Friday, May 31, 2013

Swifts & Enabling

Dear John,
I saw this and just had to show it to you. This guy is great, but you're better. You helped me wind yard when you were home. But you got me the swift and ball winder to use when you were at work. Bless you for that!
You were the perfect husband for a knitter. Or you were an enabler. Or possibly both. It was always you that pushed me to get yarn that I fell in love with, even if I had no idea what I'd eventually do with it, because it would be gone when I looked for it again. And you were so right! There's not much that hasn't been used.
I'm still knitting caps for the Cancer Center. It's the same pattern - the one with the cancer ribbons knitted in, in different colors for different kinds of cancer. I've been making them for about a year and a half, so I know the pattern. And they're small and portable. It feels good to know that I'm meeting a need. When I get a bunch made I get to visit people when I take them in, and that's always fun.
It sounds crazy, but the place holds such good memories for me. Everything does except the rehab hospital. That was very hard for both of us. I know what I went through was nothing compared to your suffering. But part of what I was going through was watching you suffer - that's what happens when two become one flesh. I'm so thankful that you'll never suffer again.
And speaking of suffering, the dog is trying to break my left wrist. It's storming again - of course - and he has his big German shepherd head on my left arm while I'm typing. It stormed last night, and I woke up with him wrapped around my head and all four legs lying across my face. I stretched out my right leg, and kicked the cat who promptly bit my big toe. As I've said before, aren't you sorry you're missing all this silliness?
I'm going to try to head off to bed, if the dog will release my arm. I don't know when I'll be able to get him to sleep. But I can sleep in tomorrow morning, so it doesn't matter. This is why God made Pinterest!
Love you so, so much,

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Gibbstervention Avoided

Dear John,
It was a short night, but not as long a day as I feared. I was awake until 3 AM and slept in until 7. I was very busy at work today. The Open House was busy until 5:00, then the storms that we weren't supposed to get got here. So Kathy sent me home, I got milk at the Fast Lane, and had a terrified dog. Tomorrow is the last day of the sale and Open House, and will be nice and busy.
You should be proud of me: I'm being sensible and responsible. I decided to miss the reunion this weekend. For one thing, Kathy needs me tomorrow. For another, I can't afford it. But really, I don't dare push the fibro that far. When I went to the last reunion five years ago, I spent three weeks in bed recovering from driving sixteen hours in three days. I could do that when you were here and working. But I have to take care of myself now, and that means providing for myself, and that requires taking care of myself whether I like it or not.
The people I really want to see, I can see without a reunion. I'd like to go down and spend a couple of days seeing friends in Indy, then Louisville, then Lexington, and swing back up through Springfield and visit with your family. And take my time doing it. Fibromites can do about anything, as long as we take our time and pace ourselves. And aren't flaring. I'd enjoy that more.
As soon as I started talking to people about it, I discovered that lots of folks were concerned about my plans for the trip. I'm lucky there wasn't a full-scale intervention - or Gibbstervention, as Tammy says, which is a lovely word. And I admit that I feel relieved. It will take time for me to learn how to plan and pace myself without you. There are lots of things that I'm still figuring out how to do without you!
(By the way - if you get the chance to visit some night, please show me how to work the trimmer.)
That's all for tonight, just the small fact that I have made a sensible decision and the world has not stopped turning. Thank you for looking after me, for encouraging me to do things and then encouraging me to give myself the time to recover from them, for valuing me even though I wasn't as able-bodied as I wanted to be - in short, for loving me. When I wonder what I should do, sometimes I ask myself what you would say. And I do that.
Love you, trust you, always,

Caffeine v. Benadryl: A Battle for the Ages

Dear John,
It's almost 1 AM and I'm still wide awake, because I'm an idiot. Tonight I had Coke with dinner at 6 PM. I know better, but I drink caffeine so seldom that it didn't cross my mind. So I'm waiting for the Benadryl to work and telling myself that the neighbors would complain if I mowed at this hour.
The animals are asleep like sensible diurnal creatures. I wanted to show you what they were doing earlier this evening. I took this picture for you. Aren't they sweet? At least, when they're lying still and don't look like they're trying to eat each other? And yes, Jethro has his head resting on Hunter's hips. They love each other. And it makes me so happy to see them do things like this.
That's all - I just wanted to say hello and show you this photo of your boys. Please pray for me, that I will get enough sleep for tomorrow. I have to get up at 6:30 and be at work at 9, and I may be staying until 8 tomorrow evening since the Open House lasts until 7. I think I'll wear comfortable shoes.
Love you so much,

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rings for My Fingers, Flip-Flops for My Toes

Dear John,
I had a lovely day - nothing compared to yours, but lovely for this life! I went to work for a couple of hours, getting ready for Kathy's sale and open house the next two days. Then she and I took off for Fort Wayne. She met with her client, and she and I went to Jefferson Pointe and shopped. She took me to a delightful store called Charming Charlie, and I could have stayed for two days. It's all accessories, good prices, and organized by color - which just delights my anal-retentive heart no end. I ended up getting two pairs of dressy flip-flops (on sale 2-for-1), a pair of earrings that look like jadeite (than which there is nothing lovelier), a hat (because I just love to wear hats), and 5 rings. And they were the big deal.
I've been looking at rings for a couple of months. And I had a problem. Part of me felt like wearing any other ring would be unfaithful to you. I can hear you snort. But my emotions can be just as illogical as anybody else's. The only rings I've ever worn are my high school ring, my engagement ring, and my wedding band. I didn't even get a college ring because I knew that I'd be putting on a wedding band a week after college graduation. I want to take my engagement ring to a jeweler and have a different stone put in, but I don't have the money for that. And I felt like I'd be cheating on you if I wore another.
Well, today I found a ring that got me over the hump. It's gold with a bow on top. And bows have always symbolized promises to me. (I probably got that from Miriam.) And I found another one with a heart on top, and a set of three that are smaller - pinky-size - and old-fashioned looking. The bow eased me past my emotions. So now, when I dress up in my Saturday things, I'll have rings, too!
You know that I had you buried with your wedding band on. I couldn't bear to take it off of you. We're still married, so you should still have it on. When we're reunited in Heaven, you'll be wearing your wedding band and I'll have on my engagement ring with a mourning stone in it. And that will be right.
You're really right here, aren't you? And you were there when I bought those rings today. It's funny - the more time passes, the closer I feel to you. It's not what I expected - but what has been, these last three years? I like it. What God has joined together, let not a little thing like death put asunder.
Yours to the end of eternity,

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Beware of the Animals

Dear John,
We had a short night here, courtesy of storms and the neurotic dog. I woke up around 4:30 when he came and sat on my head. Normally I can nap while he does that, but this morning he wouldn't be still. He'd sit on me, then lie on me, then squirm around a bit - you get the idea. At 6:30 I got up to get ready for work and he went back to sleep. This is clearly unfair.
The cat has been unusually cuddly for the last two days, and I'm enjoying every minute of it. Yesterday morning he came and curled up by my face, licked me, massaged my face with his paws, and wanted to be kissed and scratched. He stayed there for half an hour, until the dog woke up and tried to join in a bit too forcefully. Whenever I sat down yesterday I had a cat curled up on my shoulder.
And the dog is funny. He'll be lying at the end of the couch, perfectly content, until he notices that the cat is getting my attention. Then suddenly he has to have some, too. He does the same thing when I start talking on the phone. He's fine without my attention until he things somebody else is getting it. He's always been a bit jealous, and getting Hunter was so good for him! He has to share me now. And he can't get too upset about it because he loves the cat so much. And the cat is demonstrative about his love for Jethro. So the dog is having to grow up some.
They're all that's happening around here tonight. It feels like thunder outside - conditions are right for pop-up storms. I do hope I get more sleep than last night. But I'm going in to work later tomorrow so it doesn't matter as much. I'm sorry you're missing all the animal entertainment. But I know that you're happy where you are - you aren't missing anything at all. Well, maybe you're missing me, just a little bit? Or maybe you're really as close as I feel like you are, so you wouldn't miss me at all.
Oh dear - it just thundered. I have to go and make room for the dog in my lap. Love you so, so much!

PS - The radar shows a nasty line of storms coming, and warnings are slowly moving closer to us. Looks like no sleep tonight! Please pray for the sanity of your little family!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pruning My Head Instead of My Shrubs

Dear John,
It was an unsuccessful day as far as my plans for yard work went - it rained all day and is still raining. I need to mow, plant four plants that are in pots on the porch, trim the shrubs and roses, and put the homemade weed killer I'm trying in all the right places. Instead, I slept in, cleaned the kitchen, cooked a bunch of chicken thighs that I got for $1.19 a pound, and changed all the doorstops.
I forgot to tell you about the doorstops! You know the ones that came with the house are falling apart. I'd wanted to replace them with oil-rubbed bronze to match the light fixtures and the new door hardware, but the cheapest I could find was $20 each, and that's a bit much considering that we needed eight of them. Last week I was at Meijer and found them for $2 a piece. So I grabbed eight and got them changed today. It's good to have functioning doorstops, and even better that they look so nice. You'd like them.
Thanks again for listening to me last night. Talking things out with you helped. I tend to think of my limits in terms of life when you were here - if I pushed too hard I could spend two weeks in bed recovering. I have to take better care of myself now. And I expect other people to value me only in terms of my productivity. Some people do, but that is their problem and not mine, and I need to feel free to tell them to go jump in a lake. Everybody that matters, understands.
And I know you understand - you always did, sometimes better than I did. Now I'm balancing widowhood with fibromyalgia, and missing your wisdom. But some of it rubbed off on me. And Jen is here to rein me in, and to Gibbs-slap me whenever necessary. She has good judgment, especially when it comes to me - we're so much alike.
I'm off to bed now, to cuddle up with warm fur and listen to the rain. And miss you, but know that all is well with you. Love you always,
PS - Even spellcheck doesn't know about fibromyalgia, so why should I expect otherwise from real people?  Love you! :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Guilt Attack - Gibbs-Slap Me

Dear John,
I'm having a guilt attack. And, having shared that fact on Facebook, I have people lined up to Gibbs-slap me, bless them. I could use a stern talking-to from you, too.
I had to miss church again today. Now that you're gone and the fibro is still here, after working all week I have so much pain and exhaustion on the weekends that I can't do much but rest. And get ready for the next week. I don't mind losing my Saturdays, but I hate missing church on Sunday. And what nobody but a fibromite could ever understand is that being around a large group of people is so exhausting. I don't know why that is, but I see it all over the discussion boards. It seems to be true for all of us.
I remember years ago when Nancy was first diagnosed, she had to give up church entirely. She worked full-time and had three children at home to take care of, and there was no other path of survival for her. I sympathized as much as I could then, but now I really understand. Since I don't have the three kids, and my primary symptoms are upper-body, I don't have to completely give up church. But this is the one limitation that I really detest.
And the thing that bothers me most is knowing what people are thinking and saying about me. And there is a part of it that's not paranoia; it's what's already been said to me. Sometimes I get angry about it, but most of the time it just hurts. If I was really a grown-up, I wouldn't care about that. I'd take care of myself and concern myself only with what God thinks and wants. Sadly, I can't muster up than much maturity at the moment.
So, O Wise One, what do I do? Where can I take my brain for a tune-up? I remember after your brain surgery, you said that everybody should get their brain serviced when it reached the half-century mark. It certainly did wonders for you. Do you think Dr. Bingaman could fix me?
Maybe this is another chance for me to learn some humility. The Church teaches us to rejoice when we're misjudged because it is a remedy for pride. And I certainly need that. Comparing myself to other people is pointless, and for a fibromite it is self-destructive. All that matters is being obedient to God. See, my head knows these things! It's my heart that can't seem to catch up. I never was a heart person. But it's illogical to expect yourself to be logical all the time.
You've heard all of this a million times. Thank you for listening again. And feel free to give me any helpful advice. I'm grateful to have your prayers. Please ask the crowd there to pray for me, too, as I try to learn this hard lesson.
Love you with all my heart, and my hard, stubborn head,

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Widowhood According to Longmire

Dear John,
Just a quick good-night note. I didn't stay up for the end of the Longmire marathon, but I did watch enough that the TV turned itself off because I'd been on the same channel for so long that it assumed I'd either left the house or died.
The show is really good. I missed some of it last year because the main character has been widowed for a year, and sometimes it cut too close to the bone. Today I found myself speaking very firmly to the television. Longmire thinks about asking a woman out, then doesn't because he feels like it would be cheating on his late wife. Everybody else thinks that's abnormal or unhealthy, but of course it's perfectly normal, especially after just a year. So the other characters all got my lecture about it. I'm the same way - I'm still married to you. I wouldn't go out with somebody else just because you were out of town, and that's what this is like emotionally, and I think theologically, too. The Lord is free to do anything he wants with me and my life, and I know I have your blessing to date and marry. But I'm still married to you. One husband at a time!
By the way, I had a thought this afternoon. I know my calling plan with Verizon doesn't reach you. But how about Skype? My computer is all set up for it. I haven't used it because there's nobody but you that I'd want to Skype with. But have you checked to see if it's supported in Heaven? Let me know if it is!
Missing your face and your voice,

Interspecies Apocalypse

Dear John,
I've got to tell you about what happened first thing this morning! I woke up, sat up, and soon had a dog in my lap. He and I cuddled for a while, then the cat came to check things out. I had Jethro's head on my right leg and Hunter curled and purring on my left leg. The cat got bored first, of course. He got up and sat on the back of Jethro's neck, wrapped his front legs around the dog's muzzle, and proceeded to chew on his face.
So the dog jumped up and grabbed the cat's head in his mouth. The cat wiggled away and ran down the hall. The next thing I knew, it sounded like the hall was purring. Here came Jethro dragging Hunter by the neck, while the cat purred his little heart out. Jethro put him down on the rug, the cat made a break for the tub, and bathtub Olympics followed. As I've said before, Hunter is often the instigator of all this silliness. We've all had too much fun today.
I had big projects to tackle today, but my body had other ideas. I've gone full-speed for a week without a break. So today I've done some small chores, accidentally taken two naps, and watched most of a Longmire marathon. It warmed up enough for me to open the house again - everybody is glued to the windows. The cat stalks, the dog sniffs, and I just enjoy with my inadequate human nose and ears.
That's what's up with your little family, living amicably together no matter what it looks like.
Love you forever,

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friendly Bats & Purring Owls

Dear John,
There's not a lot to say about today. I worked almost 9 1/2 hours again, and got a lot accomplished this week. In the last two days I've gotten out mailings of 250 and 50, along with the other usual work. Now I'm ready for the weekend!
I changed my Facebook profile photo tonight, to this little guy. Isn't he adorable? He reminds me of all the hours we spent in the Nocturnal Animal House at the Cincinnati Zoo. Thank goodness you love bats as much as I do! They're beautiful and amazing creatures. And this little face is just so sweet, isn't it? I have never understood what people have against them. Are they afraid that bats will turn into Bela Lugosi? There's only one bat that bites, and it doesn't live this far north. They're nothing to be afraid of. And they're terrific at getting rid of your mosquito problem. They're beautiful to watch in flight, or just hanging around. (Sorry - I couldn't resist. I really should try harder!)
I found this other photo tonight and just had to show it to you. When I look at it I expect him to be purring, because he looks so happy. This is how I'd look if you were touching me! I don't know if you ever saw me look like this fellow, but I know this is how you made me feel. The expression on your face when you looked at me was enough to make me feel like this - I always loved that look. I can't see it right now, but it still make me happy to think about it.
So tonight as I think about you and talk to you, this is how I feel - like a purring owl. It makes me smile, and I hope it does you, too. Come pat me on the head tonight, and see how happy I get!
Love you so, so much,

Thursday, May 23, 2013

If the Present is a Gift, Where Do I Go to Return It?

Dear John,
I had a good, busy, long day - worked almost 9 1/2 hours. I'm getting a huge mailing ready for tomorrow. And we finally had a night without storms! It was a short night, but I got through it with no animals on my head. Tonight will be clear and 38 - even I had to close the house and turn the heat on, and I'm in my winter pajamas.
Today I was thinking again about my sense of time. I know it's passing, and with breathtaking speed. But it still seems to pass without touching me at all. I continue to live in some kind of eternal present. The past seems very distant, and the future doesn't seem to exist at all. I plan ahead for things and know they're coming, but I have no real vision or concept of the future. It's a blank wall.
All of this may be a form of self-protection: I don't let myself see the future because I'm afraid of it. It's also possible that I'm finally experiencing things the way they are. The past is truly far away, gone, unreachable, real in memory but not a thing I can touch or participate in. And the future hasn't happened yet, so there really isn't anything there. All that we have is the present, so we might as well keep our heads here. Maybe going wandering off into the past or future is the self-protection.
Today is enough for today. I don't need to bite off any more than that - it would be too much to chew on. I can be content here. And I know the future is in much better hands than mine. I just need to be obedient one day at a time. It sounds a little like a 12-step program.
More metaphysical meditation - just what you wanted at bedtime! I'd like to hear your thoughts on this, if you want to visit me tonight. Of course, you're welcome any time.
Love you always,

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Grass Chutes, Cotoneasters, & the Mammal Mound

Dear John,
I've had a busy day, and somehow it's gotten late! I ran errands today - I got groceries, pet supplies, a garden hose, the last of my annual seeds (I finally found cosmos), two cotoneasters for the east flower bed, and two heirloom tomato plants. I took your chess books to Matt and ate lunch there. Matt was in a management meeting so I didn't get to talk to him, but the chicken-strawberry salad was to die for. Kohl's had a big one-day sale - I got two summer nightgowns, a small purse, and a new tank top for mowing, and with the preferred customer discounts it was all less than half-price. And remember the grass chute on the mower that had been hanging by one bolt for a few years? I'd told you that the last bolt finally went. So I went by the John Deere place to see about ordering a new one, and it's $150! So I passed on that, and will try to rig it up by drilling new holes. The mower is over ten years old and I can get a new one for $300, so that would be silly. And if I need to mow without the chute, I can do that, too. It doesn't matter if I have grass all over me, since I'll need a shower after mowing anyway.
This is what I'm beginning to feel like when I go to bed at night. We've had storms three nights in a row now. Last night I didn't even wake up until they were over - I'm getting way too accustomed to this. When I woke up I was on my right side with hind dog-paws over my arm and front dog-paws around my neck, and Jethro's face pressed right up against mine. So my brain said, "Oh. A dog. We must have had storms," and I kissed the creature and went right back to sleep. He must have liked the position - he hadn't moved when I woke up again two hours later. I'm glad my presence is comforting him; I just wish it didn't have to be my head. The cat slept through all of this, all sprawled out at my feet.
We aren't supposed to have any storms tonight, and I hope they're right. I could use a good night's sleep. And I'd better be getting to bed if I want any sleep at all! Please feel free to come join my dreams tonight. Jethro would like you in his, too, but I called dibs.
Love you hugely,

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Cat is Stalking Petunias & I'm Wistful

Dear John,
We did have storms last night. The cat slept at my feet, and the dog sat on my head. So I suppose everything is normal around here. Or, at least, as is usual for us. There was some thunder this evening while it was still light. Jethro wasn't hindered a bit by the sun - he sat in my lap and shivered until it all went away. Aren't you glad I'm guarded by such a courageous dog? I'm not sure the cat's bravery is any more useful. Right now he's in the window sill stalking the petunias that are outside in the window box and are moving in the breeze. I think I'm on my own here.
I'm feeling a bit wistful tonight. I'm not sad, just wistful. A couple of hours ago I really wanted to call somebody up and talk on the phone for a while. But I wanted to talk to somebody that thinks I'm the most important person in the world, and I don't have anybody like that on my calling plan. Plenty of people don't have anybody like that, but between you and Mama, I always did. Now it's different. Besides being on my own against storms and waving petunias, I'm on my own emotionally. I don't mean that I don't have people who love me - I'm blessed with lots of them. But I don't have that one person anymore, and some days I feel that lack.
So I come here to talk to you. The Internet is everywhere, so I know you can read this! And I know you are with me. I just have to take part of the conversation on faith. Those faith muscles have gotten a lot bigger in the last year, and it's gotten easier. I feel better already for having talked to you.
So see, even death can't get you out of having to talk to me! And I'm just teasing you, because I know you've always loved our conversations. Thank you for that wonderful verbal intimacy, for your honesty and transparency. Thank you for loving me, always and forever!
Adore you eternally,

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wedding-Night Humor (Rated PG)

Dear John,
It's 10:30 - about the time we got to the hotel in Myrtle Beach. And as I sat here thinking about our wedding night I started giggling, and I just had to talk to you about it and giggle with you. 
Some of our friends were worried about us - two virgins marrying each other. We told them we'd manage, and we did. The situation did provide some gentle humor, didn't it? We had no idea what we were doing. And we were so tired from getting up early, the wedding, and traveling, that we decided to put it off until the next day and go to sleep. So I suppose we slept together literally before we slept together figuratively.
I've always been so thankful that we had both waited for marriage. We got the joy and laughter of figuring it out together. And we each had the life-long assurance that we could never be compared to anyone else. We promised ourselves to each other for life, and we were faithful to that. I only had you, you only had me. The security was wonderful. And intimacy is so much more intimate when it is reserved for one person only, for all of your lives.
So thank you for waiting. Thank you for your patience and your sense of humor. We never stopped learning about each other, did we? Thank you for your faithfulness.
Love you great bunches,

Yesterday, Today, & Forever

Dear John,
I'm bathed and smelling better, the cat is in the window, somebody at the farm to the southwest is firing a shotgun, and the dog has his frightened head in my lap. So please forgive any typos.
First, Happy Anniversary! I can't believe it's been 35 years. We had a wonderful day, didn't we? And we got the wedding we wanted, in spite of everybody. We wanted things very simple, and even in those days people expected certain things. But we stuck to what we'd decided on: we got married in the morning, had one attendant each, no candles, no flower girls, no aisle cloth, no train, and punch and cake in the church basement. And if you don't count the photographs, the whole thing cost less that $500. We'd really give people fits if we had a wedding like that today!
The other thing we wanted was the traditional wedding vows, but the current Presbyterian Minister's Manual didn't have them. So Mama called the church where she and Daddy were married, and took them down in shorthand while the secretary read them to her. So I got to promise to obey you; that meant a lot to me.
I celebrated the date by working in the garden all day. I got the rest of the annuals planted, and got everything finished in the front and west beds except for pruning the shrubs. I had to remove stone mulch and pull up part of the landscape fabric to take down some mole hills. Stubborn little critters. I also did laundry and washed sheets and towels. I still have to put the sheets back on the bed - I wish you were here to help me with that, like you always did. But if you were here, I wouldn't have spent our anniversary doing laundry and working in the garden, so I suppose it's all moot.
We're supposed to have storms tonight, so please pray for your little family! The temperature is in the upper 80s, but it's comfortable inside because the wind has been howling out of the south at 15-20 mph all day and the windows are open. I pulled the pots up onto the porch and the patio chairs close to the house, just in case. You should see Jethro - he's lying beside me with his head and neck over my hands and wrists. This makes typing a bit of a challenge. The cat, on the other hand, is lying in the window looking out in total fascination. Maybe he'll love storms as much as his mother does. Then he can curl up and sleep next to me tonight, while the dog sits on my head. Aren't you sorry to miss all this insanity?
I love you so much. When we got married, I loved you as much as it was possible for me to love. But after 35 years, I love you so much more. I hope you've had a happy day, and that you've thought about me and remembered what was happening 35 years ago.
Love you yesterday, today, and forever,

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Momentous Sunrise

Dear John,
If you were here you'd have the house closed. But you're not, so - in spite of 81 on the thermostat - the windows are open, the cat and I are listening to the birds, and the whole house smells like lilacs. This is why God made ceiling fans.
Sunrise .  .  .
Something momentous has happened to me and I'm still digesting it. I realized a couple of hours ago that I was sitting here taking great joy in being alive. And so I had to talk to you early and tell you, because I thought I'd never feel this way again. I certainly don't love you any less - if anything, I love you more every day. But my heart is finally realizing that you're as close to me as my head has always said you are. And so my heart is happy.
Once again, I've surprised myself, but probably not you. You knew all along that this was coming, didn't you? This grieving process hasn't been linear so far, and I don't expect that to change. I will have days that I will cry and be miserable. But now I see that I will also have days of joy, and that is good. That is what you want for me, I know. It's not that I didn't want it; I just had no idea that it was a possibility.
So thank you - for your prayers, your presence, and all the times you gave me permission to be happy after you were gone. Maybe the sun will rise again for me.
Love you with all my heart,

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tired & Happy - & Still Sunburned

Dear John,
I'm tired and happy and ready for bed.
Irene went home this afternoon, I've taken two naps and played with the critters, and we're all off to bed soon. I'm so tired! And I had such a good time! I don't have any idea how I'll feel in the morning - hoping the fibro won't make me pay for having too much fun - but the good it did me emotionally makes it more than worth it.
We got my annuals this morning. I still need a few small perennials to fill in some spaces - lavender and Russian sage - I'll go to Lowes for them next week. Tomorrow I'll get the window boxes planted. It's supposed to be in the upper 80s so I'll set  the potting things up in the garage. I'm sure the neighborhood will be relieved. Since I didn't get anything planted last summer, the house looked abandoned. I promise to do better this year.
It's been 2 1/2 years since Irene and I first went to Holland. And right after I got home was when the world first slipped off its axis - nothing has been normal since. I'm hoping that this trip will be the second bookend to these years. I'm beginning to feel more normal with my present circumstances, getting my feet under me more as time passes. That's not to say that I like being without you. But I've learned how to be content. And there are things that I enjoy and look forward to. I am becoming convinced that - like it or not - I may survive. And I inexplicably feel closer to you as the months pass.
So, here's to bookends! and to the end of my 2 1/2-year nightmare. and to a good night's sleep. I love you, miss you, worship the ground you walk on,
PS - Thought you'd like the picture - enjoy!

Going to Sleep While I Can Do So Electively

Dear John,
We're back at home, and getting all the excited creatures settled down. I keep falling asleep, so I'll turn the light off shortly so I can fall asleep electively while I still can.
We had fun in Holland, but there was one disappointment. Lizzie Ann's Yarn Shop is closed due to retirement. I was so sorry that it's gone - I'll miss it. After walking downtown, we drove out to the south jetty parking area and walked half a mile out to the jetty. It was too windy to go out beyond where the railings are. It was such a contrast to yesterday on the beach but still beautiful, just a different type of beauty. We enjoyed the hike.
Then we drove back, picked Jethro up from the vet, and sat and talked for a while when Jen and Elyssa came by to visit. Then we went out for Mexican food here in town. Irene brought the DVD of Tourist  for us to watch, and it was a pretty cool movie. I enjoyed it. I hope Netfilx has it!
We're all off to bed now. I kept falling asleep trying to check Pinterest, so it's obviously way past my bedtime. Tomorrow we'll see about going to buy annuals for my window boxes and containers. Now I just need to go to sleep while I can do so electively.
Sleep good - love you great bunches,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I've Been Watered & Sunburned

Dear John,
We're still in Holland, still having a great time. The Meijer Gardens are lovely in spring. I'd like to come back and see them in the summer, if there's a stretch that isn't unbearably hot.
From there we went to the beach, to Holland State Park. Remember when we went there? We drove in circles for an hour. There were signs up to a point, then there weren't any more. We finally stopped and asked for directions. The sign situation hasn't changed, but God bless Google Maps! I just put in "Holland State Park" and we took the blue dot to the red dot. I love Google Maps.
Anyway, we went to the beach, and it was a lovely day with a clear blue sky. We walked out to the end of the jetty and sat there for a long time. I do so love water where you can't see land on the other side! And you didn't understand, but you understood anyway. You made sure you brought me to water occasionally, and sat by me while it made me cry and then my  soul unrolled. I remember one time we went to Warren Dunes together when I hadn't seen water in a couple of years. I sat in the sand, took a deep breath, and said how good it smelled. You said, "It smells like dead fish," and I said "Yes! And it smells so good!" You just smiled.
So today I got enough big water to do me for a while. I also got a good dose of sun - I'm as red as a lobster. But, since I'm busy turning into my mother, It's not tender and it will all be brown in a couple of days. I already have the best tan I've had since I was in college. That's what comes of being responsible for the mowing! For the last 34 years, you've gotten the tan - now it's my turn.
I love you so much! It feels good to be here, where we came together and had fun. Somehow we're still here together. You and I are still so much together! I don't feel lonely for you, I feel with you. And that feels good.
Love you always,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Cat is a Cat is a Cat

Dear John,
Irene and I are in Holland. We should have sunny days in the upper 70s. Tomorrow morning we're going to the Meijer Gardens. I was looking forward to going there with you last summer. Going with your sister is the next best thing!
This photo made me think of you and laugh. You always loved big cats but not little ones. And, as a certified cat-owner, I can tell you that they're not that different. And Hunter has no idea that he's a small cat. I'm sure he thinks he's at least this size.
He's getting bigger, too. By the way he's eating, there's a grown spurt on the way. He weighs about 12 pounds now. A few days ago he was behind me and threw himself at the back of my head, all fours extended. I had his front legs around my forehead and his hind legs around my neck, and he nearly knocked my head off. I'm not sure if it was an expression of affection or if I was to be his next meal. I'm assuming affection.
I'm still sorry you missed him! You'd enjoy him. Even when he sits in boxes.
All your little family loves you,

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sin & Misery in the Air, People Dying Everywhere

Dear John,
Current events are reminding me of that version of Happy Birthday that Kyle and Becky taught us in college, hence the title of this letter.
I found out this morning that Meredith died. She didn't want to live after Don's death - I can fully understand that! - and she died over the weekend. I had a good talk with Craig this afternoon; he seems to be doing okay. It wasn't a surprise, but he's lost both parents in less that a year, and it's hard. There seems to be so much bereavement around me right now. Maybe I'm just more sensitive to it. Remember when we were looking at used cars? We'd never noticed used car places before, but after that it seemed like they were everywhere. We giggled a lot about that. I'll miss seeing Meredith at the post office.
I've had a busy day. I washed windows, took the screens out and hosed them down, got three out of four flower beds weeded, and mowed. I still have pruning and cutting back to do. But it's presentable. And the hard-black-rubber-thingie that the grass comes out through finally fell off. It was hanging by one bolt for years. I need to go to the John Deere place and get a new one. I looked like I'd taken a shower in grass clippings today. Now I know what those things are for!
I found this today and immediately thought about you. I remember your riddle back in college: There are three scientists in the room; how do you tell which is the chemist, which the zoologist, and which the dermatologist? It's easy - you ask them what a mole is. This was definitely done by a chemist who is married to a zoologist. There's not a dermatologist in sight.
I do love your sense of humor! I love the way you play with language and love your enjoyment of irony. We both always loved humor of the mind - we could imaging few things worse than watching Animal House or Three Stooges reruns. Humor based on dumb behavior had no appeal for either of us. We're well-suited to each other. Or, as we often put it, it's a good thing we married each other instead of inflicting ourselves on other people.
However you put it, I'm so glad I married you! I still struggle to believe I made such a good choice when I was so young. But I suppose some things are just obvious.
I love you many, many, MANY moles per liter!

Monday, May 13, 2013

More Reasons for Not Sleeping

Dear John,
It's been an interesting day. I got to sleep after 1 and was going to get almost 6 hours sleep. Then I woke up at 4 with a horrible head-jaw-ear ache. I was up for an hour before drugs eased it off a bit. Then I worked 8 hours with another hour in the middle for a viewing, and the headache came back at 4 PM. I do hope this isn't going to be an every-12-hour thing. Aspirin has it almost gone now. I'm off tomorrow so I'm not setting an alarm.
Remember Scott and Summer? George died a few days ago - that was the viewing I went to. I wondered if they would remember me, but of course they did. They were surprised that I was still in Topeka, like everybody always is. It was great to see them. But it was Arlene that I really connected with. One widow to another, I suppose. It seemed to mean a lot to her that I came.
I'm beat, so I'm going to sleep now. I'm hoping to avoid things like headaches and nightmares tonight. (Now watch - we'll have thunderstorms.) A good night's sleep would be a great thing. I didn't dream anything at all last night; that's very unusual for me. It's probably because I didn't sleep enough to dream! So here's wishing a quiet night for all of us! I wish I could spend it cuddled up with you.
Adore you, miss you,

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hellish Night, Heavenly Day

Dear John,
It's been 24 hours of contrasts - a hellish night followed by a heavenly day. Let me tell you about it.
I finally got to sleep around 2:30 this morning. Again, I need you here! I discovered this morning that I'd missed last night's pills - not a good thing for a fibromite. So I couldn't sleep, and ended up taking Benadryl. I should have just stayed awake. I had 8 hours of the most vivid, awful nightmares that I've ever had. It started out the usual way - you were in the hospital and I was fighting to get you treated. During the course of several installments, I dreamed your death 3 times. Then I dreamed my death - it's the first time I've ever done that. Along the way I got a full-time critical care job, got paid $2009 that I wasn't supposed to, got hit on in a mall parking lot, was chased by mobsters, saw a hotel fall down, and found myself on a freeway in New England with no idea how I got there. It was 3:00 this afternoon before I had my head out of those dreams. Now I'm afraid to go to bed tonight, afraid I'll do I all over again. Nasty.
Family isn't Defined by Blood!
But today was an unexpectedly delightful Mother's Day. Jen, Bob, and Elyssa came over with cards and a key lime pie. Jen picked up the old computer, monitor, mouse, lamp, et cetera. While they were here, Ron and Mike came over for a Godmother's Day visit, all of them carried the last two bookcases and my crafting case upstairs, and Bob refilled the water softener. Ron brought chocolate - wise man - and he and Mike got me a card and a gift certificate, bless their hearts. Jethro and Hunter even had Jen get cards from them. So I had a house full of feet and paws today.
It all reminds me of a passage in Isaiah that has been important to me since we found out that you couldn't have children: The children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married. I do have an amazing and wonderful collection of children, official and un-official. I am grateful for all of them and love them dearly. It was a good day.
Now I'm afraid that I have to get up my courage and go to bed. Your mother says dreaming about your death every night is normal - I've been doing it again this week. Last night's dreams were certainly exciting and entertaining, but feel free to do something mundane and boring when you visit me tonight. And please don't come and die on me all over again! Once was much more than enough.
I love you so much! You were the only thing missing today. Love you always and forever,

Saturday, May 11, 2013

On Life Without Load-Bearing Walls

Dear John,
I've had a slow day. I did laundry and housework, and cuddled with the animals. It's been gray and rainy - a perfect day to cuddle with warm fur!
I found this photo yesterday. My first thought was, "That's what my life looks like!" And it does.
The central load-bearing wall of this house has failed and it's falling down, walls going all directions. Wind and rain come in through the windows and the roof, it's denuded of paint; it has no protection from the elements. Somebody loved and cared for it once, but it's been desolate for quite some time.
I've always loved old houses, derelict or not. If I came across that house, the first thing I'd want to do is go explore it. There is a deserted beauty to it, a dignity of years and experience. It no longer contains love and family, but it lends its shelter to animals, and maybe the occasional wanderer. I wonder what its story is. Did a man build it for his bride? Did children run through its halls and play in the yard, stay, grow old and die? I wonder how such a beautiful home came to be deserted.  It keeps its secrets. This house doesn't speak about its experiences - it keeps silence: dignified, aloof, and still beautiful.
There's a challenge here: Can I age (and fall down!) as graciously as this house? Like it, I've lost my central load-bearing wall, my windows are broken out,  my roof leaks, and I have no shelter from the wind and cold. Can I shelter the animals and wanderers? I can't imagine ever being silent and aloof, but maybe I can manage some dignity and grace. Love and laughter do still echo in me, memories of better days, while the rain and snow blow through. Maybe I have gained wisdom and experience that can be of use to others.
I don't usually put you through this much introspection. It must be the gray, rainy day! You were always patient with my love of old buildings. You lucked out - if I'd been younger when the Urban Explorer movement came along, you'd have been bailing me out for trespassing! I have a special weakness for old, deserted hospitals and sanitariums. I'm so grateful to you for that night we spent in the Lizzie Borden House Bed and Breakfast. The next thing I'd be asking you for is a tour of Waverly Sanitarium - it's beautiful, too.
So maybe there's hope for me, as well. I'll take this home as my example and try to be like it. And I'll come to you when I finally fall down!
Leaning a bit but still standing,

Friday, May 10, 2013

Everything Sucks & I'm Doing Fine

Dear John,
I'm all better now - thanks for your prayers. It seems that approaching storms and cranky animals can trigger emotional unpleasantness - who knew? You probably did. You often understood me better than I did.
We all got a good night's sleep, since the storms broke up before they got here. We did get rain but no thunder. So I got through the night with no animals on my head. And everybody has been much better-behaved tonight.
I had a good day at work, and a busy one. I do a much better job when I'm not flaring. And I am enjoying my life again, now that I feel better. I'm looking forward to things that I was dreading a week ago - things like setting up my work room, and washing the windows, and weeding the flower beds. I'm finding rhythm and satisfaction in ordinary things.
I'm still rather disappointed to be alive. But I'm not unhappy all the time. I find things to enjoy and ways to be content. I'd choose in a heartbeat to leave all this behind. But while I'm here, I might as well make the best of it. I was driving down County Road 42 this morning, and the beauty of it this time of year is breathtaking. The flowering trees are at their peak, most of the fields are freshly turned over, new colts and calves are in the pastures. Next weekend I'll plant the flower boxes, and the house will look cared-for again.
It's called making the best of a bad situation. Or acting like a grown-up. I have so much to be thankful for. So I'll keep singing in the lifeboat, and looking forward to crossing the River Jordan in it. There is great joy in knowing that you're waiting and praying for me. Keep the light on!
Love you forever and ever,

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Here's to Second Childhood!

Dear John,
What a  lousy day it's been! There's not really one thing that's wrong - everything is just off. It can probably be traced back to the storm that's coming in a couple of hours. The animals have been edgy and I've been irritable, and we've all been at each other's throats since I got home. And just as I came in the door, Kathy called with questions about her new Facebook business page, so I got on my laptop and she was on hers, and we were trying to figure some things out, and getting nowhere, largely because we were too tired and frustrated. So the animals had to wait half an hour for any attention; they are still showing their displeasure.
I really need you here tonight - really really. You could always listen to me, and help me sort out whether I was just being paranoid or if they really were out to get me. I have a situation now where I need to know that. But how do I figure it out without you to help? If you want to come to one of my dreams tonight and help out, that would be great.
I want to curl up with you, and for you to make me feel loved and worthwhile again. I'd rather work on learning humility some other day, please. Maybe I could lie in a fetal position while we ate brownies together and watched "Murder by Death." That would make me feel better. Or I could just build a blanket fort and hide. How would that be?
I'd better stop and try to get a bit of sleep before the storms get here and I have two freaked-out animals trying to sit on my head. And now the restless leg symptoms are starting - another endearing facet of fibromyalgia. Oh, and if you have some free time, you could work on making me feel like having fibro doesn't render me worthless.
Your stressed-out messed-up wife that loves you,

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Painting the Town Turquoise

Dear John,
I believe I can safely pronounce this fibro flare as over. It started on March 19th, when I went to work and then to church. High-risk behavior. As I now know, that is too much. No matter how much I enjoy both activities, doing both in the same day doesn't work for me. That was the second day of Lent, and I paid for it until Pascha.
Today was another beautiful day and I felt good. I decided not to work in the garden because it was sunny and I'm still sunburned from mowing on Monday. So I painted my workroom. I think it's going to need another coat, but the color looks lovely. While I was moving the old computer cabinet to paint behind it, I decided to go ahead and dismantle the computer so it would be easier for Jen to pick up. I'm keeping the printer since my new one doesn't do photos well, and the keyboard so I'll have an ergonomic one to hook up to the laptop when I have something big to work on. While I was crawling around on the floor anyway, I moved the modem and the wireless router into the office. I'll turn that corner desk into my icon corner. I think it will be beautiful.
The animals were funny while I was painting. Of course, both of them wanted to be in the middle of everything. So I put a baby gate across the door to keep the dog out, and another one above it to keep the cat out. I let them in when I was done, but the last wall must have still been damp because the dog has a racing stripe down his left side. Remember when Caleb did that? I was painting the hall, and he got matching stripes down both sides. I took him in for shots soon after that, and June got a good laugh at it. She said the color matched his undercoat perfectly. I'm afraid that light turquoise doesn't match anything at all on Jethro.
It feels so good to feel better. But after a flare, I have a hard time not waiting for the other shoe to drop, wondering when the next one is coming. And it's so easy to start one by doing too much while I feel good. And this time of year, there is just so much to be done! The flower beds look disgraceful - full of weeds, and the trimming not done yet. I need to plant the window boxes and my annual seeds. The windows need washing, and I should take the screens down and hose them off. 
If there's any of this that you'd like to help with, let me know! I miss doing things around here with you. And I really miss having you come home and be excited about what I've done - that was half the fun of it. I'm just doing them for myself now, and It feels strange. Part of me still can't grasp that this is permanent - you'd think after a year, it would be obvious. But what is a year compared to 34 years? And, as I keep reminding myself, this time apart is nothing compared to eternity together. So if you can't come and help, please pray for me as I work away at it, and as I wait to come to you.
Love you with all my heart

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Canine & Feline Conspiracy

Dear John,
The lilac bush is beginning to bloom. This is the first night that I've sat by this window and smelled lilacs. It's wonderful.
There's nothing much happening today. I had a busy day at work, went grocery shopping on the way home, talked to your sister about our plans for next week, and have dealt with the animals misbehaving ever since.
It seems that, while I was gone today, they agreed to torture me after I got home. The dog has spent most of his time going out so that he can beg to come right back in again, and the rest of his time pawing me whenever I go two seconds without petting him. The cat keeps biting me because I won't let him tear up the screens trying to get to the grasshoppers outside. And so it goes. I love them dearly, but wish they wouldn't conspire against me.
I'm looking forward to Irene's visit next week! We've always enjoyed our play times, and our last one was in September of 2010. It's always fun to tell people that I was going away to spend a week with your sister. Invariably they'd say, "You mean your sister." And I'd tell them no, that I didn't have any sisters, I meant your sister. Everybody thought it was so strange. But you never did - you thought it was great. And it is. And it's dawned on me that we're both only children now, so having an extra sister is a very good thing.
Thank you for not minding me going away for those days and leaving you here to fend for yourself. (And I know - I can hear you saying that you're all grown up now. But not everybody is so nice about it.) Thank you for standing up for me when your guy friends used to tell you to take my credit cards away before I left. And thank you for having such a nice sister. (I will always appreciate her sacrificing herself in the rocking chair when you were a baby, so that you didn't fall on your head. After all, I did fall on mine when I was four - that probably explains a lot. Between that, 2011's subdural bleed, and fibro fog, I can clearly not be held responsible for anything at all!)
I love you so much! I can hear you chuckle and see you smile at all this, and it is good. I do worship the ground you walk on. And I will walk there with you as soon as I can!
Love all of you with all of me,

Monday, May 6, 2013

I Come Out & Get Feisty

Dear John,
I've had another good day - ran errands in town and mowed - and will probably pay for it for a week, by which time I'll need to do it again. But it was another lovely day, and warm enough for me to break out the shorts. I'm glad I haven't gotten the grass fed. If I had, I'd never be able to keep up with it. It looks like I've mowed hay again. When Mama was my age, Daddy got her riding mower for her birthday. (That's a hint.)
I'm doing something new, don't know what the reactions I'll get, and don't really care. I decided to be more open and vocal about the fibromyalgia. I haven't talked about it much before now because it still has a stigma attached to it. But now that you're gone, I have to work more hours and take care of everything around here. So it's taking a greater toll on me and I can't hide it like I used to.
Since next Sunday is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, this seemed like a good time to increase awareness on Facebook. So I've been posting something every day, sometimes funny and sometimes serious. It's interesting that very few people have responded. Either people don't know what to say and therefore say nothing, or they don't want to hear it. There's probably some of both.
Well, we fibromites don't like it either, but here we are, and the world needs to deal with us. The illness is invisible - it's victims aren't. (Told you I was getting feisty.) You were perfect - you knew how to help and support when I needed it without hovering and fussing over me. And you believed me. You never doubted me when I told you how I felt. There's a new study out on how fibro affects relationships, and a majority of husbands believed their wives exaggerated or made up their pain.
Thank you for not being like the majority of husbands! Thank you for loving me even when you had to take care of me. Thank you for wanting to be with me no matter what. And yes, as I say all that, I know that I did the same for you. That's what a loving marriage is all about. And I'd expect nothing else from the world's only perfect man. But I need to say thank you, and you need to know how much I appreciate you. Fibromite life is much harder without you. But so is everything else, like breathing!
Love you with all my heart,

Sunday, May 5, 2013

It's Just Like Shopping for Tampons

Dear John,
It's been a lovely Pascha. The weather is perfect, the lilac bush, the dogwood tree, and the crab apples are ready to bloom at any moment. It was beautiful all day.
The fibro released its grip on me a bit today. I've felt much better than I have the last few days. The animals and I slept late - we kept waking up, cuddling, and falling back asleep. I took a shower without following it with a nap, and I didn't dry my hair so that I'd have enough energy to vacuum. (With two animals shedding, the floor was a mess.) I even moved some of the furniture out to vacuum under it, and found all of the missing cat toys. Now I know where he stashes them.
That was my burst of energy for the day. After than I knitted and watched Netflix. And since I can sleep in tomorrow if I want to, I've spent some time on Facebook and Pinterest tonight. Now I'm sitting in bed with the dog asleep at my feet and the cat sprawled out across my ankles.
And speaking of the cat, he's back to being as cuddly and affectionate as he'd always been. I have no idea what got into him, but I'm glad it's over. He's been all over me today, and slept all last night cuddled up with me. I'm so sorry you're missing him - I keep thinking about how much fun you'd have watching him and playing with him.
One of my new widow-friends has started a blog of letters to her husband. It's lovely, and it reminds me that I'm normal. And not alone - we all seem to need lots of reminding about that, probably because we're younger than most widows. You should look up Dana and read our letters together, and talk about how much alike your wives are. Know that we're looking after each other.
I found this pin, and had to show it to you. It reminded me of things we used to say about shopping in the tampon department - there were so many choices, and most of them made no sense to you. I remember when you went shopping for me once - I don't remember why I couldn't go - and you called me from the tampon section. It became our family phrase for a ridiculous number of options - we'd stand there looking at the toothpaste section, and one of us would say, "It's just like shopping for tampons!" The last time I bought toothpaste, I stood there giggling to myself.
As has been said before, thanks for the memories! I love and adore you,

The Holy Fire Descended & The Cats Sing

Dear John,
The Holy Fire descended in Jerusalem today
Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen!
I'm at home in bed, dog asleep at my feet, instead of at church where I want to be. Pain and exhaustion won out. But the joy of the resurrection has been with me today in a more vivid way than it ever has been before. I have a more personal stake in all of it, now that you're not here. I feel like I've been keeping Lent for 2 1/2 years and have come through a 15-month-long Holy Week. But Hell has been harrowed and Christ is risen, the door to our reconciliation and salvation is open. The gates of Hell have been shattered, Light has invaded its darkness, death has lost its sting.
What I'm trying to say was said better by St. John Chrysostom in the 5th century. Here's the last half of his Paschal sermon:
He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into Hades and took Hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, "Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions." It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a  body, and face to face, it met God! It took earth and encountered Heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen! "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.
On a lighter note: All God's Creatures say Amen!
You are already sharing in the fullness of the Resurrection. Please pray for me as I live the foretaste of it in the world for a bit longer. May every moment of my life be lived in its light!
Glory to God! He is risen!

Friday, May 3, 2013

On Fighting Like a Girl

Dear John,
I got honest tonight on Facebook. We'll see if the world ends. Not that I make a habit of being deceitful, but I don't generally bare my soul. Here, I generally do. But I've always felt safe with you, so it's easy to tell you everything.
Tonight I'm struggling with the realities of fibromyalgia. I wanted so bad to go to church tonight. But after working eight hours today and six hours yesterday, it was all I could do to get home and put on pajamas. I'm exhausted and in a lot of pain. I didn't even have the energy for dinner - I just cut off a piece of cheese and ate it.
I'm tired of missing things, especially church. I'm tired of having limits more suited to a 110-year-old. I don't remember what it feels like to have no pain. Worse than that, I don't remember what it feels like to not be tired.
I wonder what people think and say about me. This is an invisible illness - I look fine on the outside. You can't see pain, and I can't begin to describe what I mean by "tired." I can't even take my showers in the morning because a shower exhausts me so much that I have to lie down and sleep after one. The other thing that's hard for people to understand is that this disease is so unpredictable. Sunday I could barely crawl out of bed, but Tuesday I could mow the lawn. Tonight the weight of my pajama top on my shoulders is painful. Tomorrow night is Pascha - and I have no idea how I'll feel or what I'll be able to do.
One of the desert fathers said that his asceticism was illness. It can certainly be a path of sanctification - and you know that path well yourself. You're forced to learn patience, endurance, trust, and humility. So instead of grousing, I should give thanks for this disease that brings so much good to my soul. There is no cure, no recognized effective treatment, and no research funding. My circumstances are unlikely to change, so it is my attitude that has to adjust.
I can do this. This is what fighting like a girl (the wonderful fibro slogan) has to mean to me - fighting well and faithfully the spiritual battle that always lies in chronic illness. I will give thanks in everything. I will endure all and learn patience from it. I will learn compassion, because every person is fighting an unseen battle. When people don't believe or understand me, I will learn humility. And none of those are declarative statements - they are in the optative. I will keep trying.
Thank you so much for your help. You gave me the answer I needed, just like you always have. Obviously, I need your continued prayers. Thank you for your continued love and support!
Love you always and forever,