Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Dreaded Certified Letter

Dear John,
 
It's been a wet, windy Halloween. It stormed last night, which didn't make Jethro happy, but he was tired enough to sleep anyway. It's still windy and rainy. The town trick-or-treat has been rescheduled for tomorrow night. The trees are a bit past peak, but it was beautiful coming home with the rain falling and yellow leaves blowing across the roads and fields.
 
I had a wonderful surprise this morning. There was a rather unnerving note with yesterday's mail saying that I had a certified letter waiting. I went in this morning and picked up a letter for each of us about an old church retirement plan. They're doing a complete disbursement, and after taxes I'll be getting enough to probably get me through another year. It's such a relief - I was reaching the end of my financial options.
 
I had no idea we even had this. It was one of those things that we didn't go over together when you were in Indy. I know there were things we missed because we were away from home and didn't have any records with us. And things like this were so second-nature to you, I'm sure you never dreamed that I didn't know about it. It came just when I needed it. I'll take the full disbursement instead of the rollover into an IRA, and will waive the 30-day waiting period. As soon as I get it, I'll pay the taxes on it and squirrel the rest away in savings.
 
So I'm looking at solvency for a while longer. And it feels good. I'd been looking ahead at property taxes due this month, car insurance due in January, COBRA going up next year, and wondering how I was going to manage it. Once again, the Lord has taken care of me. If the health care act isn't held up and I can get health insurance for less than $420 a month, I'll be breaking even. If the health care law is delayed I still may gave to drop health insurance and go off all prescription drugs. And that's even scarier that knowing you have a certified letter waiting. We'll wait and see - worrying won't help.
 
Thank you for any role you played in this - I know you pray for me always, and I thank you for that. The God of widows and orphans can't very well abandon me, since I'm both now. Tonight I'm thankful, and a bit amazed. And I'm enjoying listening to the wind and rain outside. It's a perfect night to snuggle between the flannel sheets with you, so join me if you can!
 
Love you always and forever,
Joan.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Vehicular & Technological Adventures

Dear John,
 
The internet and I have been reunited. Yesterday I worked late, got home at 7:00, and found that I had no internet connection and the television wouldn't turn on. So I had a piece of cheese and a very quiet evening, and we all went to bed.
 
This morning at 7:30 I called Century Link, and spent an hour on the phone with a nice young man who sent out a repairman. It turned out that the problem was in the line down the street. The nice repairman fixed it, and swapped out the old modem and router for a new combination one. We had a 5-meg modem and 10-meg service, so everything is running delightfully fast.
 
I ran and got my hair cut while the repairman was here, and after he left I took Abby for her next round of vaccines. She still has a bit of a sinus infection, so we're repeating antibiotics. She's up to 4.1 pounds now, and perfectly healthy except for the remaining sinus stuff. And oh, does she hate riding in the car! Jethro, of course, loves going for rides, and Hunter doesn't seem to care much one way or the other. But poor little Abby cries all the way there and all the way back.
 
I coaxed the television to work, so the end of this day is more normal that the beginning. I'll be glad to go back to work tomorrow and get some rest from this madness. But we have internet - and better than we had before - and I got financials taken care of, the office cleaned and straightened, and the floors swept. We should all sleep well tonight.
 
And it's wonderful to be able to talk to you again! I missed you last night. I've been talking to you every night for what - 37 years? You're a hard habit to break!
 
Happily addicted and in love,
Joan.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bryan Adams Without Apologies

Dear John,
 
I'm sitting here with Hunter purring in my lap, Abby purring on the cat tower, and Jethro sleeping in his spot on the couch. I think they missed me today. I met Audora in Shipshewana for lunch, and Melinda in Goshen for dinner, and took a nap in between. It's been a good and busy day off.
 
On the way home tonight I heard Bryan Adams on the radio - and don't make that face! I like him, even if you don't and Canada has apologized for him on South Park. I heard Everything I Do, and it was different this time. I've always liked the song, and heard it as my love song to you. Tonight I heard it as your love song to me. I know you always felt that way about me. But tonight I got to hear it in not-quite-your-voice-but-close-enough. I got teary in a good way - it made me happy to be reminded that you always loved me like that.
 
So tonight I feel a bit more happy than sad. You took an earlier bus and went on ahead (forgetting to take me with you, drat it!), but I was and am loved in a way that people write songs about. I've known love that was better than I ever knew it could be. And that love is still with me, waiting for me, just down the road a ways. For tonight, I'm more thankful for what I had than sorry for what I lost.
 
Thank you for loving me, from the first instant into eternity. I love you just the same. But you know that, don't you?
 
Always and forever,
Joan.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

WFFs: Doing What Doesn't Come Naturally

Dear John,
 
I didn't get to church today. I've slept almost all day. I coughed all night. And I had work nightmares all night and every time I fell asleep today. Even with the specter of bad dreams, I couldn't stay awake. Then I paid bills. It's not been a pleasant day.
 
But I've been connected with the WFFs all day, and that means the world to me! It helps more than I can say, to have friends who are going through the same thing I am. I totally get it about support groups. I love my friends.
 
And this picture tells you what we're all doing now. We're trying to do get back on our feet, in a way that feels completely unnatural and impossible. But we're hanging on for dear life, as Maxine said, and we're going to make it. We may go face-down occasionally. But we'll learn how to do this. And in the meantime, we'll laugh together and cry together, and share how we feel without being afraid of being judged or misunderstood. Or targeted for an intervention.
 
So print this photo, put it on your wall, and tell everybody that your wife is going to make it, no matter how ridiculous she looks in the process. Or how much she sometimes doesn't want to make it! I'll grit my teeth, take life in them one more time, and go back out and try it again. I'll get by with your prayers, and a little help from my friends.. Oh, and please show the photo to the other guys. And you all have our permission to laugh.

Adore you,
Joan.

Pinterest: Because Time Isn't Going to Kill Itself

Dear John,
 
I was good. I went to sleep at 10:30. The dog woke me up at midnight, needing to go out. The cats waked up and started rampaging through the house. I started coughing - unrelated to the cat rampaging - and so here I am, still up at 1:15 in the morning.
 
It's that tickle-cough that can be so hard to get rid of. After cough syrup with codeine and 25 mg of Benadryl, it's starting to let up just a little. The cats went back to sleep, Hunter on his cat tower and Abby beside me in bed, and Jethro is asleep curled up around my feet. I'm just trying not to cough. This is why God made Pinterest.
 
After a fair amount of discussion on Facebook, nobody's certain if the clocks change tonight or next Saturday. Here's what I propose: My phone is set to change times automatically. When the phone alarm goes off in the morning, I'll check and see if the phone and the bedroom clock have the same time. If they do, then the change is next week. If not, well, I just got an extra hour of sleep. The joy of modern conveniences.
 
But back to the domestic situation: I may have tapered Prednisone too fast. I had planned to go off of it after tonight, but if I'm still coughing in an hour I'll have to take more. So I'll see how it all works out. But I believe I will probably take another couple of days before coming off of it. I hope the cough is under control enough in the morning that I can go to church.
 
That's all - if I have to be up coughing at this hour, I wanted to talk to you. No matter what the problem is, you can always make me feel better. Ah - Hunter just came in and joined the rest of the family. I'm hoping to be able to lie down by 2:00. Wish me some more sleep before morning!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Return of the Possum

Dear John,
 
I had a full, busy day. It started with a good party this morning, then I errands, and came home and did housework. I'm enjoying this last day of Prednisone energy! I'll get an extra hour of sleep tonight - Daylight Stupid Time is going away for a few months.
 
There was no dog to greet me when I got home this afternoon. I found him at the back door, focused on something outside. After a bit of peering, I located that dratted possum. I kept Jethro in the house until it was gone. We don't need a repeat of the Great Possum Adventure.
 
I watched something special between Jethro and Hunter tonight. Hunter was walking through the living room, minding his own business like a cat, when Jethro came up, took his head in his mouth, and started dragging Hunter around the room like - well, like only Jethro. Hunter played along for a while, then whimpered a tiny bit when something got uncomfortable. Jethro immediately released the cat, but stayed right there leaning over him. Hunter re-positioned himself a bit, batted Jethro on the nose, and play resumed.
 
Somebody asked me today if the dog and the cats fought very often. I was so startled that I just stared for a bit before I got myself together to say that they don't fight at all, they play. Today I saw my great big German shepherd be gentle and considerate with one of his kitties. I love my animals. And I can't take any credit for the relationships between them - they've worked that out for themselves.
 
It's almost bedtime. You and I were always so glad when the fall time change came! Tonight I'll celebrate by myself. And the animals and I will take about a week to get re-acclimated to God's time. I'll have to leave a light on for them when I go to work now. But I'll do that happily, to get the light earlier in the morning! You don't have darkness anymore, do you? I can't imagine living in eternal day, never getting tired, never needing to sleep. I can't wait to try it.
 
Hoping to come soon,
Joan.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Landslide & A Woman's Mind

Dear John,
 
I have such a mix of emotions tonight! I have no idea which one to go with, so I'll just present you with a smorgasbord.
 
Prednisone kept me up last night. I finally got to sleep around 4:30, and got up at 8 for work. I worked a long, good day and got home after 7 tonight. It was a satisfying day - I got a lot accomplished.
 
I have a Lia Sophia party tomorrow morning, so I spent the evening getting packed up and ready. I'm always excited, looking forward to them. I have another one scheduled in ten days, and am hoping to get at least two bookings from each party. Property taxes are due next month!
 
And just as I was feeling good about things, somebody posted a new version of Landslide on Facebook tonight, and I sat here and listened and cried. That song always has that effect on me. And the tune is so haunting - it gets stuck on my mind and stays there for days. I did build my life around you, and now - as I've said before - I'm missing my primary load-bearing wall.
 
But what I do have is Prednisone. Breathing is definitely worth the side effects, but it always keeps me up at night, and it always intensifies my emotions. It turns up my physical and emotional rheostats. The emotional smorgasbord would still be here without Prednisone, but it would consist of ripples rather than tidal waves. I should begin to approach a steady state soon, since I'm decreasing the dose.
 
I have to get up early, so I'd better get to bed. Not that I'm likely to sleep, but at least I'll give it a try! If you want to drop by tonight, it's pretty certain that I'll be awake!
 
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,
Joan.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Closets & Knitting Patterns: A Good Day

Dear John,
 
I'm feeling a bit better after 36 hours of antibiotics and steroids. I'm glad I was off work today.
 
When my morning Prednisone peaked, I spent an hour arranging closets and shelves in my workroom. I brought some order out of chaos, which is my greatest delight in life other than you. I put the yarn in clear bins on the bookcase shelves and the scrapbooking material in the cupboard in the closet. And since there is nothing in the world more beautiful than yarn, it looks really nice. And it will be much easier to use. I got the work table set up, too.
 
Jethro spent every second being directly under my feet. I left a few scraps of yarn on the floor for the cats, and they had a lovely time draping it from one room to another. So everybody was happy. I really wanted to go on to the office closet and re-work it, but I controlled myself.
 
I spent the afternoon on line, collecting patterns for berets. I want to make a couple for your mother for her birthday. She always wears a hat since her hair has thinned a bit. I'd like to give her some variety, and in a warmer form for cool weather. I'm thinking about making one for myself, too - I've never had anything like that.
 
So, better living through chemistry. My cough is better and looser, and my ears and throat don't hurt as much. I'll be able to talk at work tomorrow. I'll go to bed early tonight, and I'd still love that gas house egg!
 
I love you so, so much - even more than yarn!
Joan.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jeans, Drugs, & My Dream House

Dear John,
 
I love you, I miss you, and I'd like a gas house egg for snack, please, I have bronchitis, am on Augmentin and Prednisone, and - sadly - will survive. The real trial here is that it hurts to talk. I like to talk. I'm off work tomorrow, which is a blessing. I should feel much better by Friday. I have a Lia Sophia party Saturday morning, so I have to be able to talk by then.
 
Be proud of me. Before my doctor's appointment I went to Christopher & Banks for their 40%-off sale, and actually spent money. Did you realize that the great majority of my wardrobe is 15 years old? I'm watching sales at Kohl's and Christopher & Banks, and slowly remedying the problem. I desperately need jeans, and I'm so hard to fit. Ask Mama about it - she used to make my pants on me. The bootcut jeans at Coldwater Creek fit me perfectly, but I'm trying hard to find something cheaper. No success so far. If you were here, you'd point out that the jeans I'm replacing are from Coldwater Creek and have lasted 15 years, so I shouldn't quibble.
 
Last night I found my dream home. Isn't it perfect? It's everything I want in a house. I'm crazy about it.  I posted it on Facebook, and we decided that all the WFFs are going to move there together. We'll have to add on to the back. And we're going to name it "The Widows' Walk," courtesy of Becky. Last night we all sat on the porch in rocking chairs with cats in our laps, eating cookies and looking at quilts and knitting. We had a lovely time together. There are only two slight difficulties: someone else owns it, and we have no idea where it is. I thought maybe you could help us with that. If you can, please let me know.
 
Oh, and it snowed some today. Nothing stuck, but it clearly was snow coming down, and a bit of sleet here and there.
 
That's all - I guess that's enough for one day. Please pray for me, that I'm better soon. Better living through chemistry! Oh, and don't forget to have my gas house egg ready at bedtime.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Curative Powers of Dog Love

Dear John,
 
Please give all the guys a reminder about the nightmare thing. You're all getting better, but there's still room for improvement. We all appreciate your efforts very much. And let them know that we're all wearing some portion of their wardrobes. It makes us feel closer to you. I wear your sweatshirts in cool weather. And I wear your lounging pajamas, which still upsets the dog. He doesn't approve of that.

 
I'm sick. I probably picked it up from your family - I've been talking to them on the phone while they've been sick. Yesterday I started coughing and not feeling very good, and today I've felt terrible. I definitely have a respiratory infection. Thank goodness, I had a short day at work. I ran by Walmart for milk and kitty litter - two absolute necessities of life - then came home, put on pajamas, and slept for over an hour. The animals have been happy to sleep, too, arranged in various positions on and around me.
 
I have a regular appointment with Barb in the morning - did I do that well, or what? My timing is perfect. While I'm in South Bend I have a couple of errands to run, but easy things that I'll enjoy. Christopher & Banks is having a big sale tomorrow, which is another example of perfect timing. My clothes situation is getting better but still needs some work. That isn't surprising, since I've had the same clothes for over ten years. And I need to go to Whole Foods - remember, that's the new place that's so much like Wellspring - and that will be fun. I was hoping to get up early enough to make morning prayers at church at 8, but since I'm sick it's probably better not to push myself or go breathe on everybody.
 
Jethro knew I didn't feel good last night, and slept cuddled up against me. He'd pushed me to the edge of the bed by the time the alarm went off. The cats have started spending most of the night cuddled up together under the bed. Occasionally I feel them both jump up on me, walk around and sniff and get petted, then jump off and go back under the bed again. But Jethro never leaves me for a second. He's my German shepherd protector dog. He's taking good care of me while you're not here - the man of the house.
 
Love you with all my heart,
Joan.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Of Brushed Denim & Underwear

Dear John,
 
Look what I just found! Brushed denim! It came out when we were in college - we both wore it and loved it. And I'll confess that I miss it. Not in that cut and not the jackets. But I do miss the feel of brushed denim.
 
I remember when we were first dating, and you had a black pair of brushed denim jeans. A couple of weeks later I saw you in a beautiful pair of pearl-gray jeans, and asked you if they were new. And you told me that they were your black ones. In the course of questioning, I discovered that you thought the only way to get your laundry really clean was to add a cup of Clorox to each load.
 
From that day forward we did laundry together every Friday night. It was just as well, since the dorm washers were known for devouring clothes. It was important for practical and emotional reasons. It did save your wardrobe from universal bleaching. And one Friday night I realized how much I enjoyed folding your underwear.
 
That never changed. For the rest of college and 34 years of marriage, I continued to enjoy folding your underwear. I miss that now. There's so little laundry to do, without your uniforms and yard clothes and everyday jeans and socks and things. But what I miss most is folding your underwear. The next time I don't do it when I do laundry, I'll think about brushed denim. And I'll smile.
 
Love you beyond reason,
Joan.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Widows Gone Wild

Dear John,
 
Congratulations! You're a grand-godfather! Mike was baptized today and chose Ron as his godfather. When Ron told me about it, he said I was going to be a grand-godmother. You are his actual, if not on-paper-at-the-Archdiocese, godfather. So you are now a grand-godfather! Though I think you already know about it. I felt so strongly this morning that you were standing there with Ron and Mike. There are times I can almost-but-not-quite see you, and today was one of those. I'm glad you could be there for it. Please pray for Mike as he starts this new part of his life.
 
I have another small milestone here: I got out my knitting this afternoon. This is the first time in almost a year that I've knitted, except for Christmas presents and commissioned work. Tonight I'm knitting just because I want to. I started out with a hat for the Cancer Center - the weather is getting cooler, so I need to get going on that. And I have two things that I want to knit just for me. It's been a couple of years since I knitted something that I didn't give away. I already have the yarn, so there's nothing to hold me back from this act of reckless abandon.
 
And speaking of reckless abandon, the WFFs are going wild. Today Ronda bought a new cutter that she's been looking at and wanting for a long time. I'm thinking about buying new living room curtains. And now I'm planning to knit two things just for me. What are the rest of us going to do? Just how out-of-control can we be?
 
So tonight I'm showing you this picture of WFFs Gone Wild. Heaven knows what the next photo of us will look like! I'm just sorry you're missing all this insanity!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Another Box Spring Crisis

Dear John,
 
I did sleep in, and have relaxed most of the day. The animals have seemed glad to relax with me. I was sitting in bed this morning checking Facebook. Jethro was asleep beside me, and I had no idea where the cats were. When I closed the laptop, I found them curled up together right behind it, sound asleep. I was able to get a picture without waking them up, so here it is. Bruce was right - it wasn't long before they became best friends.
 
Speaking of the animals, we had an interesting event this afternoon. I thought I heard something and muted the television, and Abby was down the hall wailing. Jethro and Hunter and I all jumped up and ran toward her. Hunter found her under the bed, but I couldn't see her. I lay on my back with my head under the bed and found her. One of them had made a hole in the fabric backing on the box springs. She'd crawled up inside it, and thought that she couldn't get back out. I calmed her down and coaxed her, and she popped right out.
 
We seem to have animals with things about box springs. Remember when we first got Naomi? She was eight weeks old, and would sleep under the bed. (We also have animals that won't sleep on the beds we buy them.) She got up to sixty pounds, and still wanted to sleep under the bed. She'd lie flat on her tummy, and use her paws and claws to pull herself under the bed. It was fine until she'd want to turn over. Then the bed would creak and we'd wake up to paws in our backs.
 
Anyway, she tore the fabric off of the underside of the box springs. When we moved one time, I stapled a sheet over the bottom. Then Caleb came along and shredded that sheet. Now somebody has made a hole in the fabric under these new box springs. It was inevitable.
 
Right now, Hunter is down the hall playing with the door to the litter box, Jethro is asleep at my feet, and Abby is sleeping with her head on Jethro's hip. Notre Dame is playing USC at home, and just took the lead. I don't know if I'll make it to the end of the game, and I have to get up early tomorrow for church. I don't believe anyone here will mind if we get to bed early! I just wish you were going to be in that bed. I'd be happy to kick animals out, if it was to make room for you.
 
Love you tons,
Joan.
 


Friday, October 18, 2013

Watch Our for Those Falling Cows

Dear John,
 
I've had a lovely day, and I'm sure you have, too. I slept a bit later, then went in and worked almost four hours. I got my own work caught up and helped Kathy get the car loaded and ready for her retreat this weekend.
 
After work, I called Mary Jo and asked if I could take her out to lunch, tea, or dinner - or whatever she wanted to eat at 2:00 in the afternoon. We ended up going to Panera for a bowl of soup. We never did decide just what meal it was. We enjoyed it so much that we stayed until 6. (It didn't break my Panera record. I once met a friend there for breakfast, and we stayed so long that we ended up having lunch, too. Remember that?)
 
It was wonderful to have so much time to talk to her. I've realized that I need more social contact, and she probably does, too. It was good for me to talk to her since she's been widowed twice. She was born in 1919, two years before Mama.
 
The other news today is that Jen was hit by a deer on the way to work this morning. Or rather, the car was. There's a dent in the right front panel, but no front end damage, and she wasn't hurt. The deer was just grazed and seemed to be okay. I remember when that deer grazed us when we were on vacation - were we in western New York, maybe just south of Buffalo? I remember we were driving through miles and miles of grapes. We got by with no damage to the car or the deer.
 
Anyway, I found this tonight and posted it on Facebook. This shows that it could have been worse. I used to drive through "Falling Rock" zones on I-40 in North Carolina and Tennessee, but I don't believe I've ever been warned that a cow could fall on me.
 
I'm going to head off to bed. Tomorrow I plan to sleep in, since I've worked an extra day this week. I don't need to mow, but it wouldn't hurt to get some fall cutting-back done. But mostly, I'm just going to sleep late! 
 
Love you so much,
Joan.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Of Pretty Leaves & Hairy Legs

Dear John,
 
Today was long, busy, and good at work. I spent half of it training Marcia and the other half getting my own work done. I still have a couple of hours of work left, so I'll be going in tomorrow for a while. I got home well after 6:00 tonight, and it was getting dark already. The days are getting shorter - soon I'll have to leave a light on for the animals.
 
The leaves are near peak now. When I was coming home, I came up the bridge over the tracks in Millersburg and looked out over downtown, and the trees were beautiful. It was gray and rainy, but it couldn't dim those leaves.
 
It's time for me to celebrate the fact that I won't have leaves to rake. For one thing, we get so much wind up here that our leaves don't stay in the yard. But leaves from locust trees and crabapples are too tiny to rake anyway, and leaves from the maple tree blow away. I'm enjoying the cooler weather. Like every fall, I was tired of my summer clothes. But the best thing about fall is that I can stop shaving my legs.
 
That's one of the few things that widows laugh about - they don't have to shave their legs anymore. I did in the summer, of course. But there's no point in shaving them after the weather gets cold. The animals don't care - their legs are a lot harrier than mine are, and they love me no matter what my legs look like. And I know you would, too. You always told me I didn't need to shave my legs on your account, but I did anyway. Be warned now - if you come for a visit, I will have hairy legs!
 
What did all the guys say when you told talked to them about visiting us without giving us nightmares? I'm sure they understood. We love it so much when we dream about you all. But since you're not here anymore and we can't talk to you about it, nightmares are hard to shake. We're all eager to see what you plan for your next visits to us!
 
Love you so, so much,
Joan.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Great Valentine's Day Shopping Nightmare

Dear John,
 
I just got up to let the dog out and thought that, while I was up, I should turn on the front porch light for you. Some part of my head must think you're at work. Old habits die hard.
 
We need to talk. All you guys need to straighten up. For the last couple of nights, almost all of my widow friends have had nightmares about their husbands. I've told you a dozen times: I love for you to come for visits in my dreams, but you need to think about what you plan for our evenings together! Things are tough enough down here, without you  guys giving us nightmares. Please talk to everybody and ask them to be a little more thoughtful. Come every night - we'd love it - but let's do something fun when you're here. Just to sit and talk would be wonderful. We've all had enough nightmares to last us for the rest of our lives.
 
I know you guys aren't trying to be mean or anything. You're just not thinking things through. Let us know that you love us. Encourage us. Give us advice. Tell me what the Mystery Liquid in the garage is. You know what we want and need. Don't try to pretend nothing's happened - we know better, and we don't need make-believe. We just need for all of you to show us that you love us.
 
So no more medical nightmares, okay? No more days in hospitals, no more watching you die. Once was enough. Let's just be together. That's all I want. We love you all so much - all any of us want is to be with our guys again.
 
I'm sorry to scold you. But you always wanted to know if you were doing something that hurt me or made my life harder, and I know the rest of the guys do, too. Maybe it's like shopping for Valentine's Day - you need some hints and suggestions. So here they are! Give our love to the guys, and give them some hints and suggestions.
 
Love you beyond reason,
Joan.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chasing My Tail

Dear John,
 
Be amazed. I closed the house and turned on the heat. The ten-day forecast had highs in the 50s every day, so it was an easy choice. You should be proud of me.
 

Without You: Driven to Chasing My Tail

I don't have much time tonight, and there's not much to say anyway. I bought cat food and dog treats after work. We're going through cat food a lot faster now, though not as fast as we were when Jethro was able to get to the bowl.
 
I'll work tomorrow instead of Friday. I'm training a new assistant, so I'm working the days she can work. We'll see how the CFS likes working three days in a row. It's sad to have to think about that, when I used to work third shift, a week at a time, without any problem. I'll have a four-day weekend - I have enough time to do something special, but no money. Maybe I'll tackle one of the big projects around here. I'll have to see how I do working three days in a row, and then figure out the weekend.
 
I wish you were here to tell me that having CFS doesn't render me completely undeserving of space on the planet. You aren't unbiased - I'm as important to you as you are to me - but you could always make me feel better. I could make you happy simply by existing, so I was doing something important all the time no matter how I felt. 
 
I've circled back to the issue of purpose, haven't I? I seem to be chasing my tail. And there's no point in subjecting you to this. I love you so, so much. If you have any suggestions, comments, or smart remarks, feel free to pass them on to me. I'll leave the light on!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Stylites & Flannel Sheets

Dear John,
 
I do feel better today. I don't have this issue of purpose worked out yet. But I can face the world, function, and even enjoy some of it.
 
Today I did laundry, paid bills, and put the flannel sheets on the bed. I still have the windows open a bit, but I was cold last night so it was time. And speaking of utilities, when I paid the NIPSCO bill today I put us back on budget. They set us at $120 a month, down $100 from a year ago, when I took us off. There's just me now, so no uniforms to wash, half the dishes, half the showers. And since my internal thermostat is broken, I keep the house a lot cooler than I did when you were here. The animals wear fur, so there are no complaints from them.
 
Speaking of animals, I took this picture this morning. Stylites! I hope they are praying for me while they're up on their pillars. Aren't they adorable?
 
I found the meme today and had to show you. It reminds me of you, and how much you always hated liturgical dance. And then there was that night that we were all at Conference in Nashville, and a bunch of us had gone to see their triple-A baseball team play. When the cheerleaders got up on top of the dugouts to dance between innings, Mick looked down the row at you and said, "Look, John! It's liturgical dance!" We laughed a lot when we were together, but ever quite that hard. They love you.
 
And so do I. So does all of your little family. When I get in between flannel sheets tonight, I'll think about you and remember how much we loved those sheets. Every time I'd get them out in the fall, we'd lie there for a while just enjoying them, talking about how good they felt. Tonight I'll enjoy them by myself, and miss you a little more than usual.
 
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,
Joan.
 




Sunday, October 13, 2013

Emotional Disarray is Okay

Dear John,
 
According to that vast source of knowledge, the Internet, unbleached muslin can't be bleached. It has to be done before the fiber is spun into thread. So that was a waste of good Clorox. I guess I'll have to buy curtains.
 
It's been eighteen months today. Most of these anniversaries are okay. Just not this one. I woke up miserable and it went downhill from there. I thought watching television would distract me, so I watched a film I'd never seen before - The Prime of Miss Jean Brody. You'd love Maggie Smith's performance - you always loved her, and she deserved her Oscar for that. But it turned over a couple of rocks in my head and, as is likely when you turn over rocks, some ugly things crawled out.
 
The film's talk about dedication and purpose dislodged the rocks. My purpose had always been you. Now it seems to be survival for its own sake. As I've said before, I work to live and live to work. I badly need to talk to somebody regularly, but can't afford it. I need to have friends around here who aren't part of a couple, and haven't found any. And at a deep level which I manage to ignore most of the time, I need purpose. And I don't want to hear that anybody needs me, or God has something for me to do. Everybody would manage fine without me, and I am certainly not required by the Creator for some vast, eternal plan. I need something to dedicate myself to. I need to find something that is important to me.
 
Just what, besides you, is important to me? I suppose, my soul and its fate in eternity. St. Anna the Prophetess was widowed after just a few years of marriage, spent the rest of her life in the Temple praying and serving, and was rewarding by being allowed to hold Christ in her arms as a baby. God and the Church should be purpose and dedication enough, but can't seem to get a handle on myself spiritually or emotionally. I can knit for charity, and I can pray. I've done that less without you than I did before - it's the emotional thing again. But if I'm going to be logical about myself, I need to expect - and make space for - emotions that aren't logical.
 
So maybe what all of this boils down to is that I'm really okay, and I'm being normal again. It seems that, for me, it will take more than eighteen months for all of this to settle out. No amount of rushing myself will accomplish anything. So I'll just let myself feel this anniversary as I feel it. I'll give myself permission to be in some emotional disarray. Today I'll mourn. Tomorrow I should feel better.
 
Thanks for listening to me, and helping me to work it all out. As usual, I need you to tell me to be give myself a break. I was shoulding myself. I will consider myself Gibbs-slapped. I don't have any chocolate, but I'll find some appropriate comfort food. And I promise I'll be better in the morning.
Love you with all my heart,
Joan.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rain & Roses. And Bleach. Lots of Bleach.

Dear John,
 
It was a lovely day - mid-70s, sunny, slight breeze. There's a cold front coming through tonight, and by the end of the week the highs will be in the 50s. So I had every door and window open wide today. Some sprinkles of rain just started. I'm sitting by the window, smelling rain and roses.
 

Love from your way-cool little family!

I was busy today with home stuff. I changed the curtains and decorations for fall, and managed to upset all the critters by vacuuming. Jethro was upset because he was outside and couldn't play with the vacuum cleaner. The cats were terrified, but they were so sweet about it. I found them in the living room window sill, Hunter lying on top of Abby with nothing but her head showing, protecting her. Hunter was so scared by the time I finished that I had to hold him in my lap for almost half an hour before he relaxed. Abby recovered much faster, but she was protected by Hunter.
 
They're playing together more every day. This afternoon I found them on the bed, grooming each other. I'd read what the experts say about adding a new cat - keep the new one behind glass for two weeks, spread the scent of the new one over a period of two weeks starting a week before bringing the new one home, and on and on. I just brought Abby in from outside, and gave them separate litter boxes for a week. That's it. I must have unusually well-adjusted cats.
 
My other project for today hasn't gone so well. I need white curtains for the office and workroom, and don't want to buy any. We have lots of unbleached muslin curtains, I thought I'd just bleach some of them. It was a nice thought. I've spent all evening soaking them in hot water and Clorox - I've gone through two-thirds of a large bottle of the stuff - and they don't look a bit different. I suppose I'll try hydrogen peroxide next. Do you happen to know just how one bleaches unbleached muslin? I never dreamed it would be this difficult.
 
It's 10:00 and I have church tomorrow so I'll head off to bed if I can get the cats to stop wrestling. I'm wondering how we ever lived without cats. Now they are helping me to live without you. Tomorrow will be eighteen months - come to church with me if you can!
 
Love you forever and ever,
Joan.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A 2-Hour Exercise in Futility

Dear John,
 
I've had a busy day. Work was a little crazy and Kathy and I both needed some therapy by the end of the day, so she asked me to stay for brownies and the first part of Pride and Prejudice. It was just what I needed, and you'd love it. It's typical Jane Austin, but a bit lighter and funnier than Sense and Sensibility. I have to see if it's on Netflix so I can watch the other five parts of it.
 
I've been looking at the living room for a few days and wanting to try rearranging the furniture. For some reason I decided that it had to be tonight. Don't ask why - you just have to do these things when inspiration strikes. I moved everything all over the place for two hours - the piano, too - and concluded that what I started with was best. So all that came out of the endeavor was a good, thorough cleaning and lots of sweat.
 
I discovered something in the process. I'm not ready to have it different from the way it was when you were here. I know we've had it other ways, but it's been this way for at least ten years. When I look over at your recliner or at the other end of the couch, I can see you sitting there. Those are good memories that are comforting to me. It wasn't comfortable having the furniture any other way. It really didn't work anyway - we didn't have the cat tower when we had things the other way. But I don't think I could have changed the room even if it had worked. I want to be able to see you sitting here.
 
I think it's bedtime now. While I was moving furniture, the cats hid and the dog stayed in my way as much as possible. So Jethro's sleepy and the cats are rested. They can run around all they want while the dog and I sleep. I can sleep in tomorrow, and I'll welcome it. Sleep well tonight! And know that you can come visit, and I haven't moved the furniture!
 
Love you with all my heart,
Joan.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Cubs, the Government, & Wile E. Coyote

Dear John,
 
I finally did it. I got through on-line and got my application for the new healthcare program done. The site has been so busy that I couldn't get through. Kind of like when the Cubs went to the NLCS. Remember? As soon as they were in, there were so many of us trying to call for tickets that we crashed the entire greater Chicago telephone system. And that was before cell phones. Cubs fans set Chicago back to the 19th century for a night. Anyway.
 
Supposedly, there is assistance for a single person who makes under $45,000-something a year. I'm so far below the poverty level that I can't see the underside of it - I'd love to make half that. They still haven't decided what to do with the people who are on COBRA because of being widowed. But my income is low enough that it doesn't matter. With my income and a COBRA payment of $420 a month, I'll qualify for something. They'll let me know what figures they come up with.
 
Then I'll have the complicated part of it. I'll have to review the plans I qualify for and choose one. That will mean balancing deductibles, level of coverage, and cost. A key thing for me will be prescription coverage. Other than that, I'm cheap. Most of what I get done is preventive and screening stuff, and that will be covered on any plan. I wish you were here for that part of it - I'd love to have you to decide with me. I may have so few options that it will make the choice easy. I'll keep you posted.
 
I appear to be looking at solvency. Paying for COBRA is not sustainable with my income. Without that $420 coming out every month, I'd be making ends meet and putting some money away each month for the periodic bills. Whatever I get, I should be able to start it on January 1st. I may only have to make two more COBRA payments. It would be a huge relief. I'm grateful to have COBRA, and the price certainly could be worse. But I'm hoping to see better.
 
We've had such adventures with health insurance, haven't we? You were an insurer's worst nightmare. We both had pre-existing conditions all our adult lives. Mine don't make me expensive, since what I have has no treatment. But, in your usual spirit of cooperation, you more than made up for that! Our entire employment history was built around trying to keep health insurance. The good side of that is how much we both learned about it. And that will come in handy when I sit down and pick a plan.
 
You were right - I can do this on my own. And I was right - I don't want to. But, since nobody asked me, I'll continue to go at it and take care of it. And you and Mama will be proud!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I Fought the Lawn & the Lawn Won

Dear John,
 
I dare you to read that title without humming Bobby Fuller all evening.
 
I did mow. And I trimmed, and edged the driveway, and watered everything. It was sunny and around 68 - perfect mowing weather. And in the process of trimming, I discovered two holes along the fence that have yellow jackets in them. They're so aggressive this time of year. So I abandoned my position and trimmed elsewhere for half an hour to give them time to calm down. And all is well. And you know what that reminded me of: Durham.
 
That log had been in Pat's back yard all the time we'd rented her house, and we'd never thought anything about it. Then there was the day you bumped it with the lawnmower and discovered that it was full of yellow jackets. We'd brought Mama home from Duke that morning after her bypass surgery, and she was staying with us for a week or so before going home to Greenville.
 
The first thing I knew about it was when you came running in the back door shouting, with at least 50 yellow jackets following you. You had about 50 stings, mostly below the waist, thank goodness. So I gave you Benadryl, got you and Mama and the dog safely out to the car, and came back in to set up the house and set off the bug bombs. (At least I was in practice and had plenty of them. Durham's flea problem was so bad that we bombed the house every month for four years.)
 
Then I had to do something with all of us for two hours. You immediately went to sleep when the Benadryl hit. Naomi thought it was a great adventure, and Mama was miserable and just wanting to lie down. I think I went and got everybody something to eat, and we sat in the car for two hours. I may have blocked out that memory. After two hours we all went home, I got you and Mama off to bed, and then cleaned up the house. We were finding dead yellow jackets for a month.
 
I really don't like to think about that day. It wasn't fun. And it never even got funny. But I was certainly thinking about it today when I found those two holes. I will be very careful around them for the rest of the fall. And pour something deadly in them in the spring. In your honor. When I kill them, I will dedicate it to you. It will be your revenge. Served extremely cold. (I think that was in 1987, wasn't it? That was 25 years ago. Yikes. Justice delayed is justice denied? It's the best that I can do.)
 
To sum up: The lawn looks great. Nobody got stung. I wouldn't want to relive that day in 1987.
 
Love you enough to take on the yellow jackets,
Joan.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Adoring, Weary, & Exasperated

Dear John,
 
The windows are open again, Jethro is giving Abby a bath in your recliner, and Hunter is in my lap purring. It's a quiet night, and I don't have much to say.
 
It was a beautiful day, sunny and 68. The next few days will be in the low 70s. The trees are still turning and the colors are getting prettier. Tomorrow I'll need to mow, and trim, too, if my energy holds out that long. I have plenty to do to keep me busy and out of trouble. And I need to get in touch with my next two hostesses and make sure things are on track for this month's parties. I spent a couple of hours on Monday continuing to get my workroom settled, and I'm eager to get it finished. So I'd like to get some time in there, too.
 
Oh, that reminds me. Remember the cat-spat about the litter box, and I had to get a second one? I realized over the weekend that they were each using both boxes. It had become communal and interchangeable. So I took the second box away, they're both happy, and there's more floor-space and less cat-smell.The key seems to be that Hunter has accepted Abby.
 
I'm slowly learning about cats. It was just last December that I told you it felt surreal to say "my cat." Then in January, it seemed insane to say, "I love my cat." Now I shake my head when I hear myself say, "I love my cats." Plural. Certainly nothing I ever expected.
 
Everything is unexpected now. I was looking at the blog earlier. Next to my most recent letter to you is that photo of us on the front porch of the Governor's Mansion on Mackinac Island, and there's a note that says it was taken in May of 2006. I'm glad I didn't know that day that you'd be gone in six years. You were healthy then - or at least, we thought you were. The radiation had caused problems, but they'd all been things that could be fixed. You hadn't had myocarditis yet, so no heart failure, and we could walk and bike all over the Island. It really is God's mercy that we can't see the future. It wouldn't have been a happy day if we'd known what was coming, and how soon.
 
Now it's just my future that I have to deal with. And tonight I'm weary. I don't want to deal with any of it. I just want to go home. I'm not depressed, just weary. It will be better in the morning - I know that. Since the day we met, all I've wanted is you. That hasn't changed. Drat you for forgetting to take me with you! That'll teach you to make lists!
 
Your adoring, exasperated, weary wife,
Joan.
 
P.S. - Aren't you glad I didn't have much to say? Otherwise, this letter would never end!  :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Rosie the Riveter Brushes Her Teeth

Dear John,
 
Fall is here, and I did it. The thermostat said 56 this morning, so I closed the house and turned on the heat. It will be around 40 tonight and the heat will feel good. Tomorrow will be 68, then 70s for several days. So the windows won't be closed for long. But I thought you'd be proud of me, turning on the heat before we had actual frost inside!
 
The animals were quite cuddly this morning. The inside temperature of 56 may or may not be coincidental. And Abby's bladder capacity has grown to the point that all four of us can sleep together, which seems to delight everybody. Until I try to turn over.
 
Anyway, I got this photo this morning right after I finished - with some difficulty - brushing my teeth. I used to brush my teeth with you. Now I brush them with the entire family. At least you didn't shed in the sink, and I don't recall ever finding your wet footprints in it. I really miss getting ready with you in the mornings, and everybody seems determined to distract me from that. If I had any more animals, I'd have to barricade the door.
 
I've been having computer problems for a few days. I haven't been able to upload images to Facebook. And that's dreadful, because it deprives the world of all the silly things I find on Pinterest. And the world is in serious need of silly things. This morning I had the time and decided to tackle it and figure it out. I ended up restoring Windows to September 29th, and that fixed it. I felt like such a big girl! I'd like to know more about computers - the Abby-&-McGee kind of stuff. That's not surprising, since I'm never happy until I know all about how things work. That wasn't hard when we were kids, but it's gotten a bit more complicated in the computer age. I still want to learn, though, and will start looking for books to read. Ask around and get some recommendations for me!
 
For now, I'll get the dog inside and the four of us in bed. It's a good thing we decided to get a queen-size bed when we got married! I never expected that there's be four of us in it! I only wanted you.
 
Still only wanting you,
Joan.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Family-Style Dining

Dear John,
 
Never fear. The floors are clean. We can now find our ankles again. The amount of hair these three critters put out is amazing.
 
Speaking of critters, let's have an update. Jethro has been terribly neurotic and needy all day. Hunter is still being very cuddly and loving with me. Abby's eyes look fine, and today look like they may turn out to be green. Yesterday her sneezing, dripping, and stuffiness were so bad that I was planning to call June tomorrow. But today she's been so much better, not stuffy or dripping, and I've only heard her sneeze twice. Yesterday may have been the cold's last hurrah.
 
I was marveling at how much she was eating. Then I discovered that Jethro could reach her food dish. She's big enough now to be able to get to the top platform on the cat tower, so I put her bowl up there with Hunter's. Today was the first time I've seen them eat at the same time, and it was adorable. They were both crowded onto that top platform, both eating out of the same bowl. Then they came down one level and lay down side-by-side. I tried to get a picture, but they all came out really dark. Here's one anyway. Hope you like it!
 
It's been a dark day. It rained all day, and the basement is completely dry. And the grass is growing. It's supposed to rain tomorrow, too, so I won't get to mow until Wednesday. Tomorrow's high won't reach 60. It's starting to feel like fall. And yes, the house is still open, since you aren't here to make me close the windows and turn on the heat!
 
You also aren't here to cuddle under the blanket with me tonight, and I still hate that. Next time I wash sheets, I'll probably put the flannel ones on. It's getting to be that time. And I'll miss lying there with you, talking about how good they feel and how little we paid for them and how many years they've lasted. But I'll think it real loud, and maybe you'll hear me.
 
Love you more than life,
Joan.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

So, Stand Up & Hug Me!

Dear John,
 
I didn't vacuum. So shoot me. I was tired from the trip to South Bend yesterday. I did laundry, gave the kitchen a good cleaning, and did some general straightening. Father dropped by this morning to anoint me, which was so kind of him. And I talked to your mother this evening. After spending the day wishing I could talk to you, Mama, or both, I finally figured out the obvious solution.

Today I remembered the first time you were allowed out of bed in Indy. It was over two weeks after you got there, what with four trips to the cath lab in eight days, pacemakers, and V tach. You were so happy to be out of that bed! Your back never did get along with hospital beds. They got you up and settled and then left the room. The first thing you did was stand back up and call me over, so you could hug me. That was all you really wanted - to be able to really hug and kiss me. I remember how good it felt. We could have stayed there all day, if your legs hadn't been shaky from two weeks of bedrest. I remember the look on your face, too - you looked so happy. It meant the world to me, that having your arms around me was so important to you. And it means even more now, since we didn't get to do that for the last two months of your life.

You were always a toucher and a hugger, very unusual for your Midwest, German background. I never have figured out where you got that from. Of course, I'm both - I'm deep South. Where I grew up, we all kissed each other before walking to the end of the driveway to the mailbox, and again when we got back. But you and I were well-matched in that area. I was always glad, and never more so than on that day.

Thank you for that. It was the best way I can imagine for you to tell me that you loved me.  If you can do it again, I'd love it. I'd stand up forever if your arms were around me.

Love you so much,
Joan.

Friday, October 4, 2013

We're Not Made to Keep Our Eyes on Our Ears

Dear John,
 
Today has been interesting. If I tell you about it in as much detail as I want - like, word-for-word - this will turn into a Russian novel. So I'll have to give you the condensed version. At least, I'll try.
 
Yesterday I woke up with an itchy left ear. I had a teeny spot on the top - about 1 mm diameter - where the skin was broken and there was some serous drainage. As the day went on, the broken area became about an inch long and the drainage became heavier, and the ear was red and swollen. This morning it was worse, so I called Joe's office and went in.
 
It turns out that I have cellulitis. I have no idea why. I'm on Clindamycin - Joe's treating it as MRSA just in case. I'm to call and report in to him on Monday morning, and I have strict instructions to go to the ER if it spreads any further, I run a fever, or I have any change in hearing or vision. I told him I didn't need encouragement to do that, and that the car can get to the Goshen ER by itself. For now, I'm quarantined and keeping a close eye on my ear. Which isn't as easy as it sounds.
 
While I was there, I updated him on everything else that's going on. He ordered another thyroid panel and free T4. He really hopes it's down from 6 months ago - even if it's in normal range, if it's trending downward he can put me on Synthroid. He agrees with me that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are the same thing with symptoms in differing proportions. He also agrees that I'm more toward the chronic fatigue end of the spectrum. In the eyes of DSM - and, I'm sure, the insurance companies - I now have a double diagnosis: fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. And it's validation, which really does help.
 
I updated him on the bad-but-not-as-bad-as-it-was short-term memory problem, and the residual dizziness I've had since the head injury. I told him that I know he can't magically make any of this go away, but I do want to be honest with him about things. Bless him, he wishes he could fix it. But I told him that if I get dizzy when I move my head too fast, I just don't move it that fast. He said there were so many adaptations I was having to make and he was so sorry. I felt bad for him - I told him that none of these things are anywhere near the every-nurse-has-one list of things I don't ever want to have. He remembered the list, and I finally got a laugh out of him. (In case you've forgotten: high spinal cord injury, aphasia, and a cardiac index in single digits.)
 
This is why I drive over an hour for primary care. He still worries about me being without you. I told him that, with the memory issue, I wouldn't be safe working in any patient care job, and he agreed but worries about my financial position. I reminded him that I'd be okay in two years when I turn 60. He still worries about me.
 
And that's the short version! Aren't you glad I summed up?
 
And speaking of Russian novels, today I started reading Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot." I'm enjoying it. You read that one, didn't you? Or did you just read "The Brothers Karamatzov?" I don't remember. They were both free on Kindle.
 
The really bad news about all of this is that I can't go anywhere. I was going to go to Goshen's First Fridays tonight. And since I can't go anywhere - and this is the really, really bad news - I have no remaining excuse for not vacuuming. I loved the fact that you really enjoyed doing that. If you'd like to drop by tonight, I'll be happy to let you!
 
Miss you in so many ways,
Joan.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

It's Not the Years, It's the Mileage

Dear John,
 
I've been sad all day. There's no particular reason. But I am anyway.
 
There's a commercial on television now for a thing called Lifestyle Lifts. It seems to be some kind of cosmetic surgery. Debbie Boone is spokeswoman for it. I mute it when I can. I saw it once last week when, for some reason I don't remember, I couldn't mute it. And It got me rummaging around in the back of my head.
 
The ad says something about wanting to look the age you feel and not the age you are. As you know, my self-concept got stuck at 35. Twenty years later, I still thought of myself as 35. A couple of years ago I'd go to places and look around and think that all the people there were old, then I'd realize that they were all my age. I sounded like my grandmother - at 93 and the oldest in her nursing home, she complained about being around so many "old people." And Daddy did the same thing after he moved into the senior citizen apartment building. So I was being true to my genetic background.
 
I was. When I saw that commercial, I realized that I feel about 75. I think it's because that's the age that I think of when I think of widows. My self-concept was twenty years behind; now it's twenty years ahead. I seem to be having an identity crisis of sorts. I don't know that there's anything to do about this other than let it work itself out. It's just an odd thing to realize and note. And it's probably a good thing to be aware of.

Any advice is welcome. I find it startling but not alarming. I'm probably being normal again. I should ask the WFFs if this has happened to anybody else. Maybe, like Indiana Jones said, it's not the years but the mileage.

Glad I traveled those miles with you,
Joan.
 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

COBRA, Light Bulbs, & Impervious Ribs

Dear John,
 
I've had a good and full day off. I walked the dog and met the new neighbors this morning, Jim and Brenda's grandson and his family. After watching him grow up, it's good to have him back with his children. I did some work in the garage. Both light bulbs had gone out, so I got waaaaaaayyyyy up on the ladder and changed them. And it wasn't too bad. And anyway, it really is necessary to have lights in the garage.
 
I spent most of the afternoon working on finances, and have determined that I will survive another month. Oh, there was good news on line this morning! Equifax is the first to reply to my appeal, and they fixed everything on my credit report. If they did, I expect the same from the other two. Their policies shouldn't be that different. That's a big load off of my mind. As soon as I hear from the other two, I'll go back to the bank about a line of credit on the house. I need to have some kind of emergency back-up, and I have a ton of equity.
 
I looked ahead at the finances, and decided that I will have to see what I can find in the Exchanges for insurance other than the COBRA. Paying $420 a month for insurance is not sustainable. And since my income is around $12,000 a year, I will certainly qualify for something cheaper. The difficulty will be choosing my level of coverage. My health care isn't much unless there's a disaster. Fibro is an inexpensive chronic disease since there's no treatment for it.
 
There are times it feels a bit daunting to be doing these things without you. I know I'm perfectly capable of changing light bulbs no matter how high up I have to get, and I can read and figure out the insurance questions and handle the credit companies. After all, I used to handle cardiothoracic surgeons. But I really miss being able to share responsibilities and decisions with you. And, in general, I just miss you! Mama raised me to be able to take care of myself, and I can. But I don't have to like it.
 
I took this photo of Hunter tonight with my phone - it's the best one I've gotten of him. He likes to sit on the end of the bed this way. A few nights ago he and Abby were sitting side-by-side like this, but my phone was down the hall. I do love my animals!
 
And I love you even more. Print the photo of Hunter and go show it to Mama, and give her my love. Hug Daddy for me, and anybody else you come across. And have them all hug you for me. When I get there, it will be a good thing that your ribs aren't breakable anymore!
 
Adore you,
Joan. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The End of the World as We Know It

Dear John,
 

At least one person is happy about the shutdown!

We've descended into chaos and anarchy. And no, I'm not talking about the government shutdown. I'm talking about the new television season. Once again, my emotions are taking me by surprise.
 
Burn Notice has ended - you know that. And they gave it a happy ending, but I'll miss it. The new season of NCIS has started, and they're writing Ziva out of it. Cote DePablo wanted to leave, probably to go back to the stage. I should be taking all of this in stride. After all, I watched - and survived - the end of MASH. I can do anything.
 
But tonight it was all just too much. There's been too much change, too much loss. And I still feel like the world should have stopped the moment of your last heartbeat. Familiar television, shows we watched together, must have created some sense of familiarity and security for me. Tonight I feel unmoored, with no comfort of sameness anywhere in my world.
 
It was an interesting reaction. And truly, so much has changed. All of my social relationships are different because I'm not part of a couple, church is different with you not there, home isn't the same, my routine and responsibilities are very different - nothing is the same. Now the illusion of sameness on television is gone, too. My head says this is silly. But my heart and gut disagree and won't be quiet. Art imitates life and, in the process, illumines it.
 
I'll take my three ever-changing animals off to bed. And ponder this some more. I miss the way things were. But life doesn't have a reverse gear and nothing earthly lasts forever.
 
Love you so much,
Joan.