Saturday, March 30, 2013

Clotheslines & Hall Passes

Dear John,
It hit 53 today. I hereby unilaterally declare it to be spring, all evidence to the contrary! Being me, I did all sorts of things in defiance of the persistence of winter. The dog is happily exhausted and the cat is in hiding.
I took Jethro for a walk. Actually, I went for a walk and he went for a sniff. I washed clothes, sheets, and towels, and dried them on the clothesline. Three of the clotheslines - the fourth broke on me. It's time, I guess, since they are over 18 years old. The rest are looking ragged, so I'll have to pick up clothesline the next time I'm at the hardware store. And I changed out the valances, pillows, tablecloth, and things for spring and summer. It feels good to see some lighter colors in the house.
It's been cold enough to have the heat on but warm enough for it not to run very much, so the house has been smelling stuffy lately. Today was a good day to air it out, so I opened all the windows and storm doors just a couple of inches. Then I argued with myself, and finally opened the door to the garage so I could have the light and air coming through the screen door. The thermostat showed it only dropped from 64 to 61, so we got a good airing-out with very little temperature change.
Tonight the house smells good, and the sheets will smell good, too. We both always loved the smell of sheets that had been dried outside. Remember the night I screamed and jumped up in the middle of the night, and we found a Japanese beetle between the sheets? I still chuckle over that. You were nice and got rid of the beetle for me.
I had an odd dream last night. There was lots of stuff going on, like there always is in my dreams, but the central thing was that you had come to visit, but you could only stay for 6 hours. I asked you if it was a Hall Pass from Heaven, and you said yes. I was very happy at first, but found that the pressure of knowing what the time limit was got very stressful as the dream went on, and I was mean to everybody that distracted me from just being with you. It turned out to be very painful and unpleasant. I suppose it's a lesson for me. The way God made things is the best way. I will wait until I can be with you there, where there will be no more endings or separations.
Waiting and waiting - I love you so much,

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Peaceful Night in the DMZ

Dear John,
It's a peaceful night here in the DMZ. At least, it is in this one. North Korea is threatening the nuclear annihilation of Los Angeles, Washington DC, and . . . Austin. We're all a bit bemused by that. There seems to be a lack of understanding of the country you plan to annihilate. Curious.
I've declared my person and immediate vicinity to be a de-militarized zone. Dog and cat may share the space peaceably, but there is to be no horseplay, roughhousing, or bloodshed on me. It has taken a while for the concept to get across - after all, they were both born long after the term was current. Tonight, on the couch, Jethro lay across my lower legs and Hunter lay across my left shoulder, and all was quiet. We're making progress.
Like this, but the cat purrs and bats back.
You would have enjoyed the getting-ready-for-bed process tonight. Hunter is fascinated by the water in the sink, and sits on the back of the toilet and watches while I brush my teeth and wash my face. He grabbed for my contact case tonight, I got him down off the sink, Jethro rushed in and grabbed him by the neck, then proceeded to drag the cat back into the bedroom and keep him there. After I was done at the sink, Jethro let Hunter go, and he jumped into the bathtub. The game was on. Jethro stuck his head into the bathtub and tried to grab the cat, who easily got away. There's usually a great quantity of bumping and crashing, and fun is had by all. (And before company comes, I have to clean the cat hair out of the bathtub.) Tonight the cat was running up and down the tub with the dog following him, until poor Jethro was all wrapped up in the shower curtain and looked like The Mummy. I was laughing too hard to unwrap him, so he found his way out the bottom of it.
They do enjoy each other. And they make me laugh, individually and together. The house doesn't feel so empty now that there are three of us. And Jethro is not left alone while I'm at work. The arrangement is good for all of us. I still think you would have loved the cat in spite of your preconceptions. So if you need entertainment, tune in here for interspecies hijinks. You would enjoy it.
Oh, no. It's almost 11:00 and they just went running down the hall for more romping and rampaging. It's Friday so there's no hurry to get to bed. I might as well play Minesweeper while they tire themselves out.
I love you so much, and wish you were here to share this pleasant insanity with me,

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Heeeere's Mama!

Dear John,
It was sunny today and we all enjoyed it. We could have handled 20 degrees warmer, but the 40s are better than the 20s. I trust spring will come sometime - or maybe we'll just hurtle straight into summer.
I really have turned into my mother. (She's reading over your shoulder and laughing, isn't she?) Oh my goodness, how much like her I am! Housekeeping, cooking, shopping, talking to people, even enjoying people so much younger than I am - it's all her. I have to stop and laugh at myself sometimes.
I used to say that I was a combination of my grandparents. I got my love of animals from my Grandfather Keistler, my love of color and handwork from Nana, and almost everything else from my Grandmother Keistler. (Yesterday I was involved in a Facebook conversation about diagramming sentences.) I don't know what I got from Daddy's father, because I don't know anything about him and everyone that did is dead now. But I'm sure there's something. That may be where Daddy got his geometric mind and gift for spatial relations, and he certainly passed those on to me. I have Daddy's math/science brain and Mama's practical/relational brain. No wonder my head feels crowded sometimes.
And you put up with it very nicely. You even managed to find advantages to all my quirkiness. It usually ended up saving you money - I have to admit that. And as we've said before, you wanted an independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed woman, and any daughter of Mama's would meet those criteria. Thanks for wanting what I was. Thanks even more for still wanting it after 34 years of it.
Now you and my parents go have a good laugh! I'm off to bed - had a busy day at work today, and will again tomorrow. Love you huge immense bunches,

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Remembering Lilacs

Dear John,
I had another domestic day, but not as quiet as yesterday. I spent a good bit of the afternoon on the phone dealing with - you guessed it - insurance issues. All is resolved now. Cindy brought 3 dozen eggs by and the cat has been sleeping in my lap most of the evening.
I ran across this on Pinterest, and you know what it reminds me of. I'd been to Mackinac Island once when I was in my early teens, one year when we went to Canada thought the Sault instead of Windsor, but you'd never seen it. When we accidentally ended up spending a night in St Ignace on the way back from the Great Plains, I hadn't thought about it in years. We went back for our next anniversary week, and it became a tradition.
Over the years, it seems we did everything doable on the Island except spend the night, and that was your concession to me. I so loved taking the ferry twice a day - sitting in the front row on the top, regardless of the weather, in the wind and the spray, with a full view of the Island, the mainland, freighters passing through the Straits, and most of all, the water. Not that we could afford to stay on the Island, anyway. Staying on the mainland also let us eat twice a day at Java Joe's. We walked the Island, took the carriage tour, rented bicycles and rode around it and into the center, toured the fort. The only thing we didn't get to do was rent horses - you needed some riding lessons first, and we never got that done.
A lot of those years, you got my anniversary present on the Island; you knew how much I loved broken-china jewelry. We got to know the shop-keeper - every year, when we'd come in the door, he'd start pulling out his broken-china stock. The heart with the blue rose on it was your 25th anniversary gift to me. That's still my very favorite piece of jewelry.
Remember the year we happened to be there on the one day the Governor's Mansion is open to the public? That was such a treat! We had our picture taken on the porch - that's the best photo of us that was ever taken. I cropped myself out of it and used it for your obituary, and the whole photo is on Facebook and both blogs. You look just like you, not like you're smiling for a photograph. And you look healthy and happy. And you can tell from that photo how much we love each other. I have that photo on the piano in the living room, and I love to look at it. Of course I remember every detail of every day of your last three months, just how you looked at every stage, how you looked the moment you died, how you looked in the coffin. But that photo is the way I want to remember you - healthy and happy, having a good time, with me.
That's a long commentary on a simple photo of lilacs. And I didn't even start on nights in the hotel with the sliding glass door open onto the water, or the trips to Whitefish Point. Those are for another day. Thank you for all the wonderful memories! I wish we could make more, but I'm thankful for the ones I have. Lilacs, and the scent of lilacs, will always make me think of you, and those wonderful trips.
Love you forever,

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Cultural Relevance of the School Bus

Dear John,
I was reasonable today, but only because I was unreasonable last night. I went to bed, and had this little tickle-cough thing that kept waking me up. So I got up around 3:00 and took cough syrup and made some hot chocolate. It took a while for the cough to go away, so I did what any sensible person would do - I got on Facebook. Ron and Josh were on, too, so we chatted until I finally said I was too old to be up all night, and went to bed at 5:00. It was entirely too much fun. And it was a good thing I was off work today. I slept until 10, so I did get enough sleep. And I got back on Facebook this morning to see how stupid I had gotten in the wee hours of the morning, and found that I really didn't, so that was good.
I did basic housework today, and had a good day. I'm finally feeling better - maybe the flare will go away quietly. I really don't have time for it. (I know - you'd ask when I would ever have time for it, just like you always did. There you go being logical again.) And I had some fun tonight. Tomorrow will be the 100th episode of Psych, so they've been showing all the episodes, calling it the "99 Psychs on the Wall" marathon. (Which, of course, reminds me of the day I taught you to sing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall." It was a deplorable gap in your education, stemming from having lived too close to the school and never riding the school bus. I also had to teach you "Found a Peanut." Truly deplorable.) Anyway, right after NCIS they showed the "Dual Spires" episode, which I do love. The parody of Twin Peaks is dead- on and delightful. I remember how much fun we had watching it together. I think I laughed enough for both of us.
There's no particular sense in showing you this today except that it showed up on Pinterest this morning and I knew you'd love it. Isn't it terrific? Besides being hysterical, it's so accurate! Whoever thought of demonstrating cardiac rhythms using ambulances is either brilliant or sleep-deprived. Or quite possibly both. Bless you, you learned all of this stuff with me - it was so typical of our marriage. You learned the nursing stuff with me and loved it, and I learned the seminary stuff with you and loved that. We didn't grow our separate ways; we grew with each other, and enjoyed it tremendously. I got so interested in your seminary studies that I went on to get my own MA in Church History, with you supporting me all the way. Thank you for that.
While I'm at it, thank you for everything. Thank you for being who you are. I thank your mother often for bringing you up to be you; please give your father my thanks, too, until I can say it myself. After all, you are the world's only perfect man, and you were always so good to me. The only thing you ever did wrong was to leave me here without you. I know it wasn't your choice, but I also know it was what was best for you. And since I love you, I have to be glad for your sake. But not for mine.
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,

The Plot to Murder the Groundhog

Dear John,
I had a busy day 6-hour day at work. I don't hurt any less but I have more energy; I'll take pain over exhaustion any day. I won't be spending next weekend with your family after all. It's Western Easter and the beginning of Spring Break, and I can't find a place to board the dog. Rescheduling may not be a bad idea when my arms and shoulders are hurting. We'll find another weekend.
There are plans afoot to murder the groundhog. I'm in favor of it. We woke this morning to three inches of snow and more coming down. Kathy wanted me to come in the afternoon so I missed the worst of the roads. They were clear except for drifting on the north side of the east-west roads - and of course I was on the north side - but there was so little traffic that I just drove on the wrong side of the road and had no problem.
Facebook came through again. I finally found out what the problem is with the weather. The installation failed everywhere except Florida. I do hope somebody called tech support. March last year was unusually warm - it was this week that I took those photos of the trees and bushes in full bloom, and took them in for you to see. This year I'd be taking you photos of bare trees and mud, and you'd wonder why they were supposed to cheer you up. And they'd really be so that you could share my misery and get as grumpy about it as I was. I'm itching to get out and work in the garden.
That's all the news. I'm off the next two days and would love to get some major projects done, but I will try to be sensible. No promises - I said I'll try! I'd love to spend them with you, but I believe you already have plans. Think about me anyway!
Always thinking about you,

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Complex Philosophical Questions

Dear John,
I'm sorry I dumped on you last night. Things always look their worst in the wee hours of the morning. Someday I will learn - and actually remember - not to blog that late. I'm not feeling any better today, but have an inexplicable improvement in morale. And that is good.
I wonder how many times I've told you that I'm sorry for dumping on you. Every time you said the same thing - that you didn't feel dumped on. You were happy to listen to me and to know what I was thinking and feeling. There isn't anybody to do that now, so I'm glad I can talk to you here. I still miss having you ask me every night how my day was. So I assume the question and answer it for you!
All of this struggling that I'm doing right now seems to be just another layer of learning to live without you, and it's a hard one. Loads are lighter when shared, and I'm feeling the weight of having all the responsibilities. I need to learn that it was the Lord Who provided, and the Lord Who provided you. And He will continue to provide. Feelings of helplessness are paths to faith and humility, both of which I need. We humans are very helpless, contingent creatures, after all, though we pretend we have power and authority. Our very being is a gift.
So please continue to pray for me while I wrestle through this layer. It's not about the circumstances; it's about my reaction to them. Maybe this is what Lent is about for me this year. Last year it was about letting go of you. Now it seems to be about letting go of me. When I put it that way, it should be a breeze compared to last year! I'd much rather live without me than without you, though that poses all kinds of complex philosophical questions. Wouldn't you love to pose that one at one of those late-night Honors Program parties we went to in college?
I'll try to listen to you as well as talk to you. I need your wisdom. And your arms around me. And your clothes to wash. And you to watch the NCAA tournament with. Just you!
I love just you with all my heart,

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Benefits of Becoming One Flesh!

Dear John,
I'm in the middle of the worst fibro flare I've had since the one that ran from September, 2011 to April, 2012. From one to the next, I forget just how severe the pain is. I didn't take anything but aspirin today because I was trying to get to Great Vespers and choir practice tonight, but I didn't make it. I was hurting way too bad, and I want to give myself every chance to be able to go to church in the morning. Past history is not encouraging.
Fibro flares are miserable things. But it's so much worse now because you're not here. I have complete responsibility for working and making money, cooking, shopping, finances, cleaning the house, and letting Jethro in and out (and today it was every 15 minutes - I have no idea what got into the dog, but I'm thankful that cats use litterboxes), running errands, going to the post office and bank, and all the zillion things that everybody does every day. I will learn how to do it on my on. Most fibromites do, since over 75% of spouses leave within a year of diagnosis. So tonight I posted an appeal for advice/tips/lifesavers on the Fibro board on Facebook.
God is still in charge, and what He brings, He takes care of. Pain makes everything look worse. I'll take something when I finish talking to you and no longer have to be coherent. The animals won't care. They'll cuddle up with me to sleep and I'll know that they love me. And I know that you love me too, even more than the animals do. And I know that a lot of people love me - I'm finallly learning that.
When I was diagnosed, I knew all about the divorce rate. But it never crossed my mind that you'd leave. And every time you had a medical disaster, you never wondered if I would leave. We were one flesh - leaving wasn't even possible. Once I convinced you back in college that I knew what I was getting into (since you'd had cancer once already) and still wanted to marry you, you never doubted my fidelity. All kinds of other people expressed amazement that our marriage had weathered so many and varied medical disasters. But that was irrelevant to us. We just saw them coming and said, like the dophin and the pot of geraniums in Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "Here we go again," and "Something's coming; I hope it's friendly." The only real disaster would have been not being together. I'm thankful you never had to deal with being without me. There seems to be a lot more support for widows than widowers, and let's face it, there're just so many more of us.
I'm rambling, and this is without pain medicine. Sorry about it. I love you so, so, so much, and I'm grateful to you for how good you always were to me. And I miss you more than I can ever say.
Your wife,

Friday, March 22, 2013

Holding Hearts Instead of Hands

Dear John,
There's good news. I got a call from Whitney at Panera Benefits today, and Anthem has re-instated my coverage as beginning on May 1, 2012, and continuing without interruption. They are reviewing all the claims that have been denied. I'll have to call them about the bills that I've had to pay in the last month, and they will reimburse me directly. Now I can see doctors, get my teeth cleaned, and get that mammogram that was due two years ago. At least until the Date of Death Zombie rises again and we start all of this over. It's quite a weight off of my mind.
I was still exhausted and feeling bad today. I talked to Jen on the phone tonight, and realized that a lot of it is emotional. I told her I'm afraid I'm being normal again, just having another bad stretch in the grieving process. And I know why - we're coming up to the 1-year anniversary. So endurance and patience are coming a little harder right now.
Jen Gibbs-slapped me as needed today. She has shouldered that part of your role, along with the supremely-important function of bringing me Raisinets on holidays. Kathy has taken on your job of reminding me to have realistic expectations of myself. And I learned a limit this week - I can't work eight hours and go straight to church for three hours. It's taking me the greater part of a week to recover from that. I hate having limits like that, but there are plenty of fibromites who are much more limited than I am. And no good comes from defying limits.
I found this on Pinterest tonight, and just had to share it with you. We had lots of this series in our early years. I still have the one in the living room that says "Love is holding hands after many years of marriage." You bought that one for me before we were married, and long before my parents started scolding me for holding hands with you after the wedding. We always loved holding hands, and we assumed we would do it for the rest of our lives. And we did. And I'm so glad.
Now we hold hearts, since we can no longer hold hands. That will have to do us for a while. But we so became one flesh, that holding hearts is very real and powerful. And it will be enough - because it has to be.
Keep my heart safe in your hands tonight,

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Grounhog is a Fraud

Dear John,

Puxatawney Phil's life has been threatened. He told us we'd have an early spring. The equinox was yesterday, and I woke this morning to 19 degrees and a lake-effect snow storm. You cannot imagine our delight. But on the good side, I was coming down 600 West on the way home from work and saw my first redwing blackbird of the season. So maybe there's hope.
Not with me, though. I'm still struggling hard today, physically and emotionally. I only worked four hours, then I dragged myself through Walmart for groceries, fought to stay awake driving home, and had just enough energy to grab a cold piece of meat and some celery out of the fridge for dinner. This week has been worse than my usual, and I'm afraid I'm falling into another 8-month episode of mono.
I've done it about every 3 years since 1986, and it's been about 3 years. Mono was doable when you were here, to get paid for work and to do grocery shopping. If I do that again, I can't imagine what I'll do, how I'll get by. I'm what Cathy used to call being beyond exhausted, my lymph nodes are up, throat sore, wheezing and having neuralgia like I do when I'm severely exhausted, temp 96.6 indicating viral infection, unable to stay awake even standing up, and I hurt all over. In the shower tonight, the back brush was too painful to use.
So: fibro flare, mono again, other kind of fatigue - or am I really a lizard so those things are normal? And I keep thinking thyroid, and want to get the antibody assays done. But all health care has to wait until Panera Benefits convinces Anthem that you died in April,  not January. I'm paying every month, but have had no coverage (and so no health care) since the end of November.  I've missed a dentist appointment, a mammogram, and a yearly physical so far.
As you can tell, I'm frustrated, discouraged, and generally sick and tired of being sick and tired. So I'm grousing at you, so that you'll be as miserable as I am. I'm sorry about venting, again. After all, the red-winged blackbirds are here, so there will be spring. And the slower it comes, the later I'll have to start mowing. And the cooler it is, the less likely it is that we'll reach 107 again this summer. And that would be fine with all of us.
I'll be writing late tomorrow. After work I'll be going to church for the Akathist, then there's soup and a discussion afterward. Thank you for listening - I feel better tonight for having vented. Overlaying all this frustration and discouragement is a great sadness that you're not here. I miss you every minute, but especially when I don't feel good.
Sleep good, pray for me, and know how much I love you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Sound of One Fibromite Venting

Dear John,
This day is finally over! I've spent it paying for doing too much yesterday. I need to vent about this fibromyalgia thing.
Yesterday I got the car jumped, met with Michael, worked eight hours, and went to church. And enjoyed all of it. So today I've been completely exhausted, hurt all over, itched all over, and gotten nothing accomplished. I was even too tired to knit. The big accomplishment of the day was fixing myself two meals and feeding the animals. I had things I'd planned to do - wanted to do, looked forward to, including going to church tonight - and couldn't.
It's so frustrating. I don't mind the pain nearly as much as I do the exhaustion. Most of the time I can keep my mind off the pain by being busy. That doesn't work with this kind of fatigue. Today felt like mono. I kept falling asleep, and when I was awake it was a fight to stay that way. And I can't explain it in a way that people understand. "Tired" for me doesn't mean what it does for normal people; it means being physically incapacitated. There is never a moment that I couldn't go to sleep; that's not what I call tired - that's my normal.
You understood, though - you always did, even before the fibro diagnosis. You knew me well enough to know that I didn't want to feel this way, wasn't into it for the secondary gains, and wasn't a wimp or a hypochondriac. And I felt like I had purpose when you were here - the most important thing I ever did for you was to love you, and I could always do that. Now I not only can't work at a job that makes enough money to live on, but I can't contribute enough to make it worth while for me to take up space and resources. This disease has rendered me worthless. I used to have a valuable career and be of value at church and in the community. Fibro has taken all of that away. Lots of mornings I can't even stay awake to pray, even standing. It's pathetic.
Do I still have value for you? I know that I do, but do I have to be here for it? This is one of those rare days that I don't feel certain that I have any value to God. My head knows it as abstract fact, but the rest of me isn't buying it. I know He knows what He's doing with me, but it's a huge leap of faith to say it tonight.
Well, that's enough whining for one evening. I'm sorry to vent to you - I always have been, but you've never minded. You always said that you wanted to know what I thought and felt. Now you probably know before I tell you. But it does me lots of good to tell you, and I know you would never mind me talking to you. I'm going to cry myself to sleep tonight, from discouragement, frustration, and fear of the future. At least I had a fun dream last night - you and I were fighting a group that was cloning then torturing women, and I had Ziva's fighting skills. I woke up three times during it, and was able each time to go back to sleep and pick up where I left off. Maybe we can do something fun again tonight!
Thanks for listening to me and loving me. Love you more than life,

Loose Tights and Low Batteries

Dear John,
What a day! Nothing went as planned. I had a day of unforseen complications. But we came through in one piece and I'm off tomorrow, so it is good.
I got up this morning, planning to go by Michael's office and turn in the tax records, then go to work. So I got dressed and ready, had breakfast, got in the car, turned the key, and the battery was dead as a doornail (or knob, or knocker). When I'd come home Friday I had turned on the dome light and re-set the clock to Daylight Stupid Time. And on Tuesday morning, the dome light was still on. Silly mistake. So I called Bob, he sent Ryan out, and I was up and running right away. I met with Michael a bit later than planned, but got things taken care of.
Then I went to work, and had a busy day. And I started having trouble with my black tights. They were so old that they'd gotten stretched out around the waist, and they wanted to fall down. So I wrestled with them all day.
I got off around 5:00, and headed right over to church for The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. It was wonderful, as it always is, and the majority of people there were young folks, which was a delight. I so love seeing young people willing to come to church after work, love seeing that they understand the importance of this week at the beginning of Lent, and are willing to make the sacrifices for it, that they care about their souls.
The service got interesting as soon as the prostrations started. By the time we finished the first set, my tights had slid down to my knees. I had no choice - I went to the restroom, took them off, threw them in the trash, and put my shoes back on bare feet. And was much more comfortable and less distracted for the rest of the service. Now I need a new pair of black tights. I think I got those in Springfield, which would make them close to thirty years old. No wonder they lost their grip.
It was a day for frustration and humor, so I thought I'd share some humor with you. This makes me wonder if I should have been certain I looked at your chest X-ray every time you had a pleural effusion. Wonder if this was the type you kept having . . .
Please pray for a special blessing for Bob and Ryan, a pair of tights for me, and perseverance for all of us during this week - Pure Week - when we're in church eight evenings out of nine, we're fasting, and we get tired. And we see the most beautiful services the church has. When I'm this tired, I envy you and the freedom you have from your physical body.
Love you so much - sleep good,

Monday, March 18, 2013

Love, Peace, & 20 Mule Team Borax

Dear John,
Today it was the 1960s around here. I returned to my earth-mother hippie roots and did homesteading things. It was lots of fun, until I thought that I couldn't wait until you got home from work so I could show it all to you. You have no idea how many good things you ruin by not bothering to come see them. So get it together.
I've been collecting information on Pinterest about how to make your own cleaners at home, for less money and less exposure to chemicals that are banned in the rest of the world. So today I made window cleaner, floor cleaner, bathroom cleaner, cooking spray, dusting spray, furniture polish, laundry detergent, and the world's greatest hand-&-body lotion, in huge quantities, for about $12. The secret ingredients? (You really need to get on Pinterest and read these things yourself.) Mostly water. Plus things like hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, lemon juice, olive oil, canola oil, Dawn, baby lotion, Vaseline, vitamin E cream, baking soda, washing soda, and good old 20 Mule Team Borax. I've tried out most of the final products, and found them to be much better (and better-smelling) than anything manufactured and sold in stores.
It's aggravating to learn how toxic some of the manufactured products are. It's equally aggravating to discover how easy and inexpensive it is to make your own. You can do some things according to your own style, too - pick the Dawn with the fragrance you're in the mood for, add the essential oil combination that suits you, get fragrance-free baby lotion. We all have some of the ingredients already sitting around the house. And when you dump the old chemical cleaners, you can save, wash, and reuse the spray bottles they're in, so the containers are free.
After three hours of this I started humming Share the Land, and I had to think about you and laugh. You hated that song - hated utopianism in general. You knew long ago that human sin doesn't go away just because you homestead in western Canada or live in a BuckyBall. And I agree completely. But I love to continue the crafts and skills my grandmothers had - to make your own clothes and household textiles, to use products from the land and the livestock instead of a chemical factory, to buy food direct from a local farmer. And I'm afraid of those skills being lost because they aren't necessary for survival here and now.
It's like the Y2K scare - we weren't worried around here, because we're all used to not having power for long stretches, and a third of the population lives without it all the time. We have enough vegetable gardens and livestock to manage for a very long time. We'd run out of gasoline, but not horses because they're self-replicating. We'd run out of pharmaceuticals, but if we were eating real food we might find that we wouldn't need some of them.
And today I got name, address, and phone number for a local farmer that sells raw milk. I'll call him on Thursday, check out his milk policies and prices, and see what else I can get from him. I have more time than money now, so it sounds like a gardening-&-canning summer is coming. Rachel at church wants to learn how to can, so I've volunteered to teach her the same way Ginny taught me - go out early and get a bushel of something and can it together, then send Justin out for dinner when we're done.
I've lived to see this swing all over the place. Our grandmothers canned and sewed and churned, and some spun. When our parents were married, manufactured equivalents were becoming available, so they put everything rural behind them and bought manufactured - it was part of being in the middle class. Then we came along and wanted the craft part of homemaking, the idealistic back-to-the-land movement. Now a newer generation is joining us because doing it that way is more ecologically sound. And the economy crashed so we're all poor like our grandparents were. And Pinterest plays a not-inconsiderable role in all this.
Long unnecessary sociological piece there, but you know what I mean. We talked about it many times. And now my laundry room pantry is redone with my own homemade cleaning products in it. I'll make up labels for all the bottles tomorrow night. You really would love it. And I know you'd be proud of me - you always were when I did things like that, like the day I bought a $1.50 sheet, got out the buttonholer, and made a shower curtain out of it. We used it for 20 years. Thank you for your encouragement, for never having a box that you wanted me to fit in. Today I was definitely a homesteading hippie singing Share the Land.  The only one I want to share it with is you. But I can still do good homemaking in my own little corner.
Missing you in this corner,

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lent & Spider Bites

Dear John,
This is Forgiveness Sunday; Great Lent started this evening. I missed Forgiveness Vespers because I'm having an allergic reaction to a spider bite. I'm either itching all over or stoned on Benadryl, neither of which should be inflicted on an innocent parish. But I am getting to talk to you this evening, so please forgive me for all my sins and offenses. One good thing about our awareness of our mortality was that we kept a short record. We never held grudges - you are too good and kind, and I'm too short-tempered. And three months in the hospital give you lots of time to be sure you say all the things you want to say; we each had our day to do that. For the rest of my life I'll cherish the things you said to me that day.
How we felt about each other was always obvious, wasn't it? When we were in college everybody knew we loved each other, even when we were saying we were just friends. Everybody else knew better - our roommates, friends, church friends, your family, everybody. Thirty-eight years later, the nurses at Methodist were talking about how much we loved each other. And Ron said today that it's obvious that I'm still in love with you. And, of course, I am. And I always will be.
Ron came by for lunch today. He had clinical in an ER Friday night, and wanted to talk to somebody that would understand his excitement. His love and enthusiasm for it speak volumes - he's in the right field, and he'll be good at it. Jen came by and did an emergency load of laundry. And she brought me an anti-itch present - a box of Raisinets. That makes everything better. I ate them right before the Fast started.
Please pray for my itching, and for my Lent. I pray for you always.
Love you huge bunches,

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Our Rings & Our Saturday Things

Dear John,
I woke up this morning with "Come Saturday Morning" on my mind, and it reminded me of our college years. Of course, it came out long before that. And, as I remember, it was the best thing about The Sterile Cuckoo. But it got me remembering anyway.
Since we were both science majors, most Saturdays were study days. And Friday night was laundry night. I loved going to laundromats with you. The dorm washers ate clothes, so we had to go somewhere. And it saved money to do our clothes together. That's when I first fell in love with folding your underwear. (It's a bit strange, but I always loved doing that. I miss that now.)
But there were Saturdays when we'd do things for fun. Sometimes we'd meet for breakfast at K-Lair Grill. I'd get a half-order of pancakes, you'd get a grilled honeybun, and Kathy would holler the order to the back. I can still hear her. Then we'd go driving somewhere. Studying with you was even fun. When we had reading to do, we could stop and talk about what we were studying since our studies were in the same area.
And then there was the foot thing. We'd both take our shoes off and study in our socks, and sometimes you'd rub your feet against mine. I found it impossible to read under those circumstances, but I kept turning pages occasionally so you'd never know how distracting you were. Dating was more innocent in those days, and I'm glad. Even then, I loved just being with you, no matter what we were doing. You were all that mattered
So it's another Saturday, and I wish you were here. If you were, we'd travel for miles on our Saturday smiles, and then we'd move on. But we would remember long after Saturday was gone.
Loving and remembering,

Friday, March 15, 2013

OMG. I'm Sheldon.

Dear John,
My friends were right. I'm Sheldon. With slightly better social skills and no fear of germs. But other than that, I'm Sheldon. A new Big Bang Theory was on last night. I watched it at 8:00 pm, and Sheldon's behavior seemed so obvious and normal that it took me 24 hours to realize that most people aren't like that.
What happened was that Howard and Bernice had a closet that they kept throwing junk into to get it out of sight, and they got aggravated enough with Sheldon to ask him to organize it. Well, that's a bit like throwing Br'er Rabbit in the brier patch. Sheldon had so much fun doing it that he didn't want to go home, and he did a wonderful job. And it took me a whole day to realize that the point was to showcase Sheldon's eccentricity (while providing a Deus ex Machina to deal with the letter from Howard's father. But that's another story). I envied him the opportunity and admired the result. There is no other conclusion - I am Sheldon.
I don't know if you actually enjoyed that side of me, or just enjoyed the results. But you liked things neat, tidy, and organized. It seems a little strange now that the first thing I got up and did, as soon as my head injury and broken collarbone allowed, was pull everything out of the linen closet and reorganize it. It needed to be done, but it was just so much FUN! Now I realize that it wasn't particularly normal.
Sometimes looking at Sheldon is as alarming as the first time I saw The Glass Menagerie. I had no psychological or counseling background - I was only 15 - but I instantly saw in Laura the person that I so easily could have become. I had a healthier home and plenty of stubbornness. But Laura is inside me. And so is Sheldon. And fear is what rules the three of us. Sheldon is afraid of germs; I'm afraid of not being loved, Laura is afraid of failure - and everything else. We have two ways to try to control our fear: running away, or gaining power over things through knowledge. Neither removes the threat - they just stave off disaster for the moment. As you commented once: With me, the wolf is always at the door.
Thank you for loving me in spite of my being Sheldon, and for sheltering me, making me feel safe, and trying to understand me. And I miss having you to talk to when I'm scared, because you did understand me so well. And I miss having the prop of your unconditional love.
Prop me up now with your prayers, and give me your wisdom any way you can. And laugh with me at myself. There are plenty of opportunities for that!
Love you so very much,

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy Irrationality!

Dear John,
I have lots of little things today.
  • First, it's Pi Day - be irrational!
  • I saw the first new lamb outside today. I came home County Road 38 and saw it.
  • There's a new form of Sudafed out that can't be used to make meth. Should be a hit.
  • I've lost enough weight to need some new underwear - went to Walmart tonight.
  • Hunter is teething, and Jethro lets him chew on his cheek when he wants to.
  • I got Hunter a new toy that's big enough that I can find it after he shoves it out of sight somewhere. At last count, there were 5 toy mice missing.
  • Jethro was eating a chewbone and not paying any attention to the cat, so Hunter went and ate dog food.
  • I finally picked a paint color for my workroom. The office is blue and the bedroom is green, and it found a turquoise that looks just like a mixture of the other two. It will be much better than the yellow for a south-facing room.
  • I'm thinking about finding a local place to get unprocessed milk. The more I hear about what's in factory milk, the scarier it gets. Maybe the place I get my eggs sells milk, too. Cindy might know.
  • I love you more than all the world put together.
That's it - if there's anything else going on, I don't know about it. Which is, of course, entirely possible.
Love you, love you, love you,

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My 11-Month Report Card

Dear John,
It's been eleven months today. That means that a year ago we were starting our last month together. That's hard to grasp. The time thing is still a little difficult for me. I'm finding that I can handle the past, the present is getting a little easier, but the future is still a bear. I can think ahead a few months. But to think far ahead, and come face-to-face with the fact that I'll live the rest of my earthly life without you, is still more than I can bear. So I don't go there.
This was a good day to be off - I'm thankful that I worked late yesterday so I didn't have to go in on my day off. It snowed last night and most of today, and according to the news, the roads between here and Goshen were ice from 4 this morning until around 10. There was a seven-car pile-up on County Road 35, between 34 and 36. That early in the morning, there probably aren't many more cars than that on that stretch of road. Cars came over the hill doing fine, then slid to the bottom. There were no injuries, which probably shows that everybody had the good sense to be going slow. But I'm glad I wasn't out today.
We have about three inches of new snow in the back yard. Jethro has been out romping in it for a good bit of the day, while Hunter has been in the window watching the birds at the feeders. I washed the sheets and did church work on the computer. I was really tired after yesterday. Oh, and a new pope was chosen today. He's South American. He'll be the first pope from the western or southern hemispheres. Does that mean the rest have been European? And he's the first Jesuit pope, so Facebook is humming about what is a Jesuit anyway, with Catholics writing tomes about St. Ignatius of Loyola.
But these monthly anniversaries are tough, so all I care about tonight is that you're not here and I miss you. But I don't miss you without hope, so it's okay. I didn't get to spend the rest of my life with you, but you did spend the rest of your life with me. And wanted to. And that makes me very happy. You've always been good at making me happy.
Love you, love you, love you!

Results Are In: Schrodinger's Cat is Alive

Dear John,
I don't like Daylight Stupid Time. I left for work around 8, and it still wasn't completely light. I came home around 7:30, and it was almost dark. The time change has had me feeling a little disoriented all day. I usually do that for the first couple of weeks. It was a long day, but a good one. It had to be better than yesterday - the was no pig blood anywhere.
I'm off tomorrow, and after yesterday's events, I will attempt to make no plans for the day. There is plenty to do around here to keep me busy; I will have no trouble finding productive occupation. But as soon as I make plans, something terrible will surely happen to derail them. It's best to have none to start with.
The results are in - it's alive.
I wish you had the chance to watch Hunter grow up. I do believe cats aren't bone and muscle, but made of rubber. And did you know that they purr during inhalation and exhalation both? Kind of like Ronnie Woo-Woo. At first light he comes and wakes me up, not to do anything for him but just to have the morning face-rub. He rubs his face against mine over and over, purrs and cuddles, then goes off to the litter box and then his breakfast. But for that one quarter-hour of the day, all he wants is to cuddle with me, lick my face, and get kissed.This morning he went back to sleep on my pillow with his tail wrapped around my face - that tail is so long it sometimes seems prehensile. He's bright and curious, affectionate but a bit detached, quite ruthless, and nobody's fool - the better I get to know him I realize that, while I am a dog person, I'm a lot like a cat. I could be describing myself except that I can't purr. Even you always thought I was made of rubber. I told you that it was just estrogen at work. Maybe I was wrong - maybe I'm just a cat.
I'm finally getting wound down, so I should probably try to go to sleep. If you get video there, Hunter is worth watching. And he and Jethro together are a hoot. And you can call on me any time you want to. You're always welcome here.
Love you hugely,

Monday, March 11, 2013

Giggles & Pig Blood

Dear John,
I should stop trying to plan my days - whenever I do, things go pear-shaped.
I had pork chops thawing and went to put them in the crock pot before breakfast, when I discovered that they'd leaked. I had pig blood all over the fridge: on the second shelf, the third shelf, in the cheese drawer, and in the fruit and vegetable drawers. So I spent nearly an hour cleaning the fridge before breakfast. I've been looking for a celery-keeper - Tupperware makes them - you can only buy them as part of a set - Marie has one she's not using - we spent the rest of the morning on the phone and had a lovely time. I called Panera Benefits - they're still working with Anthem to get my COBRA re-started - but according to their records I've been with Humana since May, not Anthem - which could be part of the problem - except that my card is from Anthem, they've been sending me EOBs by mail and email, and were paying bills until December - so now there's one more thing to straighten out. I set things up to get an estimate from Allstate for adding the homeowner's insurance. And I got my hair cut. And ate dinner - the pork chops, that did finally get into the crock pot. And Elyssa lost another tooth. (The Tooth Fairy is paying more for teeth than she did when we were kids - I used to get a quarter, but the going rate today is $2-5 per tooth.)
So that was my day - how was yours? Not nearly as entertaining, I bet. All this activity has the animals worn out and me wired. Getting to sleep will be interesting. I have to take a shower, so maybe that will relax me some. And when I can't sleep there's always Pinterest.
Speaking of Pinterest, that's where I found this. There's no particular logic behind me sending it to you tonight, I just thought you'd like it. It always makes me laugh, and I wanted to give you a giggle.
Love you bunches,

Sunday, March 10, 2013

It's Not My Tattoo

Dear John,
It's 53 outside, and I'm in my nightgown sitting next to an open window. It feels and smells wonderful. And the cat has discovered that he can sit between the glass and the screen, and the dog can't get to him. This should make for an interesting summer.
Today is the Sunday of the Last Judgment, and I thought this verse was appropriate. Today is a mixture of realizing there will be a Final Judgment and remembering that God is merciful. I'm ready for Lent this year, for focusing myself after two years of continual crises that demanded my attention. I'll re-read The Ladder of Divine Ascent  and The Soul After Death. The reading will be different this time since you've completed your journey now and are already in Heaven. I don't know yet what it will be like and how it will be different, but I know it will. The rest remains to be seen.
Next Sunday is Forgiveness Sunday. We'll have Forgiveness Vespers at 6, and Lent will start. Please pray for me, that I will keep and good and faithful Great Fast and that my soul will benefit from it. And tell all the friends and family at the parapet how much I love them.
Love you most of all,

P.S. - Relax. It's not my tattoo. I pinned it from Pinterest.
P.P.S. - The Kontakion for today, in case you don't remember:
When Thou comest upon the earth, O Lord, with glory, all creatures will tremble.
And the river of fire will flow before the altar, the books will be opened, and all secrets will be revealed.
Then deliver me from the unquenchable fire, and make me worthy to stand at Thy right hand, O righteous Judge.



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring Cleaning & Daylight Stupid Time

Dear John,
Thanks for visiting me last night. There was a medical disaster in the dream, but it wasn't happening to you. It seems that we may get this dream thing down yet!
I've had a nice, busy day. I called your mother this morning, and we had a good talk. I so love talking to her! And I'm grateful that your family still thinks of me as family. As I've said before, thank you for having such a nice family.
I cleaned the house today - dusted, swept, vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms. I did a bit of spring cleaning while I was at it. I cleaned the fan and all the ceiling light fixtures, and got the cold air return vents. Tomorrow's high is supposed to be 53, and it's starting to feel and smell like spring. It won't stay there - highs next week are supposed to hang right at 40. But that's better than 20, and we're going the right direction.
Which leads me to the bad news: we're losing an hour tonight. That's right - Daylight Stupid Time starts tomorrow. One of the things I loved about Indiana when we first moved here was that the time didn't change. So tomorrow I'll get up while it's still dark and go to bed while it's still light. The only good thing I can find in this is that the animals - who have the good sense to live by the sun - will let me sleep an hour later next Saturday morning. And I suppose you can look at it as another sign of spring. I can probably go to work without leaving a light on for the critters. And it's going to happen no matter what I think about it, so I might as well stop grousing. Worse things happen to people. After all, I don't live in a war zone - we've never had an IED in Topeka, and it's been ages since there was a sniper on a roof downtown.
Since we're having a short night, I'd better stop and go to sleep. I have a cat asleep in my lap and a dog sleeping at my right side. It seems that I'm the only mammal in the house that's still awake. But that can be easily remedied! I'll try to dream about you again. And I'll try to remember to re-set the clocks!
Love you, no matter what time zone I'm in,

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Furry Patch on Your Back

Dear John,
Thank you for your prayers. I do feel some better physically today and a hair better emotionally. I worked a long busy day that kept my mind off everything other than what I was doing. And that was good for me.
I've been thinking about the small of your back lately. I saw a television commercial a week ago for a hair removal system. They had a couple on to talk about how important it was to remove the hair at the base of a man's spine. I would physically assault anybody that tried to mess with that furry patch on your lower back! It was an upside-down triangle of fur - not hair - in a back with very little other hair on it. And I loved it. It was the cutest thing. Being a nurse, I've seen thousands of men's backs. I've never seen a furry patch like yours. I could pick it out among all the backs in the world. And I'm so glad you never messed with it, never tried to remove the hair. I have no clue why anybody would want to remove it; do you? Strange idea.
I'll go to sleep tonight thinking about your furry patch, and wishing I could play with it again - run my fingers through it and pull on it, and try to tie knots in it and braid it. I'd like to see you tonight, if you can visit my dreams without turning them into nightmares where I'm trying to rescue you from something awful. Maybe we can just sit and talk and I can play with your furry patch.
Love your furry patch, love you more,

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Definitely Not Today

Dear John,
I went to bed last night feeling as content and positive as I have in these months without you. I slept well, and for some reason woke up a mess. I've been physically exhausted and emotionally miserable all day. I know it's just another piece of the grief process, but it's a terribly uncomfortable piece. I just have days that I can't bear the thought of living the rest of my life without you. I have no idea what triggered this one. But even I can't know everything that goes on inside my head, no matter how neat and tidy I try to keep things up there. And, as I keep reminding myself, Abby pointed out that a little pain is a good thing.
So this picture says it for today. I have good days and bad days, and that's to be expected. Please pray for me tonight. I hope tomorrow is a better day.
Love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wanna Buy a Pillow?

Dear John,
We did get that 8 inches of snow. The roads were an adventure this morning, but by afternoon they were just wet. I got out of the driveway without shoveling. There didn't seem to be any point when by Sunday it's going to be 50 and raining.
I have some fun news. I got a phone call from Deb today, and she's going to be coming over for a few days later this month. All of a sudden I'm busy. I'm taking two days to take Dick and Esther back to Indy for another doctor's appointment, the next week Deb is coming over, Lent starts soon and the church schedule will get busy, and Irene and I are planning for her trip over here.
The pre-spring schedule is coming, too. Soon we'll have days nice enough for cleaning out the flower beds and pruning. And I have two rooms to paint when I can open the windows. I want to get some vegetables planted this year since my collarbone is finally up to canning. And I promise that this year I'll put flowers in the window boxes.
I didn't get much done the summer of 2011 because of the collarbone, and last summer speaks for itself. I'm looking forward to getting caught up. The social activity will be good for me, too. Being around people is still an effort sometimes, but not as hard as it was a few month ago. For a while, being around people was unbearable. It's gradually gotten better, and now I'm enjoying people again.
I had to show you this picture I found on Pinterest. These are called long-distance pillows. When the other person is lying on theirs, yours lights up. And you can hear the other person's heartbeat. I wish they'd work for us, but I have my doubts. Wouldn't it be lovely, though? I'm not alone at night because I sleep with the cat and the dog, but the bed is still lonely.
Loving you, lonely for you,

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Memories of Snowstorms Past

Dear John,
We're having what I hope is our last snowstorm of the season. And it will probably be our deepest snow - they're predicting 7-8 inches by morning. But on Sunday the temperature will be near 50 and it is supposed to rain. So the fact that I haven't gotten the snow blower out of the shed shouldn't be a problem. All season it either hasn't snowed enough to need it, or the wind has been strong enough that the driveway stayed clear.
When the roads are bad I watch Facebook to be sure Aleesha is getting to work and home safely, and remember all the times I worried about you driving in snow. The worst was that night you were coming home from work in Kendallville in a snow emergency with zero visibility, and got stuck on State Route 5. When you called and told me you were going to spend the night in the car, I meant it when I said that if you thought you were going to do that, I would head out that way in the minivan. That's what it took to get you to go to the nearest house. And that sweet lady took you in, bless her! That was a nasty night.
In the sense of making lemonade from a nuclear conflagration, at least I don't worry about you driving in the snow now. When I see something ugly on the radar, I still feel like I should text you at work and let you know. I gave you weather bulletins while you were working for over thirty years. Old habits die hard.
It's not snowing where you are tonight. And your little family is safe and warm. If you think about it, pray for all of us down here. I'll pray for you tonight, like I always do. On cold nights, we miss you in the mammal mound.
Love you so much,

Walmart at 3 AM

Dear John,
Today was a bit different - I worked 3 pm to 9 pm because there was an evening meeting I needed to be there for. So I worked tonight instead of tomorrow. I left home at 12:30 so I could run some errands on the way to work. I only got one of them done because I ran into Bob at the post office and we talked for an hour. It was such a treat to see him. He's 82 now - doesn't look it - and not quite as steady on his feet as he was. But he's still the same Bob and I love him dearly. No, I'm not planning to leave Topeka. Not until I do so in the back of one of Yeager Funeral Home's hearses.
After work this evening, I had to get to Walmart for some necessities. I discovered that Walmart at 10 pm is about the same as it is at 4 am. Do you remember when you were first working at Essenhaus and I had to drive you to and from work? It was between your first seizure and your brain surgery, and you weren't cleared to drive. You worked the opening kitchen shift, so it was obscenely early in the morning. Since Walmart is open 24 hours I could go there and do my shopping after I dropped you off at work.
Walmart was fascinating at that hour, and it's just the same at 10 at night. There was a lot of stocking going on, with stacks of pallets turning the aisles into obstacle courses. And there were very few customers, all of them looking at each other with distrust, wondering what kind of people would be at Walmart at that hour and whether they were safe. It's a whole different dynamic in the middle of the night.
I watched you like a hawk after that first seizure, you know, especially since you had airway problems with that one. I was so afraid that if you had one alone you wouldn't be able to breathe. Let's face it - after your first heart surgery in 1987 I watched you like a hawk. Before then we thought your cancer was over and done with. And it was, but the effects of the treatment were never to be over. We found out with that surgery in 1987 that there was scar tissue forming where you'd had radiation. And from that moment I never relaxed again. Your second heart surgery in 1995 told us that scar tissue was continuing to form in old and new areas. Your brain surgery taught us that there was damage in places that only got scatter, not direct radiation. And everything after that - the carotid surgery, the vocal cord deterioration, the choking problems, the mitral valve damage and heart failure, and finally the lung cancer, made us face a relentless and endless deterioration. Somewhere along the way we realized that you had survived the cancer and would someday die from the treatment.
And as the damage advanced, my watchfulness increased. I don't know if you ever knew how closely I was watching. I knew you hated things that made you feel "sick," so I kept it as low-key as I could - I didn't want you to be aware that besides having a wife beside you, you had a very alert critical care nurse. And I'm realizing now just how much strain I've been under since 1987, never able to drop the nurse role and relax. Joe has commented on how low my blood pressure is now - lower than it's been in a decade. I still hate sleeping without you, but I sleep better now because I'm not sleeping with one ear open. For months after your seizure I just cat-napped at night - I was afraid to really fall asleep.
You were far and away my favorite patient and I tried very hard to never make you feel like a patient - you would have hated that. But it was necessary to keep you safe. Now that I can relax that vigilance, I'm finding out what it means to relax. And realizing how much stress it was to be on high alert for 30 years.
Well, we kept you alive, active, working, and feeling good decades longer than anyone expected. And we were right - it was the treatment that killed you. But before it did, it gave you 38 more years. And as your mother used to say every time you had a crisis, "It's a good thing he married a nurse." It was a good thing for the nurse, too. Now, enjoy being healthy! Enjoy never needing a doctor or a medicine again. Enjoy a body where sin, death, and illness have no place. And save me a seat beside you.
Love you so very much,

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Orange Stevia & That Hole In My Heart

Dear John,
The Spring Attack continues. For my snack tonight, I had my little bowl of ricotta cheese. But instead of putting Vanilla or Toffee Stevia in it, I got wild and reckless and used the Valencia Orange Stevia. It was good - not particularly orangey, but brighter and crisper. Maybe I'll try the Peppermint Stevia tomorrow. I'm out of control.
We had church today, with the Annual Parish Meeting afterward. These are the simplest and most congenial church meetings I've even been to. I don't throw up after them or anything. It's delightful. We got a handout of the whole Lent/Holy Week schedule today. There's nothing different, but I'm so looking forward to it. Today was the second Sunday of pre-Lent - the Sunday of the Prodigal Son.
I missed Lent at church last year, with you in the hospital all that time - as Father said, I had my own Lent. And when the intensity increased in Holy Week, it did for me too, because that was when you got septic and I knew you didn't have much longer. And then you died on Holy Friday, a little after noon. There could have been no better timing, except maybe to choose different decade. I missed the Paschal service because I wasn't ready to face people yet - I'd just have stood in the back and bawled. I did go to Agape Vespers on Sunday afternoon and read Latin and German, but that's always a very small group, and people that I'm very close to, so it wasn't demanding emotionally - it was comforting instead. In 2010 I had to miss a lot of Lent because of the mono, and I was in Ann Arbor for Palm Sunday and Holy Week. And I missed most of Pascha because I got so nauseated and had to go out - not unusual when I've been working nights and try to swing back to days.
So part of my wish for a boring 2013 is that I get to have a full and normal Lent. I really need it this year. I need the time to stop and evaluate my soul, do a thorough confession, look at the new habits and routines I'm establishing in light of what is best for my soul, and make decisions and commitments. And for the first time since 1974, I'll be doing that without any accountability or support from you. Living a disciplined life while you live alone is extremely challenging. I'll devote Lent to examining this new unaccompanied life.
I almost forgot - in Father's report at the meeting he mentioned that we had lost two members this year, you and Dick. And he said how much you're both missed, and that you were both men who were filled with joy. I knew that would mean a lot to you, so I wanted to tell you. I had several people tell me today how much they still miss you.
And you know I do - that doesn't need to be said. But I'll say it anyway: I love you with all my heart, and miss you because that heart has a hole in it now.
Love you so much,

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Annual Spring Attack is Here

Dear John,
I'm beginning my annual Spring Attack. It comes every year, usually with the skunks. It really started last week, when I bought nail polish - an extreme expression of the exuberant restlessness that hits me. Today I looked at the class schedule at the yoga place and considered opening an Etsy store. I know - I shouldn't get so wild and daring. The weather went to my head. This morning it was still cold but sunny, so I walked downtown to run errands then came home and took the dog around the block twice. It smells like winter is coming to an end.
I've had Spring Attacks ever since I can remember. And I knew things were serious with you when we dated through two springs. It was quite an accomplishment for you, holding my interest through both springs. And not freaking out when I bought nail polish - I remember buying blue and green in 1977, when women didn't wear nail polish in anything but pink and red. Once again, you gave me the freedom to be myself.
I tested you on that early in our relationship. Remember? We were in the car heading south on I-75, coming back from my first trip to Springfield with you. We were singing silly songs, and I decided to sing the Beaver Call song and watch your reaction. You were surprised, but you liked it. And what really mattered was that you liked the fact that I surprised you. I'd had enough of dating guys that had a box for me to fit into - when I did something that surprised them, they would frantically begin trying to stuff me back into the box. You told me later that you thought, "That's a side of her that I haven't seen before. This is interesting!" That's another reason I had to marry you.
It occurs to me that I'm wrong about my Spring Attack being an annual thing. I didn't have one last year. That's probably because there was no spring. There was Christmas, then Hospitals, then Widowed. I was too focused to be restless, and there was nothing to be exuberant about. I didn't want to do anything new and different. All I wanted was for life to go back to the way it had been.
Like it or not, I got new and different. In spite of widowhood, I think there will be spring this year. I'm beginning to carve out a new normal. Jen is right, as usual - getting a cat was a huge step, the first piece of that. I hope the nail polish colors work out half as well.
Thank you for gracefully weathering 38 springs with me. Thank you for liking it when I surprised you. Thank you for not just letting, but wanting me to be myself. Thank you for never trying to own or control me. And please give your father my thanks for his part in making you that way, and tell him how much I look forward to telling him myself.
Sleep well tonight, and pray for your little family. Loving you all the springs of my life,