Monday, March 31, 2014

A Door Slammed on My Tail and There's No Bridge in Sight

Dear John,
I should have know that I couldn't write to you that early and be done for the day. We've always talked at bedtime no matter where we were. So here I am, back at bedtime.
I just heard "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and had to talk to you about it. The person the song sings about is what I haven't had since you died. I never imagined that I'd get to this point in my life and be so completely alone. You were my best friend, so I lost husband and best friend at the same time. All my close friends are part of couples. And anyway, everybody thinks I should be fine by now. I am so completely alone.
My job doesn't help that - I work alone in a basement office and have little or no interaction with people. That was good the first few months without you, but now I don't think it's healthy. And that takes me back to the employment issue. We've already dealt with that one.
I remember one time, when things were hard for us, you said it seemed to you that we were being extruded, that God was putting us through things in order to squeeze us, to force us into the place He wanted us to be. The word has come back to my mind several times in the last week. Maybe I'm being extruded. It has happened before. But you were with me, and everything was easier when you were here.
Tonight I'm alone and afraid. I feel helpless and hopeless. My head knows that the Lord is still in charge and won't abandon me. My heart isn't convinced, not tonight. Please, please pray for me. The water is troubled and there is no bridge in sight. I'm going to bed now, to eat my snack and have my prayer time, and maybe cry myself to sleep. Thank you - it is good to know that you pray for me.
Love you with all my heart,

Dissecting Unhappiness

Dear John,
It's 60, the windows are open, the dog is sleeping off our walk, and both cats are in the windowsill. The weather is a hit. (sorry about the papers on the floor - it's tax season)
I've been thinking about this thing of being unhappy. It seems to me that it's important to admit it and allow myself to feel it. If I didn't, I would be shoulding myself. I've gone through these two years refusing to do that, and I can't start now. There are things in life that I'm happy about, but the sum total at this moment is unhappy. In the past, there have been things that I was unhappy about, but the sum total was always happy. That has changed - this is another first, and it has to be faced and dealt with. Denial is much worse than unhappiness.
It got a little worse today. I got an email from the state Department of Education that Fairfield school system had refused me as a sub. It's probably because they don't have my transcripts yet - these things have a long processing time. Nobody told me that I had to have them in before doing the state application, but I'm guessing that is the problem. I'll go by and talk to them tomorrow. If I'm right (and I can't imaging any other reason to be turned down - my background check is deadly boring), then I'll have to pay the state processing fee a second time. I already have over $100 invested in this process. It wasn't this complicated when we first started subbing, was it?
I know that part of my unhappiness is job-related. I'm desperate for a job that pays enough to live on, has benefits, and has a reasonable expectation of a minimum number of hours to work each pay period. I'm up against ageism. I have a BSN and 20 years experience in cardiac critical care, but I'm 58. And, as I've said, finding any job at my age requires an act of God. Matt has expressed interest in hiring me, but I'd rather not have a 45-minute drive to work, and it would pay minimum wage. I'd like to stay in my own career, but there's a glut of nurses in this area, and I'm still 58.
Things are a bit challenging right now. You're not completely responsible for my unhappiness - there are plenty of other factors - except that all of this could have been avoided if you'd remembered to take me with you. But I know that you've always wanted to know what I was thinking and feeling, so here it is. It's not very pretty. But neither am I, and you've always loved me anyway. And I need you to pray for me, so you have to know what's going on. You probably do whether I tell you or not - maybe telling you is really so I can work things out in my own head. I always understand myself better after I explain me to you.
Thank you for helping me make sense of myself. Thank you for listening so patiently when I babble. Thank you for accepting me and whatever I'm feeling, even when neither is pretty. Please pray for me. My faith muscles are tired and sore, but they probably can benchpress a Buick.
Love you for listening,

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Win & a Revelation

Dear John,
We did it. We beat Michigan. It was one of the best basketball games I've seen - close all the way, well-played, well-officiated, a nail-biter to the last part-of-a-second. The temperature reached the upper 50s today, but I left the windows closed - the neighbors would certainly have called the police because of all the yelling and screaming that went on here. We're in the Final Four, and will play Wisconsin on Saturday, on which day I will again have to be sure the windows are closed.
This morning I either realized something or finally admitted it to myself. I'm unhappy. I'm extremely unhappy. I've never been unhappy before. There have been things in my life that I didn't like - after all, I worked at The Hospital from Hell. But those have been things I was unhappy with. I've never been unhappy with my life before.
I realized this while we were singing the Beatitudes during communion this morning. Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn - I had to drive my fingernail into my nailbeds to be able to keep singing. And I realized, right there in front of God and everybody, that I am terribly unhappy.
I don't have any experience at this. When I hated my job, I got another one. When my boyfriend was making me unhappy, I broke up with him. The unhappy things in my life have always been things that I could change or that would change by themselves as time passed. This is for the rest of my life. And so I wonder if I'll ever be happy again.
Don't worry about me. I can live like this if I have to. I've always valued contentment much more than happiness, and I value eternal life much more than this temporary life. I'm not worked up about the question. I just idly wonder if I'll ever be happy again. I guess I'll find out. I read back over the first year of letters to you, and found that things got very hard for me as I approached the first anniversary of your death. There is a precedent for my misery. I've made it another year since then, and I'll make another one.
This is your fault, you know. If you hadn't made me so happy, I wouldn't be so unhappy now without you. I used to worry sometimes that I'd been so happy and had never suffered. That problem has been rectified. I will be here as long as is necessary for the good of my soul. When I'm ready, I'll be released to come to you.
I did find one thing worthwhile that I'm doing now - if I weren't here, the animals would be split up. I know people that would take the dog and people that would take the cats, but nobody that would want all of them. So I'm still here so that my furbabies don't have to lose anymore loved ones. And that is okay, if I save them from further grief.
So there it is - my latest bit of self-understanding. I still feel like I'm groping for a foothold in quicksand, so everything I figure out about myself is helpful. You always said that you wanted me to be happy without you, and I always said, tough luck. The happy thing is that I know that you're waiting for me and we will be together again. As I realized as a child, pain is the inevitable price of love. It's worth it. You're worth it.
Love you,

Saturday, March 29, 2014

One Thing is Right, Here

Dear John,
There is one thing right in the world today - UK beat Louisville last night. They won by five, but trailed almost all of the game. They trailed but wouldn't go away. This win is so much sweeter because it was over Louisville.
Remember that year that UK and Duke met in the Final Four? We listened in the car on the way to (or from - I don't remember which) Springfield. Everybody agreed that that game was the big one that year, not the final. Those were the powerhouse teams. There wasn't much doubt that whoever won that one would take the whole thing, and that's what happened. Last night felt a bit like that. For UK fans, beating Louisville was the biggest thing. And we did.
I was so wound up when the game was over that I had to talk to somebody. Everybody around here went to bed after Michigan won the first game last night. So I did the obvious thing - I called Donna. I had no doubt that she was up! So I got to have my time of celebration.
This is a good time to remind you - you really need to get this tech problem straightened out between here and there. I'd love to be able to Skype with you, but I'll settle for anything - phone, text, email, snail-mail. Heck, I'll even get on Twitter if that's what I have to do. If my browser has been a problem, I've taken care of that. I finally went to Chrome. Outlook was giving me so much trouble that it wasn't worth staying with. So check to see if that makes a difference, and let me know. Try to get it worked out by 5:00 tomorrow afternoon - that's when Kentucky and Michigan play. I'd love more than anything to watch that game with you.
And that's what's uppermost in my heart tonight - I'd love to watch that game with you. I'm watching basketball this year and enjoying it. But I'd so, so love to watch it with you. So come or call at 5:00 tomorrow. I'll be here.
Waiting for you,

Friday, March 28, 2014

It Would be Easier to Find a Porpoise

Dear John,
Today's high came at 4 AM. It's been gray and rainy and getting colder all day. That description also applies to me.
I'm still thrashing around with this purpose issue, and have concluded that it would be easier to find a porpoise than a purpose. I even googled "widow" and "purpose", and was dismayed to find that I am, once again, being normal. Cyberspace is full of women who've been widowed two or three or even ten years, and have no clue how to find a purpose. This is discouraging. And all of this is the result of you forgetting to take me with you. I hope you're sorry. I told you to make a list.
For tonight, though, I know what to do with my life. I'm wearing sweatpants and your old UK sweatshirt, and I'm ready to face Louisville at 9:45. Tomorrow is Saturday, so it doesn't matter how late I'm up tonight. Think about your alma mater tonight!
And keep praying for me. Gather all the men up there who left too soon, and pray for all of us who wanted to go with you. We really need it.
Love you so much more than life,

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Searching for the Via Media While Falling Headlong

Dear John,
The best description I've heard of today is that something is coming down and whatever it is, is wet. Jethro wouldn't go out this morning because it was sleeting. It rained when I drove to work. It was sleeting and snowing when I got Kathy's mail. It rained on my way home. There's been something coming down almost all day, and the most we can say is that it's all been wet.
I'm tired of trying to corral my emotions. They've been all over the place since you died. Trying to get a grip on them is akin to herding cats. Part of the time I'm happy and grateful for all the years that I had you. Part of the time I feel like my life is over and there is no point in my continued existence. It seems to be a special kind of bipolar that is unique to widowhood.
There has to be a middle ground somewhere, a healthy and admirable via media. I'd love to be able to get my attention away from my emotions, but they're still too strong - they throw tantrums until I have to pay attention to them.
I don't feel like I have my feet under me yet. I probably look like I do - I do all the right things and behave properly and all. But I still feel like I'm in that controlled fall that happens when you're running down a steep hill and you're just managing to connect your feet with the ground in time to keep from falling headlong.
All of this appears to be normal, if acutely uncomfortable. The only question I have is how long this lasts. Will I someday get my feet under me and achieve emotional equilibrium? Or will I always feel like I do now, just maybe a bit more accustomed to it? It is too soon to have KMN tattooed across my forehead?

The good times are when the pain backs off a little and I get a break from it. The bad times are still unbearable. But I am bearing it. Like the giraffe in the photo, I look ungainly and feel like I'm coming apart, but I'm still upright and standing. I guess I'm being normal again. And I'm thankful to know that I'm not alone. I have a herd of widowfriends to keep me company and look after me, and know the truth about me without launching an intervention.

Pray for me and all my widowfriends, that we continue to keep from falling headlong, and that one day we will get the hang of this. Love you more than life,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Official Commentary on Life

Dear John,
It's been a good day off. I spent a couple of hours on the phone, and finally got the 1099-R I need for taxes. still won't let me enter more than one 1099, and I have four. So Jen is going to try it on her computer. It may be a browser problem. I'm so thankful to have Jen as my tax cavalry, especially since you refuse to Skype with me about it. Shame on you.
I realized last night that I haven't filled you in on the last couple of months of Cymbalta withdrawal. If the first two months were overly-exciting, the last two have been drudgery. The nausea and vomiting have finally gone away. I'm sleeping again, thanks to melatonin, and I only have twitching and itching when I stay up too late. My vision has cleared up, the hot flashes have stopped, dizziness is gone, brain zaps have stopped, and my short-term memory has come back. It's really nice - a lot of thing that I thought were caused by the fibro turned out to have been side effects of the medication for the fibro. I have more pain, but I also have more energy and I feel better over-all. It's a good trade-off.
The first two months were dominated by the physical symptoms; now I'm dealing with the emotional issues. I get down easier, which isn't surprising since Cymbalta is also an antidepressant. What's interesting is that I'm getting irritable so easily. I get frustrated with the smallest things and I'm much more sensitive to criticism. It's like being premenstrual all the time. I didn't think I'd have to do that anymore! I was managing it by keeping busy until this flare came along. I'm struggling with it now, but I know what it is and that it's a good struggle.
And I will feel better when it stops snowing. (I'm reminded of Camp Granada - Counselors say we'll have some fun when it stops raining. Actually, I'd be thrilled to see rain! I woke up this morning to another inch of snow that fell during the night.) The point is that this is a natural process and it will end. Even if it does take six months, which seems to be the average experience for Cymbalta withdrawal, I'm two-thirds of the way there. I'm saving money by being off of three prescription drugs. And I know that I'm healthier for it, even when it doesn't feel that way.
So this is my commentary on life at this moment. Aren't you glad you don't have to put up with me right now? I know that you're saying no, that you love being with me no matter what mood I'm in. And I know that's true. I suppose I'm just trying to make myself feel better about all of this. Doing this withdrawal less than two years into widowhood wouldn't have been my choice. But at least it wasn't a year ago - that would have been worse. And it's not like I picked any of this anyway. In a few months the withdrawal will be over and done, and I'll never have to do that again. Widowhood, however, will still be with me. But I should be better-equipped emotionally to handle it. See, not all of my emotional problems are your fault! Does that relieve your mind?
Adore you,

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Blackbirds, Compromise, and the IRS

Dear John,
It snowed most of the day. You can imagine our collective excitement. We had several times when the sun was shining and it was snowing. Most of it has melted, which makes us happy because we're all so very tired of snow. While I was driving to work in it, I saw the first red-winged blackbird of the season. So there is hope. Winter seems to have made a small compromise with spring and allowed some of the birds to come back.

I worked 7 1/2 hours today, then went to Walmart for a few groceries for me and some office supplies for work. I got home at about the time I would have had to leave for church. I wanted to go, but I was at that point of exhaustion where I wanted more than anything else to curl up in a corner and cry. So I put on sweats, curled up in my corner, and fell asleep instead of crying. Another kind of compromise, I suppose.
I woke up when Jen and Elyssa came by to pick up their mail and play with the cats. Jen's going to go through my taxes and be sure I've got everything. She has more recent experience that I do, so it makes me feel much better to have her eyes check everything. And she's your daughter - she loves doing taxes. I'm glad she got that from you.
I still think you could Skype me about the taxes. You're outside of time, so you have plenty to spare. It's not too late to come by and give me a hand.
I'll leave the light on for you,

Monday, March 24, 2014

I'll Be Down Here if You Need Me

Dear John,
Still flaring, still sleeping a good bit of the day. I got up, took a shower, got dressed, ate breakfast, and was so exhausted that I lay down and slept for almost three hours. I woke up when I got a text from Kathy asking me to go feed her cat, since she was going to be late getting home. I got as far as Millersburg and got another text saying that Kirby was on his way home to feed the cat. So I came back home.
I spent a couple of hours on the phone dealing with business issues, mostly other people's mistakes, and have two out of three problems straightened out. Then I fed the animals and baked a potato for dinner. And now I'm ready to go to bed.

Flaring was never enjoyable, but it's downright scary without you. This could go away in a day or a year, and there's no way to know which it will be. Tomorrow I have to work for eight hours, go to church after work, and have a couple of grocery items that I absolutely have to pick up. And the idea of just getting up and dressed is completely overwhelming.

I don't need to explain this to you because you understand. I'd love to be able to just grieve for you without all this other stuff to deal with, to be healthy and know how the bills are going to get paid. But that probably doesn't really happen for anybody - there's always something. I'm tired and discouraged from doing all that I can and finding that it isn't enough. 

Please pray for me - that the Lord will continue to provide for me, whether it's by me working or not, and that I will learn to be content with not seeing my way in front of me. And pray that I can actually get up and dressed in the morning. Maybe you should just pray for me and let God sort it out. There's nothing here that doesn't need prayer!

Struggling tonight,

And a Nice Nap Was Had by All

Dear John,
Jethro & his mom
I've spent most of the day tending to the fibro flare, which means doing as little as possible. I got up and tried to get ready for church, but it was one of those days that I hurt too bad to tolerate clothes on my skin, so staying home was a kindness for everybody. When I finally got up, I put on my softest lounging pajamas and a bandana.
I slept a good bit of the afternoon. Jethro can always tell when I don't feel good, so he was right with me. Actually, he was right on top of me. For some reason this dog isn't satisfied when he's lying beside me; he has to be on top of me. I think it's the protective instinct of the German shepherd. He does the same thing when there are storms - he has to sit or lie on my head. It's all about protecting me. Today I managed to get a picture of it. When I got up later, I found the cats taking naps on the bed. So you get to see a photo gallery of your little family sleeping.

Hunter sleeping beside Bert

There's good news from the tournament. Today Kentucky played Wichita State. I don't know if you've followed their season - they're undefeated and were the first seed overall. And we beat them. That's right, our young team got it together and unseated them. I was so proud of our boys! Duke was defeated in the first round by Mercer - a 14-seed beating a 3-seed. I was fully expecting UK to fall, too. But we pulled it out and won by 2 points. Now we play Louisville, and that's always an adventure. All of Kentucky has to declare whether it bleeds red or blue. Around here, all the blood is blue.

That's about it from here. I got my lia sophia party finalized and submitted. There were ten orders and two bookings, so I got to double Gloria's hostess credit, and that's always lots of fun.. I have two parties booked for April. Everything I earn will go toward the VISA bill, since I had to put last fall's eye surgery bill on it. That's what comes from not meeting my deductible until the end of the year. Now my deductible is almost $2000 less, so I shouldn't have this problem. It will most likely take me all this year to pay off last year's deductible. There's just no getting ahead, is there? I'll be thankful to stop falling behind.
I believe I'll get all the furbabies together and put us all to bed. I'll try to take it easy tomorrow, too - the rest of the week will be busy and I need this flare to go away as soon as possible. I need to get the taxes finished, but I'll have to see how I feel in the morning. Right now Cat Stevens is singing about looking for a hard-headed woman, and I'm remembering listening to that with you in your dorm room on weekends while we studied together. You had the great stereo with the 8-track and quadraphonic speakers. I just had a record player. Obviously I had to marry you for that stereo system! But that wasn't the only reason.
Adore you,

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Remembering the Day We Met

Dear John,
I'm better today. Last night I cried some and prayed more, and this morning I realized that I'm just having a fibro flare. That's it. I apologize that so much emoting was necessary before I came to that realization. It will eventually go away. I crunched the numbers again and found that, as my work hours return to normal, I will survive. Whether I want to is still a topic for debate, but it seems that I will anyway.
I saw this today, and got to thinking about the Sunday night we met. It was at the young adults' fellowship at church. I'd been in that church since high school and it was my second year in that group. You came with David, who lived on your floor in the dorm. David was an odd bird, but I will be forever grateful to him for that one act.
We'd eaten dinner and were settled in the church library for the actual meeting. I remember where we sat - you were in the wingback chair that was toward the south side of the room, and I was sitting on the floor in front of the big sofa. We were going around the room telling our names and what we were - what career, or what year and major in college. It came to you and you said who you were, that you were from Springfield, and that you were a freshman. And I - in my usual group function as the jack-in-the-box with the loose catch on the lid - said, "Oh, good! I'm not the youngest in the group anymore!"
You looked at me, smiled, and it was all over for both of us. You told me before you died that you'd fallen in love with me at that moment. And I fell in love with the way you looked at me. You looked so sweet and gentle, so accepting of me, so safe - does that make any sense? You looked like you. All of who you are was in your face at that moment.
When we got back to the dorm, Elizabeth scolded me for saying that. She really believed that I'd scared you away and we'd never see you again. I knew better - I knew that I had unintentionally captured your interest, not in a romantic way, or so I thought, but just in wanting to get to know me better. I thought I'd made a friend. And I had - the best one of my life.
Well, you did come back. The next Sunday morning you joined the group of us who went straight from church to the Student Center cafeteria so we could use our meal tickets for lunch. We ended up sitting in my dorm lobby for three hours discussing the theology of the Trinity. I never looked back.
I got a letter from you over Christmas break, telling me that they'd found your first cancer while you were home and you'd miss the next semester. The whole group thought my response was excessive, and I couldn't figure out why they didn't understand that your survival was the single most important issue in the history of the world. We wrote each other that semester and you came down to visit one weekend. When you came back the next fall we went to our first football game together - not as a date, but because we both wanted to go and didn't have anybody else to go with. By the end of it, everybody knew it was a date except you. It took you a while. As I've told your nephews' wives, Hockman men are slow as cold molasses and faithful for life.
See, I remember. It was a Sunday evening in September of 1974. It changed everything that came after it. It became the linchpin of my life. Thank you for coming with David that night. Thank you for wanting an independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed woman. Thank you for liking the fact that the catch on my lid doesn't hold very well. You were everything I ever wanted; thank you for wanting what I am.
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,

Friday, March 21, 2014

It isn't the Reaper that I Fear

Dear John,
I'm an emotional mess. It seems that I'm having one of those days. Feel free to run for cover and ignore this letter.
I slept again last night, but I'm too old to miss two nights' sleep in one week without feeling it. I woke up this morning feeling like I was getting sick. I went to work and got done in six hours and came home. There's baseball and basketball on television, but I can't make myself care about any of it. Facebook even made me irritable tonight - I don't want to hear anybody's oblique hints about their dysfunctional family, disappointing boyfriends, or displeasure with politics. I believe I need to sleep for a week.
There are a couple of things operating here. First, as I said, I can't miss two nights' sleep in one week without paying for it. Second, the fibro flare that cost me the two nights' sleep is playing havoc with all of me. Third, every fibro flare, now that you're not here, reminds me how tenuous is my ability to support myself. Fourth, and the root of it all, you're not here. On the way home I heard "Don't Fear the Reaper." I informed the radio that it isn't the reaper that I fear - it's being alive that scares me.
I need to have a good cry. I'm overdue. I'm being unreasonably anxious about things, which has always been a sign that I'm beyond tired. I was cuddling with Hunter tonight, and was reflecting on all the things that had to happen for him to end up here. And I realized that the God Who takes so much care to provide for an abandoned kitten, and the human and dog that needed him, cannot be unaware of the struggles of widows and orphans.
Widowhood stinks. I may have expressed that opinion once or twice. Today my forest is dark. Tomorrow it will be better. I'll go to bed soon and have that good cry, and I'll wake up happier. Widowhood will still stink. But I'll put a clothespin on my nose and carry on. The butterflies' wings will heal and the sun will come out. For tonight, I'll whistle in the dark.
Love you more than I can say,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Miracle & Mortality

Dear John,
The first thing that greeted me this morning was a parish email saying that Metropolitan Philip had died during the night. It hit me harder than I would have expected. Decades ago, he was the one who opened the Orthodox church to ethnic Americans. He ordained Bishop Mark and Bishop Anthony, the first American-born bishops. He had a vision for the Archdiocese that was ahead of its time - he foresaw a truly American church. He opened the doors and took in whole parishes, like us, and even whole denominations. We converts owe him so much.
The thing I'd known about since Sunday was that the Kursk Root Icon was to be in Goshen today. I know you got to see and venerate it when it was here several years ago, but I didn't. I'd planned to leave work early today and go to Holy Protection for the Akathist. As usual, nothing went as planned.
I got a text from Bekah around 10:30 saying that the icon was on its way to St. Mary's, where there would be prayers for Metropolitan Philip. I told everybody that I'd be back in an hour or two, and drove the three miles to the church. All the area priests were there, and a couple of dozen people came dashing in from work during the course of the afternoon. I was glad I was there for a lot of reasons, but especially for Father, since I was the only reader-chanter-type-person who could come. I can't begin to describe what it was like to venerate a 700-year-old miracle-working icon, but I don't have to because you know. I was gone from work about an hour and a half, and nobody minded.
Because of missing that time, I didn't get off early enough to go to Holy Protection tonight. But that didn't matter because I got to venerate the icon this morning. It's an amazing thing, to be in its presence and know its story. Between that and Metropolitan Philip's death, it's been a very emotional day. And thank you for praying for me - I did actually sleep last night. I'm still very tired, which isn't at all surprising. I'm going to bed as soon as I finish talking to you.
So please keep praying for me, that I'll sleep and get rested up. And pray for Metropolitan Philip, too. And pray for the Archdiocese, and the process that will choose our new Father. Considering his age and health, I'm sure Damascus has been preparing for this for some time. We are in the hands of our wonderful bishops. Memory eternal!
Love you so, so much,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Sheep are Coming for Me

Dear John,
I fear that I am less than coherent tonight. Monday night I was awake until 4 AM with a fibro flare. Last night was worse, but at least it was my own silly fault. I was tired leaving work and I had a party to do, so I got a Coke on the way. Sometimes I forget how sensitive I am to caffeine. I was awake until 6:30 this morning. The animals let me sleep until 9:30, and I took a nap this afternoon. But you know that achy, hollow feeling you get when you don't sleep? That's how I feel. And I'm having a lot of pain today, which may be lingering fibro flare, sleep deprivation, or the fact that it's rained all day.
Whatever it is, I'm absolutely miserable. I'm exhausted, everything hurts, and I'm irritable and impatient. And I'm stressing myself by thinking about how much I need to do. I work the next two days, have church the next three nights and Sunday, have the Lia Sophia party to close out over the weekend, and still need to finish the taxes. I'm not even counting housework.
I hope the sheep are coming for me tonight. I'd rather have you - if you can get a hall pass to come cuddle me to sleep, I'll happily send the sheep away! You could always rub my back or play with my hair, and I'd go right to sleep. I need to lean on you for just a bit. If you can manage a visit, it would be wonderful. If not, please pray that I'll sleep tonight and feel better tomorrow. And hurry those sheep my way!
Adore you,

It's Tomorrow Already

Dear John,
It's tomorrow already. I went straight from work to Gloria's for her Lia Sophia party, and got home around 10:30. By the time I fed the animals, unpacked from the party, and got ready for bed, it was tomorrow.
It was a good party. I'll probably end up with three bookings, which is good. I have two scheduled for next month, and I'm losing ten days in the middle of the month because of Holy Week and Pascha. I won't schedule anything at all during Holy Week - we're all lucky to get home long enough to eat and sleep. If we had shower facilities at church, we could just move in for the week. It would be easier.
The animals are already asleep and I'm not far behind. I'd better go to sleep while I can do so electively! I'm off tomorrow, so I can sleep in some. The photo is just for giggles - I saw it and knew that you'd love it. There's nothing like a Star Wars/Greek language/Eastern Christian pun, especially two days after the Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas, is there?
Adore your mind,

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Heart Belongs to the Umpire

Dear John,
I found this on Pinterest today and had to show it to you. You did this to me, you and Harry Caray and Steve Stone. It's a long way from where I grew up, which was SEC territory and baseball was completely irrelevant.
I didn't know much about baseball and had never especially cared about it. Then in the late 1980s, when we lived in South Bend, I worked third shift and you worked first. I liked to quilt in the afternoons, and the only bearable thing on television (old cable television with all of twenty channels) was baseball on WGN. So I started watching the Cubs and started learning. We went to Cubs games, you taught me scorekeeping, and the rest is history. You went back into umpiring, and I became official scorer for the Goshen Men's League tournaments and had the reputation for being the only person in Wrigley's left field bleachers that kept pitch counts when I kept score.
I haven't been able to watch baseball since you died, but I'm beginning to get back into it. I've watched the Cubs' pre-season games when they're been televised, and I've enjoyed it. I'm not forcing it - I'll do what feels right when the season starts. But I have hopes of enjoying it this year, as much as any Cubs fan can enjoy baseball. We excel at delayed gratification. I probably won't keep score - it would interfere with my knitting. I'm looking forward to it.
In other news, I've spent the day getting ready for my lia sophia party tomorrow evening. And Jen is looking after me - she came by with a bunch of groceries for me. Sneaky child - she texted me this morning asking how I made my chili. I was flattered that she wanted to make it herself, but I was wrong. She wanted to be sure I had everything I needed to make it. The groceries will be wonderful to have. But it means so much more to know that she cares. There are so many wonderful people that love me.
Thank you for loving me. And thank you for all the time you spent teaching me about baseball, about rules and strategy and history and scorekeeping. On our first date you found out that you didn't need to teach me about football. But my ignorance of baseball gave you plenty of occupation. Thank you for your patience, and for wanting me to be able to enjoy it as much as possible. It was something we loved doing together - watching it on television, going to Wrigley, and going to high school and little league games that you officiated. I was so proud of your work as an umpire. It's a hard and thankless job, and you were very good at it. I was proud to be the umpire's wife.
Adore you,

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I'm Not Really a Soprano; I Just Play One at Church

Dear John,
We had a musically adventurous morning. The Lenten music is Slavic, so we need four parts, but we've been short on women lately. Last night we decided that we'd have to do the Byzantine music this morning.
Brian and I had done Great Vespers alone last night. We started Orthros alone, then Chris and Steven joined us, which still left Brian and me as the only chanters. But it gave us three out of four parts for the Liturgy, so we did the Slavic music after all. The original plan was for Brian to take the melody and I'd sing either tenor or alto, but we ended up with me singing soprano and Brian taking tenor. Besides not being a soprano, I've sung this music twice, two years ago, and then only the alto. So I was sight-reading everything except the Apolytikia. A few things  came along that I looked at and knew I had no hope of sight-reading, so I lateraled the melody to Brian and took the alto.
It was a wild ride, and a fun one. The Slavic setting is beautiful, and we all really want to be able to use it for Lent. I brought the music home to work on. On any given Sunday I might be needed to sing soprano, alto, or tenor, depending on who is there, so I need to learn all three parts. It's not like being Protestant, where you sing three hymns and maybe an anthem and doxology, and you're done. The majority of the Liturgy is sung - the choir and chanters lead, and everybody sings. That's why it's called "liturgy"  - literally, the work of the people.
Oh, and this is March, which is women's month in the Archdiocese, when we always have women do the Epistle. Today was my turn. So everybody got more than enough of my voice.
I'm beat and hoarse. It was wonderful and exhausting. It's been three years since I chanted on a regular basis, and I'm having to brush up on some of the tones. My training was more Arab, and Brian and Adrian have trained more Greek, so we'll always do some things a bit differently, but nobody minds that. A few of the new people have told me that they're glad to see somebody new learning how to chant. I thank them, then tell them that if anything I'm Chanter Emeritus - it was me that introduced Brian to chanting.
And that's probably my best gift to the universe and the justification of my existence. He has taken the music places I never could have, and he has a beautiful voice. I've let him know that I'm happy to be plugged in if he needs me, but my feelings won't be hurt at all if he doesn't. This weekend he needed me - if I hadn't been there he'd have had to do Great Vespers and Orthros alone, and then carried the melody for the Liturgy. Nobody deserves to have to do all of that.
Well, enough about church music! I know you're interested, and you may well have been there this morning and seen all of it, anyway. After all, the Liturgy is just our joining in the ongoing worship in Heaven. I'm sure that you don't have any trouble finding enough people to carry all four parts! Here, we do the best we can with what we have. And, considering that it used to be Melanie and Paul and me, we have a lot. God honors and blesses what we have and what we do. And the parish appreciates all of it. It was a good morning.
I'm thankful to finally be able to enjoy church again, without being overwhelmed by the fact that you're not there. Everybody is being so kind to me. I was going to say that they understand, but what they really do is know that they can't understand, and give me love and space to grieve as I need to. People keep telling me that they can't imagine what I'm going through. And I tell them what I told Jim: It's hell, but it gets better. Being able to be back at church is my newest bit of getting better. And it is good, and I'm thankful. This is not to say that I'm at all glad to be here, just that I'm trying to make the best of being without you.
Can't wait to sing the liturgy in Heaven,

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Why My Guardian Angel Facepalmed Again

Dear John,
It was sunny and in the upper 40s, so the dog and I took a long walk. A good time was had by all. That was the only fun today - I spent the rest of the afternoon working on finances, and at the present, that is completely unenjoyable. I went to church tonight because I had a serious need to go back to confession.
This morning I made my guardian angel facepalm again. I'm tired of wearing gloves in the house and eating potatoes. Six weeks of potatoes. I've lost ten pounds, and that's great - being hungry is a terrific weight-loss program. But I'm tired of gloves and potatoes. So this morning I had a pity party and got angry over all the financial doors that have closed in my face. Then I got dressed, had breakfast, sat down for prayer time, and came to my senses. It's God who opens and closes doors, not chance, or even the people who think they are the doorkeepers. And in spite of the doors that have closed, He had continued to take care of me. He has hedged me into exactly these circumstances. And that means that this is exactly the right place for me to be.
I'm not passively waiting for God to rescue me. I'm knocking on all the doors I can find. And even the ones that seem made for me have closed. I'll keep working and knocking. But, while I'm doing that, I'll try to do a better job of trusting. After all, we never really provide for ourselves, no matter what we think. Our jobs and our ability to work are gifts from God.
The doors that have closed seem ludicrous. I can't get a nursing job because I'm too old and have too much experience. I can't access my home equity because I have a 1099 instead of a W2 and my credit score is only 750. The state website won't let me renew my substitute license and I can't get a person to answer the phone. I could go on and on. It looks insane. Only the Lord could block so many things that should be so simple. So, once again, I'm building bigger faith muscles. They ache and burn, but that's the only way to build muscle tissue. I've never had my complete dependence be so obvious.

I'm still here, still standing, still paying the bills. The God of widows and orphans is taking care of me. So I went to confession tonight and told Father that I'd fallen flat on my face again this morning, and he said that God forgives. I'll try to do better. Please keep praying for me. I probably make you facepalm, too. Don't hit yourself too hard. I know you're not on coumadin anymore, but I don't want you to hurt yourself. Just please pray for me, that I'll remember this and not repeat this morning's pity party. If Pavlov had worked with me, we wouldn't know a thing about operant conditioning.
Your dense, hard-headed wife,

Friday, March 14, 2014

Survival Revisited

Dear John,
I'm sorry I wasn't here last night. I kept trying to talk to you, but the internet was down for some reason. I hate going a day without talking to you. 
Yesterday was the 13th - it was 23 months, so I went by to see you. I almost got to stay; I was briefly stuck in the snow in the cemetery. It was crazy to go there the day after a snowstorm, but I was coming out the back of the post office again and couldn't resist. Just a bit more snow and I'd have gotten to stay with you, without violating Jen's prohibition against digging!
I'm still unconvinced about this issue of living. I have to keep in mind that some of my emotional funk is weather-related. In a normal year, by now we'd have early bulbs up, lambs in the fields, and fresh maple syrup. This winter has been so severe and so long! I know that I need spring. I'll feel better when I can work in the garden, wash the windows, and look outside and see some color other than white.
I really have done well. Between the severe winter, forced Cymbalta withdrawal, and having my income cut in half for two months, I'm entitled to be bummed. I have survived all of this without you; some discouragement is understandable. I'm eager to see where I am emotionally when spring arrives. You've been gone almost two years. I don't hate it any less, but I'm getting accustomed to it. Grief, however, is never linear, so there are still times that it flattens me. There probably always will be.
I'm struggling now. But that should get better when winter goes away and the taxes are filed. I have a lot to be thankful for. When I woke up at 5:00 this morning, Jethro was sleeping jammed up against my back, Hunter was cuddled up against my chest, and Abby was snoring on my legs. Besides these three animals who love me, I have the house, a little money in savings, a reliable car, friends who love me, your family, and 38 years with you. I still have your love, and separation is temporary. As the Grateful Dead are telling me right now, we will get by. We will survive. And maybe, when spring comes, I'll even want to!
Adore you,

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Add the Gravy from Line 3 & Pass the Corn

Dear John,
I've been snowed in today. I need to go back to work tomorrow so I can get some rest.
The snowstorm arrived right on schedule.  When I woke up I couldn't see out any of the windows - there was snow and ice on both the windows and the screens, on both sides of the house, and the back door was sleeted shut. I believe we got about 5 inches of snow, but it's hard to tell with all the blowing and drifting. Schools were closed in a three-county radius. We had the usual two big drifts across the driveway. Dana came and plowed me out, bless him. I appreciate them more than I can say.
Today was devoted to taxes. I printed forms and downloaded instruction books, dug out the last three years of federal taxes, and beat my head against the wall a fair amount. As predicted, I did better with paper than online tax services. Now that I have a handle on what's what, I'm going to try to enter it in an online service so my work gets checked. I'm feeling tired and short-tempered and proud of myself. I've learned all about Schedule A and Schedule C, about business profit and loss, and lots of other useful things.
I miss you at tax season. You loved doing taxes more than anything in this world. When you became a pastor, you spent months reading the details of how to file dual-status. I remember when the IRS said you'd made a mistake that year - you spent two hours on the phone getting transferred from one office to another, until you finally got somebody who knew as much about it as you did and said you were absolutely right. I was so proud of you that day.
I did our taxes in the old days, when all we had was two W2s and no mortgage or investments. We always itemized deductions - our medical expenses alone justified it. This year I'm dealing for the first time with 1099s and business expenses. And there's that mandatory disbursement from that retirement plan - I may end up calling the IRS about that  to be sure I put it in the right category. Mortgage interest is easy, and I put all the medical deductibles in Quicken when I set it up. The bottom line is that my deductibles are more than my adjusted income. So I'll do okay this year. That's the good part about paying a fortune for COBRA, isn't it?
Now I'm going to take my aching brain and put it to bed. I'll give it a couple of days to recover before I tackle the rest of this. It will be done, and you will be proud of me for another accomplishment, another step toward independence, another hurdle of life-without-you conquered. I'll probably just be relieved to have it over with. And I'll be happy to not have to pay anybody else to do it for me.
Again, if you can get that hall pass, tax season would be a perfect time for it. If you can't come help me with it, you can text me some pointers. If that's not possible either, you can always pray for  me, and I know that you do. I know that you always have. And now you can pray for me so much better than before. I'm glad for that. And know that I pray for you, too.
Eager to be with you,

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I'll Leave a Light in the Window

Dear John,
We're hunkered down waiting for the next snowstorm. We should have rain starting in a few hours, followed by sleet, then 5-9 inches of snow. During all of this we're expecting 35 mph winds.
I believe I'll stay home tomorrow. Jen is already planning to work from home. I got milk, bread, and eggs on the way home from work. We're set in case the roads get bad. I hope I can get to church tomorrow night. But if it's as bad as they're predicting, church may be cancelled.
I'll leave a light in the window.
I do hope this is the last storm of the winter. Last year the sap buckets were out in the middle of February, and I have yet to see one this year. In a normal year we'd have seen lambs in the fields by now; until last week, it was so cold that even the horses and cows weren't out. I've never seen a winter like this. There's some satisfaction to that - if we have to have all this misery, let's at least get into the record books!
This is my first hard winter without you. I've missed having you to do most of the shoveling. And you were better at driving in snow than I am - there are some things that growing up in Atlanta doesn't prepare you for. What I've missed most is having you here with me when I've been snowed in. Being snowbound isn't nearly as much fun when you're by yourself, and flannel sheets felt much better when we were under them together.
This winter I've had Facebook, Netflix, soup, a dog, and two cats. All that's been missing is you, but that could be said of every moment of the rest of my life. If you can get that hall pass, tonight would be a good time to come visit. You'd be here for the last winter storm this year. You could meet the cats, eat leftover lentil casserole, and enjoy those flannel sheets one more time. And maybe you can take us with you when you go. Maybe? I'd gladly miss spring to go with you.
Love you, adore you,

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lentils and Lean Years: Trials and Trimphs of Widowhood

Dear John,
Just like Mrs. Duck in the children's book, we had a lovely day here. (If you don't know the book, ask Mama. It's a great story.)
It got up to 50 degrees, so Jethro and I went for a walk and met a new neighbor. When we got home, I did what I've been looking forward to most of all. I opened the windows and aired out the house. The cats climbed into the windowsills, the dog had his nose out the window, and we all enjoyed it. I had them open for about three hours. The house smells so good tonight.
I had a small widowhood triumph this afternoon. I found the data port under the dashboard of the car, and installed the monitoring device that is saving me 30% on my car insurance. It will probably die of boredom on the county roads. The discount really matters, since it costs more to insure a widow with one car than a married couple with two cars. I try to not be angry about that - I have not been successful thus far. Anything that lowers my premium is good.
Remember this? It's where we first
met lentils.
Money is really tight this month - you know that. For the last six weeks I've only worked half the hours I usually work. I'm living on potatoes and whatever is in the pantry. Today I hit the stored legumes and made lentil and cheese casserole, and remembered how much you liked that. We had our times of eating lean in our early years, didn't we? During the recession in the 80s, we went through that stretch that we had $10 left each week to cover food, gas, clothes, and any other general expenses. I fed us on about $5 a week for almost a year. I couldn't have done it if you hadn't worked for a restaurant that let you eat for free when you were on the clock, and being part of a food co-op helped. Our friends were having the same struggle, and we all lived out of the More-with-Less Cookbook. That's where we met lentils. I got the book out today and found the bookmark still at this recipe. I know how to do this, and I won't starve. But it was more fun when we struggled together.
Everything was more fun together. I know that you're happy now, and I'm getting by. I even watched another movie tonight - A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy - and enjoyed summer done in beautiful cinematography. I really am ready for spring, but it's not here yet. We're under a Winter Storm Watch again, and forecasts are calling for 4-8 inches of snow tomorrow night with winds up to 40 mph. There is more shoveling in my future. The bits of grass that are showing in the yard will disappear again. It's good that I got the windows open today - it will be a while before I can do that again.
Please pray for our sanity as winter keeps on going. Pray for the multiplication of lentils, the car insurance discount, and anything else you can think of. Mostly, pray for your little family as we have to go on without you.
Adore you,

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Purgatory, Progress, & Fingerprints

Dear John,
I'm flaring today so I had to stay home. I'd have had trouble getting to church anyway - we had dense freezing fog until almost 11:00. It's been above freezing most of the day and should be in the 50s tomorrow. I can't wait. I hope to open the windows and air out the house.
I did something today that I haven't done since you died. I watched two movies on DVDs.  It sounds simple and silly, but I haven't taken that step until today. It always looked overwhelming. And I pulled out all the DVDs and VHS tapes and organized them, which was great fun. There were a few films that we had on both so I got rid of the VHS versions. They're all much easier to find and get to now, so maybe I'll do this more often.
And I know what you're wanting to know: What did I watch? The first thing was Purgatory. I've been thinking about it for a couple of days. And it has Sam Sheppard - you can't beat that. I found it by accident one day. I turned on the television, decided to check it out, and loved it. It's a western, so the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad and the good guys win. But it presents some lovely theological questions, too. I remember showing it to you the day after I found it. You liked it, and we spent hours untangling the theology of it.
Then I watched Drowning Mona. I remember the day that I found that one on television. I saw that it had Bette Midler and Danny DeVito, and that alone made it worth watching. It's one of the funniest films I've ever seen. I wasn't as sure that you'd like it as I was Purgatory, but that was silly. You've always liked dark comedies as much as I did. If the title doesn't tip you off that things are gong to be a little off-kilter, you find it out when they show that still at the beginning about Yugos. And I love it because it's about a group of dysfunctional people that somehow, in a group, matter to function. I've always loved shows like that - that's why I liked Hot L Baltimore, which nobody in the world except me even remembers. But anyway, you did like it, and we had a lot of fun over the years watching it together.

Today I watched both of them alone and had a good time doing it. That seems like more progress, doesn't it? We have some good DVDs and VHS tapes, and it opens up a whole new world for me to feel like I can watch them without you. But I'm not really without you, because I remember when we saw them together. You've been a part of them for years and you always will be. Nothing in my life will ever be without you, anyway. Your fingerprints are all over me. And I like it that way.
I love you so much, you know. I was always happy that we liked the same movies and television. I learned to like golf and you went to yarn shops with me. Since we didn't have that many years, I'm glad we spent what time we could doing things together.
Eager to be with you again,

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hall Passes & the Great Potato Party

Dear John,
It's another snowy night and we all miss you. I woke up this morning to heavy snow coming down in pre-formed snowballs. Then it changed to sleet and freezing rain, back to snow, and back and forth all day. The roads were slick with lots of slide-offs, so I didn't go to Great Vespers at Holy Protection tonight. I really didn't want to be out in this after dark. Tomorrow should be warmer, then we're looking at a whole week with highs above freezing. There will be a great melting - I'll keep a close eye on the basement.
I slept in until 8:00 this morning. The animals are always up at first light. I'm usually up with them or before them, but today they were rampaging around the house before I was up. I woke to a bit of a puzzle: there was a potato on the bedroom floor. I don't think Jethro got it down because it was on the back of the counter where he couldn't have reached it - I keep potatoes next to the colander with the onions in it. Abby can't get up on the kitchen counters. So Hunter must have pushed it off onto the floor. I can't imagine why I didn't hear the thump when it landed. Then some combination of the three of them brought it to the bedroom. All I know for certain is that somebody had too much fun and I missed it.
The question was raised on Facebook whether you especially liked potatoes and maybe it was a sign from you. You really loved my mashed potatoes - that's the only thing I regret in our years together, that I didn't fix you meatloaf and mashed potatoes more often. But if you wanted to leave me a sign, I don't believe you'd leave a potato on the bedroom floor. If I wake up and find a cranberry-walnut bagel from Panera by the bed, I'll know you've been here.
But don't forget that matter of the rose in college - you know how mad I get when you drop off gifts instead of just coming by to visit. If you get a night's hall pass, don't waste time bringing me bagels. Just come and sit on the edge of the bed and talk, then cuddle with me. Let me put my head into the curve of your shoulder and feel your long arms around me. You can tell me what Heaven is like and how long it will be until I get to come, too. And you can play with Jethro - he misses you so much - and meet Hunter and Abby. Jethro has told them all about you, and they still sleep in your bedroom slippers sometimes. We'd all welcome you. But don't be dropping off bagels or potatoes for me. The only thing I want is you.
Love you more than life,
PS - I'm listening to Pandora tonight. I just heard "Leather and Lace." It has such good memories with it, our early years in Springfield before we knew all the things the radiation was still doing inside you. Now they're playing "Broken Hallelujah." We both liked that. Love is not a victory march. One day when I was a child and was in the bathtub playing with toys, I realized - for reasons unknown - that anytime you loved, there would later be pain. I sat there until the water got cold deciding if it was worth it. I determined that day that it was. I was right. The pain is much greater than my childhood mind could ever know, but so is the love. Maybe the one determines the other. Just know that I love you more than I ever imagined possible, and that the measure of that love is also the measure of my pain. And I was right - it's worth it. I love you much more than life.

Friday, March 7, 2014

History, Horror, & Heroism

Dear John,
I didn't go to church tonight. I got home from work around 3:30, kept falling asleep, lay down for a nap, and woke up too late to go. I know what you're thinking - if I can sleep that long during the day, I had no business going anywhere tonight. And you're right. It's been a busy week at work and at church, and it's much more important that I'm there this weekend. See, I'm figuring these things out for myself!
I found something hideous and beautiful on Pinterest tonight. It's a compendium of the Civil Rights Movement, basically photos with captions, and I wish I could make everybody I know read every word and look at every photo. It's harrowing, inspiring, hideous, and beautiful. There is so much evil and so much good, villains and heroes, horror and heroism. It's amazing. And it is why I am who I am. It's where and when I grew up. It's a record of the most powerful shaping force of my childhood.
The whole thing looked like nonsense when I was a child. I could never understand why it mattered who sat next to you at the lunch counter or on the bus. In order to preserve segregation, otherwise-reasonable people committed unimaginable acts. It looked like mass insanity to my childhood mind. I was outraged by what I saw. Now it looks less insane than diabolical. I'm not using that word lightly - I mean it in its fullness. It makes me shudder.
I shared the Pinterest post on Facebook. I doubt that anybody will really look at it - it took me almost an hour to go through it all. But I have to offer it because it is important. Yes, it explains why I am who I am. But it also explains who the country is. You can only understand the present in the context of the past. We owe it to those who suffered so much, to at least know about their suffering and sacrifice. Very few people in this part of the country have any clue what really went on then, and they need to. This is terribly important.
Well, I know I don't have to convince you of that. After 34 years of marriage to me, you know it all. Thank you for caring and understanding. Thank you for being outraged when you were a teenager and the jury declared Tom Robinson guilty. Thank you for reading the book and meeting Tom Robinson. He, and so many others, deserve our respect. We owe it to them to remember and honor them.
I'll try to pull myself down off of the soapbox. If you have any influence, please try to get people to read my post - to click on the link and really read it. I know I've said this before, but it's important.
Adore you,

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Between Effort & Surrender

Dear John,
I had a long, busy day at work - nine hours today. I had business and bills to take care of when I got home. Now I'm done, Jethro is asleep on the floor, Abby asleep beside me, Hunter somewhere, and the Eagles on Pandora. It's almost time for bed. But I haven't gone to sleep without talking to you for almost forty years, so here I am.
Money is tight and I'm getting a bit anxious about it - you've seen me do that before. My  last three paychecks have been half of what they usually are. I know this is why I have a savings account, but I hate to take from it and not be able to put back. But God is the God of widows and orphans, and He will take care of me.
I'm also feeling a bit overwhelmed looking at the next few days. Tomorrow I'll go straight from work to church and get home late. Saturday I have church and choir practice in the evening, a short night because of the time change, and a big Sunday with all the Goshen churches joining us for the Liturgy. There's food to cook for Sunday and church-cleaning on Saturday morning. So I need your help - what of these things can I realistically do without sending myself into a fibro flare? I don't want that, but I don't want to shirk responsibilities, either. You've always been my reality check when these things came along. So tell me what I should do.
It strikes me that I'm getting stressed over things that I wouldn't have worried about a year ago. I'm not as dead inside as I was. I'm able to get stressed now, and that's probably a good sign. It sounds funny to say that it's healthy to worry about things, but I think it's true. I'm less passive than I was a year ago. I'm also less emotionally distanced from things. I'm getting involved in more than just the absolute necessities - I'm back in the choir at church and am helping with the chanting for the extra services, making commitments and taking on responsibilities. It feels odd, but it feels good. And I know that it's healthy. Father said last night that it was a kind of resurrection for me, and I think he's right. I seem to be plugging back into life.
It's a big change and a lot to get used to. I have more things to balance now, which is why I need you to tell me what to this weekend. I don't want to stretch my wings so far that I sprain something. Thank you for letting me know that it's okay to stretch them. You told me so many times that, if you died first, you wanted me to live and enjoy life and, if I wanted to, to fall in love again. I decidedly do not want to fall in love, and I'm not sure about enjoying life. But sometimes I think that I may continue to live. And I'm doing it with your help and support, and I thank you for that. And I still need you to tell me what to do this weekend; that's the priority here. And don't stop praying for me.
Living in spite of myself,