Monday, September 30, 2013

Songs We Made Love To, or, Would Someone Please Shoot Out the Speakers?

Dear John,
 
It's been a big day. I got up early and called the State Revenue people, and a nice lady set up an 18-month plan for me - $100 a month, with $400 down - and took off almost $1000 in penalties and interest. I didn't ask for that, because it's my debt and I owe it. But I'm grateful.
 
I went to Fort Wayne today to return two items from Chico's. I went to Christopher & Banks and spent the money I got back, and got a skirt, two cardigans, a jacket, and two tops. And it's much more my style. Teal and burgundy are big this year, so I'm happy. I didn't find anything at Charming Charlie, finally got the Nantucket Briar perfume that I've wanted for a year and a half at The Rustic Hutch, and ate at Chipotle.
 
It's a little sentimental going to Christopher & Banks because we went together so often. But they need to get worse music. I got a bit choked up in the dressing room when I heard Don Henley sing, "I'm learning to live without you now, but I miss you." And if that wasn't enough, the next song was "Leather & Lace." It came out when we lived in Springfield, and I remember that we made love to it. I still love it, but it makes me cry - I'm glad I was in the dressing room when I heard it. The only other song that I remember we made love to is "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," and I don't expect to hear that over anybody's speaker system.
 
I don't miss sex as such - I miss you. I enjoyed sex with you because I loved you, not the other way around. And when your CHF got worse and it wasn't possible anymore, that was not a problem. There are things much more intimate than sex, like cuddling up in bed at night and discussing theology. That I couldn't have lived without!
 
I enjoyed the drive to Fort Wayne and back. The leaves are turning and most of the harvest is in. It was sunny and 70 - a beautiful day. I had Clapton's Unplugged CD on. You said you would pay to listen to Emma Thompson read the phonebook. I'd pay to hear Chuck Lavelle play the piano. I kept playing "Alberta" over and over.
 
Which makes me think: If you run into your Aunt Alberta, you should play the song for her. She'd get a laugh out of it. It's rather like me buying the 45 of "Maggie Mae" for Mama, when the people at Greenville General started calling her that. After hearing the song, she laughed and told them she appreciated the compliment.
 
I need to get all of us off to bed. Go listen to some Fleetwood Mac and think about me.
 
Love you forever,
Joan.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hot Soup & Chordae Tendineae

Dear John,
 

Chordae Tendineae

It rained all night and part of today, so all of us fibromites stayed home in pajamas. I made a big pot of vegetable soup. It's really really big. You have to come and help me eat all of this. It was a cool, gray day - perfect for hot soup.
 
I found this picture today - chordae tendineae, heart strings. They're such beautiful structures, amazingly tough for all their delicate appearance. To hold heart valve leaflets through every heartbeat for all of our lives is amazing.
 
So I just wanted to let you know that you've always tugged at mine, and you always will. Pluck away at my chordae tendineae! I love it when you play with them.
 
Love you with all my heart - strings, valves, conductive tissue, and all the rest,
Joan.
 
P.S. - Spell check lit up like Times Square at night. It's not designed for us medical folks, is it? But that's okay - we have each other!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sibling Squabbles & Police Dogs

Dear John,
 
I'm at my desk tonight - I ran the laptop's battery down. The dog is pacing around the room and Hunter is on the desk. He is solely responsible for all typos.
 

Abby

I really don't know if I feel better today or if I've just kept myself too busy to feel. I'm still sad and heavy inside. I got up early (for a Saturday), did the loop downtown (before breakfast, since we were out of milk), and did some housework. I've spent the rest of the day working online. I put in a Lia Sophia supply order, talked to Heather about using the credits I've earned, talked with my two hostesses who are closing out shows tomorrow, and entered both shows as far as I can.
 
We had a major milestone today: Abby figured out how to drink! And she drank and drank and drank - water was a big hit. This is good in a lot of ways. I can stop giving her water with a syringe, which will make both of us happy. And I can go ahead and get her completely off of soft food, since she doesn't need the moisture in it now. Then I can leave her food bowl out like I do Hunter's and let them eat when they want to, and not have to schedule being home to feed her.
 

Abby & Jethro

We had a soft-food issue today. Hunter got mad at Abby and me because she's getting soft food and he isn't. He didn't speak to me for a while, but has apologized and all is well there. Abby is timid and likes corners, so Hunter cornered her and was mean to her. She defended herself pretty well, batting and spitting at him. Just when I thought I would have to intervene, here came Jethro. He just quietly put his big German shepherd head between them and broke it up. Hunter went somewhere else and Abby went back to sleep.
 
I'm so impressed with Jethro. I know I've said it before, but I'm seeing a maturity  in him that I would never have expected. I don't have to keep as close an eye on the cats because I know he does. And I know that he'll let me know if there's something I need to take care of. This calm maturity is why they make such good military and  police dogs, isn't it?  
 
I'm including some photos for you. So put them on your wall with the rest of the family, and brag about your cute kids! Please do be sure that Mama sees them. I know she's happy that I have cats. Daddy, on the other hand, is probably quite disappointed!
 
Love you with all my heart,
Joan. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

James Taylor & Lord Peter Wimsey

Dear John,
 
I finally brought that can of cat food home.
 
I had a busy day, and came home to three hungry animals. When did my life turn into coming home from work to three little ones clamoring for their dinner? They don't even give me time to catch my breath!
 
I had the radio on coming home, and heard James Taylor. Won't you look down upon me, Jesus. You've got to help me make a stand - just got to see me through another day. My body's aching and my time is at hand. I won't make it any other way. That one always gets to me.
 
Today I was remembering our anniversary a few years ago, when we decided to actually celebrate it on the 20th. We drove up the Red Arrow Highway, got lost, blew a tire on a deserted dirt road, and you know the rest. We had a history of automotive disasters on our anniversary. Remember that one time we blew not one, but two, tires, and spent the night in Clare, Michigan? The tradition started early - it was on our first anniversary that we were driving through Savannah in a monsoon, and the battery fell into the radiator fan. Anyway, we decided a few years ago that we'd never again take the car out of the garage on our anniversary. With a nod to Dylan's Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues, we said from then on we'd celebrate by having a picnic in our bathroom. Good times.
 

The Weight of Grief

So I'm missing you tonight. I feel sad, and also very heavy. It's hard to explain, but sometimes grief feels like a weight and it seems hard to move. I turn inward, and things from outside me feel very far away. I know that all of this is normal. It's just not very comfortable. But, as Lord Peter Wimsey once asked, is your, or mine, or anyone else's comfort all that important? And, of course, is isn't.
 
I'll try to be more cheerful in the morning! Everything feels worse after dark. Sleep good, and think about me. I love you so, so much.
Joan.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Want My Mama!

Dear John,
 
The cat food is still at work.
 
The animals did fine on their own today, and I did enjoy working without a litter box on my desk. I came home and fed them, then went to Syracuse to close out a party, then came home at 8:30 and fed myself. It's 10:00 now, and I just got the mattress pad out of the dryer. Abby had a small accident when we woke up this morning. I got the sheets in the dryer and the mattress pad in the washer before I left for work. And that's today's good news.
 
Remember that investment we cashed in, that they were supposed to take taxes out of it and we thought they did, but they didn't? The IRS found it a year ago, and I paid them $7000. The state just found the same thing, and I got a letter this morning saying that I owe them $3000.That mistake is going to end up costing me over $10,000. I don't have $3000 to my name, so I'll call them when I'm off on Monday and see what we can work out. I can pay it over time, and I don't expect to have any problem getting them to work with me. If you show them that you're willing, they'll be patient. By the way, it has only taken me 14 hours to reach this point. I spent most of the day just wanting my mother.
 
Please pray for me, that I keep my chin up. And that I get some sleep tonight - I still have to put sheets on the bed. And that I can sell lots of stuff on E-Bay and make some money. And that I get some party bookings. Aw, heck. Just pray for me!
 
Love you immense bunches,
Joan.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Exhaustive Analysis of Critter Dynamics

Dear John,
 
 
I've had a busy day off. I took Abby for her check-up and first vaccines, got my hair cut, worked on finances, and cleared off my desk. Then I involuntarily fell asleep for over an hour in front of the television.
 
 
Abby is doing well. Her cold is better and her pink-eye is improving. And the little thing is growing! Last week she weighed 1.2 pounds and today she weighed 2.0. It's amazing how fast babies grow, nearly doubling her weight in a week. She was skin and bones when Jethro found her. Now she looks and feels like a normal kitten. She's been exploring and playing tonight, including some playing with Hunter that involves a great deal of batting and yowling, and appears to be enjoyed by all. It's good to see them playing together. Sometimes they lie in the two living room window sills and bat at each other across the separation between the windows.
 
 
June says she's old enough to be fed three times a day, so I won't have to take her to work with me. I'll feed her before I leave, when I come home, and at bedtime. She's doing well with going to the litter box when she needs to. And she's found some places to go when she wants to get away from Jethro and Hunter. The three of them are ready to be on their own for the day. I have to admit, it will be nice to work without a litter box on my desk. I just have to remember to bring home the can of cat food in the fridge.
 
 
Her arrival has altered the critter dynamic more than I expected. Hunter has become much cuddlier with me. He welcomes it whenever I come up to him and stroke or nuzzle him. I haven't seen his feline standoffishness since Abby came. And Jethro is acting much less needy. He still enjoys my lap and my attention, but he's not as demanding. Maybe, because his little family is bigger, he's getting love from more places. Maybe, for right now, he's more focused on loving than on being loved. He licks and grooms Abby at least twice a day, and her coat looks wonderful. Her fur and eye colors are still shifting, of course. But I think he's going to be a black-and-chestnut tiger. Her eyes are gold, but I kind of hope they'll end up green or blue. For now, getting rid of the pink-eye is enough!
 
 
Jethro continues to be remarkable. When I ask him where Abby is, he leads me right to her. And when I ask about Hunter, he leads me right to him. He must keep track of both of them, like a good older brother. Sometimes he is so German Shepherd - so gentle and protective and responsible. At other times, he's so neurotic. But that's our fault -  we made him that way, what with people coming and going so much around here.
 
 
Watching the three of them makes me happy. But sometimes I stop and wish so much that you were here to enjoy all of this. I'd love for us to be able to enjoy this together. But I can say that about anything, up to and including the apocalypse. When I'm sad I'm thinking about you, and how much I miss you. When I'm happy I think about you, and how much I wish I could share my happiness with you. It seems that I think about you a lot, doesn't it? Only with every breath I take. Your little family loves you. I think Abby has already heard stories about you from Jethro. I keep finding her curled up asleep in one of your bedroom slippers.
 
 
Love you, adore you,
Joan.
 
 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Aspirin, Cocaine, and Other Remedies

Dear John,
 
There isn't much to say tonight. I have a headache which aspirin isn't touching, and I can't seem to think about much more than that.
 
I had a good, busy day at work. It's a rewarding job, this getting paid to be anal retentive. I get a lot of satisfaction from what I do. And, since I'm organizing things instead of people, it isn't stressful. Critical care was very rewarding, but the stress level was higher than I realized at the time. I just got accustomed to it.
 
I got a bad headache last night and another this morning, and aspirin took care of them quickly. It hasn't touched tonight's headache. It may be something in the weather - Jen's had a headache since yesterday evening, too. We agreed that, while sharing is good, this is above and beyond what should be expected of us. 


We're Not Quite This Old!

I chuckle every time I take aspirin. Do you know that they're doing an advertising campaign to tell people that it's also an analgesic? Young people seem to think of it only as a platelet antiaggregate and for the treatment of acute MIs. But when you and I were young, it was the only OTC analgesic out there. We pre-date Tylenol and Motrin by quite a while. And we all took it as children. I don't know if there wasn't Reye's Syndrome then or if it just wasn't being diagnosed, but generations of us grew up on aspirin and survived. I still take it because it the safest of the OTC pain relievers.

I believe I'm going to take my pounding head and my sleepy animals off to bed. Tomorrow morning I'll take Abby back to the vet. Her eyes are better, and I can't wait to see how much weight she's gained. Then I have a haircut in the afternoon. And I didn't get a chance to trim after I mowed yesterday, so I need to get that done. I'll miss you more than usual tonight - you could always rub my head and make my headaches go away. Could you come cuddle with me and rub my head tonight?

Love you, miss you,
Joan.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Attack of the Clones

Dear John,
 
We had strange goings-on tonight. At one point I was considering the possibility that Abby can walk through walls.
 
I mowed this afternoon. I wanted to leave Abby where she'd be protected and could get to her litter box (which I set up this morning). So I put her in my bathroom, with the baby gate across the door. When I came back inside, she wasn't there. I asked Jethro where she was, and he took me to the cat bed in the workroom, and there she was. I don't know how she got out - the gate wasn't moved, so Jethro didn't get over and carry her out. It looks like she climbed over it. I wish I'd seen it.
 
I took a shower after I mowed, and when I got out I heard Jethro's bark-whine-bark-whine again. I went to see what was wrong and found him at the back door, bark-whining at Abby who was outside on the patio. I ran out, picked the cat up, checked the markings and eye infection to be sure it really was her, and brought her back inside. I checked all the windows, screens, and doors, and had no idea how she got out unless she could pass through walls, which would also explain her getting out of the bathroom.
 
I fixed my dinner and sat down to eat, and noticed that Abby was being much more assertive in playing with Jethro. After I ate, I fixed Abby's dinner and picked her up to put her on the counter, and she went crazy not wanting to be carried. I put her down and she dove into the food. Then I walked back into the living room and saw Abby sitting in the window. I blinked a few times, went back into the kitchen, and saw Abby on the counter eating.
 
So I put the little impostor back outside. I was seeing different personality traits because it was a different cat - a doppelganger with pinkeye. I didn't worry about leaving this one outside because it's much more independent and self-reliant, and obviously getting plenty to eat. Jethro wanted to keep it, but I overruled him. We have enough going on here.
 
Oh, the bed stayed dry last night. I spent a lot of time with Hunter yesterday, including getting out the flamingo-on-a-stick at bedtime. And I set up a bed for Abby in a cardboard box by the bed. Everybody was much happier. And now we have two litter boxes set up, so I'm hoping things go better from here on out. As measured by the dryness of by bed.
 
There was some very real bewilderment today, and I'm glad everything is settled. Except for the getting-out-of-the-bathroom issue. Maybe she really can walk through walls.
 
Love you so much,
Joan.

My Kingdom for a Mattress Pad!

Dear John,
 
Okay. I need to get more sheets. And a couple of cheap mattress pads. It wasn't Abby that peed on the bed last night. Hunter is peeved with me. Last night he peed on his own sleeping spot. So I washed sheets, blanket, and mattress pad again today. And spanked the cat.
 
I have conferred on Facebook with all my multiple-cats-expert friends, and the consensus is two-fold. First, this is to be expected. Second, I need to get Abby her own litter box. It seems that pee territory is of primary importance to cats. Who knew. I have an extra litter box in the garage, but no more litter. So I'll run downtown tomorrow before I mow. I'll set Abby's box up in my bathroom, and try to keep Jethro from eating out of it.
 
I'll also pick up more cat food - Abby's been making up for lost time and is eating me out of house and home. Jen and Bob and Eylssa stopped by tonight to meet the new kitten, and brought two cans of cat food to get us through the night. And they carried the crash cart up the steps from the garage, so it's set up in the workroom now.
 
Aside from the animal issues, I did get some housework done - I cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchen, swept the living room and dining room, and generally straightened. And washed the sheets. And took a nap somewhere in there.
 
You're probably glad you're missing this part, aren't you? But it's so worth it. And like I said, even you would have had to rescue this cold, hungry, scared little thing that was hiding under a bush!
 
Love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on,
Joan.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Wedding Sheets & Cat Pee

Dear John,
 
Happy autumnal equinox! I'm sure it's completely irrelevant there, it having to do with time, and time being a created thing, and you in eternity and all. Here, however, today's high has been in the 60s and the leaves are slowly turning. I've spent today in corduroy pants and a sweatshirt with, as usual, various animals draped on various portions of my anatomy.
 
Your little family had a nice, quiet day. Abby slept eight hours straight. I fed her at midnight, and not again until 8 AM. She's eaten about every five hours since then. She still isn't too sure about drinking, but she has eating, pooping, and peeing down pat.
 
The relationship between Abby and Hunter has become quite cordial. Last night while I was getting ready for bed, Jethro and Abby were on the bed waiting for me. Hunter jumped on the bed and scared Abby who, I discovered, does not yet have complete control over her bladder. I put one towel under the mattress pad and one on top of the sheet, and slept surprisingly well on a puddle of cat pee. This is the penalty I pay for only having one pair of non-flannel sheets.
 
So I've spent today doing five loads of laundry. The last load is in the dryer. And I wasn't very smart. I should have started with the mattress pad, so I could have been making the bed in stages. But no, I left it for last. And it takes hours to dry. We're not going to bed anytime soon.
 

We Should Have Had These

I really do have to think about buying another set of sheets. Do you know, in all these years since we were married, we've only bought three sets of sheets - one flannel set, and two regular? And the second of those sets of regular sheets is what I washed today. We got so many sets of sheets for wedding presents! We finally had to get rid of the last of those in 2005, 27 years after the wedding. I miss those old sheets - I can get quite sentimental about them.
 
The dryer just stopped - the mattress pad is finally done. I'm going to go make up the bed, so it will be ready when it's bedtime. And the baby cat will wake up when I get up, and will probably be ready to be fed. Tomorrow morning I'll leave them at home alone for the first time - please pray for our little ones!
 
Love you so, so much,
Joan.

Friday, September 20, 2013

You'd Totally Head-Boop This Kitten

Dear John,
 
Our new little girl is feeling better and better. She's eaten every hour-and-a-half all day, and gobbled down every bite. She's still skin and bones. And she still hasn't figured out how to drink with her nose above water. Her cold is better. And her eyes look a little better, but not comfortable for her yet. And the big news today is that she finally pooped! Only a nurse could get so excited about poop. But it's something normal, and that is good.
 
Hunter finally decided that he wants to keep her. Last night Abby went up to Hunter and nuzzled the tip of his tail, then laid one paw on his leg. So Hunter nuzzled him, and all seems well between them. Hunter is still not speaking to me, though. I tried telling him that it was Jethro that found the kitten, but he didn't look like he believed me.
 
I have a three-day weekend, so we should have the chance to do some more melding. Abby and I have only been home to sleep since we got her. I don't blame Jethro and Hunter for feeling slighted. I leave for work in the morning, take Abby with me, get home after dark, and go to bed. Now we'll get to have a few normal days - I think we're all ready for that.
 
I'm sure there are other things going on around here, but between work and shows and kitten feedings, I haven't been noticing other things. We love you so much. I'm so sorry that you're missing all of this. You'd melt when this little one-pound kitten put her paws on your neck and snuggled into you. And purred. Would you consider taking turns getting up at night to feed her?
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Drinking with Your Nose Above Water is Good

Dear John,
 
It's late - it will be tomorrow in twenty minutes. I have to work tomorrow, so I'll try to be a bit shorter than usual. I went straight from work to a Lia Sophia show, got home about 9:30, and took care of animals and Facebook.
 
Abby is much better. When I fed her at 2:00 this afternoon, she took some food off my finger without me having to put it in her mouth, and she began to figure out how to lap water. By 6:00, she had figured out this eating thing. She dove headfirst into the can of cat food and wolfed down over a tablespoon, She's still working on drinking - she hasn't figured out that you don't have to put your nose under water. When we got home I fed her first, then she jumped down from the kitchen counter onto the floor, and proceeded to explore every square inch of the house. Hunter lay in the middle of the hall and observed from a distance, and Jethro followed Abby with his nose in her rear. At the moment, Hunter is napping on the bed, Jethro is napping at my feet, and Abby is napping in my lap. And I won't be awake for much longer.
 
The only other remarkable thing today is that we got the entire last month's worth of overdue rain in one day. It poured most of the day, with a good bit of thunder and lightening. The basement is dry and the tree is watered.
 
I'm going to feed Abby, fix my snack, and try to stay awake until I reach the bed. It's been a good day, but a very long one. I'm sure the grass is out there growing as we speak - I'll probably be mowing on Monday. Oh, and tonight was our Harvest Moon for the year. When I came home it was full with a light haze over it, and was beautiful. More trees are starting to turn and the first of the corn is being harvested. The equinox will be in two days and the nights are getting longer. The seasons are changing. Time and the world are going on. That still surprises me, that the planet muddles on without you.
 
Love you beyond reason,
Joan.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Look What the Dog Dragged In!

Dear John,
 
I had my day off planned. I really did. And by now I should know better. Every time I plan my day, it goes pear-shaped.
 
I slept in this morning. I'd let the dog out and was in bed in my PJs with the cat and the laptop, when Jethro started the bark-whine-bark-whine routine. I tried twice to get him to come in, and he wouldn't come. I figured it was the usual thing - one of the feral cats sitting outside the fence and tormenting him. So I threw on some jeans, grabbed the broom, and went out to chase the cat off. I looked under the bush that the dog was bark-whining at, and found a tiny black kitten, obviously scared and hungry, with an eye infection, crying.
 
I went around the fence, left the broom in Janet's yard, grabbed the kitten, and hared off to the vet's office without even combing my hair. I couldn't call in advance because I'd left my phone at work last night. So I just arrived, with a crying kitten in a carrier and my hair in a mess. Bless June's heart, she took us right back. The kitten is a little girl, about 5-6 weeks old, 1.3 pounds, and in good health except for conjunctivitis and a stuffy nose. Then I took US 6 and went to Kathy's house to get my phone (and have her babysit the kitten) and to Walmart for soft cat food, picked up a Big Mac for breakfast (at 3:30), went back to Kathy's and worked for an hour, and finally got home at 6:30. We have eye ointment and oral amoxicillin twice a day, and feedings every 4 hours. Thank goodness I can take her to work with me.
 
Jen named our new little girl Abby, which is perfect. Jethro is completely enchanted with her. Hunter, on the other hand, seems terrified of her. He'll be around her until she cries, then he hisses and runs away. The interanimal dynamics should be fascinating. I'll keep you posted. Bruce is my expert on multiple cats, and he says they'll be best friends soon.
 
So, will having two  cats get you outraged enough to come back and get me? I hope so! And anyway, it's Jethro that keep collecting cats! You couldn't have left the little thing there any more than I could, and you know it. When you pray for us tonight, please pray especially for Abby, that she'll feel better soon.
 
Lots of love from your growing family,
Joan.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cows, Cattle, & Other Quadrapeds

Dear John,
 
I finally did it - I had a night without nightmares. I cried myself to sleep, which may have been what I needed. I believe I'm just having another normal cycle in this whole process of widowhood. Between that and the sinus infection, I felt pretty awful at work. But if I'd been at home I'd have spent the day sniveling and eating brownies, and neither of those would have helped anything. So it was good that I was at work.
 
Driving down 42 I saw a field with at least four varieties of cows in it. On closer examination, I confirmed that they were indeed cows and not cattle - they had hip bones. You taught me that, that dairy cows are cows and beef cattle are cattle. And I figured out that the way to tell the difference was that cows have visible hip bones and cattle don't because they're more muscular. These definitely had hip bones. Cows. Not cattle.
 
I learned a lot of Midwest rural things from you. I learned that Clydesdales aren't the only kind of draft horse. And now, when I go back to Lexington, the thoroughbreds look anorexic. No matter who you are, going down the road behind a team of Belgians will make you feel narrow in the hips. And I taught you about growing cotton and peanuts, and how much roses love red clay, and I introduced you to kudzu. It's a wonder you survived the shock.
 
We're from such different places - big-city Southern and rural Midwestern. Our cultures are so different, but we aren't. Both of our fathers were engineers, our mothers stayed home, we had dogs - what else did our childhoods have in common? We both grew up on Loony Tunes and Rocky and Bullwinkle, learned to read from Dick and Jane, had the same record albums in high school. And things were a lot more homogeneous in the 1950s. I'm still surprised by how much alike we are.
 
I'm glad you were here to teach me about cows and cattle, and what a combine combines, and how to dress for a graduation open house. I'm just glad you were here. And I would give anything in the world for you to still be here. I guess I'll just have to go where you are. At least I don't have to talk to St. Michael about having you grounded!
 
See you in good dreams tonight,
Joan.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Power of Flour

Dear John,
 
I know - it's still Monday night. But I was getting ready for bed and, for some reason, remembered something. Do you remember that little coffee shop we found called "Flour Power"? I think it was on our way to Green Bay. Wherever it was, we'd taken the back way instead of the interstate - which could make it any trip we ever took anywhere - and we were looking for a place to stop and eat. I can still see the intersection, in a delightful bohemian part of whatever town it was. And when we saw the name of the place, we couldn't resist.
 
I remember that the food was good. I think we just got soup and a pastry. The young guy working there was rather condescending toward us old folks. I remember smiling and thinking that we were once what he was, and he would be us sooner than he could ever imagine.
 
We found so many delightful little places, didn't we? That's one advantage of staying off the main highways and going through the towns. It's so much more interesting. To us, the trip was always as important as the destination. Sometimes the trip was  the destination. And it was fun to do anything with you.
 
I'm going to get up the courage to go to sleep soon. Hoping for a night without nightmares.
 
Love you so very much,
Joan.

There's No Relief in Waking

Dear John,
 
Enough is enough. Do I have to get you grounded? I had nightmares all night. We were in various places and circumstances, but no matter how hard I tried, you died at the end of every dream. I got up early because I was afraid to sleep any more.
 
I have no idea why I'm doing this, or why so many nights in a row. You didn't remember your dreams like I do, and for the first time I envy you that. Mine are usually good free entertainment. Now, I'm getting to where I delay going to sleep at night because I'm afraid of dreaming.
 
I must still be processing all that happened. My nightmares are always about medical emergencies, things that can't be treated (except that one about you being chased by tax accountants, but that was a long time ago). And in every one of them I realize that I've already watched you die once, and there's the anguish of seeing it a second time. In all of them I'm second-guessing everything that happened, trying to find a way that I could have prevented it. Maybe that's it - maybe some part of me is still wondering if I could have done something to change the course of things. I know there was nothing. The heart damage from the radiation was so severe it's a wonder you lived as long and well as you did. But sometimes I've even wondered if God took you to punish me for some unconfessed sin. Father would have a fit. But that thought is something I need to take to confession and talk to him about. And maybe that will help.
 
In the meantime, please pray for me. And please ask Father George to pray for me, too. He knows how vividly I dream. And if this kind of thing keeps up, I will talk to St. Michael about grounding you until you can play nice.
 
Love you more than all the world,
Joan.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Don't Make Me Come Up There

Dear John,
 
Okay. We really need to talk. Last night's dream was more of a nightmare. Yes, if you had to predecease me, I wanted to be there. But how many times do you really want to put me through this? Once was more than enough. Please re-think this. Don't make me come up there.
 
I woke up this morning with a head cold and a sore throat, which may explain the emotional funk I've been in. Friday I felt like I was coming down with something. It just took me a long time to do it. I slept until noon, got out of my pajamas at 3, and have slept most of the day. It's been cool and rainy - a good day to sleep, especially with various animals layered all over me. Jen and Bob cooked out and brought me dinner, since I didn't feel up to fixing complex things like Cheerios. I'll try to get to bed early.

I'll kiss you on the cheek tonight, so I don't give this to you! Sleep good tonight. I love you so much. Come tonight and let's do something fun together.

Love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on,
Joan.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Nocturnal Grieving: Complete with Zombies

Dear John,
 
I didn't get to have that good cry last night. I was too tired - I don't even remember turning the light off and lying down, just like all those nights you were in the hospital your last three months. I was still beat this morning. I slept in, got up late, had breakfast, and tried to watch the UK game. I saw the first quarter, and the next thing I new it was 3:30 and there was a phone ringing in a TV commercial.
 

Sleeping is Better with a  Cat

I have reverted to being a nocturnal griever. I was fine today until the sun went down. Now I want to curl up with a plate of brownies and snivel. But I don't have the energy for making brownies or crying, so I'm watching Notre Dame lose to Purdue.
 
I don't know where the grief came from this time. Maybe Gus' death is part of it, maybe the change of seasons, maybe just the natural cycle of things. I decided long ago that life is like surfing. We have no control over when the waves come, what they'll be like, or where they'll take us. All we can do is stay on our boards and be ready for them. When they come, we try to stay upright and ride them the best we can. After they're gone we get up, wipe the sand out of our eyes, look around, and try to figure out where we are. This is just another wave, and it will take me a little farther up the beach. Where Jen still won't let me dig.
 
The cat seems to know how I feel. He's crawled into my lap for two naps, and he doesn't do that very often. It's good to have his purring warmth on my legs. God bless the animals! They keep me warm when I'm cold inside.
 
I miss you tonight. If I get to bed soon, maybe I can stay awake for that good cry. Thank you for showing up in my dream last night, but please do think the plot out a little better next time! I enjoyed your visit very much until the end, when it turned out that you were the one that was the zombie. That pretty much ruined it for me.
 
Love you great bunches,
Joan.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cold Irrelevance of a Prime Number

Dear John,
 
Seventeen months today. A prime number. Totally irrelevant fact.
 
Today everything seems irrelevant. I'm dead and heavy inside. It feels like there's a tremendous amount of pain inside me, but I have it walled off behind emotional inertia. A heart at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force? See, I remember my physics. But my heart has been acted upon a bit too much lately. I don't know how long it will be able to stay at rest.
 
This is the first Friday the 13th since the day you died. That date was completely overshadowed by its being Holy Friday. There's nothing to cast shadows today - just cold uncompromising loss. And there's more loss that you may not know about - Father's mother died this morning. It was expected, but still so sad. We will all miss her.
 
It's cool tonight, going down to the 30s. I have a few windows open a crack so it doesn't get stuffy. The thermostat says 67 now. It's clear tonight and the moon's at half. It's only10:30, and all the street is deserted except for the light on at DeWayne's. I think I'll take my heavy heart off to bed.
 
Tonight I just feel the emptiness of your absence. I do believe the inertia will fail soon and I'll have a good long cry. The dog will sit in my lap and lick the tears off my face, and the cat will come and massage my head. The sky will be clear and the moon at half. DeWayne will go to bed and all the street will be dark. And I'll still love you.
 
Forever,
Joan.

The Year of Living Ironically, Or, Poultry at the Post Office

Dear John,
 
I got home just in time for the final episode of Burn Notice. I won't spend time on it here, but you can ask Madeline to tell you all about it - she'll be there soon. Give her a kiss for me. I haven't cried that much over anything but you in years. It was terrific.
 
I got one of those where-am-I shocks today. But this time the shock was that I wasn't shocked. Let me start at the beginning, and proceed from narrative to irony in a decent fashion. I went to the post office this morning, and there was a loud noise of cheeping coming from the back. I was too curious to leave it alone, so I stuck my head in the office and asked if they'd started breeding parakeets. They told me that they often get shipments of chicks. And I said, "oh, of course," and went on my way. About a mile and a half later I was jolted by the fact that I wasn't jolted by the fact of chick shipments at the post office. It seemed perfectly normal to me. I grew up in Atlanta, for crying out loud - I'd expect to have some kind of reaction to that. But no, it seemed quite unexceptional. I suppose I've been here a long time. See what you've done to me? You've turned a big-city girl into a woman who expects poultry at the post office.
 
This is a photo of the historic irony that has been developing around us. Loving the ironic as I do, I have to chuckle at this. It's absolutely true. I'm having to re-evaluate Putin. This is real politik in spades. He has an understanding of the situation in the Middle East that our politicians don't, and that's because he sees it in the greater context of the religious history of the region. Our media broadcast that a certain village was destroyed and citizens murdered by Syrian rebels because the villagers had backed Assad. Russian media report that the churches were desecrated then burned, the convent was destroyed, the Christian population was lined up and ordered to convert to Islam, and the ones who refused were martyred.
 
Putin understands the distinction between "murdered" and "martyred." He seems to understand the Syrian meltdown as the current stage on which the centuries-long battle between Christianity and Islam is being played out. He makes no sense to a lot of our leaders. But right now, it's our leaders who don't make sense to me - Putin I understand perfectly. That's a little scary. But bless him for making us hold off on acts of war which would have put us on the side of Al Qaeda! And bless him for understanding the reality of good and evil, and absolute right and wrong.
 
So please pray for Syria, and for the decisions our leaders make in the coming weeks. Pray for the nuns of St. Thekla's convent. Pray for the Orthodox Christians who converted to Islam today rather than accept martyrdom. Pray for all of us. Pray that somewhere in this sea of irony, common sense finds a foothold. And continue to pray for me, that somewhere in the mix of humor and sarcasm in my head, compassion and humility can find a foothold.
 
Love you, miss you, adore you,
Joan.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mother Nature is Bipolar

Dear John,
 
As usual, Jen nailed it. (She appears to have inherited my ability to nail jello to the wall.) Mother nature is bipolar. That's the only explanation.
 
These last three days have been in the 90s, dry, sunny, and generally miserable. Tomorrow's supposed to be 78, and Friday and Saturday will be in the 60s. Friday night it's supposed to go down into the 30s. And after the weekend we'll be seeing the 80s again. Mother nature needs her meds adjusted. I will sleep in a wide variety of pajamas this week.
 
I'm ready for fall. And, as you well know, that really means that I'm tired of my summer clothes. Corn and soybeans are ripening very quickly, and the fields are beautiful. Trees are starting to turn. I was out walking a few days ago, and realized I was walking on orange and yellow leaves.
 
I'm also ready for cold-weather food. I'm looking forward to red beans and rice, chicken curry, soups and stews. I saw this photo today and remembered all those times you took me to Cracker Barrel or a cafeteria so I could get the food I grew up with. Turnip green with vinegar, pinto beans with raw onions, black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, cornbread with no sugar in it. I didn't cook those things because you didn't like them, but you'd take me places the I could get them. Thank you so much for that. And you did experience enlightenment to the point of loving barbecue. But, sadly, you never achieved okra.
 
You probably don't eat anymore - you don't need to. But I'll send you this to look at and drool over. It's the traditional Southern New Years Day dinner. And there's no better food than that! And you can go to sleep tonight thinking about collard greens and my warm pajamas.
 
Love you more than cornbread,
Joan.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I Don't Care Who Started It

Dear John,
 
It's been a long day - I got home after 9:00 tonight. I'm working 12-8 for a couple of weeks while I train Teresa. I don't mind at all, but the animals have an entirely different opinion. It does mean they get fed later, but I'll feed them later every day for these weeks so they stay on the same schedule.
 
When I got home tonight, Jethro was as wound up as I expected. I let him out, and Hunter came and sat at the storm door watching for him. Odd, I thought. Then I picked him up, and he had wet dog slobber all over him. As soon as I let Jethro back in, they went tearing around the house together. Evidently, they were in the middle of playing when I came home.
 
It's after 11 now, and they finally settled down. The dog kept taking cat body-parts in his mouth, and the cat kept swatting the dog and purring. But I think all the mammals here are tired now, and ready for bed. Jethro's asleep at my feet and Hunter is asleep on the half-wall next to the basement stairs. Only a cat can keep his balance and sleep at the same time!
 
We're all going to bed now. And we all wish you were here. We miss you all the time, but especially at bedtime. Sleep well tonight, and pray for us as we do for you!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lookit! Lookit! Lookit!

Dear John,
 
I'm so excited! Look at what I got!
 
Well, this isn't the one I got. Mine's in the garage, waiting for Jen to get off work and help me get it into the house. I did get it out of the trunk, though. Mine has white paint, with bits of green and orange showing through. And it still has the metal pans in a couple of the drawers
 
It's an old hospital crash cart. Google Images calls it a dental cart, and they were probably used for that, too. But this is exactly like the crash carts we used at General. And they were white with bits of green and orange showing, too. There's so much sentiment in this. I'm thrilled beyond words to have it. This is the happiest I've been in at least two years.
 
I saw this over a year ago at an antique shop in Goshen. The price was more than I could afford - I think they were asking $250 for it. I've been visiting it regularly and trying not to drool. I went in today and was talking to a saleslady about it, and made an offer. She called the store owner, we haggled a bit, and I got it for $120. Two nice men outside helped put it in the trunk. Or rather, helped put two thirds of it in the trunk. I came home on County Road 40 at 20 mph - 40 seemed the safest way to come, going that slow.
 
Don't bother to tell Mama about this - she already knows. And she's delighted, because she loved old Greenville General as much as I did. I worked there for two summers, but she volunteered there for until they closed it. I've lost track of how many years she was chosen Volunteer of the Year. It was fun the one summer we were both there - we commuted together, and sometimes got lunch together. My favorite hospital isn't there anymore, but now I feel like I have a little bit of it here.
 
Love you even more than the crash cart,
Joan.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Grappling with the Elusive Reality Thing

Dear John,
 
I know - it's another two-letter day. Sorry to inflict another letter on you.
 
I was watching a show on television about a man that murdered his wife (thank you for not ever doing that). Central to the car accident was the fact that she was riding in the car without her seat belt on, something her family said she would never have done. Well, my sadly-deficient brain stood up and said, "If anybody kills me and tries that, John will tell everybody that I was a critical care nurse and I never moved the car three feet without having the seat belt on. Then I realized you aren't here to talk to the police about me at all.
 
Not an hour later, I was thinking about a friend who believes, and I agree with him, that he has fibromyalgia. He needs Lupus ruled out, but it sounds just like fibro. I emailed him a letter and some info and humor I have on Pinterest. And this evening I was thinking that I have to get you set up to talk to his wife about being married to a fibromite. And again, I realized that I can't do that.
 
Do you see how much inconvenience you're causing? Not to mentions stress and strain on my already-insufficient mental faculties? If normal widows think in such a random fashion, it's a wonder any of us can feed ourselves. We've talked a bit on the WFF site about many layers you have to work through to believe that this bereavement is permanent. Obviously I continue to muddle through layers.
 
I just had to tell you those two things before turning out the light. We're all piled up in bed, and I believe I'm the only one still awake. That will be remedied shortly. And by the way, if you do want to show up for any of these conversations, you'd be more than welcome.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Hey! No Piling On!

Dear John,
 
I get to be annoying for a whole week! What fun! And it requires very little effort - I seem to have a gift for it.
 
Today is the beginning of Invisible Illness Awareness Week. I've come out of the closet about the fibromyalgia - I had to, since you're not here and I don't have anybody to lateral to. But on this week and the week of Fibromyalgia Awareness Day in May, I get assertive. I take the opportunity to educate all my Facebook friends, whether they like it or not.
 
Invisible illnesses still carry such a stigma. I get tired of being dismissed - "Oh, it can't be that bad," or "You just need to get out more," or "I heard that fibromyalgia is all in your head," or the one that I hate most, "Everybody gets tired and has aches and pains; you just need to deal with it like the rest of us." That one can make me homicidal.
 
Do people really think that fibromites don't know what normal fatigue and aches feel like? Do they think we want this kind of life? The essence of this question is, "Do they think?" Somebody asked me today what fibro feels like, and I told them the best description I can think of. Imagine having the muscle pain of your worst case of the flu, and the exhaustion of mono, and you feel that way every day for the rest of your life, with no treatment and no cure, and 20% of the people you know tell you that nothing is wrong with you. There are reasons for the statistics: 75% of us are divorced within 2 years of diagnosis, and our leading cause of death is suicide. This is serious, people!
 
Pardon my rant. And thank you for listening to this same rant for years, and always managing to be sympathetic. Thank you for not divorcing me for having fibro. I know it was unthinkable for you, but 3 out of 4 men in your position do.
 
I am greatly blessed. My husband, in-laws, priest, and closest friends believe every word. And that's all I want. I don't want sympathy. I don't want understanding, because you can't understand unless you're there. I want to be believed. I want people to respect the choices I have to make and the limits I have to keep. I want people to be open to education. I love it when somebody doesn't think they know more about the disease than I do because they read an article on the Internet. I want respect. That's the crux of it. I have a chronic, invisible illness - and I want to be respected anyway.
 
I guess that's what Invisible Awareness Week and education are all about. They're about respecting instead of judging. I judge and condemn and hate myself enough - don't pile on!
 
So, why no fibromyalgia picture today, you ask? Because this is the way we all feel when we're not respected and believed. Want to pile on? I know - let's go for a quiet walk in the woods! It will be very relaxing!
 
Thank you for putting up with me, being kind to me, never divorcing me, and managing to still love me.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Grammar Peeves & Gene Hackman in Drag

Dear John,

You should be here. I'm watching on old Big Bang Theory that has Christine Baranski on as Leonard's mother, and I've been thinking about how much you loved her. I remember watching The Bird Cage with you the first time, and how much we loved her in that. We loved the whole movie, but seeing her in that role and Gene Hackman in drag was almost too much delight for one film. For the rest of my life I'll giggle whenever I hear "We are Family."

I ran across something else today that would delight you. Your biggest pet peeve in the grammar area was the difference between "fewer" and "lesser." And here it is, clear and succinct. Don't you love it? Becky says it's one of her sensitive points, too. So you are in good and expert company! I found an absolutely delightful Grammar board today. My grandmother Keistler would love it. And there's another reason for you to set up a Pinterest account - so you can show things to my mother and grandmother.

While I was on Pinterest, I discovered that a pinner I like is a new widow. We were chatting back and forth, I told her about our group, and she has joined the WFFs. As always, I'm so sorry that there's another person who qualifies. But I'm so glad when we can all connect with each other. So you and Kyle and everybody else, go find Billy. And tell him that we're here for Peggy, and we're all doing this together.

Love  you forever and ever,
Joan.



Friday, September 6, 2013

Good News & Grinning Geckos

Dear John,
 
Hello - I love you. I know you had a good day because there's nothing else in Heaven. I wish you could tell me all about your day like you used to. But you can still hear about mine, and I have some good news today.
 
First, I'm getting a 50-cent-an-hour raise. Kathy's other assistant is starting on Monday, and I'll be responsible for training her and coordinating our two jobs, so I'll get paid more. Kathy said that, since she'll have two assistants, she would need to find something else to call me. I offered to give her the names of some physicians I'd worked with so they could make suggestions. I spent most of the day finishing the Secretary's Handbook - absolutely everything needed updating since the old one was done about five years ago.
 
Second, the money I made from my latest Lia Sophia show is the same amount as my last 2-week paycheck. I have four shows scheduled for this month, so - barring disasters, of course - I should be able to get the house power-washed, which would be good since we have moss growing on the siding on the north side of the house. And either this month or next, I should be able to put money into savings instead of taking it out. This job is a godsend. It could become my primary source of income. It's easy on the fibro, and it's a lot of fun. I'm thankful.
 
Third, I got word today that the lawsuit against me, from that accident in May of 2011, is settled. So there won't be a trial. Allstate, bless their hearts, has been wonderful. They've provided the claims agent, attorney, and settlement at no cost to me. And I'm still getting my good-driver discount. I love them. As Bruce said on Facebook, I really am in good hands.
 
The note I got from the claims agent said that this had been such a burden for me. That was kind, but not true. If it had happened a year earlier, I'd have been frantic about it. But the suit was filed a month after your death. And when the worst thing that can ever happen to you has already happened, little things like lawsuits are just mildly entertaining. I did learn a lot from it, and giving the deposition was fascinating. But the evidence clearly shows I was at fault, whether I remember any of it or not, so whatever judgment was reached against me was right. And since your death I really don't care what happens to me anyway. So it was a learning experience, but not particularly stressful or concerning. It does feel good, though, to have it over and done with.
 
To sum up, I have a lot to be thankful for, and I am. The only thing in my life that I'm not thankful for is your forgetfulness - going on such a long trip and forgetting to take me with you. I can't imagine how you did that! But that's okay - I have a ticket for a later bus. I just don't know yet when I'm leaving. But I'll get there - be sure to meet me at the station!
 
Love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on,
Joan.

P.S. - About the photo, I just thought it was cute and happy, and you'd like it. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Missing Being Miserable wih You

Dear John,
 
It's been a long day. I had my post-op eye appointment this morning in Warsaw, had lunch while my eyes un-dilated, and went to work. After work I picked up milk and dog food, and got home at 8:00. I made calls about Saturday's Lia Sophia show, and relaxed at 9:00. And here I am. I'm tired. And I have two animals hanging on to me. They do get bothered when I don't get home at my usual time.
 
This morning I put my Woody Guthrie/Leadbelly CD on. It has been a while since I listened to it, and it brought back a lot of memories. It was the first one I listened to after you were diagnosed with cancer again in July of 2011, and I couldn't bear the music on the radio. It reminds me of those months, and from here they look wonderful. You were in and out of the hospital until they got your diuretics regulated, then chemo started, we were both dealing with the ramifications of the diagnosis, you were out of work and I got a job - to sum up, all hell was breaking loose. But we were doing it together. Anything that you were a part of looks good to me now. And we did manage to be happy together in spite of everything. Until the rehab hospital. That was awful for both of us, though we both put a good face on it. Now you're not here, so I get sentimental about a time when you had Stage III CHF and Stage IV lung cancer. How's that for convincing evidence that I miss you?
 
I'm off to bed now. I'm working tomorrow and having a show on Saturday morning, so I'd better get as much sleep as I can. 
 
I love you so, so much,
Joan.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Urgent Need for More Curse Words

Dear John,
 
I've been off today. I need to go back to work so I can de-stress and relax.
 
I spent the day trying to get my credit report corrected. And the Big Three make it as difficult as humanly possible. But I persevered - which can be translated as being stubborn - and got all the disputes filed. There are two of your things on my report, and they can't tell Credit Life from a default. I do hope the corrections get made without me having to set my attorney loose on them.
 
There was one thing rather inexplicable. There was a collection agency on one report, so I called the agency. It turns out that there was a bill from your hospitalization in late June of 2011, which we'd have been happy to pay if we'd known anything about it. But it was sent to the house we rented from Tom, and we hadn't lived there in over twenty years. I can't imagine where they got that old address. So I paid the bill over the phone, and that should come off of the reports on the 15th of this month.
 
It wasn't pleasant, and it was hard work, but it obviously had to be done. And there's a sense of satisfaction to having done it in spite of all the roadblocks they put up.
 
Oh, remember that the loan officer at the bank told me they wouldn't consider me for a home equity line of credit because of the low number I had from one credit agency that didn't have the mortgage listed? And the absence of the mortgage is the only thing wrong with that report? After spending half an hour searching for a way to talk to an actual person, I found out that the bank doesn't report to that agency. We'll have an interesting conversation if they try to hold their reporting lack against me.
 
You really did marry an independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed woman, didn't you? And one reason you did was so I would be okay without you. I'm not okay, but I'm surviving. And at this point, I suppose that's all that either one of us could ask for.
 
I'll keep you posted on all of this. They have to respond to the on-line disputes within 30 days. The one that I filed by phone gets 45 days - I couldn't file on-line because I failed the security questions - I failed the security questions because I have no idea what the car payment was on the minivan, which we bought over five years ago. I'm clearly an impostor. Everybody knows that stuff, right?
 
Grrrr. I miss you. Your absence appears to be distressing the credit companies as well. I hope you are enjoying that fact. And I'm coping, with my sense of humor and sharp tongue still intact. And I'm certain that you're enjoying that!
 
Love you totally,
Joan.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Silliness, Stalking, & Soybeans

Dear John,
 
I had a good day at work, though I came home early with a tummy upset. You used to bring every tummy virus home when you worked at Panera. You never got them yourself - you were just a very efficient carrier. I'm not sure how you managed it this time, but I'm certain you are behind it because I know I haven't had any Mexican food lately.
 
I was driving to work this morning and noticed the soybean fields turning yellow, and I remembered our last trip to the Keys two years ago. Remember flying in and out of Fort Wayne? We made long low circles, and the fields were breathtaking. I'd never realized that soybeans ripen at such different times. There were spots, circles, and long lovely arcs of yellow in green fields. It looks like Renoir had gone rural. We gawked out those airplane windows.
 
I have more animal silliness to recount. I was on the couch working on the computer last night with Jethro getting sleepy beside me. The cat wandered down the stairs, and soon I heard him crying. As Jethro jumped up to check on him, I heard the cat coming back up the stairs. He met the dog at the top landing, smacked him on the face with one paw, then lay down on his back right in front of him. Jethro obligingly grabbed the cat by his head and dragged him around the living room, while the cat purred and batted him with his front paws. It was what I suspected - the crying was just a ploy to get the dog to come over and play with him.
 
Tonight Jethro was lying on the floor beside me. Hunter was across the room, crouched down and creeping closer, stalking the dog. He got about two feet away, darted over, nuzzled Jethro's nose and rubbed his head on the dog's head, then ran away with the dog in hot pursuit, after which they tore up and down the hall for a few minutes.
 
Jethro always looks like he's going to kill the cat, but Hunter is the instigator as often as not. I love seeing them have so much fun together. Watching their little displays of affection is even better. You'd laugh so hard at the two of them! I'm glad that I can at least tell you about it all. You'll get to meet them both someday. And that will be wonderful - all of us together, with Caleb and Naomi, too. I can't wait! But, alas, I remain under Jen's digging prohibition.
 
Until then, love you with all my heart,
Joan.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Search for Mira

Dear John,
 
It's been a beautiful Labor Day - cool, dry, deep blue sky with some clouds. I mowed this afternoon, and started thinking. That's the problem with mowing - it gives me an hour and a half to think, and that's how I get myself in trouble.
 
For the last couple of days, I've been humming "Mira,", from Carnival. You know the song - you took me to see the play a couple of years ago, and goodness knows you've heard me singing the music to it enough over the years.


I come from the town of Mira, beyond the bridge of St. Claire.
I guess you've never heard of Mira. It's very small, but still, it's there.
They have the very greenest trees, and skies as bright as flame.
But what I liked the best in Mira was everybody knew my name.

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine that? Everybody knew my name.

A room that's strange is never cozy; a place that's strange is never sweet.
I want to have a chair that knows me and walk a street that knows my feet.
I'm very far from Mira now, and there's no turning back.
I want to find a place, I have to find a place where everything can be the same.
A street that I can know, and places I can go where everybody knows my name.

Can you image that? Can you imagine that? Everybody knew my name.


The song makes me long for something, and I've been wondering what. This town is as close to Mira as you can get. I have everything the song desires, but it's still not Mira. Somewhere in the yard west of the house I figured it out. Mira isn't a geographical place; it's a place of the heart. In the play, it's the last place where Lily's life was normal and everything was alright. And that's what I long for - a return to the time when everything was good and I was happy. Mira, for me, is having you.

So the song is right - there is no turning back. I'm not young and na├»ve like Lily, so I know I can't make everything the same again. I have to do what she did: grow up and learn to be happy without Mira. I'm not going to run off, join the circus, and fall in love with the puppeteer. But I'll find my way in this strange new world. I doubt that I'll ever stop longing for Mira, though. Having had and lost it, the empty space will always be there.

Longing for you,
Joan.