and storms outside, lose the dish to rain fade, and put on the "Spiral Staircase." Black-and-white horror movie, rain, and you means total bliss. Maybe popcorn, too? I'll wait up for you.

I do love you so much. I miss you tonight. But I'm glad to have so many good years to remember.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Feeling Glad to be Alive Today

Dear John,

I had another good day. Melinda and I went shopping in Fort Wayne. And when I woke up this morning I was glad to be alive. That sounds silly, but it's a huge milestone for me. I'm sure there will be days that I'll feel otherwise. But for now I'm glad to be alive. I had hoped one day I would be, but I can't say I really expected it to happen.

I've learned that grief isn't linear. The good days and bad days seen to come in cycles. But with every round, the good days are better and the bad days aren't as bad. I never know what the next day will be like. But I'm beginning to feel some little bit of hope. And that's another milestone that I doubted would come.

By the way, thanks for the kick in the rear you gave me this afternoon. I wasn't sure about spending the money for a laptop case. But I could hear you telling me that I'd use it for years, it would probably last longer than I will, and for a laptop case you want to buy good quality. Anyway, I did buy it, I do love it, and Jen says it's cool, too.

I'm working tomorrow so the dog and I need to get some sleep. And it was over 100 again today so we're both feeling the heat. There were big storms tonight in the county - to the north, south, east, and west of us. We didn't get a drop.

So please keep praying for rain for us. And for more nights without nightmares. And anything else that you can see that I need. I love you so, so, so much!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Life as an Acceptable Alternative

Dear John,

I forgot to tell you about Father's homily yesterday. It was the other matching bookend to your funeral - a celebration of resurrection. As I listened to it I felt like a cloud was lifting off of me, like the period of time between the funeral and that homily were bracketed off. And it seems that something did change in me. I miss you just as much. But I'm not nearly as sorry to be alive as I was before.

Part of it seems to be that I've realized there are people here that love me, and people that I matter to. (Other than Kathy - I'd hate for her to have to train yet another assistant. Jen would be much better off financially without me, with credit life on the mortgage and with my life insurance.) When I express surprise that people love me, Jen makes faces and tells me to stop acting like you. I laugh and tell her, fat chance. You and I always did share a tendency toward self-loathing. One thing that was so good between us was than we knew we were loved by each other - and still are.

So it seems that if I matter to people here, then there is purpose for me. And after all, if I survived not breathing for 5 minutes and being decorticate when they got to me, it is clearly an act of God. I'd assumed that I needed to survive to be here for you; and since you're not here anymore, there is no need for me. But maybe there is a life for me yet.

I do hope this makes some sense to you - you usually understand me better than I do. Anyway, I feel much better. I'm not ready to look at the future yet, but I think one day I will be. Right now, at least, I'm okay with waking up alive in the morning. And that is good.

Love you so much - thank you for your prayers.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Of Weddings and Babies

Dear John,

I had a really good day. Luke, Lacey, and Chris came over after church for an NCIS marathon, which was lots of fun. And Luke and Lacey announced their engagement this morning. We have so many young singles and couples, and lots of children and babies - and more weddings and more babies on the way. It's wonderful. It seems like such a short time ago that we were one of the young couples, and now I'm in the widows group. Time passes so fast and you don't even notice it. I like being this age, though - it's a fun age to be. I just wish I could be this age with you. 

Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Soaking in Dry Air

Dear John,

It's been a quiet Saturday and not as hot - mid-90s today. The local news - which, of course, is an hour away - said the whole viewing area got a good soaking rain this afternoon. Here, we just soaked in dry air. But since we have such a large Amish population, maybe they think we aren't viewing. I realized today that the horses are grazing in brown pastures with not a green leaf in sight. Even our weeds are brown. The only thing growing in the yard is some Queen Anne's lace.

On the job front, Father had suggested that I wait until fall to apply for a hospital job. I didn't think I could afford it. But then all the jobs in the area disappeared from the websites - this year's new grads have been hired. After a moment of panic I realzed some things. First, I don't want to go up against new grads - they're younger and cheaper than I am. Second, I was wrong to disregard Father's advice. He is my spiritual father, and a wise man that knows me well and can see my situation better than I can now. He was right - I do need some more time. The God who cares for widows and orphans is caring for me, especially since I'm both of those. I can hear what you're thinking - that I don't give myself any slack. I know you're right, and I really am trying to take care of myself.

And part of that is getting to bed at a decent time. So I'll take my jeans out of the dryer and head off to bed. Please keep praying for me - for more nights without nightmares, for the right job at the right time, and anything else that you think I need. You know me much better than I know myself.

I miss that knowledge. I miss your wisdom. I miss your smile, and your long arms around me, and the way you always looked at me from the first time I met you. I miss all of you. Know that I love you, and sleep well tonight.

Friday, July 13, 2012

What Muddy Said . . .

Dear John,

It's been three months today - seems more like thirty years. But I do still have this issue with time. It was good to bring ice cream out and visit with you today. When it got close to 12:30 I started crying - my first time to cry at the cemetery. But we had a good long chat, and I felt much better after having a good cry, too.

I was listening to Muddy Waters today. Late in the evenin' I feel like goin' home. Woke up this mornin' and all I had was gone. How do I feel these days? What he said.

But I'm managing to carve out a life of some sort. It's wonderful having Jen and Elyssa here. I love my job. I should be in the black this month without touching savings. Barely, but I missed a week of work when I had pinkeye. So next month should be better, barring disasters. And I didn't have any nightmares last night. I did dream something and it's just skirting the edge of my brain, but I know it wasn't unpleasant. So that is good.

I love you immense amounts,

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Night Without Nightmares

Dear John,

Thank you - no nightmares last night! I only remember one dream. I was at Walmart and heard you call out "ishi" behind me, like you always did. (It made it easy to know it was you, and you were calling me. Who else in the Goshen Walmart would be hollering out "my wife" in Hebrew?) I turned around and saw you smiling at me, just like you always did. I waved and walked toward you, then I woke up. There - we were doing something normal. Was that so hard? :)

I knew in the dream that you had died, but I wasn't surprised to see you at Walmart. In all these dreams I knew that you'd already died. During the nightmares I'm always thinking, "He already died once. I can't let him die again." It doesn't feel like guilt - I know that we all did everything that could be done for you. Maybe it's just that I just want so bad for it to have ended differently. And we came so close in Indy, before you got pneumonia.

But last night was better - thank you for praying for me. I could always wake you up if I was having nightmares, ask you to pray for me, and they'd stop. Please keep praying. I'd love for the nightmares to not come back.

Always your wife,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We Need to Talk About My Dreams

Dear John,

We need to talk. About my dreams. They're getting more normal - which means more vivid, longer, more complex, and more often I wake up and go back to sleep and the dream continues where I left off.

This would be good if the dreams were like the ones I've had all my life: benign and vastly entertaining. But these are nasty, and it's starting to wear on me.

They're all different but they're all the same. You have some health crisis and I'm trying to save you. I'm trying to get you out of a situation, or get you to a hospital, or get doctors to listen and take you seriously, or get them to treat you, or something like that. Last night I was struggling to get you to a hospital while the North Vietnamese Army was invading Goshen and transportation was impossible. Every time the responsibility is all mine, and I'm trying desperately, fighting tooth and nail, to save you.

Not such a shocking dream, huh? But exhausting and upsetting. I'm dreading going to bed because I know those dreams will start all over again. I had enough of the real-life experience the first three months of this year. I do not want any more of it. I'm worn out.

So please, let's do something different tonight - something normal and low-stress and enjoyable. Let's go to Mackinac Island and hike and shop, or go to Grant Park to the zoo, or to the Cincinnati Zoo, or to Holland and buy yarn, or just sit in the living room and eat pizza and watch baseball together. Lets cuddle in bed and discuss theology. Tell me again about simultaneous chess tournaments. Please, just something normal! Time together without a life-or-death crisis.

I know - I shouldn't be so demanding. But I'm waking up physically and emotionally exhausted before the day even starts. So please pray for me and for my dreams. I'm ready for an end to the nightmares - at least the ones at night. Everything has the quality of nightmare in it now. I want a dream that ends happily ever after.

Love you so much! Please be nice in my dreams tonight,

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Birthday Girl

Dear John,

Today Elyssa is 6. Can you believe it's been that long since she was born? I remember all the adventures involved in getting there. The plane was 2 hours late getting out of O'Hare (no surprise there), the Miami airport is not for the sane (and there is no way to get to the rental car area after 5 pm), the hotel had cancelled my reservation at midnight and couldn't enter a new one, the hotel in the Keys had overbooked and moved me to a luxury resort (where neither remote worked, half the lightbulbs were out, there was no hairdryer, and they wouldn't turn the phone on without a $50 cash deposit), and my cell only worked on one rock on Tabletop Key. But Elyssa was born, I was there, and it was wonderful. And I remember that Daddy paid for my trip as his gift to Jen. And you dropped me off and picked me up in Detroit, bless your heart. What an adventure!

Today was a bit less exciting. I worked 4 hours then met Jen and Elyssa at Dairy Queen for the birthday dinner. Sean gave her her first bike - she was so excited and had a good time riding it (it has training wheels).

We're off to bed now, if Elyssa and Jethro can settle down enough to sleep. Six is a big day! I'm so sorry you're missing it. But maybe you aren't missing it. I know I'm missing you, so very much. Love you always,

Another Day, Another Lawsuit

Dear John,

I had a busy day today - among other things I put away a 7-box order. And all of this on 3 hours sleep last night. Express Scripts can't find one of my prescriptions that was sent to them in February. So I was up past 3:30. The problem has been taken care of.

I called Joe's office this morning about the prescription and Kim called me back. I feel so bad - they hadn't heard about your death. They had heard that you were doing better, and assumed you were home and up and around by now. I apologized for assuming Goshen would notify them. I should have learned better by now.

The mail had good news and bad news. The good news is that between Anthem and Allstate, all of the ambulance bills are finally paid. The bad news is that there is another creditor beating our bushes for assets. I'll go through the usual letter routine with them. With the next round I'll probably have to involve Galen.

And speaking of lawsuits, I heard from my Allstate case rep this morning. He still doesn't expect this to ever go to court, and says I'm holding up exceptionally well. I've tried to tell him that it's just entertainment for me. A year ago I'd have needed sedation for this. Now, you're gone and nothing on this planet matters anymore. We really have no assets. That's one thing cancer does to you - you get an assetectomy. I have good legal counsel, and will leave it to them.

It was a chilly day today - only reached 90. A good time was had by all. We'd love some rain with this. Please keep praying for all the areas dealing with drought. And pray for me. And pray for all the people that are dealing with me. I'm still a bit scatty. But I'm still me, and that person loves you forever and ever!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tomorrow & Tomorrow & Tomorrow

Dear John,

I stayed home this morning - the heat has given me a fibro flare. We all seem to be triggered by either heat or cold, and my trigger is definitely heat. So my solution was to spend a good bit of the day on the heating pad. Sounds nuts, but I do feel better. 

I miss you - you may have noticed. But I'm still having trouble getting my head around the fact that this is permanent. It's not that I think you're coming home someday. It's just that I can't think about the future yet, and that permanence belongs to the future. When I do think about it everything in me feels this strong, wrenching pain. And I know what Hamlet meant about tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. It looks unbearable.

My heart breaks for the dog. Every time I open the closet door he comes running. He goes straight to your Nikes, sticks his head in one of them, and takes a long, deep sniff, wagging his tail as hard as he can. He so loves to smell you. He doesn't expect you any more when he hears your car coming - he goes to the door to meet Jen. He's happy to see her, but not like he was when it was you.

Nothing is like it was when it was you. I'm not, either. Please come and get me soon.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Trouble with My Drawers

Dear John,

I'm having trouble with my drawers. You know you always had the top drawer in the chest, since you're taller. Well, after 34 years of getting my undies out of the second drawer, I keep going to that one. And finding socks. It's not surprising since my things were in the second drawer for so many years. I wonder how long it will take me to remember to open the top one. If it takes too long, I might just give up and put sheets in the top drawer and move my things back to the second drawer. Then I won't have to think about the reason I moved them. That might be the best thing to do. I'll keep you posted on the latest drawer news.

It was over 100 again today. Tomorrow's high is supposed to be in the 80s - we'll all freeze to death. After so many days over 100, the 80s will feel cool. It will be a welcome break. But there's still no rain in the forecast.

Please pray for rain for all of us. And for Jethro and me. Love you great, huge bunches,

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Dog & the Headstone

Dear John,

Good news - our headstone is finally turned around the right way! Of course, than means that our names are in the wrong place - mine is over you and yours is over where I'm going to be (and where Jen had forbidden me to dig). But that's okay. We know where we are. I drove by today to check on it, but I didn't stay. When I got home at 7 PM the temperature was 105. And we still haven't had any rain.

You'd be so proud of Jethro. He's doing very well adjusting to having a child in the house - a little human his size. He loves to play with her, and plays even when you can tell he really doesn't want to. And he's learned to be gentle with her, too. And he's so patient. The German Shepherd blood shows. He loves her, loves playing with her, and is exhausted by bedtime. It's good exercise for him, too, these days when it's too hot to walk him even first thing in the morning.

I'm the only one awake here, and it's past my bedtime. So I'll send you a kiss and Jethro sends a lick, and I'm off to bed. I still hate going to bed without you. Sleep well tonight.

Love you with all my heart,

Thursday, July 5, 2012

That Old Orange Shirt

Dear John,

I was busy today. You know I've had to take the last week off of work because of the eye infection, and I've gotten some much-needed rest at the same time. I'm over the infection, going back to work tomorrow, and generally feeling much better. So today was a busy day - laundry, dishes, cleaning, trash, and emptying Elyssa's closet then deciding what to do with all that was stored there. 

This last week I rested physically and I crashed emotionally. Today I feel so much better emotionally. So I've learned something. I really did need to rest or I was going to pay - I'd been going at full speed since the middle of January. But I'm much better off emotionally when I'm busy. Like Mama always said: You'd be happier if you kept yourself busy.

So henceforth I will try to keep myself busy, off the streets and out of trouble, and far away from despair and depression. Feel free to remind me if I start to forget.

Oh, in going through some things today I found your old orange polo shirt, the one you did yardwork in. That was after I forbade you to wear it for anything else, because it was so old and stained and ratty-looking. I looked at it, held it in my lap, and just couldn't throw it away, ratty as it is. So I added it to the box of clothes that I'm keeping. Pure sentiment, I know, but I saw you in it for so many years. I can't let it go.

And I can't let you go, either. I'm glad I don't have to, glad I know I'll be with you again. I so wanted us to die together, but we couldn't. I hope my time comes soon. But however long it is, one day it will seem short compared to eternity. I'm coming - I know you'll wait for me!

Love you, miss you,


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Abstaining from the Fourth of July

Dear John,

Happy 4th of July! The big town celebration went on without me this year. I was planning to go to the parade, but didn't. It was partly because of the weather - 100, with a heat index of 110 - and partly sentiment. We sat together on the church steps every year, and I'm not ready to sit there without you. Maybe next year. I enjoyed the 4th with you - the draft horse pull, the Lions Club sandwiches, the buggy races, and the parade. I would even have a hard time at the Dollars for Scholars pancake breakfast, since you helped with it for so many years. They were always so glad to have a restaurant manager there.

There won't be fireworks tonight, for the first time in decades. It's so dry that most of the area fireworks shows have been cancelled. South Bend is having the one at the Cove, since it's downtown and there's not a flamable thing for miles, and the ones over lakes are going as scheduled. But the grass is tinder now. The only one happy about it is Jethro, but we're all glad they're erring on the side of caution.

So please pray for me - it's been a hard week emotionally. And pray for rain for us. And pray for Lesa, too. I talked to her on the phone today, and she still struggles with your brother's death. You Hockman men are addictive.

I love you so, so much,

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

We Fought a Good Fight

Dear John,

You finally showed up in my dreams, but you need to re-think the content. In most of them you're still in the hospital and I'm fighting to get doctors to treat you and not just let you go. In the other ones the setting is different, but the theme of fighting for you is the same. It's tiring. Can we please do something different tonight?

But that leads me to something I've been wanting to say - how grateful I am to have no regrets and no need to second-guess anything. I insisted on treating you when others wanted to stop because that's what you wanted, and also because I knew you - knew what a fighter you are - and thought you had a good chance of making it. And you would have, too, if you hadn't gotten MRSA in your lungs. But because you made the decisions yourself and wanted to keep going (and because I'm not afraid to tell doctors what to do) you saved me from regrets. I've been afraid of a lot of things in my life, but never anything as much as regrets. With all the things and emotions I'm dealing with now, I am so thankful to not have to deal with that one. I know that everything was done that could be, and that we both fought as hard as we could. I know that it was what you wanted. And up to the end it was what the Liturgy prays for: "A Christian ending to our lives, painless, blameless, peaceful, and a good defense before the fearful judgment seat of Christ."

I also don't have any regrets about our life together. We always lived as if the time was short, so there were no issues unresolved, no words unsaid, no apologies not given. No regrets.

So I thank you for that. I'm going to go cry myself to sleep now. Come into my dreams again, and let's do something happy tonight!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Your Mother Says I'm Normal

Dear John,

God bless your mother! I woke up still miserable, but I had the sense to know what to do. I called your mother, talked to her for an hour, and feel much better - nearly human, in fact. She helps so much. After talking to her I know that I'm normal and I'm not alone. There are some things I need that only another widow can do.

I forgot to tell you: A few days ago I was on CR 40, and went under the track just as a train was going overhead. And I did what you always did for me - I turned Muddy Waters off, rolled the windows down, and sat under the track for a minute. I always appreciated that so much! I don't know if you ever understood why I liked it, but you did it for me anyway.

You respected the way I felt even if you didn't feel the same way. You took me to Lake Michigan occasionally so I could see water with no visible land on the other side, arranged for us to spend a night in the Lizzie Borden house, let me ride on top of the ferry to Mackinac Island no matter what the weather was like, went to yarn shops with me - the list in endless. I remember you driving through New York State on the way to Cooperstown, when you made a sudden left turn that nearly threw me out the window because you'd seen a sign for Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery. We never did get to Cooperstown that day, and you weren't even Orthodox then. But you knew that going there would mean a lot to me, so left we turned - I had no idea where you were taking us until we pulled up at the monastery. You were so good to me. 

Oh, another thing I forgot to tell you - but you probably know already, knew before I did. Fr. Peter Gilquist died yesterday. It was expected, but we'll all miss him. And you have another friend there with you.

God grant that I may come soon! Love you so much,

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Hurting Day

Dear John,

Our headstone isn't turned around yet . When I went to visit you after church today I sat over where I'll be like I always do, and was looking at the bare back of the headstone - very unfriendly-looking. The granite is beautiful, though. I do love the fact that it's made of gray granite quarried where I used to live. That helps somehow, brings my life full circle.

And I've needed all the help I can get today. I woke up hurting like I did the first morning I woke up without you, and it got worse as the day went on. One thing that drives the pain is the knowledge that the pain will never go away. It's hard living like this, with this empty expanse of meaningless wrenching future ahead of me. It feels like the purpose of my life is to get ready to die as soon as possible.

I'm not depressed - there's too much pain for that. And I'll feel better in a day or so. I just miss you so much, love you so much, and all I want is to have you back. Since you can't come here, I want to go where you are. I'm just biding time until then. Nothing here matters except leaving here.

Well, that's enough whining for one night. Sorry - I know you want me to be honest about how I feel, but I really don't want to whine. I need to get my head out of earthly life and on eternity. That's what always pulls me out of this. Sorry I keep losing my focus.

In case I haven't told you in the last ten minutes, I love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on.