Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Anywhere Except the Third Floor

Dear John,
I got encouraged today. Actually, I was excited to near-speechlessness. You know I've been putting in applications at Goshen Hospital with no success. I've thought about going to Human Resources and putting in a general application, and trying to find somebody to talk to about what I'm looking for. But I got so discourged by all of it that I really just gave up on getting a hospital job, especially at my age.
Well, today I got a phone call from a very nice lady in Human Resources who said she'd seen that I had applied for a few positions, and wanted to talk to me more about what I was interested in. (I told her, anything except the 3rd floor. I've always avoided OB like the plague.) So she seems very excited about finding a place for me, probably in cardiac rehab where there's a two-day-a-week position advertised at the moment. And, by the way, two days a week is what you have to work to get beneifts.
It will take a while, I'm sure, to hear anything from anybody. But I'm feeling hopeful again, and it feels very good. I really do want to get back into hospital work - there's nothing like it, I love it, and I miss it. Please keep rallying the troops to pray for me.
And please pray for tomorrow's adventures, too. I've found some more Goshen apartments that I need to look at, so I'll be out and about looking at places. I'm especially interested in one place I found that has a living room and a family room with its 1-bedroom apartments. That would give me the office/workroom space I need, without paying for another bedroom which I don't need.
Thank you for your prayers. I need to make the right decision - the timing is out of my control - and I don't get your opinion on this, which makes it a bit harder. But your prayers are wonderful, so please don't stop. I'm feeling good, happy, and ready about all of this. Now that I've seen that I really do need to sell the house, I'm ready to get on with it and get it done. I feel a bit like I'm coming out from under a cloud. I actually am - the viral respiratory thing I've had is getting better, so I'm having more energy that I have for a couple of weeks, and that helps. But that phone call was a shot in the arm that I really did need.
I love you so much! I'm thankful to have you there to pray for me - like you always did, but better. Know that I pray for you, too. Love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on,

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Last Thing I Could Do For You

Dear John,
I've said it before: It's a good thing we married each other. We were such a good fit. But either of us would have made most other folks crazy. Of course, I had to marry you since you loved to hear us talk when we got out of Clinical. I don't think I could have lived with somebody that I couldn't talk to about my job. But you went way beyond that - you loved the horror stories, and you understood the sick jokes that are necessary to emotionally survive working in Critical Care. You didn't survive my job; you thrived on it.
And at the end, I'm glad you didn't think I was sick and morbid. I don't think your nurses knew what to make of a wife that, after her husband's death, started taking out his lines - NG tube, foley, and what-not. I hadn't planned to do it; I guess the nurse in me just went on to the next thing that needed to be done. I'd done that for countless other people; it was something that I wanted to do for you. It was the last physical act of love that I could give you. So I took out your lines, and I felt like it made you happy. I may have shocked some folks, but I didn't shock you. I was certain of your appreciation then, and I am certain of it now.
I suppose that taking out lines is a very intimate act. I never thought about it that way before. Most things that nurses do are really very intimate - you get used to that and don't even think about it or realize it. So that was our last bit of physical intimacy, and I've always been glad that I did it.
Don't ask me why I'm thinking about that right now. It's just been rattling around in my head for a couple of days. And so I wanted to talk to you about it, and thank you for being the kind of person that appreciated what I did. You were always very matter-of-fact about medical things. But it's more than that. I think you liked being married to a nurse. And I know there were times when you needed to be married to a nurse, like when your Bumex and potassium needed such a careful hand during your last eight or nine months. You always appreciated it when I juggled being nurse and wife, and understood that both came out of the same love I had for you. After all, you did marry all of me - head, heart, body, worldly goods, and stethescope.
So, thank you for never being shocked or disgusted at the Critical Care part of me. It came in quite handy a few times. And I was glad to make that the last thing I could do for you.
Adore you completely,

Jethro's Very First Bath

Dear John,
Just a quick note to fill you in on the latest. We have survived Jethro's first bath.
He pushed a slat out of the fence, got out, and rolled in some horse manure. As soon as I discovered he was gone I put the garage door up, and he came running at the sound. That was great until I got a whiff of him. So he went straight into the bath tub for his very first bath after, of course, liberally spreading manure all over me and the bathroom.
I couldn't find the dog shampoo. I've rearranged the linen closet for the girls to have space and have no idea where it went. I didn't want to take the time to look for it so I used mine, and it worked better than any dog shampoo I've ever used. It seems that good old Suave is great for his fur.
Once I got him in the tub - which required heruclean manhandling - he did very well. He stood still for pouring, washing, and rinsing, and didn't even make a fuss about me taking his collar off and washing it. He's definitely the easiest dog I've ever bathed. That said, however: did I ever tell you how much I appreciate you doing most of the dog-bathing? Unless one of them got into something while you were at work, you always handled it. Thank you for all those baths you gave to Caleb and Naomi! I missed your help today. You should have seen the dark brown water running off of him - he really did it up right this time.
So I spread his blankets out over the couch and fixed myself some lunch, and he's curled up sleeping off his adventures. I got the fence slat nailed back in place. I was relieved to find it. I think it's possible that, with the right motivation, he could jump the fence. I don't want that idea to ever occur to him. As long as he's looking for ways to get under  or through it, I doubt that he'll think about going over it.
Well, that's all for this afternoon - just the continuing adventures of your little family, and my gratitude for all you did for our furry ones over the years. I'll talk to you again later today.
Love from me and the sleepy furry one,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Gather 'Round the Parapet

Dear John,
I'm sure you knew this long before I did, but just to be sure - you have two friends coming to join you. Don died last week. Since I cancelled the paper to save some money, I missed the obituary. One day I saw a lot of cars across the street and wondered if that was what had happened, and got on the internet and found out. I'd missed the funeral, and I'm so sorry about that. But I ran into Meredith at the bank today and had a nice talk with her. She's glad he's not in pain anymore, like I'm glad your suffering and struggle are over. We're both looking at financial changes, but we women expect that.
This morning I was driving down the street and saw Harold come out his front door to go to his car. So I had to stop and talk, since the Giants swept the Series last night. He told me C.W had died over the weekend. He had a stroke, and knowing C.W as I did, I have to be thankful that he didn't have to live with the aftermath. He will be so missed. I know I'll miss him - I don't quite know why he and I hit if off so well, but I did love him.
So make ready to welcome more old friends! And if anybody else wants to hang out at the parapet watching for me, make them welcome, too. I feel more and more how thin the veil between here and there really is. As far as I can tell, that parapet seems more like the railing on a loft right over my head. And I really am content here. But when the Lord sees fit to take me home, I'll come with joy.
Hugging you from down here,

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Look What I Found!

Dear John,
I finally did it! I figured out how to get this photo off of the church website!
I never had a photo of your tonsure. I didn't even get to see it, since I was in the back directing the choir. I've been trying to "save as" from the website for a long time and it wouldn't let me, but  today I had a brainstorm. I pinned it to Pinterest first - the website would let me do that - and then saved it from there. So now I have a copy, and now I can show it to you.
It's a beautiful photo. The diffused light is lovely. And it seems to express something essential about you, as you bow your head  in obedience to Bishop MARK, Father Matthew, and Father George. I'm glad the other Subdeacons are there, too. And I'm really happy that Andy is there - you always loved him so much.
There's so much light because we didn't have the iconostasis up yet. The building wasn't finished - no iconostasis, no icons on the walls, the floors weren't done - but it was Church, it was a holy place already. It's so beautiful now, with everything finished. And it's crowded these days. We're averaging at least 70 people on a Sunday. I looked around a couple of weeks ago and discovered that, sometime when I wasn't looking, we became a parish of young families and children. And I love it! I love hearing babies and children during the Liturgy. And Father is getting lots of practice baptizing tiny babies in oily water!
I hope you always knew how happy and proud I was when you were tonsured. Part of me trembled to think of you ever being tonsured Deacon, but I knew how much you would love it so I wanted it for you, if it was what the Church asked of you. There wasn't time for that, as it turned out, but I'm so thankful you were a Subdeacon. You so loved being able to help Father in any way you could, and he so loved you. Having two Subdeacon Johns could be a bit confusing at times, but we enjoyed the humor of it all.
And because you're a Subdeacon, you get prayed for a lot. In the daily prayers, every Orthodox Christian prays every day for all the reposed who are in the clerical orders of the church. And that includes you. I'm glad beyond words to have you so commemorated.
Well, I need to get on with my day, such as it is. I still can't talk. And I woke up feeling worse and having some trouble breathing, so I made myself stay home. I hate it, but this little viral infection seems to have put me into a full-blown asthma flare-up. That's the breaks when your lungs are wired backwards!
Have a lovely Sunday, Subdeacon. I love you so much,

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Steppenwolf Syndrome Strikes Again

Dear John,
It's a shame that you don't have television there. Last night USA showed the NCIS episode from last winter that I so wanted you to see - the one that told what would have happened if Shannon and Kelly's murderer had lived. There's one part of it where Gibbs is at a diner as his life passes before him - everybody shows up: Franks, Gibbs' mother, Jenny, everybody. At one point he's sitting in a booth talking to Shannon and Kelly, and they tell him that they're both waiting for him. It made me tear up a little, but it was very reassuring. It is good to know that you're waiting for me. And I think I have family also waiting for me, including the ones that I never got to meet. I imagine my parents, grandparents, siblings, Mary, and Miriam leaning over the parapet looking down and watching for me.
I've reached that point in life where more of the people I love are there with you than are here with me. I don't talk much about how ready I am to go. People misunderstand, get alarmed, wonder if I'm a suicide risk, tell me how much I have to live for, and so on. But that's not the point. I suppose you can't get the point until you find yourself at that point. There are people here that I love very much, things that I enjoy, ways that I am useful, and I'm content. But I'm also ready to go. It's sort of like being on vacation - you have a good time, but the day comes when you're just ready to go home, when you miss your friends and you want to be back where you belong.
I think this started before we knew you were sick - it seems to have been a result of the accident I had last summer. I certainly don't remember any experiences connected with it. After all, I don't remember anything  connected with it. All I know is that me, as I first was afterward, understood life and death very differently than I had a few days before. I finally understood - with all of me, not just my head - that this life is all about the next one, that the joy and beauty of this life is a faint shadow of the joy and beauty of Heaven, and that, while this one is good in its own way, it isn't anything to focus on. Your death just underlined all of that; it was written on my heart months earlier.
And so it's the Steppenwolf syndrome again. (I'm so glad you read the book, too - otherwise this term would never have become part of the household vocabulary.) I've had a world view shift that puts me at variance with - oh, only everybody I know. I'm having a thought here: Maybe that's why I've spent the last year or so listening to only Delta Blues and reading only the Athonite Gerontikon. I've found a shared world view there, and so far nowhere else. There are a few people that I've talked to that aren't actually chasing me around with a butterfly net, and that's good. But nobody is saying, "Yes! Me, too!"
So what do I do with this? That's clearly too big a topic for 9:30 Saturday night. I won't be able to sing tomorrow - still no voice at all - but I do have to be able to stay awake. So I need to get some sleep. Pray for me while I try to sort it all out and put it into acceptable English. And ask the Fathers and all those folks at the parapet to keep praying for me, too. Tell them how very much I love all of them. And if you see a tall, thin, older gentleman hanging around whistling a waltz, don't be concerned. He's a patient I took care of many years ago just before he died. We talked about how much we loved to dance, and I asked him to save the first dance in Heaven for me. He promised he would. I have so much to look forward to!
May your joy be full!

Friday, October 26, 2012

I Found Big Metal Doors in My Head!

Dear John,
I seem to have left my voice at work yesterday. I feel fine but all I can do is whisper; I can't get out a sound. The dog is baffled and concerned. Do you remember that Sunday morning years ago at church, when Mertice and Jan and I had all lost our voices?  Everybody wanted you, DeWayne, and Dan to tell them how you accomplished it. We all laughed a lot that day. Good memories.
Today I just went shopping and whispered to all the sales clerks, who were very nice to me. Jim and Irene sent me a Meijer gift card and I used almost all of it. Three weeks out of the month I spend less than $30 on groceries. Then the other week I have to get all the periodic things - OTC drugs, food or chewbones for the dog, birdseed, softener salt  - all the high-price things. Today was that day. And I still have almost $6 left on the gift card! I didn't get to Nappanee. I can't believe it, but I slept until 11:30 this morning. I can't remember the last time I slept like that. It was a full 12 hours. I've been completely disoriented all day. It's seemed four hours earlier than it really was. I must have needed the sleep.
I've actually been listening to Robert Johnson for the last two days. I hadn't been able to for a few months. His CDs are the ones I was listening to when you were at River Crest, and they reminded me so much of those weeks that I couldn't handle them. Then I got my mind by the throat and decided that I wouldn't let it keep me from something so good. So yesterday I put the first CD on, and I found this wonderful thing in my head. You know those bit metal things that look like the tops of roll-top desks, that they pull down over counters when they're closed? Well, it turns out I have two in my head. I put the CD on, pulled one down behind me to shut out the past and one down in front of me to shut out the future, and sat there saturated in the music, just me and Robert Johnson. Sometimes the door to the past tried to open up, but I pushed it back down. There in between the doors, I could meet the music on its own terms and enjoy it again. And I really like that place between the doors. Driving down County Road 42 in the present - beautiful fall day, windows down, wonderful smells, gorgeous music - it's good.
That's all for today. I love you great huge bunches! Sleep well tonight. Keep waiting for me!

Stress, Temptation, and Prednisone

Dear John,
Another wild day. I ended up working nine hours with a half-hour break for lunch. I was burning sets of DVDs - training packets for new consultants. But, better living through chemistry. I never could have done today without being on Prednisone.
I was driving home in the dark down 42, smelling the leaves and the just-cut corn and the smoke from burning leaves, and feeling very content. It occurred to me that I'd love to call you on the phone and just say, "Agape," and wait to hear you catch your breath and start laughing. Remember, that was what you said when I answered the phone the first time you called me. It was during that spring semester you missed because of getting radiation, and you called to tell me you'd be on campus for a weekend chess tournament. I was excited to see you, and even more excited that you wanted to see me while you were in town. It was so much fun to go out in public with you - your head looked completely normal from the front, but when people saw you from the side they could tell that you had no hair at all on the back half of your head. It was fun to watch their faces change when your head turned. We had a good time that weekend.
Tonight I got way too tired and had a moment of temptation. I was watching Big Bang Theory  re-runs and out of nowhere my brain piped up and said, "I wonder if John is so busy and happy that he's forgotten me." Really, how beyond ridiculous can you be? It made me feel very sad and very abandoned, until I realize it was illogical and theologically unsupportable. Then I laughed at myself and went back to thinking about calling you on the phone and saying, "Agape."
Tomorrow I'm hoping to go wander Nappanee a bit. I haven't wandered it in a few years, and I want to see what else is out there in apartments, to be sure I don't miss anything. I had the terrible thought today that if I do move there, I'll have to find somebody else to work on the car. But maybe not. We'll see about that one.
Having made a plan and a decision has greatly decreased my overall stress. And Prednisone has given me some energy. While that golden combination is in play, I will try to get as much done as I possibly can. And I know better than to go off following any temptation that tries to tell me that you don't care about me anymore. I can tell that you do: When I asked you to get yourselves organized up there and pray for me, everything worked out the next day. Thank you all for that. I have a wonderful group of intercessors who are already before God - I will try to remember to call on them.
And now I'd better head to bed. The high today was 76, going to be 53 tomorrow. The wind is howling already, and the barometer in Indy has long ago put all fibromites in bed. Tomorrow may be a challenge. But I do hope I get to go out and have fun being productive.
I know you love me more than you ever did in life, know me better, and have even purer compassion for me. And you can pray so much better for me, since you are there before the Throne of God. Love me always, as I love you!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Electric Stoves - Oh, the Tragedy!

Dear John,
It was a strange, busy day. I did the downtown loop, got to Kathy's around 9:15 and worked until 10, then I left for an appointment with Barb about this tickle/cough/wheeze cycle I have going. She agreed that it's viral, and I got prescriptions and headed back to work. On the way I ran down to Nappanee and found Bison Ridge. It's smaller than I expected, in a nice neighborhood, and looks very well-taken-care-of. Since it's so small, it seems that people know each other. They don't allow German Shepherds, but since Jethro is a mixed breed and is less than half the size of a German Shepherd, they can take him. The only crisis I will be forced to deal with is cooking on an electric stove. (I have no polite words for electric stoves.)  They have lots of mature trees, squirrels, birds, and yes, I can set up my birdfeeders. I can garden in the beds next to the apartment. All units have patios, and 2-bedroom units also have a balcony off the master bedroom. It's in a nice residential neighborhood, with friendly people jogging and biking in the road and waving to the cars.
So I'm starting lists: people to talk to, things I have to do, things I can have other people do. I'll probably have an open house in the basement for folks to come and get whatever they want. I need to go ruthlessly through the old curtains and linens.
Then I went back and worked the rest of my day, picked up prescriptions just in the nick of time, came home and fed Elyssa while Jen mowed. And now I'm falling asleep typing, due to the cough syrup (codeine and phenergan). So I should quit before I embarrass myself way too much.
I love you so much. Please keep praying for me - working out the timing on all this looks like a nightmare. Just pray for me on general principles.
Love you lots,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Legally (& Accidentally) Stoned

Dear John,
I haven't felt quite as good today. I started coughing somewhere between 3 and 4 this morning. And somehow I got mixed up taking Mucinex and cough syrup, and got myself so sedated that I had to stay home today. I wasn't safe to drive until after 3:00 this afternoon. I wasn't really safe to walk when I woke up at 8:30 this morning. Cooking breakfast seemed to be a high-risk activity, so I had a bowl of cereal. I haven't even been up to knitting until the last hour or so. (I can hear Mulder asking: Have you ever lost nine hours?)
So it's been a totally wasted day, except that the dog got to cuddle with me and I got to watch a Criminal Minds marathon. (That's a show I won't watch with a six-year-old in the house.) The first episode I watched was my favorite - "Penelope." I like the back-story on Garcia, and I love the fact that they cast Nicholas Brendon in that role. It was such a delight to see Xander show up. Criminal Minds was another show that I was surprised that you liked. And I remember watching that episode with you. It was good to see it today.
I'll try to behave better tonight! I'm taking Prednisone now, and it's controlling the cough. I may have to call tomorrow and see somebody. I don't feel bad except for the cough. Would you mind picking up a loaf of bread on your way home?
Love you so, so, so much,

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Workable Plan B

Dear John,
Hello from your dear demented wife! The phone rang a little after nine this evening, and my first thought was that it was the hospital and something was wrong with you. Pitiful, aren't I? It was Kathy (my second thought) about my work schedule tomorrow. Habits die hard.
Anyway: Hello! I'm feeling much better today. The throat is just a little tender. I still have a cough so I'm still on Mucinex, but other than that I'm fine. I had a busy day - I spent most of it on the phone calling about medical bills. In every case the problem was the date of death issue. It's gradually getting worked out, and I'm still amazed at how nice people are being to me.
I'm feeling much better emotionally, too. Even those of us who don't like roller coasters do better after we figure out that we're on one. As usual, understanding what's happening in the back of my head is my key to working it out. And I am getting things nailed down a bit. I got a call today from the lady at Bison Ridge Apartments (I'd visited their website and inquired about availability), and we had a nice talk. I explained the situation to her and told her that if I did have to give up the house, I was looking for a place to live for the rest of my life.
It is looking more and more attractive to me. I would lose a lot, of course: the house, my infrastructure in Topeka, a gas stove (Heaven help us, I'd have an electric one!), lots of furniture that would have to go, Jethro's fenced yard - but I'd also lose mowing half an acre, maintenance and repair on the house, snow removal, and about $350 a month in property taxes, utilities, and homeowners' insurance (as compared to renters'). And you know me - practicality always wins out eventually over sentiment.
We'll see what happens. Right now, I feel much more comfortable having a workable Plan B in place. I'm a bit surprised that it feels so much better to think about living in Nappanee than Goshen. You really did turn this big-city woman into a small-town girl, didn't you? Goshen is a nice place to visit, but it makes me feel claustrophobic after a bit. Nappanee seems much more my speed. And I've had wonderful experiences at Northwood High School working with their academic teams. I miss substitute teaching, and I know that Northwood is in need of more subs. Bison Ridge is almost next door to the high school, so this could get me back into something that I enjoy and am good at. (Okay - Mama wins. She always said I'd end up a teacher someday. It's in the genes. I was doomed from the start.)
So I think you'd be proud of me - not for being whiny for a week before I figured out what was happening, but for getting my teeth into the problem and wrestling it to the ground after I did understand. And, or course, for my imaginative mixed metaphors. Do you remember when you were applying to med schools? I had a plan for every school you applied to - for finding housing and a job for me, fitting a wedding and honeymoon around it, planning for my State Boards - down to the last detail for every school you applied for. Then I could sit down and relax. Well, I haven't changed a bit. Now I'm sitting down and catching my breath for a bit.
It helps to know that you're proud of me. And I really do know that, I feel it with all my heart. You knew I could do this and survive it, when I wasn't so sure. I've survived the first six months of grief. Now I'm working on surviving the financial wipeout. Increase income, decrease outgo. I think I have a handle on both of those, and the handles feel comfortable in my hands. Jethro and I will be okay.
I'll try for a shorter letter tomorrow. I've cheered up and gotten chatty again. But talking to you has been my very favorite thing to do for 38 years. Don't expect that to change.
Your chatty, cheery, and adoring wife,

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Future: The Second Roller Coaster

Dear John,
I figured out what's wrong with me and had to tell you about it, about why I've been struggling so much emotionally for the last week. I know you and the rest of the universe are immeasurably relieved.
For the first six months without you, the present was all I could handle. With the emotions and with so much to do, I couldn't even think five minutes ahead - the long-term future wasn't on my radar at all.
Writing that check for $7000 to the IRS shook me out of that. And I was on my way out of it anyway, between time passing and everything being done except some lingering medical bill disputes. All of a sudden a third of my savings was gone, and I had to start dealing with the financial future immediately. At the same time, I was turned down for three jobs at Goshen Hospital - all of them turned out to be harder physically than I should do anyway, but it's still scary.
So I'm on the second roller coaster now. The first was grief - I knew it was coming and had a good idea what it would be like. The second is providing financially for the future, and it's turning out to be just as difficult a ride. And this roller coaster doesn't get as much attention or support as the grief one, since this culture considers it bad taste to talk about financial issues. I know how much you wanted to have $100,000-200,000 in life insurance for me, and how hard you tried to find something. But nobody in their right mind would insure your life, so that wasn't an option. And there'd be no problem if I had stayed healthy and could have kept a nursing job for these last ten years, but that wasn't possible either. Those were doors that the Lord closed to us.
So here I am. Thankfully, I have enough in savings to make it for about a year, if there are no disasters. And I'm grateful for the job I have. I have a doctor that doesn't want me working, so I need to see him and find out what he has in mind. If he insists on disability I'll have to listen, but I don't know what I'll qualify for. If I do have to go that route, I'll hire an experienced attorney. It would be well worth it. I also want to visit the Goshen Hospital HR Department and talk to them, and turn in a general application. I'm open to nursing and non-nursing jobs - I need a job, not one particular job. So we'll see how that goes.
On those two things hangs whether I'll be able to keep the house. I did find one apartment complex that would be a good fit - good rent, nicely kept, good floor plan, any size dog allowed, washer/dryer hookups in every apartment - all that I'm looking for. It's in Nappanee instead of Goshen, but I think that, after living 17 years in Topeka, Nappanee might be a better fit for me anyway. And I could get on the substitute teacher list at Northwood, which I'd love to do.
As you can tell, the brain has gotten a grip on the situation and is dealing constructively with it. I've checked out the options and formulated a plan of action. That's about all that I can do at this point. And I know that I will be provided for. The God of widows and orphans is in charge. And I have you, two saints, and three priests to pray for me.
Oh, I've thought about this several times, but never when I was talking to you: Please give Caleb and Naomi big, big hugs for me! I know without doubt that the dogs are in Heaven, since they are without sin. Our dogs are reunited with their human Daddy now, and must be beside themselves with joy. I can't wait to see them again.
Oh, how I look forward to Heaven! The presence of God, release from the physical body, Heavenly worship, St. Theodora and St. John, and all the people I love - you first, Mama and Daddy, Nana and the three grandparents I never knew, four siblings I never knew, your father that I never knew, Annie Mae, Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom, Aunt Margaret and Uncle Gus, Greatgrandma Fowler and Greatgrandpa Fowler, Mary, Richard, Tommy,  Margaret Earl, Great-aunt Mary Lattimore, Johnny, and Ray, friends from school like Becky and Kevin and Mike, friends from Topeka like Ernie and Maynard, Mertice and Helen, Erland, and from church like Dick - what an amazing cloud of witnesses. May God grant all of them the gift of prayer for me! I know Caleb and Naomi pray for me. And Fr. Anthony, Fr. George, and Fr. Peter - to have their prayers would be wonderful.
So, as Wallace said to Grommit (sort of): Get yourselves together up there! I am humbly asking the whole group to pray for me, that the Lord will provide financially for me in the way that is best for me, and that I will know what to do and when. And please pray that I will be at peace on this roller coaster. (I really do hate roller coasters.)
Thank you. You've always been there for me. And now you can be there in a much better way. But it's a way that I know by faith and not by sight, so sometimes I feel like you're less here for me than you were before. But that's not true, is it? I know you love me, look after me, and pray for me. And I do for you as well. There are ways that the two become one flesh in marriage, that you can't know until widowhood. And how much more is there for me to learn in Heaven? Oh, I want to be there!
So I still have to labor for the good of my soul, to walk in the teachings of the church, to repent. Pray for me, that God in His mercy will take me into His Kingdom! Tell Him that any time is fine with me.
Until then, I love you, I'm not far from you.

Peter Sellers Beats the Browns

Dear John,
We're so old. The Pink Panther,  with Steve Martin, is on Commedy Central. The Pink Panther, with Peter Sellers, is on - get this - Turner Classic. It was made in 1963 - not very long ago - except that its been 49 years and at the fancy dress ball they're all doing the twist. And you don't need to ask which one I'm watching, do you? Peter Sellers was a genius, and so was Blake Edwards. Before the movie started they were talking about it, and said the movie was written for David Niven to be the lead. But when Peter Sellers was cast instead of Peter Ustinov, the film started taking on a life of its own, and Blake Edwards re-wrote it on the fly, adapting everything to fit Sellers' comedic style. And I can't imagine the world without Henry Mancini's theme music. I still miss the Pink Panther cartoons, especially at the movies.
The Colts are about to beat the Browns - sorry about that. Yep, the Colts just won. The Browns are now 1-6. I'm so sorry.
It's shocking, but I haven't watched much football this season. I thought football would be okay without you, since you worked weekends and I mostly watched it without you anyway. But that hasn't been the case. I'm not enjoying any sports now - everything makes me miss you more. Hey, maybe this would be a good time to try to learn to like soccer; I never watched that with you. But I'd probably feel sad because of that, and it wouldn't do any good. There's always next year.
And on the job front: In the interest of leaving no stone unturned, I put out an appeal on Facebook last night for help getting a nursing job. I also need to take my resume to HR at the hospital and put in a general application. It's really what I want anyway - I need a job, not one particular job. We'll see what happens.
That's all that's up here. I love you and miss you, whether I'm watching football, Peter Sellers, or the ceiling. Love you so much,

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Advantages of Photosynthesis

Dear John,
I'm feeling lots better, but probably doing much worse. My throat is much less sore, but whatever-it-is has gone down into my chest. So I'm on Mucinex and Prednisone, and may be calling Barb's office on Monday. I'm following my usual pattern.
I did a bit more today - shower in the morning, followed by laundry, more cooking, some household chores, more knitting. And I do feel better except for the trouble breathing. If I could just perfect photosynthesis, I wouldn't have to breathe and life would be much simpler. This is my first respiratory infection in over six months, which isn't bad. And it started the usual way: sinus drainage running down-hill.
I really want to get to church tomorrow, and will see how I'm breathing in the morning. I hate missing it, and I really need it right now so I don't look at the storm and start sinking again. And there's a pancake breakfast after the Liturgy;  I very much don't want to miss that. I'll set the alarm early so I have plenty of time to get my lungs warmed up and find out how well I'm breathing. It's a nuisance.
I know that you're glad to be free of your earthly body, especially after those last three months when everything fell apart at once. You hadn't been healthy since childhood - you probably didn't remember how it felt. And the scar tissue had spread so far, affecting your heart, lungs, throat, vocal cords, swallowing, breathing - like I said, everything fell apart at once. I'm so glad that you're free of all that. And I long to join you in that freedom. My body aches - I have pain all the time, usually everywhere except the end of my nose. But what bothers me more is the unremitting fatigue. It really feels like constant mono. I have maybe one day a quarter that I have energy - those days feel so good, I enjoy them and remember them. But most of the time, it's all I can do to remain upright and functioning. Some days, I can't even do that. So I do long to join you!
It appears that it may be a while. Jen won't let me dig, and the Lord seems intent on keeping me here for goodness-knows-what reason. And there are a few people who would really miss me. So I won't be there very soon. But I hope, by God's mercy, to be with you eventually. Save me a spot, and pray for me.
Love you huge, huge bunches,

Friday, October 19, 2012

Living on Tomato Soup & Gatorade

Dear John,
I'm still sick, but hopefully less whiny than I was last night. Thank you for being patient with me. As I used to say after watching Investigation Discovery: Thank you for not having ever killed me yet.
I do have a nasty sore throat/headache/cough/runny-nose/ache-all-over thing going on. My temperature is running 96.3, so it seems to be viral. It will go away in a day or so. I stayed home today. Oh, and I have no voice - Becky said she could hear the silence from Arkansas. I seem to have  palpably decreased the sum total of noise in the universe. And having been my roommate in college and lived to tell about it, Becky would know!
So I didn't do much today, just what was necessary. I did eat and drink - the only things that tasted good were tomato soup and gatorade (not mixed). I do have to get out tomorrow. I need to get to the post office and pick up the mail, and I'm out of gatorade. I do wish you could bring me a large mac-and-cheese when you come home from work tonight. Actually, I'd be more than satisfied if you could just come home tonight! I miss you even more when I don't feel good. It's good to have warm dog fur to cuddle with - and Jethro has been very cuddly today - but, as we've established, he's not you.
He just lay down beside me and went to sleep, so I suppose it's bedtime for all mammals. Except for going downtown for mail and gatorade, I'll try to take it easy tomorrow so I'm feeling good enough to go to church on Sunday. I don't know about singing in the choir - when I do have a voice this evening, it's definitely baritone.
So please pray for me, and that I don't give this to the girls. And know that I love you more than I can ever say.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I Need a Bigger Shovel

Dear John,
Bad day. Bad sore throat. Feel bad physically. Feel bad emotionally. Would like to get shovel from garage and go dig my side of the cemetery plot. General misery and discouragement here.
I really do feel bad - I have a very painful sore throat, with lymph nodes big enough to make it hard to swallow, and I feel bad all over. And I'm starting to deal with long-term financial realities, and it's extremely discouraging. I don't see any way I can keep the house. I've been looking at apartments and it's a bit bleak. This area has lots of high-end places and a few low-end places, but I'm not finding places in the middle. I'm thinking about giving Barb a call and talking to her, since she knows the Goshen market so well.
I really need your prayers right now. I know the Lord will provide something. But I'm so afraid that I'll mess up and do too much or too little. I want to be sure I'm doing the right things at the right time. And I'm fighting fear and discouragement, so please pray for that, too. I also have the complication we always had when renting: I have a 55-pound dog that has to come with me. Tonight I promised Jethro that he'd be with me, even if we're both living out of a grocery cart under an overpass. I will not take him back to the shelter. He's non-negotiable. (Said non-negotiable creature is lying at the foot of the bed destroying a chewbone with as much noise and enjoyment as possible. Sleeping may be challenging, but he's having a great time.)
I'm sorry - I've whined at you again. Since the fibro, I've looked with fear at my financial situation without you. And now I'm really looking it in the face, with no advisor or advocate to talk things over with. I'm on my own with this. So please, please pray for me! Jen is looking after me, which means she threatened to get rid of all the shovels and hide the car keys. And the dog is providing the unconditional love that only a dog can provide. So I hope all this will look better tomorrow, and maybe be less whiny and incoherent.
I love you so much! I need your shoulder tonight, and maybe the lime and cocoanut again. Sleep good,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Portrait of a Revolving Dog

Dear John,
I had a good busy day at work. Kathy and I went to lunch together and got caught up on the last week's events for both of us. It was a lovely day, sunny and 72. Now a cold front is coming through - wind howling, thunderstorms, psychotic dog. He's okay as long as he's right beside me. If he isn't okay after I turn the lights off, I'll give him some Benadyl so he can get some sleep. And so I can sleep, too. I'll be up at 5:30 in the morning to sub for Rhoda at BNI - ridiculous hour, but a free breakfast.
Jen found this photo today and texted it to me, saying that it reminded her of Jethro. And so it does! But it's even more like Caleb. You know he used to have those days - if he was in, he wanted out; if he was out, he wanted in. What he really needed was a revolving door. After a while his humans had had enough and made him stay on one side or the other. The poster made me giggle all morning.
Kathy brought me back a gift from Las Vegas: a Sheldon bobble-head doll. She said she'd located the brother I never knew I had. And I had to laugh so hard. I've said for a long time that I am Sheldon, just with somewhat better social skills and no fear of germs. I almost fell off the sofa watching that one episode where Leonard tells Sheldon that not everybody feels the compulsion to pack all the world away in matching containers, and Sheldon refuses to believe it. You and I have joked about that for years - that I want to pack the entire world away into matching, labeled containers. You and Leonard seem to think that it's abnormal or something.
But that's me. And Sheldon. You knew me so well, and loved me anyway. That is truly amazing. You knew the good, the bad, and the ugly, and stayed with me - and even seemed to like being with me. You never wanted me to change for you, but you always supported any change I wanted to make in myself. You gave me freedom, which means you gave me respect. And I still thank you for that.
It's 10:00, so I'd better get to sleep if I'm going to be up at 5. Thank you for loving me as I am, for wanting me to be my own person, for not trying to re-mold me into an ideal image. To sum up: Thank you for respecting me as a complete person. It's rarer that you think! Thank you for loving dogs, and for wanting all three of ours to be rescue dogs. They all rescued us right back, didn't they? We both wish you could be here for the storms tonight, but we'll muddle through without you. And if necessary, we'll hit the lime and cocoanut again.
Love you always,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Lime-in-the-Cocoanut Cure

Dear John,
I had a fairly slow day off. I had my six-month eye exam this afternoon. All is well, but I have some lense clouding that will need laser treatment in the next six months or so. I'd been feeling pretty down all day, but while my eyes were dilating I heard "Put the Lime in the Cocoanut," which cheered me up immensely. The station called it a "forgotten 45" - I don't know whose memory they're thinking about, but I still remember every word. It's nice to know I'm putting my brain to such good use, isn't it?
I found this on Pinterest this evening. It's one of the things I want to say to you, so I'll put it here and let it say it. It makes no sense to young people, but there are a lot of things in marriage that are much more intimate than sex. This is one of them, especially when you've been married long enough that you know the words, even when they're not said. We used to cuddle up like that and discuss theology, and that's even more intimate because you're opening up the core of what you believe to another person.
Now I go to bed without that nightly cuddle, and it's one of the hardest things I have to do That's why some nights I'm up to such unreasonable hours, because I still want to go to sleep with you. If I could, I'd just never go to bed again rather than go without you. But nature does require sleep. So I'll cuddle with the dog again tonight, and be glad for the sweet warmth of dog fur, but miss you.
So again, sleep well tonight. Don't miss me, but do pray for me. And if I'm still feeling down tomorrow, I'll try that lime-&-cocoanut thing and see if it makes me feel better.
Missing your arms around me,

Monday, October 15, 2012

Storms Meteorological & Emotional

Dear John,
Sorry I didn't get to talk to you last night - I tried, but the laptop locked up on me. I called Microsource this morning and they told me what to do to fix it, so here I am.
This six-month anniversary is hitting me harder than I'd expected. Part of it may be fibro - in the last three days we've had two strong fronts come through. But I found myself getting teary listening to Son House today, so it's emotional as well as physical pain. I'm just missing you so much these days. In know grief isn't linear, so I should expect there to be some bad stretches now and then.
I didn't get to church yesterday. I set the alarm for 7:00, but the wind was howling so - the house was creaking and popping, and the bushes rattling against the walls. Jethro was terrified and, as usual, the only way he would relax was on my head. I didn't have the heart to go away and leave him by himself when he was so frightened. So I slept another couple of hours while he lay on my head, and everybody was happy. He was jumpy all day, poor creature - the wind never did die down and we had thunderstorms in the afternoon, so he stayed in my lap for most of the day.
On reflection, I suppose the dog and I have reason to feel a little off today, don't we? We're both so sensitive to the weather - me because I have fibromyalgia, and him because he's a dog. We'll get to bed early tonight and should feel much better in the morning.
I love you so much. I still struggle to realize that your absence is permanent. Today I found myself thinking that I'd stop by and see you at work after running an errand for Kathy. Patterns of thought like that must take years to change.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you this! Jen is wonderful and knows me far too well. If it hadn't been raining on Saturday, she was going to go by the cemetery and leave me a note reminding me that I wasn't allowed to dig! Isn't that marvelous? Today I kept thinking about that and giggling.
I'll think about that when I go to bed tonight, so I should fall asleep thinking about you and giggling. That should make you happy and completely annoy the dog. I love you so, so much!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thank You for a Lovely Night

Dear John,
Good morning! Dog and I slept well. It was warm enough to have the windows open, rainy and blustery all night, lovely to smell and listen to.
I had a wonderful dream that lasted all night - came in installments. I dreamed that you came back and said that you could stay for a few days, and when you left you'd take me with you. I was so happy, so glad and grateful. The thing I remember best was how it felt to reach out and touch your cheek with my hand.
I don't really expect to go with you in a few days. (rats!) But consider your cheek stroked, and know how very much I love you. Thank you for a lovely night.
Still in love,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bread & Butter

Dear John,
I do hate to come here and whine to you - I'm sorry to make you listen to this again. But it's been six months today, and I've spent the day watching at least two television shows at the same time and feeling miserable. Grief is a physical pain as well as an emotional one, and everything has hurt today. It's been raining since noon, so the weather has been in tune with the way I've felt. I tried knitting, and can't concentrate well enough. So the TV has provided anesthesia and distraction. I can't anesthetize with food until I go to the grocery store, which is probably a good thing.
Last night I cried for the first time in a few weeks. "Cried" is a polite euphamism. I never did learn the art of ladylike weeping. When I cry, I bawl, wail, chase the birds off the feeder, and frighten small children. So I had a good cry last night, and hopefully got that out of my system for a while. I haven't had a day this hard for some time, so don't worry about me. Tomorrow I'll go to church and feel much better. Jen and Elyssa will be home tomorrow, and life will return to normal.
Nothing seems normal without you, though. Life still seems surreal. My dreams feel real and my life feels like a nightmare. By the way, the dreams have continued to change. Now, in all my dreams, you're there, but it's normal that you're there - you were never gone. My dreams are like my real life used to me - they're the only ordinary part of my life. (Hmm. Maybe I should get more sleep, since it's more fun than being awake. What do you think?) I don't dread going to sleep anymore, but I do delay going to bed as long as I can. That seems to be common among widows; I still hate going to bed alone.
Well that's my six-month check-up, and I have to conclude that I'm being normal. Nothing to see here. And there's really nothing new to say: I love you, I miss you. I'm thankful for Jen, for family, for the church, for friends, and all the good people who have been so kind to me. I'm so glad to have the dog. Most of all, I'm grateful to have had you for so many years. And I do know that I still have you, that this separation is temporary. Yesterday I thought about Monk and his wife Trudy, that her last words were, "Bread and butter." One of the bad guys (Dale the Whale) taunted him with that, as if the meaning was a mystery. But I knew what she meant. I grew up with that - if you said "bread and butter" when you were parted, it insured that you'd soon be together again.
So goodnight now. I love you so much more than life. And like Trudy said: Bread and butter!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Jethro Worries About Your Sweat Suit

Dear John,
Oh, how I missed you last night! Lately the fibromyalgia has been giving me restless legs at night, and last night was a long one. I was awake at 3:30 and up at 7:00. No, wait - that means the night was a short one, doesn't it? To straighten myself out: the part of the night when I was awake was long; the part when I was asleep was short. Did that clear it up?
I always miss you the most at night. I'm still staying up way too late because I hate to go to bed without you. Before, when I had a bad night, you would always cuddle with me and make me feel better, or rub my back and put me to sleep. Now, when I'm awake and feeling bad, your side of the bed feels so cold and empty. The dog is usually there, and that really does help. But, as we've said before, Jethro isn't you. I like it when he snuggles with me, but at the same time it makes me more aware that I can't snuggle with you.
Well, enough of feeling sorry for myself! I'm grateful for the years that I did have you here, and grateful for all the memories, and even for that dip in the mattress that your shoulder made. And I'm grateful for Jethro - because it is good to not be alone, but also because it's good that he remembers you and grieves for you, too. He still goes in the closet and sticks his head into one of your shoes, sniffs, and wags his tail as hard as he can. I wore your sweat suit yesterday, and he let me know that he didn't approve. He likes it when I wear your pajamas, but the sweat suit appears to be off limits.

There's not much to tell about my day. I was busy at work, and got off too late to do grocery shopping without leaving the dog alone after dark. (I really do have to get my head around the earlier sunset.) So tomorrow I'll go to the bank and the grocery store. I'm holding off on mowing, to see if the grass keeps growing or is ready to stop. If it doesn't grow much more, I'll get the the back yard and leave the rest. It will be healther through the winter that way.

Television is wretched tonight, I'm tired from last night, and the dog is already asleep, so I may just go to bed early. It would do me good, I'm sure. I'll miss you again tonight. I'll put my hand in that dip in the mattress, and feel very close to you. I do love you so much. I'm surviing without you better than I thought I would - that's because of all the wonderful people who love both of us. Surviving would not be my first choice, however. I can't wait to join you. Pray for me, and come get me soon.

Love you with all my heart,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Do I Have a Woman for You!

Dear John,
I have a woman for you - just your type: Fiona Glenanne. I'm so glad we found Burn Notice  when we were in Indy that weekend, and there was nothing going on with you, and it was an off-weekend for football, and we were bored out of our minds sitting in the hospital room. And the more I watch it, the more I think how much you'd like Fiona.
I remember well the evening we first met. You've always said that your first thought when you met me was, "Oh! An independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed woman!" And that was just what you were looking for. The really amazing thing is that, after 34 years of being married to me, that's still what you wanted! It was an unusual type for a 19-year-old to want. I'd gotten used to guys that wanted clinging, helpless, girly girls - and gotten accustomed to disapointing them. I'd decided years before that I'd rather be alone than pretend to be something I wasn't. Then you came along, looking for exactly what I was. And am. And evermore shall be.
Fiona is clearly independent, strong-minded, and smart-mouthed. And she has well-developed upper arm muscles - something else you always liked in a woman. (Remember Charlie on whatever that HGTV show was called? She's the only woman I ever knew you to drool over. And it was all because of her bicep and tricep development.) And Fiona has an amazing knowledge of firearms and explosives - I don't know if you ever wished for that in a woman or not, but it might come in handy.
Of course, I do prefer that you continue to love me instead of Fiona, and I don't doubt that you will. But you'd enjoy Fiona, and I encourage you to do so. I posted a photo of her on Facebook, and am waiting to see what reactions I'll get. It probably will depend on who watches Burn Notice and who doesn't. I may mystify people - not unusual for me.
That's about it for the day. Jethro and I slept in this morning. We woke up, then went back to sleep cuddling. I woke up on my back, with his head laid across my forehead. It was suprisingly comfortable. He's been a bit less clingy today. I think yesterday's problem was because it's getting dark so early now. I'll have to start leaving a light on for him.
I love you so much! Thank you for wanting me as I am, smart-mouthed and all. It's the ultimate in generosity to allow someone to be exactly who they are. I never took that generosity for granted.
Love you with all my heart,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Neurotic Dog and an Autumn Sunset

Dear John,
I'd better make this short tonight - Jethro is lying beside me and keeps laying his head on the keyboard. So all typos are his fault. I was home almost all day yesterday then I worked eight hours today, so he's sticking close by me. When I was brushing my teeth and washing my face, he was lying on my feet. Poor, neurotic beastie! Since you went to work one day and never came back, he gets anxious about his humans leaving the house. And it's getting dark so much earlier now; it was dusk by the time I got home. Daylight Stupid Time will end in November, and I'll have to leave a light on for him when I go to work.
He'll adjust to me being gone more. After all, somebody has to earn money for dog food and milkbones, right? But now he's just tired and is trying to tell me to go to sleep.
I wish you had been with me when I was driving home tonight. The sun was low, and the light was that warm yellow-orange that you see sometimes at sunset. That light, shining on the leaves that are changing color, was amazing. The countryside was stunning - white houses, red and yellow leaves, mums of all colors, corn ready for harvest, horses and cows in the fields - all of it glowing yellow-orange from the sunset. I turned Leadbelly off and just drove down 42 with my mouth hanging open, taking it all in. The sun sank lower and lower, and the lovely light was almost gone when I got home.
The neurotic dog and I had better get to sleep. I love you so much, and miss you - especially at bedtime. But I'm glad you're safe and happy, and that's what matters most. Your human and canine family members adore you. Sleep well,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Mystery of the Two Utility Bills

Dear John,
My fears about the tea were justified - even with 50 mg of Benadryl, I was awake until 2 AM. But I slept well after that. And I found a woman on Pinterest with lots of wonderful boards to look at, that kept me happy and busy.
Today was a domestic day. I paid bills, did laundry, washed sheets, cooked for the rest of the week, made some phone calls, and got my hair cut. Nothing strenuous, but a good busy day.
I have good news. I called NIPSCO because I had two bills from them with two different amounts on them. It turns out that the one with the credit on it was the final statement for the old account in your name, and the one with the lower-than-usual amount was for the new account under my name. It was lower because the credit from the old account was applied to it. I set up a new on-line account this morning, and set it up to be on budget, of course. They must be using the last six months to determine the budget amount, because they set it up for $50 less than what we've been paying. And less is good! 
It's interesting to look back over the last year's usage. The huge amount I paid them last month wasn't from the hot summer with three of us living here. It was for last October, November, and December. That was when you were on Taxol and couldn't get warm, so we turned the thermostat up. (Well worth paying for - you know that. Stop apologizing. Right now.)
Remember those weeks? The heat was turned up 10 degrees higher than usual, you were wrapped up in an afghan wearing sweats and a knit hat, and I was sitting by an open window in a summer tee shirt. That's taxol for you! But in spite of making you cold and making your hair fall out, it worked well for you. Which begs the question: Why can't I be on drugs that make me cold? Why am I always on drugs that make me hot, when I'm already having hot flashes? There's something wrong with this picture. And for the sake of complete disclosure, right now the thermostat is set on 66 and I'm sitting by - you guessed it - an open window. It's one of the joys of fibromyalgia - living with a broken internal thermostat. I'm going to roast no matter what the heat is set on. Or if it's not even on at all. 
Tomorrow is a work day, so I'd better get myself and the beastie off to bed.
Oh, I forgot. Last night I wrote a general thank-you note on Facebook to all my friends for their wondeful love and support these last six months. I can't imagine surviving it without Facebook. It kept me in touch with the world and my friends, gave me things to laugh about, reminded me that life is still going on around me, gave me a venue for whining when I needed to - did so much more than I can say. I strongly recommend Facebook as a part of grief therapy. I've been able to hear every day from friends all over the country. Everybody has been so nice to me.
And now I really do have to go to bed. I love you so much. Sleep good, and please keep praying for me.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Toothbrushing as a Team Sport

Dear John,
We had a good frost last night. When I left for work, it was 29 degrees outside. So I got out that long, red cape you got me, and wore it. I still love it - thank you so much! It was sunny and 50 by the time I got off, so I drove home with the windows part-way down. It was a beautiful, clear day that smelled like fallen leaves. 
I went grocery-shopping on the way home, and ran into Sharon at the store. We stopped and had a good, long talk. It was good to see her and get some time to talk and block up the center aisle at Walmart. She misses you. And in case I haven't made it clear, so do I.
Tonight I especially missed you when I was brushing my teeth. I don't remember exactly how it happened, but the first morning of our marriage we decided to brush our teeth together. And we never changed that. It meant so much to me - and, I think, to you, too - that we brushed our teeth together. We always puzzled over those couples on the house-hunting shows that absolutely had to have a bathroom with two sinks. Of course, we're older - our parents all grew up without any indoor plumbing or running water at all. But we also enjoyed all those little intimacies of marriage, including working out a pattern for the morning and evening routines so that we used the same bathroom - with one sink. We have two bathrooms now, but it never occurred to either of us to use separate ones. We enjoyed the time together. It was a pretty complicated dance to not trip over each other or get in each other's way, but complicated dances are lots of fun. For us, sharing a sink and brushing our teeth together was part of marriage, like decorating in a way that we'd both like, deciding where to go on vacation, and agreeing on a name for the dog. We did things together. That's what marriage is. The two become one flesh. There's joy and life in that. Give-and-take is love acted out.
So now I brush my teeth alone, and it's no fun! I have lots of room in the bathroom, for me and my stuff, and I don't like it at all. You know: One less bell to answer, one less egg to fry, one less man to pick up after . . . all I do is cry. Good song.
I'm going to try to go to sleep now. I bought a Tazo chai tea mix at Walmart, and had some tonight. It was good, but I forgot about the caffeine. So I'm going to take Benadryl, but I still may be up to see the sunrise. Silly mistake, but at least I'm not working tomorrow - all I have on the calendar is a haircut, and I need to wash the sheets. But when I can't sleep, Pinterest makes a good middle-of-the-night companion. And I have some Facebook friends that are night owls. So my night-time time is put to good use!
Love you so much! Missing your spit in the sink,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Don't Read "Shutter Island" After Dark

Dear John,
I've discovered that Shutter Island is not a good bedtime book, especially when you're alone in the house. It's definitely a book for the daylight hours. And the days are getting shorter. I got up at 7 this morning, and it was still pitch-dark. It's going down to the upper 20s tonight, so folks are covering up their plants. I never got any out this year, so there are no worries here. I just want a good, hard freeze to lower the mold count. Jethro isn't crazy about the cold - when he goes out, he comes back in as quickly as he can. He's short-haired without a heavy undercoat, so that's not surprising.
We had a good morning at church. The baptism was wonderful, of course, and AJ was an angel. I was the only woman there for the choir this morning, so Brian took the melody and I sight-read the alto, all of which was great fun. Then Ron came over for lunch, and we ended up talking through dinner, too. It's been a very good day.
The dog is sound asleep beside me, and I need to join him. Morning will come early. I love you so much! I'm glad I have Jethro to sleep with, but he can't put his arms around me and his conversational skills are poor. I miss you so much at bedtime - no matter what crazy shifts we worked, we always had our cuddle time when both of us - or the last one of us - came to bed. Talking to you at the end of the day, with my head on your left shoulder and your arms around me, is the hardest thing to do without. Jethro does his best, but he's not you. And I can hear you saying that you're glad to hear that! Nobody is you, ever was you, or ever will be you. And I only love you, with all my heart.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Autumn Reading Program

Dear John,
There are two minutes left in the first half of the game - Notre Dame and Miami - and the Irish are up by 10. They wouldn't be if the 'Canes had half the number of penalties or their receivers could hang on to the ball, but I'm not complaining. Oh, and if their field goal kicker wasn't 1 for his last 6 attempts. They're playing at Soldier Field, which is like a bigger home game. The earthshaking thing is that they're wearing new helmets, and they aren't solid gold. Call down the lightening from the skies!
Jethro and I have had a quiet day. He's slept a good bit of it, and I've been dealing with a headache most of the day. Fall is getting serious here. It never got above 45 today, gray and cloudy, snowing in Michigan. Tomorrow night's low is supposed to be 31. I may have to get out a jacket sometime soon. We'll have a baby baptized tomorrow at church, then I'm going to lunch with Ron. I'll tell him hello for you.
I finally got to watch Shutter Island today. It keeps showing up on television, but always when I'd miss the first half of it. I'd only seen enough to know that it's delightfully atmospheric, and today was the right day for that. So when I could catch all but the first couple of minutes, I had to go for it. (So much for getting things done around here!) It was really good, with a marvelous twist at the end that completely snuck up on me, and I was surprised to see how good an actor Leonardo DiCaprio is. I posted on Facebook about seeing the movie, since you're not here to talk to and Jethro slept through it. Diane said the book was good, too, so I got it on Kindle and started reading. It's a good book so far - I'm looking forward to the rest of it.
So how's that for fall reading: Shutter Island  and Something Wicked This Way Comes?  I've always picked books to fit the weather. And do you remember Kathy that worked at the grill in college? She said she could tell the weather by what I ordered for lunch. If it was sunny and warm, I had a tuna sandwich; if it was raining, it was grilled cheese; and on cold day, I got chili. What surprised me was that everybody else didn't do that. Last night there was a cold rain - it was a fast day - dinner was obvious: a PBJ and tomato soup.
You've always been so gracious with my eccentricities! The more I watch Big Bang Theory, the more I realize that I am Sheldon with better social skills and no fear of germs. (I worked in Critical Care long before universal precautions and have had most bodily secretions in my shoes; if the average germ was bad for you, I'd have died long ago.) But having an anal retentive wife does at least insure a clean house, so there is an up-side to it. You always wanted me to be me; not only did you not try to turn me into your ideal woman, you didn't seem to even bring her along with you. I probably shouldn't expect anything less from the world's only perfect man.
I'm not sure if I'll stay up for all of the game - I'll be getting up early tomorrow. We'll see how it goes. I do miss watching all of these things with you. But it's Saturday, so you'd be at work anyway. Saturdays are easier for me than most days, because I'm used to you not being at home. With Jen and Elyssa gone this week, I wonder if my emotions will take advantage of the time alone. - if so, I'm sure it's what I need. There may be some things that need to shake loose. We'll see. Jethro is bored already, poor puppy.
I love you so much! Miss you, adore you,

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall has Fallen

Dear John,
Fall has fallen. It never got out of the 50s today, will go down to the 30s tonight, and the trees are lovely. We have some time before they peak, but they're lovely now. Terry was harvesting this afternoon. And I actually closed the house and turned on the heat without you here to make me do it.
I didn't go to First Friday. For once, I got off work early - unusual for a Friday - and would have had to go home and then come back. My inner debate was ended when I pulled up the radar on my phone. It's rained all evening, hard on occasion. Not a pleasant night to be outside. I'll keep my eye on the calendar and keep trying. What I need is a Friday that I work until 5 or 6, then I can go straight from work.
On the way home, driving down County Road 42, I was enjoying the beauty of the trees and fields, and remembered one of our often-repeated conversations. You know which one - the one where you're driving and I'm looking out the window, and I thank you for moving me to such a beautiful place, and you say you're glad I like it, but you're still surprised. I did grow up in more rolling country, but I also grew up fishing. And the feeling of this flat country is very much like the feeling of being on a small boat in the water. There is something in me that relaxes and flattens out when I can see to the horizon.
And after growing up in Atlanta, all this open space still amazes me. When I go back there, I feel like everything is closing in on me. You know there are stretches on State Route 5 that I love so much. You always chuckled at me, because every time we drove through them, I'd say what a beautiful day it was. It could be sunny, raining, snowing, hot, cold, whatever - I'd always say what a beautiful day it was. And it always is out here.
So once again, thank you for moving me here. It's been a week or so since anybody asked me when and where I'm moving, so maybe the town has become resigned to my continued presence. The only places I've ever seen that are this beautiful are the bluffs on Mackinac Island (and I can't even afford to work in those houses), and the high plains. But this is home. And you gave me this home, at so many levels - you brought me to the Midwest, to Topeka, to this house, to our little family. This is the deepest I've ever put down roots, and I owe that to you. And I'm a North Georgia pine tree, so my taproot goes all the way to China. I will not be uprooted.
It's late, and I should be asleep. Jethro has been begging me to go down the hall to bed for about two hours, and is now sound asleep beside me on the bed. Sleep good! We love you and miss you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Jethro, St. Peter, & Bohemia

Dear John,
There's lots to tell today. First, the canine crisis: You know our smoke detectors are wired into the power in the house, but they have back-up batteries. Well, this evening the battery in the one upstairs needed changing, so it started chirping. And our big, brave German shepherd was in my lap trembling all over. I've never seen him so scared. Jen had to hold him while I got up on the ladder and changed the battery. Then he sat in my lap for another half-hour until he stopped trembling. We really have a neurotic dog, don't we?
Second, I realized last night what was wrong with me. Like St. Peter, I took my eyes off Christ and looked at the storm. I was doing just fine walking on the water, then I looked at the storm and started sinking. You'd think I'd learn. Well, you probably know me better than to think any such thing - if Pavlov had worked with me instead of dogs, we would never have learned about operant conditioning. But I expect myself to learn this sometime. Evidently, that time hasn't come yet.
So I woke up feeling wonderful this morning, and today I've been happier than I've been in over a year, since you got your cancer diagosis in June of last year. I met Tammy at the Brew for tea, and we had such a good time we stayed for lunch. (I know - I have a history of meeting someone for one meal and staying for the next. It's a girl thing.) At one point I was looking at the posters there, and found myself thinking that I need to check their schedule, find out who's going to be performing, and see if there's somebody I want to go hear.
I was shocked to hear myself thinking that. I realized that the one part of me that you didn't share was my Bohemian streak - you would hate doing that. But I would enjoy it, so it's logical and sensible for me to see about going. But it's also earth-shaking for me to think like that. I'm also planning to stay in Goshen after work tomorrow and go to First Friday. That's something we always wanted to do, but with you in restaurant work, you always worked on Fridays. I thought I'd never want to do that by myself, but I really do want to now.
Maybe I'm doing a little better? Adjusting? Adapting? Being normal, Heaven help us? I just know that I feel very different from the way I've felt for over a year. And it feels good. For today, I'm feeling for the first time that, while I won't miss you any less, I might one day enjoy doing things again. I might look forward to things again. I've been happy today.
I know it makes you very happy to hear this, and I appreciate that. It was me that always thought that the funeral pyre was a great idea, not you. You told me many times that you wanted me to happy if I outlived you - you gave me permission to life a full life without you. I still don't see how my life can ever be full without you. But I might be able to be happy.
None of this is linear, and I have no idea where I'll be emotionally tomorrow. But for today, I've been happy, I've enjoyed living. And that's more than I dreamed of or asked for. So I'm grateful for today. And for today, I'm grateful to be alive. I didn't expect to ever feel that way again.
Thank you for praying for me - don't stop now! And in case you forgot, I love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on.