Saturday, August 31, 2013

Purning, Planting, & Produce

Dear John,
We all worked long and hard today, and great were the rewards therefrom. We had breakfast in Goshen then went to the Farmers Market. Except for milk and dog food, I'm set for a couple of weeks. It's good to support the local farms and bring home safe food at the same time.
Jim started work on the gate while Irene and I went to the nursery on 40 and found a nice locust tree. The adventure was loading a 12-foot tree into a Honda Civic. We planted it in the east side of the back yard between the fence and the clothesline, where it will help shade the patio. Irene and I trimmed, deadheaded, and dug while Jim hung the gate. I finally have a flower bed on the south side of the shed. Jim checked the gutters - found nothing but shingle sludge, and cleaned that out. We got take-out from El Zorito and watched Big Bang Theory,  then Jim unjammed the garbage disposal.

It started out in the low 90s, but clouded over and got cooler with a few sprinkles of rain. I've had my shower and my Cheerios-and-peach, and am piled up in bed with the laptop and the animals. We'll all be asleep very soon.

Bless your family. I appreciate all they do for me more than I can ever say. But what I appreciate most is that they still consider me family. Of course, I feel that way about them, too. But that's different. They're easy to love.

And I'm grateful to and for you. Once again: Thank you for having such a nice family. And thank you for being the world's only perfect man, and for loving me, and for marrying me. For everything except forgetting to take me with you when you left! But I'm coming anyway, so be prepared. And keep saving that seat beside you.

Love you, adore you,

Friday, August 30, 2013

Jogging with Mandy Patinkin

Dear John,
Last night I dreamt I went to  Manderley again. Not really - I dreamed about IU Methodist Hospital. I suppose my Manderley would be the rehab hospital. I've never dreamed about it, and that's probably a good thing. But anyway, I was at Methodist, inside, and I was jogging with Mandy Patinkin. I have no idea why. Jogging was fun. It felt like my body was weightless. Running was effortless - not like when it was easy when we were children and ran all day, but completely effortless. It must be something like what your new body feels like. I really have no idea why I was jogging with Mandy Patinkin at Methodist Hospital.
I'm seeing in HD now. My vision was really blurry this morning. Trying to use my eyes gave me a headache and motion sickness, so I cleaned the house. Then at about 4:30 this afternoon everything cleared up. I'd forgotten that things could be as clear and sharp as they are now. I can't wear my contact until I'm off the steroid eye drops in a week so I need reading glasses, but that's a minor inconvenience. It's wonderful to just look around and really see. It reminds me of how I felt when I put my first glasses on for the first time.
Jim and Irene will be here later this evening. I'm washing sheets today - the whole thing: sheets, blanket, bedspread, and mattress pad. When they get here, I'm going to ask Jim to help me turn the mattress. It hasn't been turned since you were here to help me. (And I remember now why I don't wash the mattress pad very often. It's taking hours to get dry.)
I'm going to go take a shower, then I'll be done for the night. We're all going to the farmers market in the morning, then coming back here to work for the rest of the day. I wish it wasn't going to be so hot. But we'll have a good time. And we'll miss you, but we do that all the time anyway. So many people love you so much!
Adore you,

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pearson, Thurber, & Weirdness

Dear John,
The eye surgery is done. They said my vision will be blurry for 48 hours, then I'll feel like I'm seeing in HD. So far, they're right. My eyes feel like I have grit in them. It's hard to see to work on the computer, so I won't be on for long tonight. Other than that, I just feel wiped out and I can't get warm. Sounds like the apocalypse is upon us, that I'm cold!
Kathy took me to Warsaw today, since I couldn't drive afterward. We had a good time, and ended up talking about the fact that such entertaining things always happen to us. It seems to me that, in most cases, entertainment is in the mind of the beholder. Three people can experience something together and one will get irritated, one won't notice anything in particular, and one will have a great story to tell. Kathy and I tend to have the mind of the storyteller. We notice weirdness. It's probably like responding to like.
Remember me talking about Katie, my friend in high school? She had a German exchange student named Regina during my junior year. A bunch of us were sitting around on the floor talking one night, and Regina said something that forever changed the way I saw myself. She said that I was a good storyteller. I was taken aback at first, but soon realized she was right. Her comment is the reason for my first blog (you know, TheresACowOnThePorch). If I ever get to finish that book on growing up in the Deep South, I'll have to dedicate it to her. It's all her fault.
So now you know who to blame for all of this! I read Edmund Pearson and James Thurber, and they both influenced the way I tell stories. Regina's just responsible for the fact that I do it out loud and in writing. You bore up under it very well. I suppose that if like responds to like, we both exceed the average in weirdness. We said so many times that it was a good thing we married each other and didn't subject innocent bystanders to ourselves! I love your weirdness. And you understood and loved mine. We were destined for each other!
Waiting to be reunited with you,

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Laugh Away - It's a Girl Thing

Dear John,
It's been a busy, long, and late day. I was so late showing up at the computer that the WFFs were getting concerned about me. I'm fine, and tired, and happy with my day.
I worked in the garden all morning, cleaning out flower beds. I got everything done except for deadheading the coneflowers and trimming the boxwoods in that small back flower bed. It was a rush because Jim and Irene are coming this weekend to help me with chores, so I have to get most of the chores done before they get here so they don't know how bad it was and how much needed to be done. That's okay - laugh away. You liked me this way, so shush! It's a female thing.
Then I came in and had some Gatorade, took a shower, and went downtown to up the mail, get my hair cut, and buy a gallon of milk. Then I finished getting ready for tonight's Lia Sophia party, got dressed, and went to Morag's. The party went well - my biggest so far. I have twelve orders, and it won't close out until Sunday afternoon so there may be more. It was fun, too. I had some paperwork to finish up after I got home, so I didn't sit down until 11:00.
You'd be proud of me and this new business. No, that's not right. You are proud of me. It's easier now than it would have been a couple of years ago, because I've learned so much working for Kathy. I'm off to a good start. The extra income will certainly help. And I do enjoy it. It gives me a lot more social interaction that I've been getting, with living by myself and working in Kathy's basement. The solitude has been wonderful this past year or so. But I'm needing more people-time now, and I'm ready for it. So this is good for me in a lot of ways. Now I have more tax things to learn. If I need help, I'll call you first. Are you set up for Skype there yet? Let me know as soon as you are. It is wonderful to talk to you here, but I'd love to be able to see you and hear your voice. I'd even love to get a text from you. Anything you can manage, I'll love.
Love you forever,

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Enabling & Bubble Wrap

Dear John,
It was a quiet day, and hot and humid. I went to Walmart after work, and their power was out. They'd blown a transformer. The refrigerated and frozen things were shut up, but everything else was normal. The repair people hadn't gotten to Kathy's air conditioning when I left - I was very glad today that I work in a basement office.
Your shoes survived a vicious attack tonight. I was putting my nightgown on when the cat came charging into the closet, leapt onto your Nikes, and wrestled them to the ground. He had a lovely time. Yesterday the dog was asleep on the rug in the office. I walked by and he woke up. I saw the cat lurking outside the office door, and stopped to watch. The cat stood up on his hind legs as the dog got closer to the door, and when the dog came in sight the cat pounced on his head. Jethro really should expect these things by now.
Hunter has also discovered bubble wrap. I left a shipping box on the office floor for him to play with. He sat in it for a couple of days, then found the layer of bubble wrap lying in the bottom of the box. Of course, he found it at 3 in the morning. I woke up to the sounds of cat-thumping on the hall floor and the rapid popping of bubble wrap. The cat is delighted. And the floor is littered with tiny shreds of plastic. And my lap, shoulder, desk, and general vicinity are filled with contented, cuddly cat.
You'd love it - I finally got all the instruction manuals and things under control. We had that binder that was made for them, and it worked well while we were renting. Then when we had mechanicals and lawn equipment manuals to add to it, it came unhinged and fell apart. I thought about a system for several months, and finally figured one out. I got a 3-inch 3-ring notebook, a box of page protectors, and some dividers. I put everything into page protectors and divided the notebook into Electronics, Kitchen Appliances, Mechanicals, Outdoor Equipment, and Small Appliances. The notebook is jammed - I really need to pick up a 4-inch. But the system works very well. And all the mess is corralled. You'd love it.
You were always so excited when I organized something. You really liked for things to be organized, didn't you? You didn't get excited about doing the organizing, like I did. You didn't sit and daydream about new organizational systems. In short, you're normal. But you understood that the world needs a certain percentage of anal retentive people in order to function properly, and you enjoyed being married to one of them. And I loved having somebody that appreciated rather than condemned my compulsion to sort and label everything in sight. Thank you for enabling!
Love you so, so much,

Monday, August 26, 2013

Never Ever Say Things Can't Get Worse

Dear John,
I do hope you had a better day than I did. I spent most of it trying to climb the Widowhood Learning Curve. But first, I need to tell you that I heard from Nolon this morning. Gus died yesterday. It's not unexpected at all, and I'm happy for him. But it's hit me pretty hard. Gus and Mary and you and I got so close, and now I'm the only one left here. Give them my love! Hug them for me, enjoy being with them again, and tell them that I'll be there. As soon as Jen lets me dig!
Today's learning curve was about the Big Three credit companies. I went to the bank to sign papers for a home equity line of credit. They got the credit reports, and there were lots of things on them that shouldn't be. There were credit cards listed as being in your name only, but were on my credit report. The Inova loan that you had credit life on, that Inova closed and marked it "Paid in Full" was on there, listed that I defaulted on it. And one of them was penalizing me because it doesn't know about the mortgage. In spite of all that, Transunion gives me a 798. You would glance through the 28-page report and understand instantly where they came up with that. But it took me all day to comb through everything and figure out what I needed to dispute. But I did figure it out, and now I know how to read them, too.
So I started the dispute process. Or tried to. One of them says it will take them 48 hours to collect the information that they printed on the spot for the bank. One says the dispute system is down, please try later in the week, sorry if this inconveniences you. The third has a temporary problem with the data I have to input - it thinks there are no months with double-digit numbers.
Jen, bless her heart, is tracking down phone numbers for filing disputes, since I'm having no luck on line. Tomorrow I get to call Inova. There's no way I'm ever talking to Chase again as long as I live; they react to new widows like sharks do to blood in the water. Galen, of course, is looped in, and says if disputes fail to turn it over to him. It's so lovely to have an attorney in the wings.
So in the end, we shelved the application for now. Since I don't have pay stubs, the bank is struggling to figure out how to credit me with actual income. While they work on that, I'll dispute the necessary things on the credit reports. And I'm getting a raise and starting to get Lia Sophia income, so all of that will help, too.
And all of the above made me think of this. It always makes me chuckle. It's a dark, sardonic, sick kind of chuckle, but at least it's a chuckle. I remember how happy we were to see 2011 end, and said there was no way 2012 would be worse. Were we ever wrong! And now I'm putting this here for you to chuckle at, too. You'd think I would have learned not to issue challenges to life. Evidently Kathy's been doing that too - she just let me know that her air conditioning is out, and it's supposed to be 92 and humid tomorrow. And she warned me that tomorrow will be a long work-day. *sigh*
Your family is headed off to bed now. We love you and miss you. Thank you for handling all of this stuff for so many years. I'm learning and catching up! And I will stop saying that things can't get worse - "things" can be quite creative!
Adore you,

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Movement, Martin, and The March - 50 Years Ago

Dear John,
I'm crying, and for once it has nothing to do with you. (Believe, me, it doesn't - you were so sheltered growing up. You missed all of this.) This week is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and PBS is showing an oral history.
I remember it so well, and remember how badly I wanted to be there. (But that wasn't the time I tried to run away from home. That was to join the Freedom Riders when they came through Atlanta. Even at 7, I knew I could never get as far as Washington.) It was a bit like the day I stood in line for the first polio vaccine - I had a sense of the historical importance of the event, a feeling that this gathering would change the world forever.
Oh, unprintable words. There's a commercial on for Sandals Resort. They're showing a white couple walking on the beach with the word "freedom" in all capitals across the screen. This could be considered poor timing. Anyway.
The Civil Rights Movement was the centerpiece of my childhood. Nobody intended that. But my family ate dinner every night in front of the television watching Huntley and Brinkley do the national news. So I heard and saw it all. And I heard everybody's position on everything, and came to my own conclusions. I saw Martin's speech live. I heard George Wallace say, "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." I'd seen footage of peaceful protesters attacked by police dogs and fire hoses. I knew what had happened at lunch counter protests and when the Freedom Riders filled those buses. I'd grown up singing Negro Spirituals and hearing The Blues. I'd lived all my life under segregation. When I was 4, I'd made a scene on a city bus because I wasn't allowed to sit in the back because I was white - everybody knew that the back was best. I'd never known anything but segregated buses, bathrooms, water fountains, restaurants, hotels, beaches, swimming pools, housing, schools, churches, and everything else that mattered.
And because of the television, I was painfully uncomfortable with it. I felt guilty every time I saw one of those "Whites Only" signs - which was every time I left the house. Even when I was a small child, black people had to act subservient to me, and that was so painful that it made me cry. Maybe one reason I wanted to go to Washington was to show the world that I disagreed with my own people, to expiate my guilt and shame by standing publicly on the other side. I understood, as much as my 7-year-old mind could, that I could be killed there. But it seemed a worthwhile martyrdom - there was nothing better I could do with my life. Fifty years later, I feel the same way. Martin is no longer my only hero. I've gathered a few others along the way. But he was the first.
Now I'm crying so hard that the cat came to check on me, and you know what the only thing is that can make me cry like that. They just played The Speech. I grew up on those red hills of Georgia. And I wanted to hear freedom ring.
And I still do. My heart is still with this. I know young conservatives who think people like me are racist in reverse, that we feel guilt for what was done over a century ago. But they're wrong. Understandably so, but wrong. The world I grew up in looks so long ago and far away to them. But segregation was yesterday to people my age. The pain and struggle of those days isn't something you forget. A cause that you give so much to never becomes over, done with, no longer relevant. We're sensitive to the remaining injustice that people in their thirties can't even see.
So teach your children well. Their parents' hell will slowly go by. But we're not gone by yet. What happened that day, what my generation did, matters. And isn't complete. As long as the Klan marches every year in Durham, it isn't complete. Don't forget that the response to the March on Washington was the Birmingham church bombing where four little girls were killed. And after the Kennedy assassination - the first one - LBJ did the one decent act of his life. He pushed for, and signed, the Civil Rights Bill. It was the first one since Reconstruction.
These memories explain the emotional depth that Obama's inauguration had for people like me. We never dreamed we'd live to see a black president. My memories of the two days overlap and blur together sometimes. It's all part of the quilt that is my life, and the changes that I got to help bring about.
I've seen some history made, haven't I? And some of it has been very good. And you always wanted to understand that part of me. You didn't grow up seeing segregation, but not because of the exceptional enlightenment of the white people  there - it was because everybody was white. The one experience in your childhood that resonated with mine was your father's championing of the first black general to come to Wright Patterson Air Force Base. You were always so proud of that, and I first loved him for it. Thank you for being interested in my childhood experience, and for not having the usual northern assumptions of what Southerners are like. You were a bit shocked to visit my home and find a CSA sword on the wall over the fireplace. But believe me, it hadn't been used in over a century!
Love the man that made me love a Yankee!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friendship & Wellspring

Dear John,
It's been another busy day. This morning I went to South Bend with Melinda, and this evening I mowed. I'm tired and stiff and hurting, but it's going to be in the 90s for a week and I had to get it done today.
Melinda took me to a wonderful organic food store in Mishawaka. When I walked in, I thought I was back in Durham. It was about twice the size of Wellspring, but was the same thing. And it smelled just like Wellspring did. I couldn't have told you what it used to smell like, or even remembered that it had a particular smell. But I recognized it as soon as I went in. Because of the size of the store, it has a lot that I can't get in Goshen. So I stocked up on some things. I even bought a little bag of green rice, just for the fun of it. As much as you loved unique food stores, you'd really enjoy it. I'll be going back, since there are things I can't find anywhere else in the area.
I'm tired after having two social outings in two days, but it's done me so much good. Hermit that I am, I still need a social life. I can't do couple things anymore, but I can have girlfriend time. It's worth pushing the fibro for the sake of emotional health. There are just some things that the dog and cat can't do for me.
You were my primary social contact for 38 years. We were best friends that fell in love with each other. I believe that's the recipe for a really good marriage. Everything else ebbs and flows, but friendship lasts forever. Of course, that's one thing that makes it so hard for me to live without you. Besides losing my husband, I also lost my best friend. And that's what I miss most.
But I do have friends that are still here, and I'm so thankful for each one of them. And I'm thankful for the years that I had you here as my best friend, and for the  reunion to come. Now go spend some time with your friends! Hug Kyle and Dana and Phil for me, and tell them how much we all miss them.
Love you, love you, love you,

Friday, August 23, 2013

Interspecies Collaboration

Dear John,
It's a cool, lovely night. Tomorrow will be our last day under 90 for a while, so I'll be mowing either early or late. The next chore will be to vacuum - no matter how often I tell the animals not to shed, they keep doing it.
There were no storms list night. Jethro slept cuddled up with me all night anyway, About 4 AM I woke up to cat paws on my legs - Hunter came up on the bed, lay down across my legs, and went to sleep. An hour later I felt him walking up my hip; he draped his long self across my waist and slept another hour. Then he walked up my side and slept there. If the alarm hadn't gone off at 6:30, he would have ended up on my head again.
I've told you that they occasionally gang up on me. Well, they have a new thing going. You know how when Jethro is outside, he barks or scratches to come in. If I don't let him in immediately, Hunter comes and finds me. He sits there making imploring noises and looking expectantly at me until I let the dog in. If I don't get up in a couple of minutes, he goes to the back door and sits at the glass next to Jethro, I suppose as a show of solidarity. He repeats the process until I let the dog in.
They were both frantic when I got home. I went to work for a couple of hours this morning, then Kathy and I went to Fort Wayne to do some shopping. I didn't get home until almost 8;00. They were fine - it was still light, and the dog won't eat or drink when I'm not home so his bladder was fine. I guess Jethro has been telling Hunter about the day his Daddy went to work and never came home again, so he has the cat all worked up if I'm later than they expect. We did a lot of cuddling and they're both fine now.
I need to head off to bed - it's been a long day. Your little family loves and misses you. Cuddling just isn't complete without you here. Nothing is, really. But your arms were so long and you hugged so good!
Love you forever,

Thursday, August 22, 2013

WFFs: Holding Hands & Sticking Together

Dear John,
It stormed last night. I slept an hour, then the lightening started and the dog came and lay on my head, and we were up until 5 AM. I slept from 5 until 8, had a short day at work, and came home just as the storms started again. Remember when I said yesterday that it was getting dry? It isn't anymore. And the grass is suddenly two inches longer. I need to mow tomorrow or Saturday before it goes back up into the 90s.
During last night's storm I was on Facebook and Pinterest - no shock there. Sophie sent me this lovely picture, so I made it my new profile photo. Look, it's Sophie and Ronda and me! (I'm the one at the bottom with the slightly smushed smile.) In the course of general conversation, I'd finally had enough of trying to describe our ever-growing group of new widows. There was a gap in the language, and I decided to fix it. We're WFFs - Widow Friends Forever. The term was met with unanimous approval, and I expect it to be added to Webster's next year.
There are lots more of us that are in the photo - we're just the most recent additions to the group.  There's Becky and Claire and Elsie, and lots more. We all agreed that it's a group we never, ever, EVER wanted to be a part of. But since we meet the definition, we might as well do it together. Like they taught us in kindergarten, hold hands and stick together whenever you go out into the world.
I love you so, so much! It still jolts me a bit when I realize that this separation is for the rest of my life. But it's not forever, and I'm so thankful for that. I'll join you when the Lord wills and Jen lets me dig.
Love you forever and ever,

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Go Play with a Cat!

Dear John,
It's still summer. I got so spoiled last week! Now 85 degrees seems unreasonably hot. I think I need a reality check. It's August, after all. And it's getting dry, too - at least it slowed the grass down. I don't want to  mow while it's so unreasonably hot. This is getting circular, isn't it?
I've had a busy day off. I made the loop downtown, then came home and paid bills and did some housework. The animals have provided lots of entertainment today. Something must have happened down the hall this morning. The dog came charging into the room and hid behind a chair. The cat was right behind him, attacking everything he passed. Jethro stayed where he was until Hunter left the room.
And we had a first this evening. While Jethro was outside, the cat lay down in the dog's spot on the couch, curled up, and went to sleep. The dog stayed out for almost an hour, and when he came in - get this - the cat stayed where he was. Jethro didn't challenge him; he just went and lay down somewhere else. They stayed that way for over an hour. Then the cat woke up, stretched, yawned, and went somewhere else, and Jethro reclaimed his spot. So the standoff ended peacefully.
Hunter is obviously holding his own in spite of the size difference. Right now they're chasing each other around under the bed, which is quite an accomplishment for a German shepherd. They love each other, which is a very good thing. Jethro could easily kill the cat, and Hunter could really hurt the dog. It seems that Hunter has pushed back until the boundaries were set in an acceptable place. And that's been good for Jethro.
They're adorable. I'm still so sorry that you're not here for this. I know how much you loved the dog and he loved you. And you would love the cat, too, maybe even enough to publicly admit it. I wish you'd had the chance to get to know a cat. You didn't like the way cats ate, but you never got to have one eat treats out of your hand, neat and precise and purring. And they're much more relational than you ever realized - as I said before, Mama was right about that.
But it occurs to me that you have lots of cats there with you! Go and get to know one, and you'll understand. You can't have Hunter as long as I'm here. But there are plenty in Heaven for you to play with. So don't be shy - go play with a kitten, and say your wife sent you.
Love you so, so much,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Landslide: When the Center is Gone

Dear John,
Summer came back. I closed the house and turned on the air conditioning at 6:00 this morning. Don't I usually sleep until 6:30, you ask? Usually. But only on days that I've gone to bed by then.
Last night was a strange one. When I first went to bed I couldn't sleep because of fibro pain, mostly in my hands and arms. When I was still awake at 2:00, I took some pain meds. It turns out that Tylenol #3 does me about as much good now as it did 45 years ago, which is basically none at all. When I was still awake and hurting at 5:00, I took the stronger stuff. It was 7:30 before I felt good enough to go to sleep. So I slept from 7:30 to 9:00, then got up and went to work.
I had a pretty busy day, which was good because it kept me awake. And I did well on just 1 1/2 hours sleep - at least, I think I did. I came home at 5:30 and had dinner, and I've been falling asleep ever since. The cat curled up in my lap while the dog was outside, and I scratched his neck until we both fell asleep. I've worn the animals out, too. Poor little critters - we all need an early bedtime tonight.
I had the radio on today and heard Fleetwood Mac's Landslide. I haven't heard it in a long time, but the line jumped out at me: I've been afraid of changing, because I've built my life around you. And that's what I've tried to say to you before. Sometimes it's about changing, like turning the spare bedroom into an office. But sometimes it's about reconstructing, about trying to find a center now that the center is gone. And that's where issues of purpose and what I want to be when I grow up come in. Before you go to bed tonight, go on YouTube and listen to the song, and know that my life is still built around you. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,

Monday, August 19, 2013

Grandma Keistler & the Fab Four

Dear John,
It's a beautiful night - way too late for me to be up, but beautiful, with a full moon, a bit of fog hanging low over the fields, and the smell of cornfields in the air. Crickets are out in full force, the animals are asleep, the neighborhood is dark, and the town is quiet.
I had the radio on today and heard Let it Be again. I turned it up to the pain threshold and lost myself in it. "And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me speaking words of wisdom: Let it be." Truly, the Theotokos was there in my hour of greatest darkness, watching you leave this world for the next, and encouraging me to say, as she did, "Let it be to me as you have said." And that is the sum of all wisdom: to give free and willing consent to God to do what He wants with us. As I watched your soul leave your body, my primary feeling was pain. But second to that was submission. The grief-people kept looking for anger in me, and I looked, too. Maybe we got that out of the way thirty-eight years ago. But by this stage of my life I know that God is good, loving, and in control. So whatever His will is, is best for everybody.
The other person that was there in that hour was my Grandmother Keistler. She was right by my side when Dr. Ansari told us the biopsy results, and hasn't left me since. It has been so good to have her strong, patient, practical presence! It's funny, I guess - I never met her, but I know her better than anybody else in my family. I grew up feeling close to her, and I've spent so much time with her these past two years.
So I rely on the strength of other women who have been here before, and my friends who are here now. Women are strong, you know, and tougher than men in a lot of ways. We have the kind of strength that sees you through times of darkness. And we do it together. Thanks to these two women in particular, I now feel pain and submission and contentment, in ever-varying concentrations. And I turn the radio up for that song. There will be an answer: Let it be.
Waiting to come to you,

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Strange Behavior of the Time-Space Continuum

Dear John,
It's been another beautiful day. I trimmed Hunter's claws - he's getting more comfortable with the process, and even seems to enjoy being swaddled in a bath towel. I paid bills, did filing, and did some business ordering. I had a nice busy afternoon.
I've been mulling the fact that life has gone on since you died. My head knew that would happen. But some part of  me is shocked when it does. I was horrified when Staples rearranged their aisles, because things weren't the same as they were when we went there together. And I've struggled some with changing things here at home. You know I felt guilty for a couple of days about changing the spare bedroom into an office. It felt funny, too, to get a cat, even though I got him for Jethro, and I'm sure that you would be having all kinds of fun with him.
I think it's a very good thing that I had to clear out our closet right after you died, to make room for the girls to move in. If I hadn't been forced to, I don't know if I ever would have. Some people leave those things unchanged for decades, and sometimes that's a good thing. But for me, seeing your clothes even as long as I did was painful. I think, for me, not changing the closet and chest of drawers would have kept salt on the wound. And since I had to do it, I didn't feel guilty about it.
I don't feel bad about doing new things in the yard and the garden, because that was my area. And when I rearranged the garage, it was because there was only one car in it. You would have done the same thing if we'd had only one car when you were alive. And organizing stuff was my area, too, really. I think you would have been very happy for me to rearrange the garage anytime I felt like it!
In mulling this, I know that my life seemed to stop the day you died. I certainly wanted it to stop! But it didn't, so the world will continue to change and so will I. I remember the 1974 tornadoes, and how terrible it was to get up the next morning and, other than the consequences of the hit on the hydroelectric plan at Dix Dam, everything was the same. I learned that day that any emotional trauma can leave you feeling like everything should be different. So maybe a bigger trauma can make you feel that nothing should ever be different.
I don't know. I'm feeling my way around in this new world I'm in. But I can't help notice this unreasonableness in myself, and once noticed, I have to analyze it. That's the best I can do for now. I'm sure this won't be the end of my pondering. In the end, the only change in the world that matters is your absence. But that will pass when Jen lets me dig!
Adore you,

Saturday, August 17, 2013

You Made Lippincott Fun

Dear John,
It's been a beautiful day - upper 70s, clear, breeze out of the north. No real football yet, but it won't be long. I'm looking forward to the start of the college season.
I'm trying something different today. I've been taking Sunday as my rest day - there seems to be some precedent for that. But I thought I'd try resting today so I'd feel my best tomorrow morning. I didn't mow, trim, weed, sweep the garage, paint, dust, or any of the things that need to be done. It would have been a lot more fun to do nothing with you, but it was a nice day. We never did have to do anything to have fun together. That comes from dating in college when we didn't have any money, and we had to study anyway. You're the only person that could make a day spent reading Lippincott enjoyable.
I called your mother this afternoon. We're both enjoying this week of fall in the middle of August. She had to get a new furnace and air conditioning unit, and hasn't had to use either of them yet. She's feeling fine except for allergies. She said the mold count has been up there all summer. It is more humid there than it is here - we tend to get dry winds down out of the Canadian great plains, and they sit there in the river valley. I could do things in the garden there that I can't do here, but I'll take some gardening restrictions if I get to have lower humidity.
Yesterday I saw some corn being cut already. Some early bushes are starting to turn, and we have half-inch crabapples on the trees. Our asters are blooming and the petunias are at their end. They've struggled all summer because they got too much water early in the summer when it rained every day. I'll replace them soon with half-price mums.
You're probably not a bit interested in this, but it's all I've got for the day. It's just been a quiet day at home with the animals. We miss you, especially on quiet days. Do you miss us? It's okay if you don't, as long as you're waiting for us and saving a seat!
Adore you,

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

Dear John,
It's late, and it's been a long day but a good one. I went in late today because of Kathy's schedule, and got home a little before 9:00 this evening. I'm more than ready for bed. But I've always talked to you at bedtime. Even if you were away from home, we talked on the phone. When you didn't get good voice reception, we texted. This is the next step - I type to you at bedtime. But only until you get Skype.
Egypt is quieter now, but I'm not. NBC News had an article about it, saying that the Muslim Brotherhood had called for a Day of Rage. The article cited the number dead, all kinds of details about all kinds of things, but never once mentioned that 52 Orthodox Christian churches had been stormed and burned. Not one word about Egyptian Christians. Nothing. It's like it never happened. I'm not done with Facebook tonight. I won't be quiet. I'm angry. And I should be.
I do have some good news. In the course of running errands downtown this morning, I had a talk with Mark. Since we have so much equity in the land, he doesn't see any problem with refinancing and getting me set up to be fine until I can get your Social Security. I feel much better about the future. It's good to deal with our own small-town bank.
And speaking of the future, I guess this is even better news. Kathy and I were talking today about retirement and what we'd like to do, and I realized that I was thinking about the future in a way that was positive, with plans and dreams. I know what I want to do - that was a shock to me. I've reached this point so gradually that I didn't even realize it until I heard myself talking.
It's nothing dramatic - I want to volunteer a couple of half-days a week at the hospital, and spend the rest of my time doing things I don't have time for now. I want have more time to write and knit, and learn to spin and dye my own yarn. That's it. But it's a wonderful dream, and not out of reach. There's some income in knitting, and even more in spinning and dyeing yarn. With a schedule like that, I should have more energy for church and for the people that I love.
I felt a twinge of guilt when I realize that I was making plans and looking forward to the future. But it doesn't mean that I love you any less, or wish any less that either you were here or I was there. It's just more healing. I'm being normal again. And I know this is what you want for me, so it is good.
It's been a significant day, hasn't it? And now it's way past our bedtime. It's a clear, cool night with the moon a little over half-full. Hunter is chasing a fly and Jethro is chasing Hunter. And some poor creature must have been chasing a skunk, and not far away. The neighborhood has been fumigated. But I've smelled worse. It's quiet except for the crickets, and all the other houses on the street are dark. Ours will be soon.
Love you with all my heart,

Friday, August 16, 2013

Martyrs, Confessors, and Burning Churches

Dear John,
I know it's late - rather, it's early Friday morning. I've been up following the news out of Egypt. By the most recent count, in a 24-hour period, all across Egypt, 52 Orthodox churches were burned.

I've been complaining on Facebook for a month or so that there are accounts of martyrdom and persecution coming out of many countries, but there is no news coverage of it in this country. I have to get my news on Facebook, from people who heard it by twitter from their roommate's friend who's somewhere in the middle east waiting for a flight out of the country. Lately the most reliable sources have been the patriarchal and archdiocesal websites. But, finally, even CNN is covering what happened today.

There have been hundreds of new martyrs, like New-Martyr Eugeny Rodionov. He was doing his military service, and was martyred by his own Chechnan troops for refusing to remove his cross and become a Muslim. It was in 1996, and he was martyred on his nineteenth birthday. That got no media coverage here; the story reached the West and the word was spread by Pinterest.

Why wasn't this news? If it had happened to anyone but a Christian - and especially, I think, and Orthodox Christian - the story would have hit the airwaves as a hate crime. But Christians are dieing for their faith in many parts of the world, and no one seems to care.

Tonight it's Egypt. We spread the word on Facebook and Pinterest. I changed my profile picture in honor of the martyrs and confessors. And we pray. Please pray for all of us. Now I'll try to sleep.

Love you,

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How Hubert Humphrey Was Right by Accident

Dear John,
Hubert Humphrey has been on my mind today. (I never thought I'd say that.) Remember during the campaign an obscene number of years ago, when Joe Cocker had a hit with John Lennon's I Get By with a Little Help From my Friends, and Humphrey praised the song in a speech, and everybody under 30 laughed hard enough to injure themselves because Humphrey was so anti-drug but had no clue about the song? (I dare you to diagram that sentence.) It all gave us one more reason to feel superior to our parents' generation, and it didn't hurt the song's sales any, either.
I get by with a little help from my friends.
Well, the song has been on my mind most of the day. I'm still flaring, and I've had a rough week emotionally, and my friends have been here for me and helped so much. And I realized that I've been hearing the song in my head today with the same meaning that Humphrey gave it all those years ago. I'm certain that fibromyalgia and widowhood weren't on his mind. But somehow, by accident, Hubert Humphrey got it right. (That's another thing I never thought I'd say.)
Parenthetically, I have to add that my visual recollection of Joe Cocker's performance of the song is also right. Fibromyalgia requires drugs. Not the type of drugs we were thinking about in those days, but drugs nonetheless. The legal kind. For most of us. There's been some major success with treating fibro with marijuana. But that's another topic entirely. I remember the one time I got stoned on second-hand smoke at that Dylan concert, and the feeling wasn't particularly pleasant. Anyway.
So tonight I want you to know that I have good, dear women-friends and fibro-friends and widow-friends, and that I'm getting by with their help. We take turns looking after each other, and we're all making it. Some of us aren't sure yet that we want to make it, but we're doing it anyway. Please pray for my friends when you pray for me! They are how I'm getting by without you.
Love you with all my heart,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Under the Chair & Across the World

Dear John,
It's been a lovely fall day. No fear - summer will come back tomorrow. Today it was sunny, 60s, low humidity. It we keep going down into the 40s at night, we'll see trees turning soon. This summer has been such a welcome break after the last two. This is the first year that our grass has stayed green all summer. Sadly, it has also kept growing. But so has everything else, and the corn and soybeans are beautiful.
The living room couch was cleaned today, I think for the only time ever, and it looks almost new. It's finally dry, and the animals are sprawled out on the blanket on the couch, sound asleep. I've been in your recliner this evening, which disappoints Jethro because he can't lie in my lap. The cat, however, has discovered that he can sleep on my shins when I put the footrest up.
Missing You
My widow-friends are wonderful. They made me feel so much better last night. You used to do that - now the friends I've made because of your death do. Symmetrical, isn't it? I'm so thankful for them. And I forgot to remind you: you and Dana need to look up Phil and make him welcome. It's quite possible, though, that he found you and Dana first, and all of you managed to get your women connected with each other. If so, thank you! The internet lets me have friends on the other side of the country and the other side of the world. And on those nights when I can't bear to go to bed alone, there's always Pinterest to keep me company.
Oh, I found the cat's mystery hiding place! Or rather, Jethro showed me. Every time I vacuum, I can't find him afterward. Then a couple of hours later, he comes wandering out. I was concerned because the front door had been open for the couch-cleaning. So I let the dog in and asked him to show me where Hunter was, and he took me straight to the green chair. I looked under it and didn't see anything, but the dog was certain. So I looked again and saw white toes. There's an empty space above the point where the legs meet, and he curls up in there. It's no wonder I didn't find him before, but I'm glad to know where he's been going. He was sufficiently traumatized by the noisy machines that he's been cuddly all day.
It's getting near bedtime, and I need to get the critters down the hall. I love you so much. Pinterest is a poor substitute for you, but it's the best I can do!
Love you always and ever,

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gloom, Despair, & Agony on Me

Dear John,
Gloom, despair, and agony on me, deep dark depression, excessive misery.
You know it's going to be a particularly erudite letter when I start off by quoting Hee Haw.
I'm miserable - skin and muscle pain, TMJ, grief, emotional turmoil, discouragement, and tonight I'm unbearably irritable and impatient. (Just ask the dog, poor creature!) And I have no idea what it's all about. I feel premenstrual, but thank goodness I haven't had to deal with that for years! I feel helpless, hopeless, and unemployed in Greenland. And I have no idea why.
Feeling a little trapped, are we?
It may be accumulated fibromyalgia frustration. I am feeling a bit at the end of my rope, trying to take care of myself and support myself with this nasty chronic illness in my way. I could manage one of the two - either take care of myself, or support myself - but not both. You were the knot at the end of my rope, and I miss having you to hang onto.
I think I'm scared, too. I've had two nights of back-to-back nursing nightmares, and I've always done that when I'm feeling insecure. I'll be okay in November of 2015, when I turn 60 and can file for your Social Security. Even if I can piece it together until then, the idea of pushing myself like this for two more years is daunting. 
I know what you would say, and you're right. I need to get my focus off of the future and take things one step at a time, to be thankful for the Lord's provision today and trust that it will be there tomorrow, too. I'm still not handling the future very well, am I? I suppose that's normal. It's no fun being normal. I'm not used to it.
I think I'll make some toast, get a glass of milk big enough for the cat and me to share, and go to bed. Maybe I'll take the laptop with me and play on Pinterest for a while. I'm off tomorrow, so I can weed and vacuum and be a grownup then. For tonight, I'll have toast and milk and go to bed. I just wish you were here - I could use a cuddle. Please pray that I get my head straightened out. I'm sure you have lots of practice asking for that!
Love you lots and lots,

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tattoos On My Heart

Dear John,
We missed grandpa again tonight. I met Jen and Eylssa at Tiffany's for dinner to celebrate the last night of Elyssa's summer. School starts tomorrow morning. I liked it better when we were in school - we didn't get all the breaks and days off, but we had a longer summer. Where I grew up that really mattered since the schools weren't air conditioned. Elyssa will have the same teacher that she did last year, which will be good, and she's excited about going back. I always looked forward to school starting, too. She's playing soccer this year, so I may actually learn something about the sport. About all I know is that you're not supposed to use your hands and riots break out at games overseas. I'm sure there's more than that to it.
I'm sorry you're missing all the grandpa stuff - I know how much you love all three of the girls. Elyssa's already excited about Grandparents' Day, and so am I. I just wish you could be here for it. This is my second year without you - we're done with "firsts" now, and on to "seconds." I wonder how many years it will take for me to not count these things. Probably more years than I'll have. At least, I hope so!
I found this tattoo today. Don't worry - I'm not getting it. I don't need to. It's tattooed on my heart already, and that's the only place that matters.
Until we meet again,

Re-Reading. Reviewing. Still Processing.

Dear John,
I just re-read all the mass emails we sent out during the disasters of 2011-2012, then read the blog posts on the other blog. I have no idea why, but I did.
We really are tough fighters, aren't we? You fought your battle to live - fought as hard as you could, stubbornly, while being so kind and cheerful about it. I fought the battle to get you the best treatment to be had, and occasionally fought with you to help you keep fighting. I don't know how we held on for so long. I suppose there wasn't any choice. When the need is there, you do whatever it takes for as long as it takes.
We loved - and still love - each other so much. I know you fought so hard to live because you didn't want to leave me here. But for the last few days, you were ready to go. And I was ready to release you, seeing that the radiation damage was well past the point of no return. I did beg you to take me with you, but I know that choice wasn't yours to make.
Besides dealing with losing you, I've also had to recover from those three months. I gave it everything I had - and sometimes it seemed like more than I had. Recovery is physical and emotional; the emotional healing takes longer. I'm still processing all of it, and wish I could talk to you about it, especially about all that happened after you were trached and couldn't talk. But that time will come.
For now, I'm going to bed with a heavy heart and a still-processing head. I will put my hand in the dip in the mattress, and cry. Not because you're in Heaven, but because I'm still parted from you.
I love you with all of my heart,

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Waiting for the Storm to Break

Dear John,
I did have to miss church today - I texted Father and let him know the fibro pain was still bad, and he was very encouraging. I'm feeling a bit better this evening. And I may have the lawn problem licked. Sharon dropped by for a visit today, and was talking about how much her 12-year-old nephew enjoys mowing. She's going to ask him how much he'd charge to mow once a week for me. I don't have a lot of money to spend, but I've reached the conclusion that it would be well-spent. I'd still trim and weed. I found out what happens when you let a man weed, the day you pulled up all my rhubarb!
I'm still feeling rough emotionally, and I'm coming to the conclusion that it's another round of grief. It's just a constant sadness and hopelessness. And all of this is because you forgot to take me with you! (Forgetting your toothbrush I can understand. But me? Really.) It seems that numbness wears off in stages and long-term reality presents itself a little bit at a time. And that's a good thing. It would be crushing to have to look at it all at once. I've been in survival mode for a year and a half, and now something in me is saying that I need to do more than survive. But I haven't even voted in favor of survival yet, certainly not long-term survival. But that's what I'm having to look at. And it's extremely unattractive. Not appealing at all. Nope. No thanks, I don't want any.
I have the imagination of a toddler, but I'm stuck here. I can't imagine a future for myself. I know what I'd like to do - have more time to write, more time to knit, and learn to spin and dye my own yarn. (Can you see the cat's reaction to a spinning wheel?) But that would require being independently solvent - something that I am not. I'd like to be able to volunteer at the hospital one or two days a week. Again, that requires solvency. And the financial future doesn't bear looking at, either.
I feel like I'm hanging in the balance of something or other - my life feels like the air does when a storm is about to break. I'm feeling the barometer changing and electricity in the air, and waiting for the first crack of lightening. This round of sadness has some anxiety with it, something that is new.
Or maybe I'm just coming down with something. Either way, please pray for me tonight, as I will for you.
Love you forever,

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Of Barking & B!#@%ing

Dear John,
It's been a restful, if not quiet, day. I slept in, did some paperwork, and took a nap, and now there's a Steelers' pre-season game on.
The neighborhood has been noisy today. I don't know what's been going on - I can't see anything exciting out there - but all of the dogs on the block have barked and/or whimpered all day. Constantly. When Jethro is outside he barks constantly, too. When he's inside, he runs from one door to the other. He won't tell me what it's all about.
I'm paying today for mowing yesterday. The pain medicine gave me a good night's sleep, but I still feel like I've been run over by something large and fast-moving. Everything hurts, I'm exhausted, and my skin is tender to touch so that clothes hurt. I'm hoping to feel better in the morning so I can go to church. And I still need to weed and trim. And dust and vacuum.
I hate being without you for a lot of reasons, the main one being that I have to do it without you. But it's also frustrating. When I do just the bare essentials - go to work, mow once a week, and get groceries - I have nothing left for anything else. That's all I can do. I know it will be better when mowing season is over. But right now I'm feeling trapped and helpless.
So, any suggestions or advice? I want to cuddle up with you and have you tell me that it's going to be alright, that it didn't take God by surprise, and He has everything taken care of. Hearing it in my own voice doesn't quite measure up to hearing it in yours, I'm finding. I'll go to bed soon, and try to sleep without pain medicine so I can go to church. Unless pain keeps me up until 4 AM, like it did last night even after I took pain medicine. It's discouraging. *unprintable words*
If you can, please come by for a visit tonight and bring me some encouragement and words of wisdom. I love you and miss you more than I can say. But you know anyway, don't you?
Adore you,

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mellencamp, Cat Claws, & a Group Shower

Dear John,
It's been a good day. After work I came home and mowed, so I can have an easier Saturday. I still need to trim and weed. But the big job is done.
There've been a few things of note today. First, the dog now knows that the cat has claws. I don't know what was going on down the hall while I was eating dinner, but I heard an emphatic dog-yelp, and here came Jethro running down the hall so I could protect the 50-pound dog from the 12-pound cat. He kept his distance for about an hour, and has been cautious around Hunter ever since. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
I came back inside after mowing, got some Gatorade, and watched an hour of Big Bang Theory re-runs. Then I took my shower. Of course, the animals followed me down the hall and to the bathroom. When I opened the shower curtain, the cat jumped in the bath tub and the dog put his head in the tub to lick the water off my legs, just like he used to do with you. There is no such thing as privacy in this house. Everything is communal. I thought for a week or so that the cat had outgrown milk - I'd put it out in a bowl for him to drink while I ate breakfast, but after a while he stopped drinking it. He wasn't tired of the milk; he just wanted to drink it out of my glass. So now I pour my glass of milk, he comes and drinks about a quarter-inch off the top, and I get to drink the rest. Then I had to explain to Jethro that Hunter can drink my milk, but he can't. This sibling thing can get complicated.
I thought about you on the way home today - have I told you recently how glad I am that you moved us here? I had the radio on, and John Mellencamp's Small Town came on. I turned it up loud and listened while I was driving. I was on County Road 42 with corn fields on both sides, and all I could see was the road, the sky, and full-grown corn just off the road on both sides. It was quintessential.
This is where I live. And it's a far cry from where I grew up. Even then, Atlanta was nothing like this. I love it here, and am so thankful that we came. And I'm glad we stayed, after we had nothing to keep us here except that it had become home. I still have occasional moments of wondering where I am and how I got here. But more often the moments are like the drive home today, when I'm just thankful to be here, driving down a country road between corn fields. Thank you for this.
Thank you for everything - for every day since I met you, for where and who I am now, and for the hope of spending eternity with you. I still wonder how you forgot to take me with you when you left. But you can't get away - I'm right behind you. Whenever Jen lets me dig!
Love your forever,

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Run Away! Run Away!

Dear John,
I am finally forced to realize that I'm having fibro flare. (I'm so glad Pavlov didn't have to deal with me.) Today I've been upgraded for horrific to horrible, so I'm going the right direction. I did work seven hours today, but most of it was sitting-down work, and it was good to be busy. I'd have felt worse at home. And work has been so busy this week! You know everything around here shuts down for July - everything stops for the 4th and the county fairs. Early August is busy for Kathy every year, but she's done a good month's work just this week. I had stacks so high today that we both stood there and laughed. It's good for her to have the business.
Last night after I talked to you, the critters did something I wanted to tell you about. The cat was on the coffee table and the dog was standing next to it and kept taking Hunter's leg in his mouth. Jethro got bored and started to walk away, and the cat put his front paws on Jethro's back and proceeded to chew on him. The dog tried to ignore it for a while, but then he turned back to the cat and play resumed. Like I've said, the cat is the aggressor at least half the time. They do enjoy each other!
Other than that: The cat got on top of the living room curtain rod while I was at work today, and bent it. I may have to get another one. With his climbing ability, I'm going to add a support half-way across the windows. The co-op has rolled oats on sale all month, so I stocked up tonight. A widow friend of mine is being bullied by should-ers, and is fending them off well. I was reduced to unprintable language. Thank you for never shoulding me - did I ever tell you that's one of the things I always loved about you? You never told me I "should" think or feel or do anything. You loved me just like I am, and wanted me to just be me.
Have I told you today that I love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on?
Love you so, so much,

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pavlov's Cat

Dear John,
Thanks for listening last night. I feel much better today. I slept late and have done nothing all day, so I'm feeling almost human. I need to be sure I have at least one day every week to rest. It's annoying, and a challenge during mowing season, but it's what my body seems to need. And if I don't do it, I pay for it. You'd think I would have learned this by now. If Pavlov had worked with me, we still wouldn't know about operant conditioning.
I'm back to normal emotionally, too. It seems that pain and exhaustion do things to my emotions - who knew. Again, if Pavlov had worked with me, the world would be a different place today.
If there's anything else going on today, I don't know about it and most likely don't want to. We've had rain and some thunder storms today. We needed the rain. I can hear the grass growing, but at least it has stayed green and healthy all summer. What a contrast to last summer's heat and drought! I'll take a summer like this anytime. Except with you here. But you know that.
Love you an incredible amount,

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Grief Dehiscence

Dear John,
I've had a horrible day, physically and emotionally.  And hello, by the way. It rained last night and this morning, and it was so hard to get out of the bed this morning with that lovely sound of rain falling. Since it was raining, the fibro has had me hurting all over. And for some indiscernible reason, all I've wanted to do all day is sit in a corner and cry. It hasn't been this hard to be without you for a few months now. I've spent the whole day being completely, totally, and in all other ways miserable.
It struck me today that I'm living to work and working to live. I'm sure that I'm not alone in that. I've found general contentment in my life - though not today - but I haven't found meaning, other than the general theological statement that this life is about preparation for the next. And this may be growing pains. It may be the point in this process where I'll have to wrestle with this.
I'm also fighting fear and despair today. I'm finally winning because logic always wins out. And fear and despair are grossly illogical. It appears that my head is beginning to get a grip on my heart. It's also starting to hurt; all this barometric pressure shift is giving me a headache. Or maybe, like Mama always said, I think too much. We used to say that the word "think" and the phrase "too much" can't be in the same clause without the presence of a negative particle, but Mama did have a point.
I think (there's that word again!) there are three factors contributing to today's funk. First is the fibro pain; it was so bad this morning that if I could have called in sick, I would have. Second may be a new stage in this crazy world I find myself in, where I have to wrestle with issues of meaning and purpose. Third is fibro exhaustion - I worked Thursday and Friday, mowed Saturday, went to church Sunday, and ran all day yesterday. Fibromite that I am, I can't do that many days without a break. The week just fell out that way.
So, O wise one, what do I do about all of this? First, I go check the basement and make sure the dehumidifier is draining. Second, I go to bed and get a good night's sleep. Third, I pray more. Fourth, I put my hand in your shoulder-dent in the mattress and cry myself to sleep tonight. It will do me good. Fifth, I need to be kinder to myself. I need to take my own advice and let myself feel whatever it is that I feel. Right now, I feel like my grief sutures just split and I'm dehiscing. (You have no idea how wonderful it is to be married to a man that knows what dehiscence is. And that doesn't think it's too disgusting to talk about. I adore you. Anyway.) I should expect to do this occasionally, probably for the rest of my life. I need to give myself a break.
Anything else you can think of? If so, come and tell me. In any case, would you please come and visit tonight? I'd so love to see you.
In case I haven't told you lately, I love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on,
P.S. - Spellcheck has no idea that dehiscence is a word. I hope it's innards fall out. :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Who I Sleep With & Why

Dear John,
I feel much better today, like I told you I would. I was just tired and hurting yesterday. All is well now.
I find it interesting, and a bit puzzling, that my sleeping arrangements shock people. First, everybody expected me to get a new bed. For some reason, they all think that it would be too painful for me to sleep alone in our bed. I find it comforting, though. We picked it out together and loved it, it's part of our shared history, it reminds me of you, and there's still that dip in the mattress that your shoulder made. And I love all of that. I wouldn't like sleeping in a bed that you never slept in. I seem to be in the minority among widows. And that doesn't bother me at all.
The majority of folks are shocked that I sleep with both of the animals. Jethro always slept on his own bed. But when we got back from Indy and you were in the hospital here, he was so worried that you'd gone to work one day and never came back - even after I took your shoes and things in so he knew you were out there somewhere - that he paced all night and kept waiting at the door for you. So I had him come up on the bed and sleep with me. I don't know if it was more comforting to him or me, but it made things so much easier on both of us. He felt more secure, and I felt less alone. I knew he'd be so happy when you came home that he'd be glad to yield his spot to his alpha dog.
But you didn't come home, so he kept sleeping with me. You know I still tend to wake up in the middle of the night and reach out to touch you. And it's so much better to touch warm dog fur than cold, empty bed. When I touch him, I immediately remember and know why you're not there. When he's at the foot of the bed and I touch empty space, I always wonder where you are for a bit - I look to see if the bathroom light is on, and wonder where you went. It takes me longer to remember, and that hurts.
When we got the cat, there was no way I was going to try to teach him to sleep in a cat bed while the dog and I slept in mine. And he'd just been rescued from the dumpster and was all of three months old, poor little thing. So I brought him to bed and he slept cuddled up to my chest for a couple of months. Now he sleeps somewhere on or around me unless it's a hot night, then he sleeps on the floor under the bed.
I never know when I wake up who is going to be where. So I have trained myself to not move until I locate everybody. This morning I woke up five minutes before the alarm was set to go off, with the dog's back jammed up against my back and the cat on my side. Everybody seems to enjoy the first-thing-in-the-morning cuddle. I much preferred that cuddle when it was the two of us. But this is the best I can do without you, so I cuddle with the critters - it's a good way to start the day.
Just why all of this is so shocking is a mystery to me. I believe the people who say it's all nobody's business are right. I see nothing alarming here. I'm not spoiling the animals; they are spoiling me. And your little family sleeps well at night. Unless there are thunder storms, and that's another issue. We love you and miss you. But we keep each other warm at night.

Wish you were here,