Friday, August 31, 2012

My Political Moratorium

Dear John,
It's an election year. As of today, I'm on a Facebook political moratorium. I have friends of several political persuasions, and some are being very vocal and forceful about their opinions. All of them probably think I agree with them - after all, they are my friends. And few or none of them are seeing each other's postings. I've had it with the nastiness, the shouting, and the general uproar on Facebook. As of today, I'm not reading any posts that are political. So there. And I'm not talking about my own opinion, either - I don't want to lose friends over this. (Look! It's me, keeping my mouth shut! Quick, take a picture!)
The television commercials are picking up, too. That's the real reason God made Netflix - I can watch TV with no political announcements. I seldom listen to the radio. The only magazine I subscribe to is The Orthodox Word - the latest issue has lots to do with the politics of being an Orthodox priest in 1918 Russia, but nobody gets angry and shouts about it. Martyrdom isn't politial for the martyrs; it isn't a political theory that they choose to die for.
So I am trying to maintain a small bubble of calm where there is no bloodshed over this election. I envy you, being where such things are probably completely irrelevant. After all, you are with the One Who is really in charge. Living with you was so easy. We usually agreed on politics, and when we didn't we knew that our relationship was much more important than any election. In the end, it's people that are important.
Thanks for listening to me rant. I needed that. Please pray for all of us. I love you bunches,

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers

Dear John,
Long day at work, sitting and entering data all day. I'm stiff! It's just possible that I'm not 20 anymore.
I was thinking today about what a wide, wonderful support network I have. They asked me about that, that last day at the hospital. I told them I had good support, but I had no idea just how good it would be. And I didn't know how much it would mean to just know that people are there - I don't need to talk to them or hear from them, to feel better because of them.
Your funeral and viewing really helped - the church was packed like I've never seen it. I'd expected a crowd - since you are, after all, the world's only perfect man - but it exceeded even my expectations. Knowing that so many people loved you enough to come, some from very far away, helps now, too. And I'm glad to know that so many folks come by the cemetery to talk to you.

Remember how I said, after spending three weeks in Memorial with gram-negative sepsis, that I'd never received so much kindness before? The last few months have equalled that. I've never been one, like Blanche, to depend on the kindness of strangers. But the most unexpected people have been so kind to me - banks and billing people and insurance people, and even telemarketers. And all of it touches my heart and helps.

So tonight I'm grateful for all the kind, loving people in my life. When you pray for me tonight, don't forget to say a prayer for the folks who are being so good to me. I love them all. And I love you, so, so much.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Talking to You About Talking to You

Dear John,
You have no idea how good it is to talk to you! It is good to sit here at the end of the day and tell you all the things I'd be saying when you got home from work and we'd be sitting on the sofa with the dog between us. I don't get to hear about your day, and I miss that. But it feels nice and warm and comforting to be able to talk to you.
You know whenever you were in the hospital, you'd call me before you went to sleep and we'd talk to each other last thing before going to bed. This is sort of like it was when you were in Methodist in Indy and didn't get cell reception in your room, so we texted instead. I missed hearing your voice at bedtime, but I heard you in your texts almost as well as with my ears. After 34 years of marriage - and 37 of talking to each other - I could fill in the gaps. I wish you could comment back tonight, but it helps so much to know you hear me. And sometimes I know just what you'd say back if I could hear it, and can see the way you'd look when you said it. And so I sit here and laugh sometimes, and cry sometimes, and sometimes do both at the same time.
And I do know that you're safe and happy, healed, not suffering, experiencing joy beyond what I can imagine. It's not like you're off at war, or still in the hospital, or something that would leave me worrying about you. I miss you, but I know that all is well with you. It's me that's not always doing well. But that's because I'm still here - that's earthly life for you. And, as I've said before, I'll join you as soon as I'm allowed to.
But for now, goodnight, sleep well, and remember to pray for me, especially for this job interview on Tuesday. (I actually bought panty hose today - I didn't know what shape mine were in.) I love you so much,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I've Never Done This Before

Dear John,
I finally slept well last night, and got a nap in today, too. So I feel much more human tonight. Today I opened the windows, did housework, washed sheets, cooked dinner in the crock pot, and got my on-line account with Express Scripts straightened out. There are always glitches when you switch to COBRA.
I realized something about this job that I'm interviewing for, another way it would be good for me. There's a little part of me that doesn't realize that your being gone is permanent. Part of that is because for three months you were in the hospital - you weren't here but you weren't gone, and it was supposed to be temporary. And part is because everything in my life is the same, except that you're not here. This job would be something new in my life, something that wasn't in my life while you were here. I think it would be a demarcation, something to let me know that this is my life now, that my old life is gone and things have changed, and that life will never go back to the way it was before.
I hope that makes some sense. I'll try to nail it to the wall a bit better - if successful, I'll explain it again later. For now, that's the best I can do. But you usually understand me better than I understand myself. That is, you do unless it's something about women that men don't ever understand. I don't think this is gender-specific. It's widow-specific, this sense of the surreal, that none of this can possibly be happening. Living without half of yourself doesn't seem possible as a concept, and doesn't feel possible as an experience.
I'm making it muddier instead of clearer, aren't I? I'll go to bed now and stop confusing you. I guess I can't explain what I don't understand, can I? When Jen and I were leaving the hospital after you died, she asked me what I was going to need. I said, "I have no idea. I haven't done this before." I'm still doing something I've never done before, and I always will be. It's a good thing there's not a quiz, isn't it?
I love you, I adore you, and I worship the ground you walk on. You may have noticed that.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Housework isn't What it Used to Be

Dear John,
I really do have to start sleeping again. Last night I slept for 1 hour, was up with fibro while a front came through, slept for 3 hours, was up with the dog and the girls, and slept for one more hour. I can't remember being this tired in years. I'm off tomorrow - I plan to sleep in. Then I'm going to be domestic the rest of the day.
Being domestic isn't what it used to be. Cooking, cleaning, and keeping the house had meaning when I did it for you. Now I do it because it has to be done - and I'm anal - but there's no warmth to it. It isn't an expression of love anymore, which is what it was for me from the beginning of our marriage. And when I wasn't working, it was also an expression of gratitude to you. I kept the house for you, decorated it so you'd like it, cooked for you, did laundry for you. Now I do it - but for duty, not love.
Now, if I don't cook, I can have a PBJ or bowl of oatmeal and it doesn't matter. The underside of the toilet lid is clean already, and there is so little laundry that I always run small loads unless it's time to do sheets and towels. I like having the house neat and clean, but there's something missing - meaning, motivation, emotion - and lots more that I don't have nailed down yet. Deep down, there's a fear of falling into chaos without you to be - accountable to, looked after by, grounded by, and more things. I cling to household routines because I'm afraid that, without them, I'll go floating off away from reality.
But I do have people and responsibilities in my life, and that is good and necessary. Trash pick-up is tomorrow morning, so I gathered up the trash and took the can to the street. Church is on Sundays. I have to go to work and pay the bills and pick up the mail and buy groceries. The dog has to be fed and let out. Jen would notice if I disappeared. So reality is here, just not with the emotional content it had with you. I guess I do these things, but I don't care anymore. (with Phil Collins in the background) It's all very odd.
Well, enough dumping on you. Suffice it to say that nothing is the same without you. I love you, I miss you. Come for me soon!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wanting Things to Want to Do

Dear John,
I'm firmly back into our habit of being the last to leave the church. Last week I got home at 3:15, today at 3:30. The services were longer than usual both weeks, but it's really because this is the big event of the week. It's so good to see and talk to everybody. They are all being so kind to me. And there is great excitement about my upcoming job interview.
Somebody posted something on Pinterest about doing the things you've always wanted to do. I thought about that for a while, and realized that I have to find new things to want to do because all the things that I wanted to do involved you. The list wasn't very long - spend our anniversary at Mackinac again, travel Route 66, go to San Francisco, maybe go to Russia someday. And I wanted to take you to the Meijer Sculpture Gardens. Our great goal during your hospitalization was to go to Holland, Michigan, for a few days. I will still go there without you, but just for a day trip. Staying in a hotel alone would be sad.
I have to find things that I want to do without you, which right now is nothing at all, including breathing. I need to work on this. I do want to re-start my career - besides supporting myself, it will give me something to throw myself into. And it will be something familiar and very much a part of me, which be comforting. Right now I can't come up with anything else. Please feel free to make suggestions. I really just want to hang in here until the Lord lets me die. That sound depressing, but it doesn't feel that way. So don't worry about me.
Not caring what I do, as long as it's with you,

Saturday, August 25, 2012

On the Sacrament of Marriage and Neil Young in Orbit

Dear John,
I'm really too old to have two consecutive nights with less than 5 hours sleep. I kept falling asleep all day but never got to take a real nap. So I'm off to bed early, and up early for church tomorrow. We'll be having memorial prayers for Fr. Peter and Fr. George - I can't believe it's been a year since Fr. George's death. Since they're with you, please hug Fr. George for me. I do love him dearly.
Neil Armstrong died today. He was in his 80s, and you know what that means - I must not be young anymore, either. His death is sad, but I have to chuckle a bit. When the news first broke they announced the death of "Astronaut Neil Young." There is great speculation on Facebook about whether Neil Young has ever actually orbited anything, and if so, whether it was on a horse with no name.
Josh and Brandy will have a crowning ceremony tomorrow, since they weren't Orthodox when they married. I never thought about doing that. Of course, we'd been married for much longer when we became Orthodox, and weren't having children. I can easily see why they are having it; I just wonder why we never thought about it. I think our understanding of marriage was always sacramental. I don't know where we got it, but we always believed that something was being done to us, that God was fundamentally altering both of us and the two were becoming one flesh in a very real way. That's one reason we worked so hard to have the traditional wedding vows - it wasn't an option then, but we wanted it and we got it. I wanted to make those promises to you, and trusted that God's grace would be sufficient for us both. Yep - sacramental understanding. And it does help to be marrying the world's only perfect man.

So say hello to Fr. Peter for me, and hug Fr. George. And please ask them both to pray for me, now and always. You're with so many people I love! It occurs to me that you've met the three grandparents I never got to. Tell them I love them, and thank them for all they passed on to me. Oh, and give Ray my love, too, and tell him how sorry I am that he died in such a difficult way.

And know I love you, now and always, and am still one flesh with you.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Good News & Good News

Dear John,
I have good news and good news.
First, at 11 PM I caught last night's episode of Burn Notice - the end-of-season cliff-hanger. The bad guy turned out to be the one I'd always suspected. That is very rewarding. Just how they'll all get home from Panama, however, is a mystery to be solved in November.
Second, I have a job interview scheduled for September 4th. It's a dream job, so please pray for me - not that I'll get this job, but the one that is right for me. And that I figure out what to wear.
Third - I just thought of a third - I went by the Cancer Treatment Center today to give them 8 more caps, and everybody is fine. They would have told me to tell you hello if they knew I talk to you every night, but then they'd probably have me admitted to Psych Services, so it's best to just let that be. They are so kind to me, and they do appreciate the caps. Cool weather is coming so I need to increase production!
It's late again. I did manage to get to bed at a decent time three nights in a row. I need to keep working on that. I'm going to get the dog inside and get us both bedded down for the night.
Thank you for praying for me, and loving me, and generally being you. I love you so much,

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Dip in the Mattress

Dear John,
It's late so I'll be short tonight. We had a 6-episode NCIS marathon and a pot of chili, and a good time was had by all. It's so rewarding to introduce people to the best things in life, isn't it? I've had lots of down time lately, and tonight I had four places to be. It was no contest: NCIS marathon with Luke and Lacey.
So I'm off to bed now, and to work in the morning. Sometimes when I'm in bed, before I go to sleep, I reach over and put my hand in the dip in the mattress where your right shoulder always was. It makes me feel a little closer to you. I especially miss you at bedtime.
Miss you so much, love you so much,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Unexpected Kindness

Dear John,
It's been a beautiful day, with warmer weather is coming over the weekend. But "warmer" here means 87, not 107, so I think we can deal with it. We've had a good bit of rain lately so everything is green again. The down-side is that the grass is growing.
I was clearing out old emails today, and found the one from Fred telling me the headstone was finished and in place. So I sent him a short note thanking him for his work and telling him how much I love the stone and how happy it makes me to look at it. I got a note back from him today thanking me, and saying he seldom sees or hears from people after the stone is ordered.
I can imagine that - not many patients come back to visit critical care units, either. Both places remind folks of events they'd rather forget. But you can't really forget, and it helps so much to remember the people who were kind to you along the way. And since we both spent all of our lives in service jobs, we know how much kindness in return can mean. (Most people don't wax poetic over gray granite, either - it's a Southern thing.)
So many people were kind to us those last three months, especially at Goshen Hospital and at Methodist in Indy. And since then I've been treated with nothing but kindness, and from some of most unexpected places. You don't expect it at the Social Security Office, from credit unions where you have credit life on your loan, or - Heaven help us - from insurance companies! But widowhood unites all women, either in sharing or dreading the experience.
So I'm comforted and supported by all this unexpected, undeserved kindness. And it makes me feel good to return some of it. I hope I gave Fred a smile - it's not a job with a lot of smiles. We could all use a few more!
Love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on,

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bringing You Ice Cream

Dear John,

I had a lovely visit with you today. Soon The Chief will be closing for the season and I won't be able to bring ice cream anymore. I guess I'll have to bring something from Panera, or maybe a soft taco. And it won't be long before I have to worry about staying warm, instead of getting sunburned.

For some people, visiting you is sad. Lots of people seem to think visiting cemeteries is morbid. And visiting with ice cream must just seem very strange. For me, it's a happy thing. I'm drawn to the place, I enjoy the time I spend there, and I always hate to leave. You're there and I'm close to you, and that has always made me happy. I come and sit and talk to you and pray, and I don't want to leave. It encourages me to see the headstone - our names are side-by-side, and I know that we will be, too. I'm happy to know that the spot next to you is waiting for me. It's a pretty spot, and a cheerful one. I'd go every day if I could.

Actually, I'd crawl in beside you if I could! If I'm going to be there eventually, why not right now? But that's the Lord's call, not mine, and I know He knows best. I don't know when it will be, but I'm coming and I'll meet you there.

Can't wait,

Monday, August 20, 2012

Theology, the Vega, and 8-Track Tapes

Dear John,

Something struck me at church yesterday. During the baptism procession I ended up standing on the south side of the baptismal pool (our horse trough), and realized it was the same place I stood when I said goodby to you before your coffin was sealed for burial. And it struck me that the only things that sit in that position in the church are coffins and the baptismal pool.

And theologically, that is good and right. We are baptized into Christ's death so that we can share also in His resurrection. In baptism we die to sin and are made alive to righteousness. Baptism is our first death, physical death our second. It's right that the two share the same space in the church.

It's not surprising that the Early Church got things right. It's just that I keep finding new layers of rightness. I could live 100 years (Heaven forbid!) and never begin to get my head around all of the Truth contained in the Church. And that is also good and right, because Truth is a Person, not a list of doctrinal statements, and we can never completely know and understand a human person, much less one Person of the Holy Trinity.

Well, enough theologizing. If we were at Wendy's we'd shock Marcus again. I don't know why he doubted me when I said we discussed theology while we ate. Whatever do normal people talk about? I can't imagine. You and I talked theology from the beginning - that's what I first fell in love with. That, and your stereo with an 8-track tape player and quadraphonic speakers. It sure wasn't that lemon-yellow Vega.

Now there's nobody for me to discuss theology with. So I'll just have to save all my thoughts until we can talk to each other. Hurry the day!

Love you so much,

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Every Pool Needs a Rope with Floats

Dear John,

We had a wonderful morning at church. Your family beat me home - they texted that they were home while I was still at church. I got home at a quarter to three. We had four baptisms - one was Ron's. As his godmother I'd normally give him a cross or icon, but I decided not to do that. Since you were so close to him, I gave him your icon key chain - the one that matches mine. I'm so glad he has it now. You and Ron share a faith, a birthday, and a key chain. Very cool. I ended up leaving last, after sitting outside talking to our young friends. I do love that group. Maybe I'm immature or maybe I'm just ageing gracefully - no comment necessary from you.

Last week I created a new board on Pinterest called "Who I Am." I pinned a photo of a Victorian mourning ring with the caption "I am a widow after 34 years of marriage." Becky liked it, and said that she'd only had 13 years of marriage. I've been so acutely aware of that for the last eight months - it's been my reality check to remember Becky whenever I started feeling sorry for myself. You know those swimming pools that have a rope with floats on it where the really deep water starts? She's my rope with floats. If she's survived being widowed after only 13 years and from a cause that they didn't expect, then I can survive being widowed after 34 years from something (the radiation when you were 19) that we knew would get you if something else didn't. So she's the rope I hang on to when the water feels too deep for me. I was so happy to discover that she was my roommate my senior year. We had no idea we'd be sharing this as well. And that's a good thing. Not knowing the future is such a blessing!

And I still don't know my future - what has changed is that I don't care. I know now what the Psalmist meant when he said that there is nothing that he desires on earth. You're at home and I'm still sojourning here. But I'll come home whenever the Lord decided is right. Leave the light on!

Your loving ,homesick wife,

Saturday, August 18, 2012

We Are Still We. So There.

Dear John,

I had a wonderful day with your family. They came over last night and will leave in the morning. Jim got the wardrobe taken apart and moved some things downstairs. And we wore out the dog. I'm thankful that I married into such a wonderful family. Even though you're gone, they still consider me family. It means so much to me.

I've realized that I talk about you in everyday conversations just as much as I used to. You're no less a part of me, and there's nothing in me or my life that isn't connected to you. You come up all the time and I can't seem to help it. And I still have my pronouns mixed up. I don't talk about "I," I talk about "we." Even in the present tense it's still "we." I don't live here, we do; I don't like football, we do. I must have everybody that talks to me in a constant state of confusion. It's just how I think - my mind is still in first-person plural. Oh goodness - I'm making grammatical errors! How unthinkable! See what you do to me?

I'll keep working on it, but there may just be no end in sight. The world will keep turning. Fooey on my pronouns. We are still we, no matter what. So there.

I'll always be "we" with you,

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tell Me Anything You Want To!

Dear John,

It was a busy day, and one of the very few in my life that I can say that I pushed my body to its absolute limit. I spent 5 hours working in the flower beds. Of course, it's been over a year since they got much attention. They were in good shape in May of 2011. Then I broke my collar bone, you went into the hospital, and the yard moved to the bottom of the priority list. And this spring there was no way I was going to miss spending time with you to do gardening. I finally got to it today. I pruned the boxwoods and roses, and gave everything else a general cleaning-out. The only thing left to do is trim the shrubs under the bedroom windows.

So I'm tired and sore. I hope I'm tired enough to sleep tonight. I've had two nights this week that I was awake until 3 AM. I'm still thinking there must be a chatroom for widows who can't sleep - after all, there are so many of us. The dog was quite exasperated with me last night.

So I'm off to bed to try again to sleep. As tired as I am, it should come easier tonight. If not, could you come and tell me about simultaneous chess matches? Aw heck - just come anyway, and tell me about anything you want to!

I love you, I miss you. Always your wife,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

South Park, Shoe Bags, and Grandma Cuddles

Dear John,

Tonight I was thinking about you and giggling inappropriately. I was watching an NCIS re-run, the one where the bad guy falls out a window, lands on a car, and sets off the car alarm. Every time I see that I wait for somebody to come by and turn the alarm off. We watched way too much South Park; as Cartman would say, it has warped my fragile little mind.

It's such a shame that you're missing living with your granddaughter. She runs up, flies into my lap, flings her arms around me, and tells me she wants grandma cuddles. How she would love grandpa cuddles, with your great long arms! Tonight while Jen vaccuumed, Jethro and Elyssa and I all piled up on our bed and played. I am enjoying her so much, and I'm sad that you're missing that.

Today was cool and rainy so I worked inside. I got a lot of cleaning done, and put up new shelves in Jen and Elyssa's bathroom. And I did something I first saw on Pinterest - I hung a shoe bag on the back of the bathroom door as a place to store bottles and other big things. With three generations of women in one house, a small linen closet just doesn't do it! So we're finding space in other places.

Well, that's all for today and it's getting on toward midnight, so I'd better stop and go to bed before I turn into a pumpkin. 

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Benefits of Raisin Bran at 3 AM

Dear John,

I had a rough night last night - I don't know exactly why, but sometimes I don't know. I was awake crying until after 2 AM. Then I gave up, got up, took Benadryl, and had a bowl of Raisin Bran. I finally got to sleep around 3.

For one thing, I'd been reading Edna St. Vincent Millay again. She can shake my emotions loose like nobody else can. I read Interim, and it was all over for the night. I feel much better today - I'm avoiding all poetry, and all music except Blind Willie McTell and Muddy Waters.

Physically, I'm doing a bit better. I haven't formed any new blisters for 24 hours, and the old ones are beginning to heal. My throat feels almost normal. I'm still tired, but I was able to get out and run three errands today - things that didn't require contact with anybody. I do not want to pass this on to innocent bystanders, and it's so dreadfully contagious. I'm not even going to the post office this week.

Your family is coming for the weekend, and we're all looking forward to it. Of the next two days, I'll spend one tidying up the flower beds and the other dusting and cleaning bathrooms - which is which depends on what day the rain shows up. It is so good of them to come, even though they won't get to see you. They may come out to the cemetery for a visit, though - that would be nice, especially since the headstone is facing the right way now.

I hope to sleep more hours than I cry tonight - how's that for a goal? I'm sure Jethro is hoping for the same thing, poor baby.

Love you great huge bunches,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Always Make a Travel List

Dear John,

It's been four months since you left and unaccountably failed to take me with you. (I know - you KNEW you forgot something!) I'm adjusting to being here without you. That's not to say that I like it at all, but I'm adjusting. I handle it because I know it's temporary - I can't imagine how people survive that don't have that assurance.

I know that if I'm here without you then you're there without me, and I hope it isn't difficult for you. I have no idea what being there is like, except that it's better that being here. I can imagine how much better it is for you, since you're finally healed and healthy. It also helps me to handle separation by knowing that you're not suffering. Everything had been hard for you since you had myocarditis a few years ago. Your third round of cancer didn't help, and those last three months in the hospital (various hospitals!) must have been so hard. But you never showed irritability or self-pity - much as you were entitled to both. It's no wonder everybody loved you so much. (And remember, I'm not biased at all.) I've always admired and respected, as well as loved, you, and never more than those last three months. I hope you knew how proud I am of you. I know you knew how much I love you.

The present tense is deliberate there - I still love you just as much, and I always will. The two became one flesh, this egg is well-scrambled, and there's still no separating out what's me and what's you. Thank you for that - for 34 wonderful years, for asking me to marry you, for taking me to that first football game, for sitting in the dorm lobby that Sunday afternoon discussing the theology of the Trinity with me for two hours. For being the man that I love more than life. (HOW could you forget to take me with you?)

Coming as soon as I can,

Monday, August 13, 2012

. . . And Keep Hoof in Mouth

Dear John,

The good news is that I can stop the antibiotics. The bad news is that I can't work for a few days. And I feel awful.

I'm still developing blisters so I went back to see the doctor again. It is hoof-&-mouth. Or, as it's supposed to be called in humans (though nobody ever actually does), Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. The sore throat was the beginning of it. I'm under doctor's orders to not work until the blisters are healed. I'd hoped I could work in latex gloves, but transmission turns out to be respiratory, so no such luck. Bless Kathy, she emailed me some work I could do at home. But as bad as I feel, I won't mind doing nothing much for a few days. I feel worse than I did last Friday.

I know that you could make me feel better just be being here. So get here, will you? If you absolutely can't, I'll be more than happy to come to you. But you know that. And so does everybody else, probably. Please do pray for my hands and feet, and keep praying for my mouth.

I love you so, so much,

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Reality Needs Checking

Dear John,

We all had a quiet Sunday. It was in the 70s, will be in the mid-50s tonight, and will stay that way for most of this week. It is so good to have the windows and doors open.

My mind did something today that surprised me. I was walking past my laptop when a thought flashed through my mind: "Oh! I need to check my blog to see if John has written back yet!" I do so wish you could. I don't know if I'm still accustomed to texting and emailing with you when we're apart, or if talking to you here just feels that intimate and immediate. Or if I'm just crazy. Either way, I was reminded again how very much I miss you.

I won't go on because my fingers are still sore, and you've heard it all before anyway. I love you, I miss you, I wish either you were here or I was there, and I hope for the situation to be remedied as soon as possible.

Sleep well,

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Insert Hoof in Mouth . . .

Dear John,

This will be a short note tonight. I don't think it was strep, I think it was hoof & mouth. I woke up this morning with lots of little painful blisters on my hands and feet. And I have them on the tips of my fingers, so typing is not pleasant. Doing anything at all with my hands and feet isn't pleasant. I can't imagine trying to put on shoes. Obviously I'll be staying home tomorrow - besides the shoe issue, there's the matter of being contagious. I'm not worried about it around here. It's overwhelmingly likely that Elyssa brought it home from daycare. I'm just glad that I'm the only one that seems to have it.

We had a slow, quiet day here. Elyssa and I played almost all day, and it was great fun. The dog is exhausted. And so am I! So we're all off to bed here.

Please pray for my feet and hands. And hooves. And mouth. (You've probably been praying over my mouth for years.) If it's not better by Monday I'll be calling the doctor again. I was looking forward to church tomorrow, but I know it's not right to expose everybody else to this.

Love you so, so much,

Friday, August 10, 2012


Dear John,

The house is open and we're all taking a deep breath. It's been raining most of the day and the high was somewhere in the low 60s. I've so loved having the windows open! And everything and everybody is welcoming rain and cooler temperatures. We had the hottest July on record - I suppose if we have to be that miserable, we might as well get into the record books for it.

We did have storms last night. I tried to come back here and let you know that yes, the storms continued, and yes, I did give the dog Benadryl. But I couldn't because the storm knocked out the internet until after 3:00 this afternoon.

I stayed at home today with the strep. My throat has felt better and better as the day has gone on. I started aching a bit when the sun went down, but that's to be expected. With no internet, therefore no Netflix, I ended up watching a Longmire  marathon on TV. I don't usually watch it because it's on a bit late, but I do like it. And I got one cap for the Cancer Center finished and another started. So it's been a good day.

I'm off to bed soon, so I need to say goodnight. I don't think we're expecting storms tonight, so the dog and I should sleep well in the cool night air. I'd sleep better, though, if I was cuddling up with you instead of Jethro. He's a sweetheart of a dog, but he's just not you. I can hear you now - you're relieved to know that I'd rather cuddle up with my husband than my dog. You weren't really in doubt, were you? After all, you're the one I'll be cuddling up with whevener Jen lets me dig in the cemetery! I can't wait to feel your arms around me again.

Love you forever,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Of Storms & Strep

Dear John,

It's 68 and storming outside. The dish is out and all I can hear is the rain. And the dishwasher. And the dog whimpering every time it thunders. But the rain sounds wonderful in spite of distractions.

I do have strep throat, so I've added Augmentin to yesterday's list of medicines. I went into the pharmacy a little before 5:00. Tom asked me how I was, and I told him I had strep and hot flashes. He sympathized and gave me drugs.

I have wonderful news: We're having another godchild. Ron is being baptized on the 19th. He had wanted to have both of us as godparents. Officially he'll just have me, but in reality he will have both of us. Evidently he and Lacey have been joking about being godsiblings. I'm sorry you can't be official - I know how much he has always meant to you. Be sure to come to the Liturgy on the 19th, and be beside me when I stand up with him for baptism, chrismation, and communion. Oh, and there's one more thing! I was getting all of his information for the Archdiocese today, and discovered that he was born on your 20th birthday. That's right - you two have the same birthday, exactly 20 years apart. I told him that I will never forget his birthday!

My throat and I are heading down the hall. From the looks of the radar, I'll have a frightened dog sitting on my head for a good bit of the night. I may end up giving him some Benadryl, poor thing. He's just pacing now, but it's still light. Please pray for Jethro tonight, with all these storms. And pray for me and all the other fibromites in their path.

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Throats & Taxes

Dear John,

I met with Michael today about the taxes. It turns out that for 2011 I can claim milege between here and Kathy's house, since she's hiring me as an independent contractor and not an employee. It adds up to enough to get me back $100 or so on last year's taxes, which will be great. (All contributions accepted.) So I'm tracking work mileage for 2012 taxes. Did you know mileage will go up to $0.55 1/2 for this year? That's a long way from when we started tracking it. Of course, gas prices have come a long way since then, too. We talked through all my questions and made some plans, so that loose end is tied up. Evidently I'll get some breaks, after being widowed part-way through the year. I'm so glad to have a CPA that I know and trust. I have a wonderful infrastructure.

After I got home I called Joe's office, and have an appointment tomorrow to get my throat looked at. It hurts terribly, has red stripes on it, is swollen enough that it's hard to swallow, and is affecting my ears in both hearing and balance. And systemically I feel awful - that highly technical medical term. My temperature went over 100 today. So I'm on aspirin and Chloraceptic. I finally hurt so bad all over that I took Percocet too, and am feeling a bit more human. I came to bed at 6:00 and have been watching Netflix on the Kindle.

As usual, when I feel bad I miss you even more than I normally do. I could lie down with my head on your shoulder and instantly feel better. I miss your touch, your voice, your long arms, your kindness, all the things you'd do for me when I was sick - I just miss you. I can't wait to be with you again, where there is no sickness or pain. Please save a place for me, and pray for me that I will someday fill it. Always, please pray for me.

Love you so, so much,

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Olympic Event: Singles, Dog Toenail Cutting

Dear John,

I need your help for a few minutes - no more than an hour. i need help to trim Jethro's toenails. Tonight I managed to get one foot sort-of-cut. It was harrowing for him, me, and everybody within earshot.

Remember Caleb? When he saw me get the clippers out he ran to the sofa, lay down on his left side, and stuck all his paws out so I could reach them easily. And while I cut them, he just lay there quietly with a smile on his face.

Not Jethro. Letting him play with the clippers doesn't help. It seems to be less about the clippers than about having one of his paws held. That's what he resists. And oh, does he resist! Just what you'd expect from a 55-pound German Shepherd/Coonhound mix.

So since you haven't called with your offer to help, telling me when to expect you, I suppose I'll have to come up with another approach. I don't have the money to pay somebody to do his nails. I don't have any volunteers for wrestling the dog to the ground and keeping him there. I'm thinking Benadryl, right before bedtime. I'm also going to check out the internet for those emery-wheel things for dogs toes - he might not find it as uncomfortable or scary, or whatever bothers him.

But I will abandon any and all plans if you can drop by to help me with this. Advance reservations are not required. In the vernacular of Blind Willie McTell, "You'll have a home, mama, just as long as I have mine."

While you're here you might as well take a look at my throat - it hurts when I swallow. Check out my lymph nodes and see what you think. I'm seeing the doctor next week. What does your gut say about me waiting until then? Could we just text about it tonight? I could use your advice tonight.

It's probably a good thing my calling plan doesn't reach you. I'd keep you on the phone all the time. Because there's no time that I don't want to be with you. If you can't come to me, can I come to you? Lets see if we can get somebody's travel request approved!

I love you so very much,

Monday, August 6, 2012

On Avoiding Existential Meditation

Dear John,

We had a night without storms so all of us slept well. I had a normal day at work and a normal evening - but nothing is normal since you're not here. Life still feels surreal. I don't think about it much; I just do what needs to be done without existential meditation. But I am aware that nothing feels real.

When I was visiting you at the cemetery today, I was thinking about how unpleasant it still is to see two dates under your name on the headstone. Every time I look at it I feel shocked to see it - your date of death is there, and that date is in the past. That doesn't seem real either, and most of the time I prefer to look at my side of the stone.

I think about the past a good bit, the present in so far as I do what needs to be done, and the future only for paying the bills. I don't think about myself and my life. There's no reason to - I am where I am, and there's nothing more to it than that.

So here I am, and this is as close to existential meditation as I've come in several months. And I think this is enough, thank you very much! For now, it's time to go back to doing what needs to be done. Soon, that will be getting ready for bed. Now, it's mediating between Eyssa and the dog. See what I've been driven to? Me, trying not to think. Unbelievable.

But I know I love you more than all the world put together. That feels real. That's all that feels real. I suppose it's enough.

Love you always,

Sunday, August 5, 2012

It Was Me, Not the Pigs

Dear John,

It wasn't the pigs that lay down and died, it was me. I've spent the day with a major fibro flare, and treating it with Netflix and Percocet. This evening I'm finally feeling a bit better.

We had another round of storms come through early this morning. Jethro woke me up, and was so agitated that I suspected thunder before I heard it. He got up on the bed, paced briefly, then sat down on my head and was much happier. I've gotten good at sleeping with him on my head, so I got some more sleep. He was there for the greater part of an hour.

I should probably be concerned about the increasing ease with which I can sleep with a 55-pound dog sitting on my head, but really I'm just relieved by it. I don't lose nearly as much sleep, and he's calm and happy. So it seems like a win-win situation. I can't imagine what it looks like, though. And I wonder what he would do if you were here, too. Would he sit on your head? Or would he be comfortable enough, with his Daddy here, to just lie down between us and feel safe? If so, life would be much less interesting to a large group of blog-readers. And you and I would have one less dog story to tell.

He's a sweetheart. And he misses you so much. He still runs in the closet, sticks his head all the way into one of your Nikes, takes a long deep breath, and wags his tail as hard as he can. And he perks his ears up whenever I say "Daddy." I'm so, so glad I got to bring him in to see you in ICU, for your sake and for his. I want to bring him to visit you when the weather cools off some. I don't know if he'll understand, but I wouldn't be surprised.

All of the mammals in the house miss you! We love you so much. Sleep good tonight - I hope none of us have to deal with thunderstorms.

Love you so much,

Saturday, August 4, 2012

No Word Yet About Dead Pigs

Dear John,

I'm sitting here in my pink pjs, the windows are open, the dog's eating dinner, and Jen and Elyssa are out for the evening. And I'm overwhelmed by how much I wish I was waiting for you to get off work tonight. I think it's having the windows open - that is normal for us, so this feels like real life. And I so want you to come home tonight.

About those open windows:

The lightening crashed, the thunder roared - and I don't know about any little pigs laying down and dying, but the temperature dropped from 94 to 68, and it's wonderful. A very strong storm came through - hail, 80-mph winds with trees and power lines down, rotation and rumors of funnel clouds, and torrential rain. And the barometer dropped so far and fast that Jen has a monster headache and I'm having a fibro attack. But it's a small price to pay: THE WINDOWS ARE OPEN!

There's a pretty sunset, a nice cool breeze, the sound of crickets, the smell of fresh rain - it's wonderful. All that's missing is you. A year ago I'd have been watching the radar here and texting reports to you at work. I wondered tonight if I should call Panera and tell them that it was time to bring the umbrellas in, but decided that I really shouldn't.

I miss you most when the little, normal things happen. The big holidays and occasions aren't as bad, because I know they are coming. Having the windows open it such a small, every-day thing. And you're not part of my every-day life in the same way you were before. So I come here to talk to you. I don't think I've told you - some nights I find myself thinking, "Now, what time does John get work off tonight?" Right now I don't care what time it is - I'd be so happy for you to come home any time at all!

I love you, I miss you. This time you're waiting for me to come home - I'll be there as soon as I can.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blind Willie McTell

Dear John,

I have a question. Blind Willie McTell is one of the greatest blues singers of all times. He had a voice like honey. He was from Georgia. I grew up in Atlanta. So why did I have to hear about him in a bootleg song by a Jewish kid from Minnesota?

I guess it goes back to race. When I was a kid, white people didn't listen to black music. But they did - Mama used to sing bits of a song called Caldonia, which is a blues classic. She didn't hear Caldonia sung by white people.

Part of it was just the 1950s propriety thing. The Blues were dangerous. The sensuality of the music and the sexuality in some of the lyrics was shocking. I remember my mother talking about "that insidious backbeat" in rock-&-roll. The '50s were about stability, and the blues were raw and frightening.

And there's also personal taste - my parents liked big band music and the Boston Pops.

So they had this kid that loves the blues.

And you, bless your heart, learned to love them. I remember explaining the rhythm pattern to you. I always said I'd eat at Famous Dave's even if I hated the food, just to listen to the music. But you liked it, too, and that's special for a white boy from Ohio. You always cared about the things I was interested in - that meant a lot to me. You taught me about golf and I taught you about the color wheel. I watched baseball with you and you watched birds with me. We made each other better. I'm better because of you. If you were still here, I'd still be getting better - just think how much better I'd get in another 30 years!

But that wasn't what the Lord had for us. And I'm grateful for the time I had with you. You left a lot of yourself in me, so who knows? I may turn into a decent person yet!

I can see you laughing and shaking your head at me. I love and miss you, but this egg is so scrambled that I can't tell where I stop and you start. The two are still one flesh, and we'll be back together before you know it. I love you so, so much!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Way to Old to Hold Hands

Dear John,

It's been a good and strange and busy and unplanned day. Whee!

I subbed for Kathy at BNI this morning. The good news is that I've found someone we can call when Tim isn't available, for the same sort of things. That's a load off my mind.

From Maplecrest I went to the Cancer Treatment Center to turn in some new caps for the infusion room, and talk to at least one of the Kims. So I had a good talk with Kim 2.Then I came home and mowed, with assistance from Prednisone. It's been so dry that the mower is putting out great clouds of dust along with the grass clippings, and heaven knows what's in that dust. Then I watched a Burn Notice marathon on USA, while drinking Gatorade and sweating profusely. I am now clean and respectable-smelling. And ready for bed. I've been up since 5:20; the new Burn Notice episode aired at 9; now I can get ready for bed. Jethro seems ready, too - Elyssa and I went out this evening and threw his ball for him until he decided to stop. We have a sleepy puppy.

I'm the last one awake here, so off to bed I go. I love you so much - I know you know that, but every time I see people that took care of you this past year, they all talk about how much we love each other. (Well, when we were 25 Mama SAID we were too old to hold hands in public. We never listened, though.) The way we've always felt about each other seems to have a lot of meaning for a lot of people. Considering the current divorce rate, I suppose they haven't seen couples like us that often. And they are more concerned about how I'm doing because they know how much I miss you. If our marriage had to be remarkable for something, I'm glad it was that we loved each other so much.

So now, may your death - and my life - be remarkable for how much we love each other! I'll say it loud: I love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on. So there. And I'd still be holding hands with you if I could.

Save your hands for me! Love you so very, very much,

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Crying Myself Awake

Dear John,

Thanks for showing up in my dream this morning - I think. I've been reeling from it ever since.

I dreamed that you were back. We were living in the Indianapolis area - I was working at Methodist and you had a good restaurant management job. I had seen Jill at work that day. She was so happy to hear that you'd come back, and she invited us over for dinner later that week to meet her husband. We both came home from work, ate dinner, and went to bed. I was cuddled up next to you with my head on your left shoulder, like always. I started crying because it was so good to be able to have a conversation with you, since you weren't entubated anymore. I was trying to explain to you why I was crying, when I cried so hard that I woke myself up. I was in the right spot and position in the bed, but there were no arms around me. I opened my eyes, still crying, and saw the dog looking back at me as if to say, "Either move or stop crying, so I can go back to sleep."

Needless to say, it's not been an easy day.

I went to Panera after work - I'd found two thermometers in your briefcase, and a bunch of pens you were going to take in for the register people. It was probably not the easiest day emotionally to go there, but the only day logistically. And it was good to talk to other people that love and miss you. I'm glad to know that other people come to the cemetery to visit you.

I guess part of what surfaced in the dream was how much I missed real conversation with you the last 3 weeks of your life, when you couldn't talk. That must have been so hard for you! But you handled it gracefully and patiently. And we hadn't left anything unsaid, then or ever. We had no illusions of immortality.

My current calling plan doesn't reach you. But we'll be able to talk one day. I can't wait to hear your voice again.

Love you with all my heart,

PS - I abandoned my moratorium on PopTarts tonight. I hope you're happy. And I hope they make me feel better. :)