Tuesday, April 30, 2013

About Absolutely Nothing

Dear John,
I don't seem to have anything to say tonight. It's been a long day - I worked 9 hours and got off too late to go to church tonight. I'm stiff and sore from yesterday's mowing, but sore in a good way. The blister on my big toe hasn't bothered me much. I'm nice and pink from yesterday's sun.
It's been a beautiful day, and is still in the 70s outside. Today was the kind of day that makes me sorry to work in a basement office. But I got home in time to watch a lovely evening through open windows, listen to the birds, and watch the cat watch the birds. We're headed for the low 80s tomorrow.
And speaking of animals, the cat is ticked off with me. I have no idea what about - I guess it's a cat thing. Since yesterday afternoon he wants nothing to do with me. The dog is taking this opportunity to monopolize my lap. Either way, I am not lacking for animal attention.
Tomorrow I go see Joe for my yearly - oil change, tune-up, tire rotation, and what-not. No excitement is expected. I miss the days when you were here, and every time one of us had a doctor's appointment we'd go together and take a day and play, run around South Bend, eat somewhere on the cheap lunch menu. I don't even eat now that I'm going by myself. I'll try to get home in time to get some housework done before church, but this is Holy Week and housework may just not get done.
See - I told you there wasn't anything to say! Just the kind of rambling conversation we used to have at bedtime, when we'd relax and start getting sleepy and maybe a bit incoherent. And then I'd fall asleep on your shoulder and stay there until you started snoring from lying on your back. You can come snore for me any time you want.
Love you, miss you, so much,

Monday, April 29, 2013

Of Enjoli & Blisters

Dear John,
I got it done before the town ticketed me - the lawn is mowed. The back looks like somebody's been cutting hay. Jethro keeps the grass thick and healthy back there. The front looks like a mole farm. The dog, bless him, keeps the moles out of the back yard. I should find a way to rotate him through the whole yard. It would certainly look better. And I have the usual spring blisters on my hands and one on the bottom of my left big toe.
Doing things you used to do for me . . .
Remember the first time I mowed here? The grass was getting really long and your work hours weren't going to let you cut it anytime soon. You came home that night and asked who mowed the grass. I said the dog certainly didn't do it, and you finally figured out it was me. I felt a bit insulted by your amazement, but your admiration made up for it. I was brought up to be independent, and that included mowing. It was easy after I figured out how to engage the drive - it was my first time with a self-propelled mower.
Following up on yesterday's discussion, my brain went wandering and parodying while I was working on the back yard. Remember that old Enjoli commercial - I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you're a man, 'cause I'm a woman? Well, today my mind churned up: I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never whine about needing a man, 'cause I'm a widow. I do bacon in a microwave, but that just didn't sound right.
This is why Mama brought me up to be like I am. She saw her mother widowed after years of caring for an invalid husband, and it was important to her that I always be able to take care of myself. And here I am. I'm not enjoying it, but you and Mama were right - you both knew I'd be okay. But nobody ever said I'd like it.
Love you forever,

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I Love It When You Talk Nerdy

Dear John,
Yesterday Kathy said the she enjoyed being with the two of us because we saw things in such different ways - different to her, I mean. It's a nice way of saying we're weird, but it's more than that. Part of it is that our education was in math-science, then later we both got seminary degrees. We had unusual overlapping subsets in our education and parlance.
We laughed at ourselves for years about our song, "Blame Augustine." For us, it was inevitable. We'd seen and loved the South Park movie, so we knew the song "Blame Canada." If ever a song called for parodying, that was it. What could be more obvious than to interject a 3rd Century theological conflict into the song? So we ended up with "Blame Augustine - for the free-will hullabaloo and the filioque too. Blame Augustine - he's not even a real saint anyway."
We used to speculate on how many people would get the song. There's the set of people who know every word to "Blame Canada," and the set of people to have studied both the theological controversy between Augustine and Pelagius, and the addition of the filioque to the creed in the Western church, and also have a general understanding of the relationship of the Eastern church to Blessed Augustine. The overlapping subset is very small indeed. Since your death, it may be just me. That's okay - it's still just as funny.
And that's the kind of thing we did. We'd go off into these surreal flights of fancy, have a lovely time, and confuse anyone in earshot. It was play to us - playing with words and concepts. I miss that now. But when I do come up with something new, I laugh about how much you would laugh at it. So it's still fun.
So please, keep talking nerdy to me! I love your mind. And yes, to answer the question I know is coming: I was quite fond of your body, too. But what I fell in love with is your soul. I look forward to being reunited to all of you, and I'm open to the very near future. Until then, rest well!
Love you unspeakable amounts,

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Of Lazarus and Hope

Dear John,
I've had a nice, quiet, tired day. My Saturdays have gotten into a pattern - I sleep late and take naps most of the day. That's fibromite life!
Today is Lazarus Saturday, and it has brought joy to me. During prayers this morning I was thinking about the Troparion for Lazarus Saturday:
By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your Passion, you confirmed the universal Resurrection, O Christ God.
Like the children with the palms of victory, we cry out to you, O Vanquisher of death:
Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!
And this makes me happy, because I know you're okay. You're better than okay. And there's hope even for me. And all of this is true because Christ is victorious over death. He raised Lazarus right before entering Jerusalem the last time, so the disciples wouldn't despair when the crucifixion came. And Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday come the weekend before the rigors and grief of Holy Week, so that we go into Holy Week with a fresh awareness that the Resurrection is around the corner.
All of this keeps us ordinary folks from despair during our own times of grief. As we'll sing in a week, Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.
It looks from here like you've died, but in reality it's life that you've entered. May God grant that I persevere and am faithful to the end, and also inherit eternal life!
Love you, love you, love you!


Friday, April 26, 2013

Dobie Gray & the Imago Dei

Dear John,
Look at your boys - isn't this wonderful? They are seldom this still!
They wore themselves out today. Kathy and I came over and went to the viewing together. Then we dropped in here to pick up your winter coats - I'm hoping Kirby can wear them. So the animals got all excited, and I left ten minutes later. I could hear Jethro barking as we drove down the street. Then Jen dropped Elyssa off after work so I could watch her while Jen went to the viewing, so Jethro and Hunter had their favorite little human to play with. They should sleep well tonight.
This morning I heard Dobie Gray's "Drift Away" on the radio, and one phrase jumped out at me: The world outside looks so unkind. I realized that, to me, the world looks kinder as I get older. I know there is plenty of evil out there. But there are amazing depths of goodness in people, and ordinary folks often do deeds of great kindness and compassion. I think of how kind people have been to me this last year, and the people in Boston who ran toward the explosions instead of away. And I agree with Orthodox theology (isn't that nice of me!), that the puzzle isn't why there is evil, but why there is goodness. We have to bear within us the image of God since, sinners that we clearly are, we can also do great good. We can love others and sacrifice for them. The world doesn't look at all unkind to me.
The animals are sound asleep, and it's time I joined them. Thank you for your goodness and kindness. I love you so, so much,

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Remembering the Rending

Dear John,
It was not my best day. I had a good and busy day at work. But Willie's death has hit me harder than I expected. Maybe it reminds me too much of yours. Maybe I'm more sensitive to widowhood than I used to me. Maybe it's the similarity between his accident and mine. Or maybe it's just because he's been my friend for years. I do know that his viewing tomorrow will be the first I've been to since yours, and the first I've ever been to by myself.
Losing a friend is difficult in it's own right. But this is also reminding me of the horrible wrenching pain that comes at the moment of loss. Now, a year later, I ache for you. But when you died it felt like I was being torn in two, like you and I were two halves of one whole, and were being ripped back into two halves. And it can't be done. You can't unscramble an egg. Father is right - half of me is gone. And it's that tearing, rending pain that I'm remembering now.
I suspect that this photo was first pinned to represent two people moving toward each other. To me, it is two people reaching for each other in vain, losing their grip on each other's hands as they're separated. But it strikes me now, for the first time, that one day I will move toward you again - we'll re-gain the grip we lost. The photo will come full circle and we'll move toward each other and hold hands again.
Next week is Holy Week. We'll have Bridegroom Matins on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings, Holy Unction on Wednesday. Thursday we'll have the Liturgy of the Last Supper in the morning and the 12 Passion Gospels at night. Friday will be the liturgical anniversary of your death, and I'll go to the Lamentations in the evening and cry for you. The Resurrection will be just around the corner. Our resurrection is just around the corner, too, and there is hope - for restoration in the Kingdom of God and reunion with those we love. So reach out your hand for me and I'll come.
Stretching my hand toward you,

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I Will Not Mow Snow

Dear John,
It snowed today. So I decided not to mow. I refuse to mow snow. (There's a Dr. Seuss verse in there somewhere.) I'd planned to take the flannel sheets off the bed for the season, but decided it wasn't quite time yet. We are expecting "frozen mix" tonight - the dreaded Pink Stuff on the Weather Channel maps - and I haven't gotten warm all day. The populace is disgruntled and the groundhog is still in trouble.
I didn't mind not mowing. I got to sleep at 4:30 this morning, and the animals got me up at 7. I couldn't sleep in because I had to get the car down for an oil change, so I settled for a nap later. I think it was the caffeine in that Coke I had when I was visiting you. After waking me up early, Jethro and Hunter slept most of the day.
I got to see Bob today and tell him how sorry I am about Willie. It's troubling, knowing that our accidents were so similar, but I survived and he didn't. Maybe I'm feeling guilty. I already knew that my survival wasn't possible - not breathing for 5 minutes and decorticate, and all. This certainly underlines it. My problem is that I want to understand - I want to know why I survived. And that isn't for me to know. I need to let this be, along with the rest of the last three years. I know Who is in charge, and that is enough. My understanding is irrelevant - there will not be a quiz. And thank goodness for that!
I'm off to bed, and hoping to actually sleep tonight. I'll try to pretend that your arms are around me, my head on your shoulder. (But then, why is there a cat lying on my left hip?) Even in you're not here, I know that you are close. And that is enough.
Love you and miss you with every molecule in me,
P.S - You should see what Spell Check tried to do with "decorticate." :)

In the Still of the Night

Good morning!
It's a quarter to 4 and I'm still awake. Part of it is not wanting to go to bed tonight, part is getting wired by the end of NCIS, part is finishing a knitting project, Pinterest is partly to blame, and I had a Coke at 3 pm and I'm not used to caffeine. So anyway, here I am. And I found this and had to share it with you. It's the truth.
Will turn out the light now, and see it I can wake the animals up enough for them to give me room to lie down.
Love you so very much,

And Just Who Is In That Body Bag?

Dear John,
It was another day that went pear-shaped.
First, I went to South Bend for an appointment with Barb. While I was there I went to Erica's and Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and got the car washed. I didn't have any trouble running around South Bend and Mishawaka without you, and I think it's because during the years we lived there, I ran all over town by myself while you were at work. So I'm used to shopping there without you.
I went back to Goshen and got lunch at McDonalds, and brought it out to eat with you. I got about 3/4 done, was waiting to do prayers after lunch, and the rain started. I could hear you telling me to run get in the car, and get my silly self in out of the rain. So that's what I did. I missed eating a cherry pie with you, and didn't get to do prayers. But this is the only time all year that I've been run off by weather. I was just sorry to have to rush off so abruptly. It's such a lovely, peaceful spot to sit and eat lunch with you.
On the bad-news front: There are great political-correctness convulsions going on over the Boston bombers, who were motivated by Islam. Their parents say we framed them because we hate Muslims. The man arrested for the ricin attack has been released and another man arrested. Denver got 6 inches of snow, the flooded areas are getting more rain, and the basement is still dry. And Willie was in a car accident yesterday evening, and was killed. I'm so sorry for Alana. He did the same thing I did - pulled out in front of an oncoming car - but he died and I'm still here. I could see keeping me here until your death, so you didn't have to go through that alone. But you're gone now, and here I still am. What's up with that? And now, Willie died and I survived. As you may have noted, I have questions.
And to top off  the day, NCIS ended with a sledge hammer tonight. Tony and Ziva had been in Berlin (too long a story to tell here - you'll have to catch it on Hulu) came back, and were broadsided by another car. In the previews of next week, there is someone in a body bag. Contract renewals for next year are getting wrapped up, so you have to wonder about subtext. But right now, I'm wondering how I'm expected to eat and sleep for a week while I wait to find out what happened.
All of this is more information that you need, I'm sure. What you need to know is that we'll all okay, we love you and miss you, our good days are getting better and our bad days aren't as bad as they were. And I love you with all my heart, just like I always have. Sleep good,

Monday, April 22, 2013

Worrying About Worrying

Dear John,
Today I saw Sonya for my monthly massage therapy, and I was a mess. She could have spent hours on me. I haven't been in that bad shape since my last big flare about three years ago. Which concerns me, since I'm trying to figure out whether this is a flare or if my thyroid has tanked. Of course, it could be both at once. There's no rule against that.
Sunday I went to confession, and told Father that I've been struggling with fear since this stretch of extreme exhaustion started about six weeks ago. I could handle that when you were here and could take care of a lot of things for me. Doing it when I'm on my own is very scary to think about, especially during lawn-mowing season. Father understood, and reminded me that God is not the God of the past, or of the future, but is the I Am, the present, all time rolled together, the Creator of time and therefore over and external to it. Since confession, I'm still exhausted but am content with it.
Tomorrow I go to see Barb. And no, I'm not sick, this is a regular 6-month check-up. I'm going to talk to her about all of this because it does affect my asthma. When I'm extremely tired, I wheeze - probably from catecholamine depletion. And believe me, my catecholamines are severely depleted! We'll see what she thinks.
All I'm really doing is waiting to see what God has in mind for me. Fibromites have very little control over their bodies, and that gives us very little control over anything at all. He will do what is best for me. He always has. So pray for me as I worry about trying not to worry!
Love you hugely,

Sunday, April 21, 2013

May I Spend Forever With You?

Dear John,
I've had a lovely Sunday. We had memorial prayers for you and for Kevin, and people were very kind to me. After coffee hour I was thinking about coming to visit you, since it wasn't raining or snowing, and discovered that others were thinking the same thing. So we caravaned over - me, Luke, Lacey, Ron, Tammy, Chris, Brian, Adrian, and a college friend of Brian's named Cody. We did prayers for you and then for Kevin. It was sunny and beautiful, but in the 40s with a brisk wind. The Chief is open now, but it was way too cool for ice cream. But sometime soon I will show up with the year's first ice cream, and eat it with you! The creek was so high that I could hear the water gurgling. It was a special day.
This one-year anniversary still feels happy to me. I expected to be mourning having spent a year without you, but instead I'm celebrating you having spent a year in Heaven. I never know what I'm going to feel when, since I've never done this before, and I keep surprising myself. This time it's a pleasant surprise. I may have an emotional crash fifteen minutes from now. But until then, I'm thankful that you are healed, whole, and healthy, and are where no sickness, sin, or pain can ever touch you again. When I pray to St. John, I pray for you and for me, and ask him to pray for me that one day I'll have the seat next to you. So keep saving it for me!
Can't wait to be beside you again,

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Worm Patrol

Dear John,
I got up at 6 to let the dog out, which was bad enough on a Saturday morning, but then I saw white stuff scattered all over the back yard. My first thought was cottonwoods, but there aren't any close around. Then I realized it was snow. It's April 20th. You can imagine my excitement. It never got out of the 30s today.
I forgot to tell you yesterday: I went on Worm Patrol twice. When I went out to the garage to leave for work, I saw bunches of earthworms that had come up to the driveway in the rain, and were starting to dry up. Some had died already. So I went out on patrol, and picked up about two dozen and put them in the grass where they'll be safe. When I got to Kathy's for work, she had the same thing. So I picked up another dozen or so. I can't bear to leave them there to die.
I'm glad you understood that about me. It's not just every man that would help his wife save earthworms. You even understood that night when we had that terrible storm, and the window well filled up with water, and the basement was flooded, and I left you with it and took off running up the stairs yelling, "My toads!" I'd been watching that family of toads that lived in the window well for a couple of years and had gotten quite attached to them. You didn't protest when I went out in a torrential downpour and constant lightning in my bathrobe, and fished the toads out. Poor little things - they were frantically trying to cling to the screen on the window, and kept falling back into the water. We didn't lose any that night - I got there in time.
And you didn't laugh at me. You always treated me with respect, even when you didn't understand me. But saving animals was something you always understood. You respected them, too. It was something I loved about you. But, now that I think about it, I love everything about you, don't I? That's what happens when you're married to the world's only perfect man.
That's really all that's up tonight - I wanted to tell you that the earthworms are safe. And it didn't rain today, so all the high water is starting to recede. We may not need that ark after all - just snowmobiles. The picture is just for giggles - I pinned it, and knew you'd get a good laugh out of it. I always loved being able to talk geek with you!
Love you more than all the animals in the world put together,

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fond Memories of Your Funeral

Dear John,
Everything is under water except the basement. I had adventures getting to work this morning - I kept running into roads that were flooded out. CR 40 was blocked at SR 13, where a semi had tried to turn west and was stuck in the mud. The flooding around here is as bad as I've seen. I didn't drive by Rogers Park, but we both know how it looks. Meanwhile in the rest of the world, one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing was killed in a confrontation with police. The other got away, but was caught a little while ago. They're two brothers in their twenties, and nobody has any idea yet why they did it.
Your funeral was a year ago yesterday, and I've thought about it a lot today. The weather is an obvious contrast - a year ago I wore a tank dress with a shawl, and sandals. Today it was in the 30s and we got some snow. It was a beautiful funeral, and I'm so grateful to all the people that were there - the readers and chanters that missed a day of work, Father, the ladies that made all the food, the funeral home folks, and all the family and friends that came. I'm still amazed at the distances some people traveled.
I told Father and Daniel to triple the food and the visitation hours, and I was right. Not many people realized how much you had done around here and how many people you knew. There was the Orthodox world, the local Mennonite world, Topeka, Central District Conference, your inter-conference work, the umpire's association, the Lilly grant you helped administer, people who worked at Pizza Hut and Essenhaus and three Paneras, and that's just the last fifteen years. We had old friends and extended family here, too. And there were people that knew primarily me, like the Goshen BNI people and the seminary. It means so much to me, and probably more to you, to remember all the people who came. I need to get out the guest book and read all the names again. I love it that the same guest book contains our wedding, your funeral, and has room left for my funeral.
And so I've spent a year without you. And I love you just the same as I did a year ago, and two years, and ten years. It seems that death can only inconvenience love, it can't kill it. It's like watching a 2-part episode of a television show. It will be continued as if nothing happened between the two parts, but you just have to wait for the second part to air. Our second part will come when I'm allowed to vacate these premises and come join you. I'll be there as soon as I can!
Love you always and forever,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Explosions, Warheads, and a Dry Basement

Dear John,
The world has gone weird again. Besides the bombs at the Boston Marathon (which were made of shrapnel and black powder in pressure cookers), envelopes containing ricin were sent to a senator, the president, and miscellaneous other political dignitaries. Today a fertilizer plant exploded in a small Texas town that is about twice the size of Topeka - or, was about twice our size. Everything in a 6-block radius of the plant is gone. A huge storm is moving across the plains and Midwest, leaving behind hail damage, wind damage, flooding, and a sinkhole that ate 3 cars in Chicago. North Korea is still making noises about firing rockets with nuclear warheads at the mainland US. And Pat Summerall died yesterday.
Meanwhile, on the home front, the basement is dry and your little family is fine. Hunter is back to normal after his neutering. Since he's up to 9 pounds now, he's holding his own with Jethro and is taking more aggressive roles in their play, instigating at least a third of it. His incision looks fine - it was all done with internal sutures. Deb left this morning a little before I did, and got home safely. We had a good time, and the animals loved her.
Work is still busy - I'm still catching up from missing last week. Kathy's business is really starting to grow so my hours will be increasing, and I'll be glad for that. Soon she'll be hiring a new part-time assistant that I will train to do the basic things, and Kathy will train to do some of the household chores for her. All of this will free up Kathy to focus on the business, which is a good thing. My role continues to expand, which is also good. It's an adventure.
As work continues to demand more, I will need to plan differently. I'll have to try to keep appointments to my one day a week off. If it dries out this weekend, I'll have to get the mower out. It's time to add lawn and garden maintenance into the schedule. And I may have to keep up with my hobbies by multitasking. It seems that knitting and yoga can be combined with little difficulty.
I love you so, so much, especially coming home tonight alone. This will be our fourth night in a row with storms, and I'm worn out from spending much of my night dealing with the terrified creatures instead of sleeping. Please pray for the three of us, that we get a good night's sleep tonight. No thunder or lightening will disturb you! So sleep good, and dream about me.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Storms, Surgery, and Silly Animals

Dear John,
Could you please come here for just a few minutes? It's storming outside, and I'm trying to type with the dog in my lap and the cat yowling beside me. If you could take them for a little bit, then I could get your letter done!
Hunter got neutered today. He did fine with the surgery, came home stoned, and is back to normal now. He's eating and running around like nothing happened. Jethro was a bit subdued today, since I took the cat and came back without him. He was completely beside himself when I brought the cat back home.
I'd better go - this is amazingly hard with the dog in my lap. And there was just a crash down the hall alerting me that Hunter has knocked something over. I'd better go see what. Aren't you glad you're missing all this excitement?
Love you so much,

Babies, Bombs, and Storms

Dear John,
First, I have good news. Jill had a beautiful baby boy yesterday. She missed the date of your death by two days, but April 15th is a memorable date in its own right. I know she's happy to see her feet again and have some room to breathe.
For the bad news: There are three dead in Boston and 180-something injured. The number of limb amputations keeps going up. The bombs were filled with nails and B-B balls. And today a senator from Mississippi got a letter laced with ricin. The FBI is working on both. Right now, there are many more questions than answers.
More bad news: Tamara's father died, and Father's mother had a stroke. Things are tough for many people.
Meanwhile, back at home, Deb and I went to Shipshewana today. We had breakfast at Tiffany's, got batting and backing for the quilt at Yoder's, then went to the Old Davis Hotel and shopped and played for a while. In one of the shops I met a lovely lady whose sister is recently widowed, so we talked a while and I gave her the blog address and my email address. I hope it can help some. I have SO turned into my mother. Which is a good thing. And yes, I can hear her laughing at me when I say that. Tell her for me that yes, she was right all along, and I'm glad!
We had storms last night, so I had agitated critters all over me. I persuaded the dog to sit guard by my head instead of on my head, and finally got a bit of sleep. More storms are predicted tonight and tomorrow night. I do hope to get some sleep tonight because I have to get up early to take Hunter in to be neutered. He's finally old enough. I'm also curious to see how much he weighs now. He's adorable, and so much fun. Deb and I will buckle down and get as much done on her quilt as we can tomorrow. We figure this will require more than one trip over here. We are attempting to hold up under the disappointment of more time together.
Somewhere around 30 or 32 years ago, you knew that Deb and I would be friends. Thank you for seeing that we met each other, and thanks to you and Terry for staying downstairs that night while Deb and I sat on the stairs and talked for hours. This friendship has been one of my most cherished and most important, just as you knew it would be. How did you get to be such a good judge of women?
Never mind. Maybe you just recognized women who were like me. But you always knew the women I would make friends with: Deb, Cathy, Audora, even Peg. You supported my girlfriend friendships - thank you. Now they're more important that ever, since my best friend isn't here with me anymore.
I'm going to fall asleep soon, so I'll stop voluntarily before I go face-down on the keyboard. Sleep good, hug Mama for me, and please keep praying for me.
Love you bunches,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Another April 15th is Over

Dear John,
What a day. And now it's tomorrow already.
I had a rather wild day at work, doing a week's worth of accumulated work in 6 hours, Deb arrived from Sydney, running errands in Topeka with Deb and managing to meet up with 5 people to talk to (thus introducing her to small-town life), coming home to roast in the crock put and fixing rice and salad, talking and playing Boomer trivia all evening, then getting to bed at a reasonable time. Then I sat down with the laptop and checked WNDU news.
Two terrorist bombs were exploded today near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The latest count is 2 dead and 144 injured. It was the lead story on the WNDU home page. I woke Deb up and turned on CNN. We watched the coverage enough to get caught up, while I checked Facebook for the day, most of which had to do with things in Boston.
So it's been a day for all seasons - a day with a little bit of everything in it. And some of it we would be better off without. Tomorrow we'll go to Yoder's for quilt batting and backing for Deb, then I'll need to make a grocery store run.
Oh, and I did get the federal taxes in the mail today. Kathy had them for me, and I got back to the post office before the last pick-up at 3:45, got my check in the mail, and am done. I have a refund coming from the state, so that will be electronic. It's good to have that over and done with. I want to watch for the new IRS instruction book - the big one - to come out so I can get one and start studying up for next year. The only interesting thing should be the health insurance laws, but mine won't be complicated. And if I have difficulties, I can always call you, right? You loved doing taxes more than anything in this world. And you were so good at it! But I taught you how to do them back when ours were simple, so I should be okay doing ours next year because they will be simple again. I will miss you during tax season, but at the same time I think it will make me feel very close to you. And that's always good, right?
It's been a long and busy day, so I'll stop here before I start to babble. I just want to tell you how much I love you, how much I miss you, and that the taxes are done and in on time,

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Feast Day Unplanned

Dear John,
Today I realized that this weekend has felt like a Feast Day. I'm sure that doesn't make sense to anybody else, but I expect that you know what I mean. The first part of April was very hard, watching the 13th get closer and closer, and dreading it. Then it came in a way I never expected. It came as a feast day, the celebration of the years we had together, of you living in Heaven now, and of the future we hope for when I'm done here and can join you. I have felt more joyful and grateful these two days than I have for the rest of the year put together.
I means something to me that I've made it through a whole year without you. I'm not sure just what that meaning is, but I know that it is important. All the "firsts" are done - the first holiday, anniversary, birthday, Christmas, and so on. Almost all of the legal and financial details are put to bed. A year is about quantity - is there also a qualitative change in widowhood when the first year has been survived? It's the traditional time to begin to have a social life again, and I'm doing that this month and next, with trips and guests and a high school reunion. A year is an artificial construct when it comes to matters of the heart, but our hearts need dates and seasons and commemoration. So it is possibly a construct that meets a need.
This weekend I feel like I'm coming out from under a cloud, coming truly outside for the first time. I'm beginning to think about my future, farther out than when the next bill is due. I'm considering what to do with the rest of my life, which must mean that I have finally accepted that there will be a rest of my life and I am responsible for what I do with it. I can look the future in the face now, and that is good. I feel stronger that I have in a long time, more capable and independent - and looking forward to doing my own taxes next year.
And, grief not being linear, I have no clue how I will feel tomorrow. But tonight is the start of a new year for me, and that feels good. The last year was excruciating; this year I will love you no less, but I will have begun to learn how to live with my widowhood. And I will do better. And that will make you happy, because you never wanted me to suffer after you were gone ahead. And you loved my strength and independence. So I may be surprised by this, but you've seen it coming all along. You've always had more faith in me than I had in myself. And I've always appreciated that. So keep trusting in me! I'll keep keeping on, hopefully constructively, until we meet again.
All my love,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Christ is Risen, and Life Reigns

My dear,
I have now survived one year without you. I haven't particularly enjoyed it, and some of it has been beyond horrible, but I've learned a degree of contentment in, if not with, the circumstances. My emotions continue to vary unpredictably, which isn't surprising since I've never done this before. I may be able to keep my head in good order, but my heart escapes most of my attempts at organization.
Right after I wrote you this morning's letter, I remembered a dream I had right before I woke up. I dreamed that you had gotten out of the hospital and come home, and were rehabbing very well. We had spent a few days in Holland and you had walked comfortably around town. We had a trip planned to Mackinac after you had gotten into shape to be able to hike up the hills. So we went for a check-up with Dr. Dunnick. He ran some tests on you, and told us with amazement that your heart was completely normal. He said the only explanation was a miraculous healing. And we said, well of course, as if we had known that all along. He was very happy and excited, like he gets sometimes, and was thrilled for you. We left his office feeling calmly happy and grateful, assured that you would have no more physical problems from the radiation.
And that is what's really happened, isn't it? You have been miraculously healed. You will have no more sickness, sorrow, pain, or death. And that is why I've felt all day like this was a day of celebration. This is the anniversary of your release from this life and your birth into eternal life. It feels like a day of great joy, gratitude, and celebration. You're home now - you've been there for a year - it's exactly what I want for you. I'll be there when I can. But until then, I can't dim the celebration with my selfish desire to be with you.
As St. John Chrysostom said:
O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown! Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns! Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb! For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the First-fruits of them that slept. To him be glory and might unto ages of ages. Amen.
So for today, anyway, I have no grief, only joy and gratitude and celebration. You are whole, you are healed, you are at peace, you are safe at home. You are where sin, sickness, suffering, and sorrow can touch you no more. You are in the presence of the Holy Trinity and all the saints. I rejoice today for you - there is no room to feel anything else. Heaven knows what I might feel tomorrow. But today is about joy, and I rejoice. 

With love rejoicing,

The First Year is Over: Death Has Lost Its Sting

It's been a year today - a year at 12:27 this afternoon, when I will be at work. The nurse in me kept to the habits of experience: I saw in your eyes when your soul left your body, and immediately looked at the clock. After years of watching strangers die and having to chart the exact moment of their death, I did the same for you. Your nurse did the proper thing - waited for the last pacemaker capture - and charted your death at 12:30. I was more concerned for your soul than your body.
I've seen many, many people die. Your death was different, and in an unexpected way. Yours was holy. So this morning I have these two different things going on inside me, just like I did last year on this day.
Last year it was Holy Friday, a day of grief and pain, but always with the knowledge that death had been defeated. Pascha was almost here, when Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the grave bestowing life. Your third day was Pascha - your guardian angel escorted you to Heaven on the day of resurrection. I wonder: did you arrive during the singing of "Shine, Shine," your favorite? It was the last song you heard on earth - I played it for you the day before you died - it would have been appropriate to be the first song you heard in Heaven.
Just a few thoughts, and a lot of love, before I get ready for work. I love you with all my overflowing heart,

Friday, April 12, 2013

I Did It All By Myself This Time

Dear John,
I did it all by myself, without any help from you. You've been taking responsibility for it for so many years that I wondered if I would ever do it again. But my competence exceeded my expectations, and it is done. I went out and got a stomach virus all on my own without waiting for you to bring it home from Panera for me.
Norovirus - cause of most GI bugs
You really were a carrier, you know. You worked with so many young mothers with children in school and day care, that the place served as an incubator for everything that was going around. Tummy bugs never stood a chance with you. But I've been a magnet for them ever since I had salmonella in college. A couple of your young mothers would get a bug, and 48 hours later I always had it. Germs jumped on you at work, and onto me as soon as you got home. Your consistency as a carrier was amazing.
There is something going around, and I got it all on my own. I was probably exposed to in in Indianapolis, though it could be somebody I stopped and talked to around town earlier in the week. That narrows it down to about a quarter of the town. I don't believe even CDC could track this one.
And the Good News Is:
I missed work yesterday and today, and I absolutely have to get to work tomorrow and Monday. I'm not sure how this will work out tomorrow, since my GI system is extremely (and unpleasantly) active. I have to get to church on Sunday for the 1-year prayers for you and Dick. And Deb is coming for a visit on Monday. I am resisting the temptation to pray for immediate healing, and instead am asking the Lord to do what He knows is best for everybody. And thank you - I learned that kind of trust from you, especially these last three years. Patient submission is a much better posture before our Creator than naming "promises" and demanding that they be kept. And anyway, He's the one Who really knows what's best. It's sure not me.
So thank you for teaching me a different kind of faith, and teaching me about submission. Thank you for your prayers for all of this. And, I suppose, to bring the list up to three, thank for all the practice you gave me at having tummy viruses. (viri?) I miss having you here when I'm sick. At least I don't have to cook for myself, since I'm living on Gatorade and Cheerios. Not much cooking there. I'll report in tomorrow and let you know how it's going.
Love you immensely,

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What Do the Normal Folk Do?

Dear John,
One simple question tonight: What am I going to be when I grow up? I need your help on this. I've realized that I have no idea what to do with the rest of my life. I can keep putting one foot in front of the other, going through the motions one day at a time, but that's not it. The question is not so much about daily activity as overarching purpose. What do I do now?
My purpose has always been you. Even before we graduated from college, when we were dating then engaged, my purpose was you. For the next 34 years everything I did was for you - work at home, work at work, even play - you were the purpose of all I did, all my life. In the early months of widowhood I'd thought I would be putting my focus - my energy and purpose - into my nursing career. But that door seems closed to me. And at my age, I could probably only work another 8-10 years before I had to retire. Then I'd be back in the same place, wondering what the rest of my life was going to be for and about.
I can't - won't - make it about enjoying myself - can't because I don't have the funds for that, won't because it's not right or healthy. Centering my life on any career is iffy with fibromyalgia, anyway. Right now I'm working 3 days a week, which is leaving me too exhausted to do anything but sleep on the other 4. Maybe I need to ask what partially-disabled people do with their lives. And here I have to raise the question: What do normal folk do?
I realize that the majority of married women don't center everything in their lives around their husbands. And of those who do, most widows just find another man to put in the place of the one they lost. But the one I lost was the world's only perfect man, and there is no man who can be put in that place, so that isn't an option for me. Women with children often center their lives around them, but I don't have my own children, and Jen is grown and on her own - that's not an option for me, either. People talk about centering your life around what you love to do, so should I set up that Etsy store, keep knitting for it, and start doing some designing as well? And I still have a small but stubborn and vocal group demanding that I write. That's something I may be able to resume soon. I've needed a year to write nothing but these letters to you, then after enough time has passed and my head has cleared a bit, I'd like to go back to my other writing. But I can't hurry the process. And writing takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. Then there's the question of devoting my life to God, and I'm not sure what that looks like in this setting. I felt the monastic call in childhood - which was frustrated by the small detail of being Methodist - and I have to examine that possibility along with the others. With my physical limits, I'm afraid I'd be a burden to a community, rather than an asset.
So here I am: I'm too old to practice my profession, and I'm limited by partial disability that few people believe in because I "don't look sick," whatever than means, and a disability that presents itself differently every day so that my ability to work is unpredictable. Let's face it - I'm not hirable. If money were no object, I could easily opt for writing and knitting/designing, and I'd love to learn how to make my own yarn. Being creative with beautiful things has always been necessary for me. And there are stories in me that have to get out, just have to be written or I'll explode. But money has to be an object - a woman (and a dog, and a cat) has to eat. If I come to the point that I have the time and energy for writing and knitting, I will also have the freedom to do more of the full cycle of monastic prayers here at home, and that would be wonderful, too.
So okay, maybe I've found my dream - pray, knit, write. Get involved in groups that knit together. Maybe take a writers' course at a local college. Remember that all is devoted to God and guard prayer time, keeping as much of the monastic cycle as I can. Occasionally travel to the fiber art shows and keep up on the new trends in knitting. Maybe even teach a class someday. I only have one question: Who pays for this lovely bohemian lifestyle? I have things to contribute, words I want to leave to the world. But how can this be financed?
Maybe that's for the Lord to take care of. I suppose I'll do what of that dream life that I can under the current circumstances, and let Him take care of the rest - let things flower as they can.
Which brings me to something else I've been wanting to ask you. I remember your last December, when you had to sign up for the next year's benefits package. We decided you should sign up to pay extra to increase your life insurance from the $15,000 they give management for free to $45,000. I remember that you did that and sent it in. Then when I got your life insurance, it was only the $15,000. I contacted both Matts and Jeff about it, and they said the amount at your level of management was $15,000. Should I call Panera Benefits and push this? I suspect that you only worked part of one pay period in 2012, and that wasn't enough to meet requirements for the larger amount. But I'd like to hear that from somebody in the benefits department. That extra amount would carry me until I can file for your Social Security benefits in November of 2015. And that will carry me until I can file for my own, and if need be can get a reverse mortgage in November of 2017.
So, what do you think about all of this? I really would like your feedback here, for two reasons: first, you know me much better than I do; and second, you've always been better at hearing the Lord's voice than I am. And I'm in a bit of a quandary about - oh, only everything. I've always come to you with questions like this, and you've always helped so much. Please try to help now, too.
Love you, trust you, lean on your wisdom,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

More Mammal Madness

Dear John,
We all spent a good bit of the day resting up from our respective travels and dealing with our individual neuroses. And I got my hair cut and went to the grocery store.
We had thunder storms on and off all day, so I had some periods of time with 55 pounds of shivering dog in my lap, with both arms around him, wishing there was something better on television. He was pretty scared for a daylight storm.
Hunter wasn't bothered by the storms. He's just celebrating mom's return home after an entire 28 hours away. He has continued to follow me, want to cuddle with me, sleep in my lap, lick my face, and nuzzle with my nose. Jen and Eylssa came by Monday evening to feed him and play with him, but he didn't want anything to do with either of them. Maybe this is some normal stage of bonding, now that he's over 6 months old. Whatever you call it, he really seems to have missed me.
It's after 11:30 now, and there's a line of strong storms moving through Illinois that can't possibly miss us. So I plan to have one or both animals sleeping on my head at some point during the night. I don't know how they will negotiate their pecking order, but I do know my head will figure into the negotiations somewhere. If all else fails, I'll give Jethro some benadryl and help him sleep better. The other relevant question is whether I will get any sleep.
Oh, I have to go by Michael's office in the morning and pick up the tax things. And I told you that the world turned upside down the instant you died - now I have proof. We owe Federal tax and we're getting back from State. The world is off its axis. Monday is the 15th, so I'll have no problem getting it in by then. The amounts are less that $100 in difference, so it will be pretty much a wash.
You will be safe, warm, and dry through tonight's storms - please pray that we will be the same. And say a special prayer for Jethro. And maybe for me, as both animals vie for the honor of sitting on my head. Aren't you sorry you're missing this madness?
Love you madly,

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

There's No Place Like Home, Wherever That Is!

Dear John,
Your little family is all back home together tonight. And we're all very happy about it. I missed the animals, the animals missed me, and they missed each other. The cat was the one that surprised me. I got myself, Jethro, and the luggage inside, let the dog out, and the cat rushed me and was all over me for about 20 minutes. He climbed up me, rubbed his face on mine, licked my face all over, sniffed every inch of my clothes, and then started all over again. This is the second time he's been left alone, with Jen checking in on him in the evenings, but it's the first time he's seemed uneasy about it. Maybe we've just had more time to bond.
Sleeping will be much better tonight. There were no furry animals in my bed last night! The hotel is probably happy about that, but I'm used to reaching out at night and touching fur. Even when you were in the bed with me, I'd reach out in the middle of the night and touch that little furry patch on your lower back - and I adored that little furry patch! Now I reach out and meet with either cat fur or dog fur. (And it's amazing how different they are - in touching and in floor and furniture accumulation. I want to see both under a microscope. Anyway.)
This evening I felt very fervent in my happiness at being home again, and wondered about it. I think, when we travelled together, having you there meant that wherever we were was an extension of home. Now that I'm traveling alone, that extension doesn't apply and I'm just in a hotel room. There's a whole different feeling to it. Even when I was in the hotel room alone, I could talk to you on the phone and I didn't feel alone and so disconnected from you. The other end of it, of course, is how connected to you I do feel here at home. Very little is different from the way you left it, and I'm sure you'd like the changes I've made. Everything here is either stuff from one of our families or stuff we picked out together. And all of it we used and lived with together. So being at home is, for me, being with you as much as I can now. And traveling is something I do alone. And it was wonderful to get home today.
And I came home to partially open windows, and opened the rest of them. It was 75 this evening at 6:00. Storms are predicted tonight, but so far it's all been north of the state line. So it may miss us. I wouldn't mind, since the beasties and I all need a good night's sleep.
I'll leave you with this photo that Donna posted on my Facebook timeline, and I won't insult you by adding a caption. You're perfectly capable of getting the point without Cliff notes. So have a good laugh and enjoy it. I think it's terrific.
Sleep well tonight. You even slept well this night last year - this was the day I brought Jethro in to see you - it was your last time together. And you and he both got a long, sound sleep that night. So go and do likewise, and may he, as well.
Love you so, so much,

Monday, April 8, 2013

If It's Indy, It Must Be Championship Sports

Dear John,
I'm in Indy tonight, watching the NCAA final - Michigan vs. Louisville. It's been a very good game, and close. I need to go to bed since I have to get up early, but I just can't put this game down. Somehow it's easier to watch sports here than it is at home. I haven't made sense of that yet.
Jill and I met at Panera for dinner - though it took two tries for us to be at the same Panera. Google maps failed me. But it was pretty funny. After we got to the same place, we had a wonderful time. What an unexpected gift this friendship is! I remember well how touched I was last year when we all had to vacate the area hotels for the Superbowl, and she asked me to stay with her that week. And we still laughed today at all the friends we both had that were warning us that it wasn't safe because we didn't know each other well enough. Sometimes, you just know. Her baby is due any minute, and I'm so happy and excited for her. My vote is for this Saturday, but I'm biased.
It feels good to be in Indianapolis - it always does. Our time here was good, and it was our last really good time. These are good memories, days I cherish. That's because I enjoyed them with you.
Love you always, with all my heart,

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Dog, A Cat, & A Herd of Wildebeests

Dear John,
We had another warm day, but a very windy one. It was windy enough last night that the animals got scared and needed some comforting. The wind didn't bother them so much today when the sun was up.
The theme of the day has been fibromyalgia. The strong front that came through and caused all that wind also flattened me this morning. I woke up having too much pain to tolerate clothes on my skin. I managed my softest sweats, and nearly screamed when the dog came up and plunked down next to me/on top of me, all 55 pounds of him. The cat is lighter and gentler, and sometimes lies down draped across the back of my neck and purrs - perfect therapy for my worst fibro pain.
You and I had our own code for me to let you know how I was feeling. I always felt like I'd been run over by a herd of something, but not always the same thing. So there'd be a day I'd tell you I had been run over by a herd of wildebeests (not a good day), a day that it was a herd of ladybugs (an excellent day), a herd of flamingos, and so on. It was a way that I could communicate with you and also give us something to laugh about - some of the visual images were great.
The cat thought he'd been run over by something today. I'd swept and was finishing vacuuming in our room. Jethro was trying to devour the vacuum cleaner, so I shut the door and left him in the hall. What I didn't know was that the cat was in the room with me. After I finished I found him cowering by the door, trying his best to squeeze through the crack at the bottom. I picked up the poor terrified creature and sat down in my grandmother Keistler's rocking chair, and held him and rocked him for almost half an hour, while Jethro lay right beside the chair. He seemed to love the rocking, and he slowly settled down and got happy again. I'll have to be careful, and be sure he can get away from the vacuum cleaner.
And Jethro had his own adventure today. I was emptying the vacuum container into the trash can when Jethro looked out and saw one of the neighborhood cats in the yard. Next thing I knew, I went flying and Jethro was out the door and after the cat, going behind DeWayne's house. I saw him briefly as he went behind Brenda's house. He was only gone about half an hour when he showed up at the front door wanting in. He never goes far and doesn't stay long, bless him. And this time he stayed out of the horse manure, so no bath was necessary. He slept the rest of the afternoon.
Tomorrow morning we'll leave for Indy. And this time I'll get to see Jill! She will get off around 5 and will call me, and we'll make plans then. I'm quite excited about it, and I'll fill you in on everything. This trip may be part of my emotional struggles this past week - knowing I was going back to Indy this week had probably made things a bit harder. I'll live through it, and I don't mind if I don't. So there. Please pray for safe travel for us. We'll likely pass through thunder storms going down and back.
Love you so much, and will especially miss you in Indy,

Saturday, April 6, 2013

When The Past Attacks

Dear John,
It's been a tough day, and I predict the next week will not get better. A year ago today Dick died - something I have never had a chance to process since your turn was coming soon and I was focused on you. I had planned to go to his funeral, but at the last minute couldn't walk out the door. I needed to be at the hospital with you instead.
I've been irritable and impatient for the last couple of days, and didn't know why until today. This week has put my emotions right back where they were a year ago. The stress and anxiety are back, and I'm alternately teary and snapping at inanimate objects. And since it's still Lent, I'm fasting and can't eat comfort food. But for right now, I'm at that stage of anxiety where it's hard to eat anything at all. Dairy sits well - I can handle cheese, milk, and eggs - but I can't really face much else.
That's enough whining. As it has been throughout this process, I have no idea what to expect from my emotions this next week. And I'm taking Dick and Esther back to Indy on Monday and Tuesday, so there will be some added stress there, which may distract me from the rest of the stress. Then I'll be off Wednesday, work Thursday and Friday, go to Lacey's bridal shower on Saturday, and we'll have 1-year prayers for you and Dick on Sunday. Elsie and I wanted to do it on the same Sunday for moral support - it's easier if we do it together. I'll be too busy to focus on how I feel, except in the middle of the night like all widows. I'll have the windows open all night for the next week - I'll have to cry quietly so as not to alarm the neighbors!
I still miss you just the same. The memories are still happy - the pain is for the memories we never got to make. There are still parts of my head that won't believe that this is permanent. I was thinking about couples kissing when they've been apart, and the first thing out of my head was, "When John gets home after this separation, you'd better believe that I'm going to kiss him and not care who sees it!" Then I realized what I was thinking, and gave the wheel back to my left brain. I wonder how long it will be until I don't do that anymore.
I'll keep you posted as this week plays out. I'm remembering each day what was going on, what was going wrong, and how sweet you were through all of it, as I watched MRSA go to sepsis to septic shock, and knew you didn't have the reserves to fight it. I tried with all my will to fight it for you. I pointed out to God what glory it would give Him to give you total, miraculous healing at that point. I got human - I stopped praying for what He knew best, and started pleading for your healing. And my heart didn't break - not a clean, sudden fracture - but was very slowly torn in two, leaving a long ragged gaping hole where the part of my heart that went with you used to be. The wound is still open, still seeping blood. And it will be as long as I am in this body.
Last year, a few days before you died, I begged you to pray that I could come with you, and if not with you, then very very soon after you. Maybe now you could ask that I come home on Holy Friday, like you did. Then my third day would also be Pascha, and my funeral a Bright Week funeral like yours was. Please, please ask! Please move Heaven and earth for me - I want to come home on Holy Friday, just after noon, just like you did. To be healed - no more pain or tiredness - to be in the presence of God, in neverending day, where the sun is not needed for light, in heavenly worship - and I want to be with you. I miss my parents, my grandparents, my great-aunts and -uncles, Mary, Jeanie, Tom, Richard, Ray, Johnnie, Miriam, Annie Mae, so many people I love and have been too long separated from. Caleb and Naomi, too. Don't let me spend another year here.
Well, the Lord will do what is best for my soul. Pray for me this next week. And I will pray for you as always, but in peace and rest, not with the desperation of last year's prayers. It's my prayers for myself that get desperate sometimes.
Love you aways and forever,

Friday, April 5, 2013

Colts, Calves, and Victorian Mourning Traditions

Dear John,
It's been a long busy day, at work and at home. But I have to tell you - I saw a new colt and some calves outside today. Maybe there will be spring after all. And on County Road 42, suddenly over half the fields have been plowed. It's good to see living soil turned over
I was thinking today about the Victorian tradition for widows, of 12 months of heavy mourning followed by 6 months or so of gradually lighter mourning. I understand it now in a way I never did before. It gives you time and space to get you head together. I've learned that most widows do need at least a full year. During that year there is a lot to do, so you need to cut back on things you don't have to do. Some normal activities can be too painful to do for a while, and you need the freedom to say no whenever you want to. And your memory and concentration aren't what they usually are, you're not sleeping well, probably not eating right either. The widow's weeds - the full garb of the first year of widowhood - was the signal that you were to be treated as befitted a new widow. Or, as Jen would put it, it reminded people that you have a free hall pass for the first year. That includes the freedom to avoid any social event you choose, to hide in your house and not see callers, to withdraw from society in general. I've needed to do all those things this past year, and there were times it would have been easier to be wearing a traditional dress that informed others of my situation.
In a few weeks I will have to end my heavy mourning period and move to the half-year of lighter mourning. I don't know if I'll be ready then. But I will listen to my heart when we get there.
I love you so much. I would have loved to wear black crepe and veil my face for you. Since I couldn't, I veiled my heart. I don't know when that one will lift. Maybe when it is my time to go home, you will come and lift it for me.
Hurry the day!

Summer Breeze Yields to the Gales of November

Dear John,
I had a busy day and a sentimental evening. Kathy has been working on the stacks of paper on her desk, deciding what to do with things and clearing them out. Clearing her desk means covering mine, which is fine because then all the desks eventually end up clean. We broke records today - Kathy left me 31 messages on the recorder, and it took me a solid hour to listen to them and take the notes I'd need to get it all done. I finished almost half of it today and hope to finish the rest tomorrow. A busy week, but extremely productive.
There's a commercial on television for something or other, that is using the Crosby, Stills, & Nash song "Our House." I've always loved the song - I used to listen to it in college and think about the life we would live after we got married. I see our first house when I hear it now, and think that maybe those were our happiest days. I'm sure they were our most care-free and optimistic - we had no idea that your radiation was continuing to cause damage; we thought the cancer was all over and done with. We expected to be able to have children, and raise them in that house. It was a very, very, very, fine house, even without two cats in the yard.
That song always leads me to Seals & Crofts' "Summer Breeze." When you bought the album for me, did you know that when I listened to it, I thought about how life would be after we were married? Maybe you even thought about that, too. I always pictured us in an old craftsman house in a neighborhood like those northeast of campus, streets like Lindenwalk, but the smaller houses on those streets. I never pictured us in a new, modern house. I pictured a smaller, gracious old house with lace curtains and honeysuckle, ferns, and a porch swing. And me being able to make a home for you that was restful, comforting, safe, and happy after a day at work in the outside world. I had a career, which was nice, but you were always my primary job. I was here to cook and clean and do laundry for you, to keep and decorate and care for your home, and make it a pleasant and healthy place of refuge for you. No matter how many hours I worked, that was what I tried to do.
Bless you, you always appreciated that, appreciated every little thing I did. But the one thing you were most grateful for was when I went shopping for your recliner while you were in the hospital in late summer of 2011. It felt wonderful to me, and I thought it would fit you nicely, but I was a bit tense about buying it for you and you not getting to try it out first. But you loved it. I don't think I'd ever done anything for you that you appreciated like you did that recliner. And it was a Godsend until we got that 35 pounds of water off of you. I find myself never sitting there, like I'm leaving it for you to use. So everybody else sits there. I really need to use it, too. I wonder how it will feel to sit in it now. I'll have to try it and find out.
Summer Breeze Has Yielded to the Gales of Winter
So I'm just feeling sentimental tonight, remembering the dreams, hopes, and expectations I had about marrying you. The dreams were nice, but reality was always so much better. Reality was richer than the dreams. We did have a rich, happy life together - not much money, but we got by - no children of our own, but plenty of other people's children to love and look after. And we enjoyed it more because we never had the illusion that it would last forever. As Mia Farrow says in "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy," "This beautiful summer light doesn't last forever." Your sun has set and my winter solstice is approaching. And I'm thankful for the days when July was dressed up and playing her tune, and everything was easy because of you.
Thank you for the lovely days of our spring and summer; pray for me in this early autumn,