Friday, November 30, 2012

That Crashing Sound is Me

Dear John,
Well, it's done. And it wasn't as bad as I feared. I felt like I used to at piano recitals. It seemed to be about determining what the limits of my memory are. And it is quite limited. The attorney seemed surprised that I have no memory at all from the time I went through downtown Topeka until the next day in ICU when Audora came in. He did believe me, though, which is good. I talked to him a bit after the formal deposition. I told him some of the history of the intersection. And I got to ask him to pass on how very sorry I am to have injured someone.
On the home front, Jen and Elyssa are in their new place tonight. The big furniture will go tomorrow when there are more people here. When Jethro figured out what was happening he looked so sad. I could hear Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz saying, "People come and go so quickly around here." But they're not going as far away as you did, so he'll be okay.
I'm about three steps beyond exhausted, so I'm off to bed. I was in full-stress mode today until the deposition was done. You know how it feels when the stress is over and you crash - that's where I am tonight.
Thank you for your prayers. It helps just to know how much confidence you had in me, and how certain you were that I'd be okay on my own. You've always known me better than I knew myself, so you're probably right. Now I'm just weary. I told Jen that I'm even too tired to dig - if I came to visit you tonight, I'd just lie down on my side of the plot and go to sleep. And it would be so nice to sleep there with you!
Love you so much,

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Deposition = A Way to Avoid Sleep

Dear John,
It may be a long sleepless night. The deposition is tomorrow. Since they know I had the head injury and don't remember the accident, it seems the only reason for this is to try to trap me into saying something that can be used against me at trial. Skilled and practiced as I am at talking, I'm still scared of saying the wrong thing. All that I can say about the accident is to repeat that I have no memory of it. I have no idea what they might be fishing for. I'll meet with my attorney before the deposition - maybe he knows what kind of questions I'll be asked. He'll be with me during the deposition, and I'm glad for that.

Let's be honest - I'm terrified. I keep telling myself that by this time tomorrow, this part will be over. And I'll be glad for that, but there may be a trial ahead. I'll fill you in on all the details tomorrow. Please, please pray for me between now and then! I've been asking St. John to pray for me, too, since he was taken to court during the building of the cathedral. When people asked him who was to blame he said, "The devil."

That's probably true in many lawsuits. But I know from the witness accounts that I was at fault in this accident. What remains to be decided is whether the doctors (who released him with only bruises) or he (who is claiming total and permanent disability) is right. And besides the other stresses of a trial, there would be the general embarassment of going before a jury and judge and all the other people in such a small county that we know each other. A lot of people would be put in the position of having to take sides, and in such a small community that can be so destructive. We don't need a civil war between Topeka and Shipshewana, enacted in LaGrange, with refreshments from The Emma Store and militia from the military school at Howe. Yeesh. Would it be covered in the Hometown Treasure, the monthly news organ for Topeka and Shipshewana? Probably, since there's no daily newspaper in LaGrange County. 

As usual, Facebook is providing a great outpouring of support. I appreciate every one of them more than I can ever tell. But only you could really settle me down tonight. So I need you! Come rub my back, let me curl up on your shoulder, and pray with me, and I'll feel much better. Pick me up and drive me to the deposition, and take me out for ice cream after it's done. What will really happen is that I'll leave work, go to Elkhart, go back to work, and stay for Kathy's Open House, then go home and manage Elyssa and Jethro while Jen's heavy furniture is moved over to her apartment. Saturday will be more of the same, punctuated by Elyssa's basketball game. The good thing is that all this distracts me from the lawsuit. Sometimes. Clearly not tonight.

Enough whining and grousing. This is the penalty for my miraculous survival of the accident. Just think: If I had died there would be nobody to sue, and if I'd died it would have been the magic number to change the intersection to a 4-way stop. I apologize to the community for my failure to die. But according to the Mayan (or maybe Aztec - I can't remember) calendar, the world will end December 22nd. So there's no need for any of this, right? Chiliasm never dies.

I will now try to go to sleep. If I can't, there's always Pinterest to keep me out of trouble. I'll talk to you tomorrow after the deposition.

Love you so very much - wish you were here -

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Don McLean, The Band, & Judy Garland Do Christmas

Dear John,
This was malfunction day. I misplaced my brain early this morning and haven't located it yet. Now I'm sneezing and dripping and wondering if I'm getting a cold. Which is what may have happened to my brain - it sneezed and dripped away.
How do I describe my day? The best way is to say that if I hadn't had to work, I'd have spent it listening to Don McLean's American Pie album. It suits my mood, which tells you I've been completely miserable. I think the deposition on Friday is part of it - I'm dreading it and what may come of it, and so grateful to Allstate for having my back. But being interrogated by a hostile attorney will be difficult. I know that is  weighing on my mind.

And I'm beginning to realize how difficult Christmas will be. I've never put up a tree alone - Mama and I did it together, then you and I did it. (If you're doing anything with trees this year, do it with Mama - she's a whiz at it.) I'll probably enjoy the tree once it's up, but getting it there will be emotionally difficult. Christmas Eve I'll be going to church, but then I'll get home around 3 AM, go to bed, and get up to spend Christmas Day alone. I don't yet know how that will feel, but I'm predicting difficulties. Christmas as an adult has always been bitter-sweet, because there are so many memories of friends and family that are gone, traditions I grew up with that no one is left to remember but me. And now our 34 Christmases together - that only I am left to remember. It seems an unbearable weight of memory. (You know, weight - like when you pull into Nazareth feeling about half-past dead.) As I was leaving Mejer today I heard the first part of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, my mind carried it on using the original lyrics, and I cried half the way home.

So gather my family and yours, and all our friends, and know that "someday soon we all will be together if the Lord allows, so hang a shining star upon the highest bough, and have yourselves a merry little Cristmas now."

Love you always and forever,

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

Dear John,
Happy birthday to me. I'm surprised by the number of birthday greetings I've gotten on Facebook. People keep wishing me many years, and I tell them they're too late - I've already had many years.
I had a quiet, domestic day - did laundry, dusted, cleaned the kitchen, dealt with mail, changed the decorations from fall to winter. I spent a couple of hours on the phone and got two bill mix-ups straightened out - that was a nice birthday present. What I wanted most was a quiet, domestic, boring, uneventful day. Those days haven't come often the last few years. So I enjoyed this one.
I've been thinking about how this birthday makes me feel, and the first word that comes to mind is "weary." I suppose that's understandable. The second word is "relieved." It seems to me that this birthday is less about celebrating a year achieved than it it about marking a year survived. 2011 and 2012 happened, and I'm still standing. And I feel like I'm standing looking around in total confusion, wondering what on earth has happened to me.
So I've survived the year and had a birthday - what do I do now? Do I stay in my quiet little life, love my friends and family, do what good I can? Or do I stretch my wings and express and use parts of myself that haven't gotten any freedom for a while? This is a little like the restlessess of the Spring Attacks I used to have in college. One year I went so totally crazy that I bought blue and green nail polish - and actually wore it. (This was in 1977, way before such things were done.) If you have any advice on what I should do with the rest of my life, please share it with me. My life before college graduation was about education; my life since then has been about loving and caring for you. I don't want the rest of it to be about nothing more than waiting to die. (Even though 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wished!)
Always know that you made me glad to have been born. Please know that I am surviving. And you might as well know that I have no clue what to do with the rest of my life. So I need your prayers, if you can get the crew together again up there to pray for me.
Love you more every day,

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Can of Existential Worms

Dear John,
It's been a busy Monday, but I finally have food in the house. I hit Walmart on the way home, and it seemed like half of Goshen was there. Jen fixed tacos for me tonight as an early birthday celebration.
I've been pondering something. Do you remember, about ten years ago, when I asked you if Springfield was home to you? You said no, that Springfield was where you grew up, but it wasn't home anymore. I asked you where home was for you, and you said, "Home is wherever you and the dog are."
I've known since we were in college that the word "home" had no visual image for me, no association, no meaning, nothing but a vague painful nostalgia for something that other people had and I didn't. That's why the sentimental holiday songs like I'll Be Home For Christmas are so sad for me - because there is no place that's "home" to me. Since we were married, my home has been wherever you were.
Now what? This may be part of the reason I want to follow you as soon as possible - because where you are is home, and I'm weary being away from home. This may also be why I'm feeling so deeply rooted here. You and I lived in this town and in this house for 17 years, and emotionally I seem to be hanging on to both for dear life. This is as close as I can come to being at home.
My mind just churned up some lyrics from Carnival: "I have to find a place, I've got to find a place, where everything can be the same, a street that I can know, and places I can go where everybody knows my name." The first question everybody asked after you died was, "Where are you moving?" Obviously I came here from somewhere, and the assumption is that it was my home. People that have lived here all their lives probably can't conceive of not having a home. But I don't. Except here. And where you are, but I can't go there yet. So until I can, I'll stay here.
Well, I've opened a big can of existential worms again. I know - I was always good at that, especially when I've been crawling around in the back of my head. Anything that helps me make more sense to myself is good. You probably understood all of this long ago. I am a traveler and a sojourner here . . . A wandering restaurant manager was my husband . . .Maybe it's just time I went to bed - what do you think?
Thank you for the home we made together in so many places. Thank you that being with me was being at home. I won't be at home again until I'm with you.
Waiting for my homecoming,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

All's Right with Your World

Dear John,
All is well.  I got home without excitement. Notre Dame won a wonderful, exciting game, and are undefeated. The dog has relaxed. (yes, I checked - he's still breathing) I enjoyed being with your family, and am glad to be back with my girls. The best part of the drive home was eating at Skyline in Troy. I hurried home because we were supposed to be getting the Steelers/Browns game, but we didn't. And congratulations to you - your Browns beat my Steelers. It seemed to be a close game. Charlie Batch was at quarterback. I'm happy for you that your Browns won, but sorry it was my Steelers that lost to them.
I'm working tomorrow, then going grocery shopping. I predict Jethro will sleep all the time I'm gone. He partied a bit too hard with all the kids to play with, and will need a few days to sleep it off. Jen and the guys will be moving the heavy furniture to the apartment Friday night, smaller stuff will be going over there all week. I have a car full of things your family sent her - a vaccuum cleaner, an iron, a crock pot, four sets of towels, baking dishes, laundry detergent, and a bench with storage baskets underneath. She's surprised and grateful for all the help people are giving. It feels familiar - I'm always surprised, too, at how many people are being so kind to me.  
So maybe, all those years, I really did matter to people other than you. I thought you were the only one that loved me. A lot of these people love me for your sake, and I'm glad for that, and glad that caring about me eases their grief for you. And as I care about them, my grief eases a bit, too. Loving people is always the bottom line, isn't it? You did that so much better than I did. I'm trying to learn. Loving you was always easier than breathing.
Still breathing, still loving you,

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happily Overdosing on Football

Dear John,

It's football day - most of the country is recovering from too much turkey by watching too much football. Sounds like a wonderful thing.

I'm still in Springfield, using Jim and Irene's computer while everybody watches football upstairs. Ohio State beat Michigan earlier today, Georgia beat Tech, I never saw the UK-Tennessee final but Tennessee was leading the last I did see. I'm on a roll that I don't want to be on. I hope things change when Notre Dame plays USC tonight. A win would give the Irish a perfect season.

I talked to Jen this morning. Jethro is doing fine as in eating, sleeping, and going out, but she says he's spending half his time glued to her and the other half lying on my bed and not wanting anybody else near it. I suppose he's protecting it for me. She put the phone on speaker when I was on - his ears shot up, then he rolled over to have his belly rubbed. I predict canine hysteria when I get home tomorrow. I'm sure he's a bit skittish about his last remaining human leaving home. Poor creature. He's going to want to sleep for a week, either in my lap or sitting on my head.

I need to run upstairs for dinner before we begin to imitate the Donner Party. I just had to talk to you for a minute. Thank you for making me a part of your family. They've always been so good to me, and especially now. We all miss you. It seems a bit surreal to have Thanksgiving without you. I really don't want to think about Christmas. But I'm on vacation this weekend, so how about not thinking at all?

Love you, miss you,

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Jigsaw Puzzle & a Birthday Party

Dear John,
I had fun this morning - your mother and I worked a jigsaw puzzle together. Hard to imagine, I know. This evening, Jim and Irene took me out for my birthday. I was to pick the genre and they would pick the restaurant. So I said I wanted Italian, which should make me and everybody else happy. They took me to a lovely little family-owned place in the historic district of Dayton. You'd love the restaurant, and you'd love the neighborhood. It reminds me a little of that historic section of Cleveland that we walked that summer day. I'd love to go back and explore it in daylight. And if I eat there again, I'll just get the fried risoto and the soup in larger quantities, and skip the entree. It was good, but the risoto and soup were wonderful.
I hadn't expected any celebration (read: notice) of my birthday this year, with you and my parents gone. But your family had an early birthday party for me, and it was fun. It's nice to know somebody is glad I was born.
Glad we both were born,

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Really? Thanksgiving?

Dear John,
This is just a bunch of things I thought about on my first Thanksgiving without you. And without you in two ways: you aren't here, and I can't even blog to you. Not being able to write here makes me feel so cut off from you. It's not particularly logical but it's real.
I got up early, packed, and left for Springfield, feeling sad and miserable. It was good I had the trip to make, otherwise I'd have spent the weekend on the sofa, curled up in a fetal position and eating brownies. I thought putting the Akathist of Thanksgiving on the CD player would make me feel better, but it didn't work this time. After half an hour I was feeling worse. So I put Muddy Waters on, rolled the windows down, and felt better.

Do you remember our second Thanksgiving? We were both working so we couldn't go anywhere, and we knew other people in the same position. So we had a Widows & Orphans Thanksgiving Dinner - we each invited everybody we knew that was going to spend Thanksgiving Day alone. And we ended up with a fascinating mix of people - Babette, Dave, some neighbors - a good (and cross-cultural) time was had by all. It was a lot of fun.
Thanksgiving Day with your family was as it has always been - curry and rice, applesauce and red-hot salad, dessert, munchies for later, and plenty of football. I told them that I have some friends that are a bit shocked by me spending the holiday with your family, and it turns out that they are getting some similar reactions. We decided that we like each other and don't care if other people think it's inappropriate. How is it inappropriate to spend the day with people you love and care about, no matter what legal relationships you do or don't have? I must be missing something, but that's not unusual.

So it's bedtime. Above all else on earth, I'm grateful for you. I'm grateful that we're both Orthodox, that you had an Orthodox funeral and burial, that I can pray for you and ask you to pray for me. I'm grateful for our promised reunion. I'm grateful that there is nothing stronger than love. And at bottom, I'm grateful for your death - that you aren't suffering any more, that nothing else will break and surprise us, that you're healed, whole, and happy. I'm grateful not just for the fact of your death, but also for the manner of it. "Painless, blameless, peaceful, and a good defence before the fearful Judgment Seat of Christ" - that's what we all pray for.

Being grateful for an end to your suffering doesn't bring an end to mine, but it does ease it a bit. If you can arrange it so that this will be my last holiday season without you, that would be a really nice birthday gift. The season is a struggle without you.

Giving thanks anyway,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why I'm Seeing Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum

Dear John,
The day went totally pear-shaped. It started out with heavy fog that lasted long enough to cancel school. I went to the Post Office and bank, and headed to Goshen at 25-30 miles per hour on County Road 40. I suddenly started seeing new floaters in my right eye, so I turned on County Line Road, pulled over, and called Rick's office. While I was waiting for them to call back, I realized the floater was getting worse and had flashing lights in it. It was in the upper half of my vision and looked for all the world like a cell looks under a microscope. It had a double black line where the cell membrane would be, no nucleus, but had all the other organelles, mostly mitocondria and lots of rough endoplasmic reticulum. It was really cool to look at.
Anyway, I went north to 600 south and turned back home. I wasn't going to keep going to Goshen if my vision was getting worse. When I got home I called Rick's office back; they said to get there ASAP but not to drive myself. I scratched my head a bit and called Cindy at the church, so she came and got me, bless her heart. Rick dilated my eyes, examined, took pictures, and knocked my socks off. No floaters, no bleed, no detachment - it was an ocular migraine.
It was fascinating. It seems that you can have optical effects as the aura to a traditional migraine - knew that - or can have just the optical effects and no headache. I told him about the headache I had on November 8th, which seems to have been a migraine. I had blurred vision, dizziness, and nausea, and it was frontal. Well, after I got home, had lunch, and took a nap, I woke up with the beginnings of a frontal headache with dizziness and nausea. I took aspirin - it helped, but my head still doesn't feel right. I was going to make cookies tonight but I was way too nauseated. The nausea comes in waves, just like I've had all my life - maybe I was having migraines and didn't know it. My grandmother had them, so I've got the genes. And it turns out that most people with migraines had trouble with car sickness as children, and I certainly did.

So Jen is now my Migraine Mentor. She has them and knows the ropes, so she's been walking me through this and telling me what I should and shouldn't do. I'm so grateful to have an expert in-house, so to speak. We'll see where this goes. If nothing else happens, I'll wait and talk to Joe about it at my regular yearly. If I keep having symptons, I'll have to see somebody sooner.

I wish you were here - you'd love this. It's absolutely fascinating. I've learned so much today - from Rick and Jen, and the Internet. You're probably not at all surprised to hear that something else is wrong with my head. But I know you're sorry about it. I'd choose not to  have migraines if I was asked, but since I've got them I might as well learn all I can about them. And they are fascinating. I'll keep you posted.

And speaking of keeping you posted, I don't know if I'll be able to write to you while I'm in Springfield. I don't know what internet access I'll have. So if you don't hear from me until Sunday afternoon, don't worry. Jen and Elyssa will be here with the dog, and will have some friends over. So Jethro will be very happy while they're here and completely exhausted next week. I'll miss him over the weekend.

Please keep praying for my head, and for the drive there and back, and for the beastie staying in the house for the first time without either of us being here. I love you so much. And I'm so thankful for 38 years of knowing you, 34 of being your wife, and the hope of eternity with you.

Loving, waiting, and hoping,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rootling and Nesting

Dear John,
I spent a good bit of the day at Jen's new place. NIPSCO got the furnace and water heater turned on. I hauled 4 car-loads of stuff over - I kept rootling the kitchen and basement, and finding more things she needs.
Do you remember the stoneware we started out with? It was pure 1970s - brown, green, orange, and yellow. And Bi-Lo grocery stores had a deal, something like a plate for $5 with a $20 grocery purchase. So all the women on my parents' block started getting it for me. I have 14 place settings and all the serving pieces. It's the only stoneware set I've ever seen with three sizes of bowls. I'm also giving her the farmhouse table and chairs we bought for the townhouse in Mishawaka - it's a small set, and will fit in her kitchen. I rummaged and found a set of 8 large and 8 small glasses for her. I rounded up a mop and bucket, a broom, cleaning rags, 2 pots, an old canister set, a cheese grater, a hand mixer, that set of measuring cups that Mama gave us that we started out with (the measuring spoons didn't survive - puppies chewed them up), waste baskets, bathroom towels, a butter dish, one of my big stock pots, a dish rack - lots of things that I haven't been able to part with because there were so many memories associated with them.
I'm so glad we weren't able to get things gone through and taken to Goodwill in summer of 2011. Jen's starting from scratch with furniture, so we can give her a sofa, coffee table, 2 chairs, tables, lamps, and an entertainment center for the living room. For her room, we're giving her all the furniture in her bedroom here - bed, desk, filing cabinet, and bookcase. And I'm giving her our grill and all the tools and gizmos that go with it. She grills out a lot, and I can't see myself doing it without you.
So today I got to go and nest in somebody else's house. And oh, what a house! It's early 20th Century, lots of craftsman details, with a bit of Queen Ann in the exterior design. Jen's upstairs apartment has an entrance from outside, and the original woodwork and doors (and knobs!) tells me that the apartment is original to the house. I'm thinking maybe a mother-in-law suite? The way the entrance connects to the rest of the house doesn't say boarder to me - there was no way to lock the doors to separate the area from the rest of the house. Oh, and Jen has an attic fan, and two large shade trees to the west and southwest. The living room and two bedrooms have ceiling fans. The house is amazing. I want to buy it and restore it. What a showplace it could be! Oh, and it's two doors north of where LaVoid and Betty used to live. Jen has fallen in love with it, and I don't blame her. Elyssa is amazed at how much room they'll have. Me, I'm focused on the history and architectural integrity of the house. I guess you could say that we each appreciate it in our own way.
So now I'm off to bed, and I'll be taking something for pain after I finish this letter. After packing all that stuff, getting it up from our basement, out to the car, across town, unloaded and inside, then up the stairs and unloaded in the right room - everything hurts except the end of my nose. And I'm jumpy and irritable because I hurt so much. I'll be taking something, so don't worry about me. And no, I didn't push myself too hard today. I enjoyed all that I did, and today was the only day to do it, with the holiday coming up. I'll be okay in the morning.
You'd be proud of Jen. She handles money and business things so well. She does a good job of standing up for herself, too, like when NIPSCO tried to charge her an extra $40 because they forgot to call her. She's an amazing and delightful woman, and I'd be proud to say I had any hand in that but I didn't. She came that way.
Well, this time I really am off to bed. I'm working tomorrow and leaving for Springfield on Thanksgiving morning. Jen will be looking after house and dog, and having friends over. I'll get a reasonable amount of sleep tonight. Please keep praying for me. I do for you all the time, and I will especially this weekend, spending the holiday with your family but not you. Pray for all of us - we'll all be missing you on Thanksgiving.
Love you, miss you, and thankful for you,

Monday, November 19, 2012

Insecurity Attack

Dear John,
I've descended into a total insecurity attach. Today I was second-guessing all of our medical decisions this past year, and wondering if I'd made a mistake that cost you your life. And that's rot. As I've told everybody, you died of the massive radiation you got when we were 19. It had been causing problems for years, but they had been fixable problems. Finally the damage became unfixable and everything fell apart at once. You were dealing with radiation damage, scarring, and calcification to your trachea, larynx, vocal cords, cricopharyngeal muscles, esophagus, epiglottis, pleura, mediastinum, myocardium, myocardial conductive tissue, mitral valve, right coronary artery, aotric root, lung tissue, and the Lord only knows what else. The lung cancer - another consequence of the radiation - was in some ways the least of your problems. Everything between your chin and your waist needed replacing all at one time. Your fluid status was so brittle that you managed it at home only because you had a critical care nurse there. Let's face it - if you'd lived, you would have had a steadily decreasing quality of life. And while I would have enjoyed any time I could have with you, you would not have enjoyed it. Becoming steadily less active and less independent would have been miserable for you. Death ended your suffering, and prevented a lot more suffering that was in your future.
So whatever is wrong with the back of my head? I think it really is an insecurity attack, and I do have reason for that. The first thing is the deposition on November 30th for the lawsuit against me. I'll be so glad to have it over with. Second is the general financial insecurity. I've been watching the hospital jobs on the web - they haven't been hiring for any of them. I wouldn't be surprised if they are waiting until after the holidays to fill the less-urgent ones. I also have changes coming here, with Jen and Elyssa moving. It will be the first time in my whole life that I've lived alone, and it will be an adjustment and a challenge. And it is the right thing to do, and wonderful for my girls. And so it will be for me as well. 
Yep - it's insecurity. It's coming out in second-guessing and doubting myself. Not logical, but fairly normal. And all the legal wrangling over the medical bills and your date of death is just more insecurity.
Oh, I got some good news today! I got a call back from Panera Benefits. They got your date of death fixed (they're one of the places I faxed a copy of the death certificate to) and reinstated my COBRA. I wonder if that's the reason they haven't paid for my office visits with Joe - the letters about that bill are getting a bit testy in tone. I'll call Anthem tomorrow and see where those bills are, and let Memorial know what's up. There are a few things like that to follow up with tomorrow. But the news from Panera Benefits is key to all of it. They were very nice about it, and very sorry about the complications.
It will all be done someday. I need some of your calm unflappableness right now. Seeing your family will help. And just the act of traveling could make me feel good, too. What would make me feel better right now is some sleep. I'm sitting at Jen's apartment tomorrow waiting for NIPSCO. There's no heat and no furniture, so we'll see how this goes. I'm going to start taking things over and unpacking, so I should be nice and busy.
I love you great bunches. If you can, please do show up in my dreams tonight to reassure me just a little! If you can, I'd love it. I need it right now. But if you can't, don't worry about it. You married just what you wanted - an independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed woman. I'll be okay.
Adore you,

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I Require a Gibbs-Slap

Dear John,
This morning I reached a new energy low. I got up early for church, took my shower, ate my bowl of oatmeal (since I can't fast before communion while I'm on cymbalta), read about the saints commemorated today, and woke up an hour and a half later with my head almost in the oatmeal bowl, and the time way too late to get to church. I suppose I must have needed the rest. So I put away the oatmeal bowl, changed clothes, and slept for another hour. In the afternoon I took another nap, this time for an hour and a half again.
There wasn't much on television and I certainly didn't feel like doing anything that required effort. So I watched The Philadelphia Story  on DVD, and discovered that the happy-ending-love-story was depressing. So I went to default - Investigation Discovery - and watched too many woman murdering their husbands. I'm better with that than I was last winter, when I wanted to crawl through the screen and strangle them with my own hands. Now it just makes me so sad. Here are these women murdering their husbands, sometimes for no reason, when the only thing in this world that I want is to have my husband back.
I think it all got under my skin and into my head - before long I was getting teary and feeling like I hadn't treated you well at all and had made your life miserable. I knew what you'd say. I knew what you had said when we were in Indy, when you wanted to be sure I knew that you had been happier with me than you had ever thought it possible for a person to be. Hearing it from myself was making no impact on me. So I told Jen how I was feeling and she Gibbs-slapped me. And now I feel much better.
So what's a widow to do? Seeing shows about happy marriages is depressing. Seeing shows about marital breakups - with or without homicide - is depressing. Watching sports without you is depressing. That leaves The Haunted Collector. I seem to be more sensitive to it today than I usually am; it likely has to do with being tired enough to sleep with my face in the oatmeal bowl. When I'm tired my emotional resistance goes down and I lose some of my ability to be detached. I also get silly and illogical. Let's just cut to the chase: I get mush-brained. I shouldn't be allowed out on the streets.
Maybe the moral of this is to not let myself get that tired. For starters, it would improve my church attendance. It would also help my emotional well-being. What exhausted me this week was spending all of Thursday on the phone arguing with people about your date of death. It was a good decision to call in the cavalry, and I won't hesitate to go nuclear if I need to. I want a swift and permanent end to this.
I know you love me, and I know you were happy with me. Thank you for being sure that I always knew that. And again, thank you for never murdering me yet. And don't worry - I don't get so far gone that I can't realize how far gone I am, and Jen is more than happy to Gibbs-slap me for you. I'll try to be a little gentler with myself. The Thanksgiving break will be good for me. I suppose all of us are prone to occasional bouts of silliness.
If you can, come hug me tonight, or visit my dreams, or something to reassure me a little. And, as always, please pray for me. And Anthem. And COBRA. And Michiana Multi-Specialty. And Superior Ambulance. And anybody else that's involved in the schemozzel. Pray to God to un-schemozzel it. Don't worry - I'm sure He understands Yiddish.
Love you and adore you,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Catch-Pan Stew

Dear John,
I've had a quiet Saturday - I did laundry, scrubbed the kitchen, did some computer work, and rested up from a busy week. When I was cleaning the stove-top, I thought about catch-pan stew.
Remember the stove we had in our first house? It was almond and it showed everything. And stoves all had metal catch-pans then. I'd scrub and scrub to get those catch-pans clean, and if they wouldn't come clean I'd boil them in vinegar-water. One time when I was doing that you came home from work and asked what I was cooking. When I told you I was boiling the catch-pans, you said that I must be making catch-pan stew. The phrase stuck. After that, whenever I was cleaning the stove, I was making catch-pan stew. We have a black stove now - which only shows dust and dog hair - and there are no catch-pans. It's much easier to keep clean. But I was remembering catch-pan stew today, and it made me chuckle.
I love the kitchen and the things we did with it. And I'm getting used to cooking and cleaning up by myself. I enjoyed doing it with you; I was amazed that you wanted to do kitchen things with me. I guess after all those years in restaurants, it felt like a vacation to be making only one meal. It was fun to do those things together. Anything was fun if we did it together, even making catch-pan stew. I'm trying to be patient while I wait to do things with you again.
Still loving you impatiently,

Friday, November 16, 2012

I Believe in Zombies

Dear John,
Late night, long day, long week. I never did get to the Akathist - I got home from work at 9:45 tonight. Kathy's Holiday Open House was from 4 to 7 tonight. I was going to stay until 5 and then leave for church. But the Open House was really busy and I was needed for all of it. I couldn't leave Kathy to do it alone. Then Kirby came home and they invited me to stay for homemade pizza and a re-run of last night's new Big Bang Theory - who could say no to that? I came home to the usual hysterical dog - usual when I'm gone after dark - who didn't get calmed down until around 11, when Jen and Elyssa got back from seeing the latest Twilight movie. So now it's after 1 am - I'm tired and Jethro is on your side of the bed energetically un-knotting his latest rawhide bone.
I've decided that I do believe in zombies. Your date-of-death problem appears to be one of the walking dead. It was killed in May and rose again in July. The next time I kill it, I'll be sure it's dead. If Erin can't get this settled soon, I'm going to go see Galen. A couple of letters on legal-firm letterhead should straighten things out. In the meantime, my fibro is feeling the stress and the TMJ is bothering me for the first time in a few years. Last night I was eating soggy cereal at bedtime, and every time I chewed it sounded like somebody was twisting bubble wrap in my jaw. I stuck to softer foods today and it's getting better, which means quieter.
Please do pray for me. The medical bill hassles are getting to me. And I'm leaving town early Thursday morning, getting the dog ready to leave (Jen is house-sitting), and getting ready for the deposition on November 30th about the car accident. And I still need another job. And I'm getting ready for Jen and Elyssa to move the first weekend in December. Then I get to paint two rooms and haul furniture around. As Mama would say: I'd be happier if I kept myself busy.
I know it will all get done. I'm missing you now because I always talked to you when I was feeling overwhelmed, and you made it better. I'm telling myself all the things I know you'd say if I could talk to you, but they don't work as well coming from me as they did from you. Or maybe it was just the act of telling you that made me feel better. Whatever it was, I mss you doing it. I'm finding that it's easier to feel overwhelmed when you're alone. One thing you'd say is that none of this took God by surprise, and I do find comfort in that. Please do get everybody up there organized to pray for me!
Rest well tonight, and remember that I adore you!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Drat! I Need a Clothes Pin!

Dear John,
Remember me saying I was going to need a bigger paper clip, when I was dealing with all the medical bills Anthem had turned down because they had your date of death wrong? Well, I've ditched the paper clip and graduated to a clothes pin. I spent all day on the phone, and can honestly say things have gotten worse.
One billing place gave up on Anthem and turned me over to a collection agency, Anthem has changed your date of death back to January 31st, and because of that my health insurance has been cancelled. So I spent all day on the phone, then went down to the pharmacy to fax death certificates to assorted places. One was Anthem who now says they never got one, and if I send one to them they will consider changing your date of death (again) to April 13th. Another was to the collection agency. I used my formal voice with them, told them I was the executor of your will (which I am), and that you'd left no estate (which you didn't), and there'd been nothing to probate (which there wasn't). So basically, if they want to be paid they need to work this out with Anthem. Anthem, meanwhile, says they've already paid those bills, which they weren't supposed to pay anyway because you were dead before you incurred those costs. And I was notified yesterday that my COBRA was cancelled in July (even though they're still cashing my checks and paying my claims) because I didn't pay them in March and April. I explained that you were alive in March and April and we were paying your regular premium, so they informed me that you were actually dead then.
It's very tiring to be polite to all these people. But I did manage it. And I called in the cavalry - I left a message on Erin's machine. I had to argue with people to get put through to her, since you're not on LOA from Panera anymore. But I wouldn't go away so they finally gave in. The people they told me to call were the ones that cancelled my insurance and told me I was wrong about when you died. I'd had enough of them for one day.
I think I've just had enough of everything for one day. And now I get to try to go to sleep. Tomorrow I'm working, and going straight from work to church for the Akathist of Thanksgiving, which I sorely need, then to Brian and Bekah's for a spaghetti dinner, which I also need - comfort food is called for here. But this is the reason I upped my cell phone minutes. I was thinking that I could go ahead and cut them back - now I believe I'll wait a bit. I may need to involve an attorney in this, but I'd rather unleash Erin first. She's been advocating for me since the date of death error was made in April, and she'll know who to go to so it will get corrected again.
The real problem is that the bills are so big that everybody is trying to get out of paying them. Thank goodness for Obamacare - without it, you'd have reached your lifetime cap during your hospitalization and we'd have been cancelled a month before your death. And there would be no COBRA for me because the cap was reached. 
I know when you were alive, and I'm glad you were alive. And I can advocate for myself quite well. And I don't hesitate to call in the cavalry when it's necessary. It will be alright. I'm just tired tonight, and dreading the trouble all this will continue to cause. I didn't expect the date of death problem to relapse. Don't worry about me - I'll keep pushing until it's all taken care of. This time I'll put a stake through its heart so it stays dead.
I love you so much - thanks for listening to me grumble. Please pray for me - for patience and kindness on my part and for the parting of the insurance waters on theirs. And keep praying for a new job for me; it's scary to watch the savings account shrinking. I know you love me, I know the Lord is in charge, no matter how overwhelmed I feel at the moment.
Adore you,

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Memories of Jethro in Your Hospital Bed

Dear John,
It was a good evening until I started crying. And I surprised myself this time. I was on the sofa with Jethro asleep in my lap, thinking about how difficult it's been for him to have us for his humans.Then I thought about how glad I am that I was able to take him into ICU to visit with you on Monday before you died on Friday. My memory pulled up the picture of him jumping into bed with you, so very carefully lying down beside you, you using so much effort to put both of your arms around him, then both of you going to sleep.
And I couldn't think about it without tears. I think it's the tenderness between the two of you that is making me cry tonight. I usually remember it with relief - you hadn't seen each other for three months, and you lived only four more days, and it was truly your last chance to see each other. But under those facts lie the love and tenderness of the relationship. Before Jethro went to sleep he had a smile bigger than I'd seen since that day in January when you went to work and didn't come back. And you had tears running down your face.
There were a lot of tears. I'd closed the door so he wouldn't get out and begin general visiting throughout the unit, but I'd made sure the blinds were open so the staff could see in. And there was a steady line of people - most of them crying - watching the two of you. I'd have taken a picture if I could have gotten to the phone without disturbing you and the dog, but there was no way to do that. And it's okay anyway - I'll never forget that image as long as I live. And I will always be grateful to the nurses for suggesting that I bring him in, since I had no idea it was allowed. If an LTAC turned me down, I didn't even bother to ask an Intensive Care Unit. But I was wrong.
How much you loved him showed, as did how much he loved his daddy. Seeing and touching each other was the best thing in the world for both of you. I remember how important he'd been to you in the late summer and fall, when you were at home on oxygen and feeling so miserable before they got you on Bumex, you lost 30 pounds of water, and - lo and behold - got your energy back and started breathing just fine. I know it was so hard, so tiring and discouraging, during those weeks. The one thing that made you smile was when Jethro clambered up into your lap in the recliner, curled up, and went to sleep. He was your lifeline for a few weeks. He did for you what I couldn't do - I was looking after you, he could just come and love you.
He was a gift for you then, and he's a gift for me now. So many widows starve for human touch, but I'm fine in that area because I get lots of warm dog fur to cuddle with. I have someone to greet me at the door, someone that I need to take care of, someone to play with. And he's such good company! I'm never alone here. And when we go in the closet I look at your part of the closet and see other things there, he sniffs your Nikes, and we look at each other and comiserate - we both miss you and are sad that you are not coming back. He grieves with me, and that helps.
So your wife and dog miss you tonight. I love my memories of you and Jethro together, even though tonight they make me cry. There's nothing wrong with that. You and Jethro will be reunited, along with Caleb and Naomi. What fun that will be! In the meantime, he and I will huddle and cuddle, seeking solace in each other for our loss of you. Together we're making it, and we're making it easier for each other. So don't worry about us; we're looking after each other.
We love you, we miss you, we cry sometimes, and that's okay.
Joan and Jethro

Grandparents Day & Visiting Heaven

Dear John,
I know it's early, but there are a couple of things I can't wait to tell you.
Today was Grandparents Day at the elementary school, and a good time was had by all. It meant a lot to me that Elyssa was excited about my being there. We went to their rooms first, then had lunch with them, then recess. Elyssa had been telling me about the different slides on the playground, so she showed me all the gym equipment. And I got to meet and talk to her teacher, who I like very much. It was fun. And it was another of those things I never dreamed I'd get to do. It was a special morning.
As I walked home, DeWayne drove into his driveway. So I went over to talk for a bit. And get this: Remember little Tanner? He's the new town Clerk/Treasurer. I can't believe he's all grown up now. What age does that make me? Older than dirt? Yeow. I'm so glad and proud of him.
I wish you could go by and congratulate Tanner. And I wish you could have been there for Grandparents Day. Elyssa remembers you, and I'm so thankful for that. I tell her how much you loved her. She sees your picture every day, so she will continue to remember you. I'm glad Danica is old enough to have really known you, and so thankful that she was here last winter. We all miss you.
I saw this post on Facebook this morning, and had to show it to you. If Heaven did have visiting I'd just never leave. God would have to call Security (St. Michael the Archangel?) to have me removed. I suppose there is some select visiting in Heaven - there are saints that have been there and come back. They didn't want to come back either. I'd be happy just to have my cell phone plan cover Heaven so I could talk to you. But it's hard enough to keep my head here and not there, so it probably wouldn't be good for me to make it any more difficult.
I just had to tell you this and show you the picture - it wouldn't wait until tonight. I need to get back to housework now. I love you lots. If the Visitor Policy is ever changed, be sure to let me know.
Love you, Grandpa!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Easy to Be With, Hard to Be Without

Dear John,
It's been seven months today. When I think about that I want to throw up - I don't know exactly why, but that's my reaction. I suppose the universe doesn't require my understanding, does it? Other than that, it's not been a bad day. I've still got Clapton Unplugged on the CD player in the car, and I skipped Tears in Heaven - I just couldn't face that one today.
I'm doing better as time goes on. The lows aren't as low and they don't last as long. Keeping busy still helps. And it's still worse after dark. But I'm getting to bed earlier now. Going to bed is getting easier on the average, but there are still nights that I stay up into the wee hours because I can't face the bed without you in it. That's why God made Pinterest; it gives me something to put my mind on at 2 am.
I find myself spending a lot of time assuring other people that I'm alright. It's my usual thing of trying not to inflict my inconvenient emotions on innocent bystanders. I don't want people to feel uncomfortable around me. And I am very aware that this is the common fate of women - the great majority of us will be widows. Neither I nor my experience are anything special.
I was thinking today about this trip I want to make someday - Highway 61 from Memphis south to the end - and realized that doing it without you could cause some complications I've never had to deal with. Think about it - this 60-ish white woman going into the juke joints every night, sitting by herself, listening to Delta Blues, and drinking half-and-half orange juice and 7-Up. This could attract some attention. I'm nothing special to look at, but doing that is a little strange. I haven't had a guy hit on me since that Cubs game in the early 1990s. And it's been nice. It feels strange to have to think about things like that. We went everywhere together. I don't know anybody but you that would want to make that trip, and I'm not sure that I'd want to travel with anybody else. I know I've said it before - you were always so easy to be with. And you're just as hard to be without.
Someday I'll make that trip, and I'll want you with me. But I'll tell you all about it here. And I'll post pictures. There's just no way I can post the sound of the music or the taste of the barbecue. I love you so much - we shared everything, and I still share everything I can with you here. I miss you so much, but I'm surviving, whether I want to or not. There are things I look forward to, but nothing nearly as much as I look forward to being with you again.
Until then - love you with all my heart,

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Monday Night Quandry

Dear John,
I'm in a quandry. It's Monday night. The Steelers are playing. The game will start soon. I'm working again tomorrow instead of Wednesday. I'm falling asleep sitting here. I'm trying to get over a sinus infection. I want to go to bed so bad. But the Steelers are on tonight! Tell me what to do!
I miss you at times like this. I asked Jen what to do and she looked at me and laughed. She's way too smart to take sides when I'm arguing with myself. But you had no fear - you'd always tell me the right thing to do. So: What do I do????
Maybe I'll compromise - get ready for bed and see how I feel then. I have a feeling that I'm going to go to sleep whether I'm in bed or in front of the television. Maybe I should just accept the inevitable. But the Steelers are on!
On a totally different subject: The weather has changed. Yesterday it was 68 and the house was open. This morning it was 28 and snowing. The ground was too warm for it to stick, but it was pretty to watch it fall. I tried to let the dog out this morning - I opened the door, a snowflake flew in his face, and he backed up three feet in sheer terror and refused to go out. That's our big brave guard dog.
Well, I'm going to start getting ready for bed and see what happens. If I can't stay awake for the game, watch it for me and tell me all about it tomorrow.
Love you so much,

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanks for Being Old-Fashioned

Dear John,
I finally had to close the windows. Tonight's low is tomorrow's high, so we're in for a drastic temperature drop. It was lovely while it lasted!
There's something I've been meaning to tell you: Thank you for having standards that were getting old-fashioned even when we were dating. Thank you for wanting to save sex for marriage. You were brought up like I was - we were both taught that that value was non-negotiable. But lots of people were negotiating in the early 1970s. So I thank you for never pressuring me. It was unusual, even then.
And it made our honeymoon a real honeymoon, our wedding night special. It was very clear that neither of us knew what we were doing, that that was good - we figured it out together. And it was always a great comfort to me to know that you couldn't compare me to anyone else.
That's all - I just wanted to be sure you know how much I appreciate your beliefs and your respect for mine. And for me. Your respect for me was absolute in every way. And you know how much I respect and admire you. After all, you're the world's only perfect man.
Love you so much,

PS - It was worth waiting for!  :D

Saturday, November 10, 2012

See You at the Headstone!

Dear John,
Jethro let me sleep in until 8 - not great, but better. I'm feeling much more human.
But the big news is that it got up to 67 today and the house is open. Okay, so I opened it when it hit 55. But it did get up to 67 after the sun came out. It's been lovely to have the outside sounds and smells inside, and good to air out the house. I've spent most of the day resting my head and making a pot of soup. Jethro worked on a rawhide bone all day and is now finishing the last knot.
I was watching Big Bang Theory  and thinking about how thankful I am that I never had to date as an adult. There are lots of advantages to getting married right out of college. For one thing, it's harder to hide who you really are in college - you see each other's dorm rooms, see each other during finals week and with the flu and everything else. By graduation you know each other pretty throughly. And you don't bring two of everything and your own personal routines into marriage - you start out with none of anything and no routine, and get to put it together, together. I moved from the dorm into our first apartment, our families brought the handed-down stuff, and you moved in after our wedding a week later. Mama and I spent the week between graduation and the wedding getting the apartment put together; she and I had so much fun that week.
I remember that we'd originally talked about getting married in the fall, so I could start work and take State Boards and have all of that out of the way before the wedding. But we decided that there was no sense in paying rent for two apartments all summer, and our friends could stay around a week for the wedding but wouldn't all be able to come back in the fall. So we planned everything together during our senior year and got married a week after graduation. I've always been so thankful, since by fall you had your second round of cancer and I'd never have convinced you that you should marry after that - it took some very tactful doing after the first time. And I did pass State Boards and survived a year at The Hospital from Hell, so it all worked out.
Thank you for deciding it was okay for you to get married. I know you did it under the misguided medical opinion that the cancer was over and done with and the treatment wouldn't cause any problems. But that never mattered to me - I wanted to marry you no matter what. I knew from the beginning that I'd rather have a week with you than a century with anybody else. And you finally realized a few years ago that I felt that way - you said you didn't know why, but that didn't matter either. That's how I felt, how I still feel, and how I'll always feel. So there.
I love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on. And will share the ground you rest in. But Jen reminded me yesterday that I'm forbidden to dig there. In spite of that, it's still good to see our names side-by-side on that lovely Georgia granite and to know we'll always be together.
Meet me at the headstone!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Two Existential Questions

Dear John,
I went to the doctor today - I have a sinus infection and am on antibiotics. The headache, nausea, and dizziness have been better today. Thank you for your prayers.
On the way to and from South Bend I was listening to Eric Clapton's Unplugged  CD for the first time in ages. I can't imagine how anybody thinks of him as a rocker when he's so clearly a bluesman. On that CD he covers Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters. There's a lovely version of Walking Blues where he uses Robert Johnson's words (which come from one line in an earlier song that was probably written by either Son House or Blind Willie McTell) with guitar that's pure Muddy Waters from another song, slide and all. So I'm sure I'm not the first to ask: Howcome the greatest bluesman of our time is this white kid from England?
And I've been pondering something else for the last few days. I wonder what Mama would say about me listening to the music of her childhood. There are a couple of songs on my Bessie Smith set that I remember her singing to me when I was little - I mean Mama, not Bessie Smith. And I've told you about her loving the chorus of Caldonia. She and Daddy listened to big band music and the Boston Pops when I was a child. But it wasn't possible to live in the South and not hear the Blues. The music I love is the music she grew up listening to. It feels strange to think about it that way, but I would bet she's proud of me for it.
Well, those are my big existential questions for today. It's the best I can do with a sinus infection and my brain stopped up. Those are the things I'd be waiting to talk to you about when you got home from work tonight. I miss sitting down with you before bedtime, with you at your end of the couch, me at mine, and the dog sprawled out in the middle, and telling each other about our days. But it is so good to come here and do it. You haven't answered any of my letters yet - please feel free to! But, as I've said, after so many years I know what you'd say, so I hear your voice anyway. And I know you hear me, so all is well.
I only got 2 1/2 hour sleep last night, so I'm off to bed. Jethro is already asleep, having been tired out by a thunderstorm earlier this evening. We can sleep in tomorrow, and probably will. I love you so much! Please keep praying for my head. Sleep well.

Better Living Through Chemistry

Dear John,
Thank you for praying for my head! Percocet took care of the pain and nausea. Now I'm dealing with the caffeine I took that didn't help the pain. I took Benadryl about half an hour ago, so I should be getting sleepy within the half-hour. Jethro can tell when I don't feel good, so he's been sticking close by me. Right now he's lying right next to me on the bed, sound asleep. Such a sweet, faithful, loving creature. I can't imagine how people survive without a dog. Yes, we rescue them from the shelters, but just like Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, they rescue us right back.
It's one of the rules, isn't it? What we do for others always does even more for us. We took Jen in in 1996 after she turned 18 and her father threw her out. We gave her a home and parents for as long as she wanted them, no strings attached. And in turn she's given us so, so much more! We have a daughter and two granddaughters who love us. During your illness, she was here when we needed her - and was still living in the Keys. And everybody knows it's not possible to travel between the Keys and Topeka. After your death she was here for me. She has Power of Attorney and Medical Power of Attorney for me, is on my bank accounts, knows all my financial and business information, will inherit all I have (such as it is), and is the beneficiary of my life insurance. And the real wonder of it all is that she loves me. She has no obligation to us, no legal relationship, has made no commitment - the only tie is that of the heart. And so we both are tied to each other. We love each other. We are family. And that word is very good at trumping everything else.
I hope you know by now just how much Jen loves you. She loves you the way a girl loves her dad, and there's nothing quite like that. It's been hard on her this past year, having your illnes and death come in the middle of the break-up of her marriage. It did give things a certain symmetry - in the spring, Jen and I needed each other equally. And I told her that what she was doing was much harder than what I was doing. Your death happened - I had no choice. And we had no young children to care for. And it was no surprise - we had married knowing that our time together may be very short. So we stayed prepared: legally, financially, spiritually, emotionally as much as possible. Losing a spouse by divorce is much, much harder than losing one to death. And I've never heard anyone say of their divorce hearing that it was filled with the peace and joy of God. Death often is.
Which reminds me: Someday I hope to know what you saw in the hospital room the last half-hour before your death. You were completely alert, and had been looking at me. Then all of a sudden you were looking up and around the room, with a look of overwhelming joy and amazement on your face. Your mouth was hanging wide open and you stared in wonder and - what? Or rather, who? I know your guardian angel was there. And I'd prayed for years, for both of us, to St. John of San Francisco, that when our souls separated from our bodies, he would come to our aid and see us safely into the Kingdom of Heaven. I did expect him to answer that prayer, and it would certainly explain what I saw on your face. I only wish you could have talked and told me about everything that I couldn't see. I can imagine quite a lot, but I'm hoping you will tell me someday. And please pray with me now, that St. John will come and help me, too, when it's my turn. When I go to church I, of course, always venerate his icon. And I could stand there all morning. I sink into that icon, with the abundance of love in his eyes, and everybody else in the room just disappears for me. When I die, maybe the Lord will even allow you to come with him, to come for me when my soul separates from my body. How wonderful that would be! Then you and St. John and my guardian angel can escort me to the Kingdom, where all those family and friends I keep talking about will be smiling and waving over the parapet to me. And the glory of God fills that Kingdom, and God Himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
I've wander far afield from what I intended, which was to tell you that the headache is almost gone and thank you for praying for me. I lean on you for help now, more that I ever did before.
I think I just dozed off at the computer. So maybe I can turn off the light and go to sleep. It would be wonderful. And I've gotten to talk to you last thing before going to sleep, just like we always did. It's a habit I do not want to ever get out of. Badly-structured sentence, but you know what I mean. Maybe I'm living a little too well on all the chemistry. I do hope I've seen the last of this nasty headache.
I so long to come before God in purity of soul. Pray that it may be so! Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Dear John,
Just a short note tonight - I have a killer headache, nauseated, feeling miserable. Aspirin didn't help, adding caffeine didn't help, so I'm going to take Percocet and go to bed. It that doesn't help, I will seriously consider removing my head. I'm not much for headaches - I usually have about one a year - and I've never had one like this. So here's hoping for better living through chemistry.
I wish you were here to rub my head. Actually, I just wish you were here; you don't even have to rub my head. I'll go take drugs and cuddle with the dog while you pray for me. I'll talk to you more tomorrow, if my head is still on by then. I'm sure you have lots of practice praying for my head!
Love you so much,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Short Night, Long Day

Dear John,
It was a short night and a long day - I'll try to stay awake and coherent. Dog, laptop, and I are all piled up in bed. Typing is a bit of a challenge because Jethro insists on sleeping with his head in my lap. So any typos are his fault.
I did get five hours sleep last night - finally got to bed at 1:30 this morning. I worked six hours today, rushed home and changed clothes, and got to church by 6:00 for tonight's liturgy - the Synaxis of the Archangels. Myrna, Brian, Adrian, and I sang, which was great fun because we had four singers and four parts. I'm still a bit husky from the sore throat, but that doesn't matter so much when you're singing alto.
The church was beautiful tonight. With the time change, it was dark outside. The candlelight reflected on icons made everything  glow. This is the first time I've seen it after dark since we finished everything, and it's lovely. It was good to go and pray tonight.
It's getting on toward midnight, so I'd better stop now. I'm off tomorrow so I can get caught up on sleep. I'm too old to stay up that late! Tomorrow I need to do laundry and general housework. It should be a quiet, domestic day.
Love you with all my heart,

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

That Sudden Breeze is Democrats Taking a Breath

Dear John,
We did it. CNN, NBC, CBS, and ABC just called the election for Obama. (You may notice FOX is missing.) We're all taking our first deep breath since 8:00. By "all" I mean Jen and me, and all the people we've been texting and Facebooking with all night. I wasn't at all sure how this election would go.
Facebook today was not as bad as I'd expected. The only really ugly thing was a caricature of Democrats that, among other things, said we all got our feeling hurt easily. In my reply I chose not to say that, if that were true, the post would certainly have reduced me to tears. Most of my friends were willing to laugh about our differences today; there was a lot of good-natured kidding. It is good to know that we love each other no matter how we vote. And vote we all did!
I miss being able to watch it with you tonight, but am so glad Jen is here. Jethro's political opinions aren't very well-developed. I remember in 2007, when we realized that the next inauguration would be on your birthday, you said that what you wanted for your birthday was the inauguration of our first black president. Well, I contributed and worked, and you got your birthday wish. (you're welcome!) As we watched that election night together, the historical enormity of what I was seeing finally dawned on me. I liked Obama for his brains, integrity, and compassion - I would have voted for him it he'd been green with purple spots. But I was born the year Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, lived in the Deep South during the time of the Till murder, saw the Freedom Riders come, and had lived to see the election of a black president. I'm sure you remember the moment that it hit me - I bawled for the rest of the night.
And you were very nice about it. You were always nice about my Southernness. Sometimes you didn't understand, but you never required that I be understandable to you. The best way to express it is that you understood that you couldn't understand. And I thank you for that - for giving me the freedom to not be you. You could respect what you didn't understand. So of course I adore you.
I don't know what date Inauguration Day will fall on, but it will be close to your birthday - consider this part of your birthday present. I love you so, so much. Sleep well tonight!

Adore you,

Bipartisan Birdship

Dear John,
Election Day is finally here. And no matter which way the vote goes (and I'm expecting it to go to the Supreme Court), there will be no more political ads for a while. I can watch network television again. God made Netflix especially for the two weeks before an election.
Jen voted at 6:30 before getting Elyssa up and off to school, and I went as soon as she got home. You know how Topeka's polling place can get so crowded in the late morning - you might have to wait five or ten minutes, Heaven help us. There was no line that early, and no line at the bank. Voting was in the new town library - it's a very nice polling place with plenty of parking.
If I see ONE MORE political ad .  .  .
Not all polling places will be so nice today. This campaign has been so contentious that the UN has sent in observers. I'm not sure if that says that the rest of the world has decided that we're corrupt, that we're barbarians, that they have a huge stake in having this come out in an orderly fashion, or all of the above. But from some things I've been hearing on the news, I do have to say I'm glad they're there. Topeka, however, it its usual peaceful self. I have the only car in the county with an Obama sticker on it (which makes it very easy to find in parking lots), but here I don't have to worry about vandalism. Harold knows that I pretty much vote against everybody he has a yard sign out for, but we've been friends for years and that won't change. After all, I've crossed party line to vote for him. The thing is that nothing changes quickly around here - we all know that we'll be here together long after these candidates are gone. We have more invested in each other than in any political movement. And no matter how rabid some of us might be about our politics, we care even more about each other. So I haven't been run out of town on a rail yet, and DeWayne processed my ballot without physical violence. We don't need UN observers here.
I do hope Facebook calms down after today. I posted this bird photo this morning, and discovered its bipartisan appeal by seeing who "liked" it. The creature is popular with all my friends - rabid republicans, rabid democrats, rabid libertarians, and the non-political who just want it all to go away. Maybe the bird should run for office; that might solve all kinds of problems. I'm not sure how we'd prove where it was born, so it might have to stay in Congress. But we could use some bipartisanship there, too.
I have to go get my hair cut soon, so I'll hear all the scoop about what's going on in town. I heard at the bank that voter turnout all over the country is very high, which is good. I know people of all ages who are voting for the first time. I suppose a contentious campaign will really get folks out there.
Gotta run! I'll keep you posted as the day goes on. It will be a long day and a late night. I just hope it really is settled before morning.
Love you bipartisanly,

Monday, November 5, 2012

Schroedinger's Cat

Dear John,
Standard Time. I love it. The clock and the sun have a reasonable correlation. My internal clock is happy. The world will be right-side-up for a few months.
And I have good news: Jen found a place of her own. It's here in Topeka, and it's the top floor of a house. It has three bedrooms and a bath-and-a-half, and is huge and gorgeous. It's an older house, and other than turning a bedroom into a kitchen, it hasn't been re-muddled. It has beautiful original woodwork and new windows, and the rent is not bad at all. So she and Elyssa will be moving after Thanksgiving.
I'm starting to go through our stuff for things to get her started. All the furniture in their rooms is theirs, and the sofa and coffee table in the basement. I have some extra bookcases, plenty of lamps and tables, and lots of towels and kitchen things. I also told her she could have the grill - you were always the one that cooked out, and so does Jen; I know I won't do it without you. I'm sure I'll find lots of things for her between now and Thanksgiving.
Being her sweet self, she was worried about moving out before I get another job. But I think that's really best. I have things I'll need to do around the house after they're gone that I'd much rather get done before I start a new job. I need to paint Elyssa's bedroom and mine, and there will be a lot of furniture-hauling again.
I hear you laughing. I know - imagine: me painting and hauling furniture around. At least it's an inexpensive hobby. So laugh away!
You were always so much help when I was painting. We had our routine down, didn't we? Before you left in the morning, you'd help me move all the furniture into the middle of the room. I'd paint all day. Then you'd bring dinner home and help me put all the furniture back. I appreciated that so much! And I appreciated you letting me use colors you weren't always sure of. You liked every one of them after it was on the wall; you just had trouble picturing it. And if you hadn't liked one, I would have gladly re-painted the room. Our taste was so similar that it was easy to decorate for you.
Every part of living with you was easy. People warned us to expect a difficult adjustment period, since you were the youngest and I was an only child. We waited. And we waited. And I'm still waiting. There never was an adjustment period. You were always so easy and comfortable to be with. And since we married right out of college, neither of us had habits or patterns of living alone. We fit together.
And that makes it hard to be without you. But I'm doing okay because, like I said last night, I'm never really without you. You're here and not here at the same time. Like Schroedinger's cat. Laugh at me again, but you know what I mean!
I could chatter at you all night, but it's way past my bedtime and Jethro is snoring on the foot of the bed, so I'd better stop here. I love talking to you and sometimes it's hard to stop. Sleep well tonight! Love you always,

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bare Trees and Open Fields

Dear John,
It's Sunday night - the weekend is almost over. The Steelers beat the Giants and the Colts beat the Dolphins, the dishwasher is running, and the dog and I are almost ready for bed. I watched two episodes of Homicide Hunter today, and once again I thank you for never killing me.
I noticed on the way to church this morning that all of a sudden the trees are bare. The wind and rain we got from hurricane Sandy took the last of them. I don't mind - it's every bit as beautiful, just a different kind of beauty. I love seeing the bare branches against the sky. Each type of tree has its own pattern - maple tree branches grow one way, oak another, poplar another, beech another. And each tree is its own variation on a theme. You can see the bird and squirrel nests now. And if you look at the right height in a line of trees, you can often pick out a hawk perched there, watching for his next meal.
And this time of year, after the corn and beans have been harvested, you can see to the horizon again. I love the flat openness of it. The corn is beautiful as it grows, but by late summer it starts making me feel closed-in. Now, with it cut, the sky is bigger. I don't know why I love this so much - I grew up with hills and trees and buildings; Atlanta isn't exactly flat and open. But I did grow up fishing, and water - especially seen from the front of an outboard motor boat - is flat and open. Maybe this land feels like being on water. Whatever the reason, I do love it. And I thank you for bringing me here - first to the Midwest, and then to Topeka. You were always surprised that I loved it here, and so am I. But love it I do, and I thank you.
I wish we'd gotten to grow old together here. But you'll always be with me just the same. You're so much a part of me that I'm never really without you. I know you well enough to hear what you'd say, even now that you're not here to say it. Sometimes I laugh at what you'd say or do. I don't miss having you here to say your half of the old, shared jokes as much as I thought I would, because in my head you're still saying it. So I laugh at the old jokes, and know we're laughing together. We're well and thoroughly scrambled. In every sense of the word.
I love you. I've loved you since forever, and I will love you until forever. (I guess there's just no getting rid of me.) Yours for always,