Friday, January 30, 2015

The Tragedy of Manless Feet

Dear John,
It was a busy Friday and my feet hurt up to my hips again. I really believe I'm headed for surgery on my right foot. It's not unexpected - until I was grown and married, all women's shoes had pointed toes. It wasn't that we weren't smart enough to wear something else - there was nothing else. Tonight my right foot hurts so much that I jumped when Jethro tried to lick it. Poor baby, I scared him. Now he's lying across my ankles to protect me.
It was busy today. We're still one person short, Emily had her baby yesterday, and Amanda is out with a sinus infection. There were some lines but it all went well. Tammy and I were in the drive-up, and that's always good.
This is my weekend off this month, so I'll go to the farmers market and the co-op tomorrow morning. I'll buy cheese and jam from Fritz, see if there are any eggs left, check out the hydroponic salad greens, and look at soap at the Soapy Gnome. I'll run by Meijer for cat food and ground beef, and get bread and yogurt at the co-op. It will be a fun morning. And I can be comfortable in jeans, Nikes, and a bandana. I hope my feet feel better.
Tomorrow afternoon the snow is supposed to start. We're expecting 6-12 inches between tomorrow afternoon and Sunday night, with blowing and drifting. I'm hoping to get to church, but I won't if the forecast is accurate. County Roads 40 and 38 will be a mess with that much snow and wind. I'll go if I can, but I'll stay safe.
Maggie is healing quite well from her spaying. Wednesday and Thursday I left her confined in the bedroom when I went to work, with a litter box and food and water, and when I got home both days she was asleep on the bed. Now Abby has stopped hissing and growling at her and she's acting completely normal. So I gave her the run of the house today and all was well. Next Thursday I'll take her to get her stitches out, and that will be the end of the process until Jethro finds his next kitty to rescue.
That was a hodgepodge of miscellany, wasn't it? It's just my day. And you listened to me tell you about my day for almost forty years, so you're accustomed to it. When you come tonight, bring some mint lotion and rub my feet. That always put me straight to sleep.
My feet miss you,

Thursday, January 29, 2015

About Those Giraffes . . .

Dear John,
I've had a wonderful evening. Tomorrow morning I have to turn in my vacation requests for the year. I'm planning to go to Kentucky to see friends, one of whom is Becky. So I called her tonight to ask when would be the best time for her schedule.
It was so good to talk to her. I remember those nights in the dorm when we'd turn off the lights and talk for another couple of hours. And this is truly a good friendship - we haven't seen each other for over twenty years, and we still talk just like that. We have even more in common now, since you and Kyle left and forgot to take us with you. I can't wait to talk to her face-to-face this summer.
One thing that came up was the giraffe thing. I remember how it started, when there were just three of us in our little widow group. I found a photo of three giraffes and said, "Look! It's us!" Then Sophie sent me a giraffe photo and told me that they're called twiggas in Australia. And I found the photo of the juvenile delinquent giraffes, and it went on from there. They became the symbol for our little group.
The rest of my friends don't know that. They just think that I like giraffes, and it's true that I do. But they mean much more that that. They have such soulful faces and expressive eyes. I have many photos of them that tell what widowhood is like. They are us. I don't even try to explain this to other people.
So here is another photo of the Widow Friends Forever - sad eyes, bleak landscape, but standing together, never alone. Let the other guys know that all of their twiggas are looking after each other. No matter what, we trudge along together. We love each other, look after each other, and are never alone.
And don't we all have long, sexy necks? Eat your heart out, Keira Knightley!
Trudging toward you,

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

When the Centre Cannot Hold

Dear John,
I've had Yeats on my mind all day: Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
I'm still having a rough time missing you. And yes, I know that times like this will come. But that doesn't make it any less uncomfortable. I feel like my life is coming apart, things are flying off everywhere, and I'm trying to hold it all together by sheer willpower. None of this is accurate, of course, but that's what it feels like.
This widowhood thing remains disorienting. Life goes along fairly well as long as I don't stop to think, but Mama always said that I think too much. When I pause to reflect, I realize that there seems to be no center at all; as I told you before, I feel like my central loadbearing wall is gone. The center cannot hold because there is no center any longer.
You were the center, the linchpin, the cornerstone. You were the one certainty. As we moved, changed jobs, entered new careers, lost parents, and experienced the normal losses and changes of adult life, you were the one thing that was constant. You were the center that held. And now you're not here anymore. Centripetal force is pulling everything apart and there is nothing to stop it.
Father was right - soon after your death, he told me that half of me was in Heaven. It's the old thing about trying to unscramble an egg, isn't it? Part of you is here with me, and part of me is there with you. Looking at it that way, it's no wonder I'm feeling disoriented and lopsided. You were all I ever wanted, and now you're gone. And I'm living on as half of a person.
None of this solves the problem, does it? I guess I'm not here to solve anything tonight, just to try to understand what's going on inside my head and to talk it over with you. Don't worry about me - all of this seems to be perfectly normal, if uncomfortable, and the common fate of women. If you get a chance, please ask my grandmothers and great aunts to pray for me. They traveled this road before me and know it well. Please pray for me, as I do for you.
Adore you,

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

She Once Was Lost but Now is Found

Dear John,
The lost sheep - in the form of a cat - had been found. It's been an odd day. Let me go at this chronologically.
I took Maggie in this morning for spaying. The event was welcomed by all: Maggie herself, who is sick of the hormonal swings, and the rest of us who have listened to enough trilling and yowling to last us for a while. The poor thing was starting into heat again. She started trilling at 9:00 last night, and nobody got much sleep.
I was scheduled to work 10-2 today, and ended up staying until 3:30 to cover for a doctor's appointment. They could have used me until 5:00, but I had to pick Maggie up around 4:15. So I stayed as long as I could and went straight to the vet's office. She did fine and slept all the way home. I got her out of the carrier and intended to keep her close to me because Abby was hissing at the hospital-smell, but Maggie had other ideas. She jumped out of my lap and ran for the litter box - something I applaud - then I couldn't find her. Because her scent is different after being at the vet, Jethro couldn't find her either.
By 8:00 I was concerned about her. I got the flashlight and headed off to search every square inch of the house until I found her. I located the cat in the workroom, curled up asleep on Michael's comforter. (I have it because I'm trying to work out a way to mend it without destroying it. Anyway.) I woke her up, checked her out, and brought her to the food dish. She ate with great enthusiasm, climbed up onto the back of your recliner, and promptly fell back asleep. But she came running when I got into bed, climbed up into it like nothing had happened, and fell back asleep cuddled up to my legs.
Jethro and Hunter are standing guard over her while Abby lurks at a distance and hisses. None of this fazes Maggie in the slightest. She's a wee bit stoned and wobbly, but not much. She should sleep well tonight. And, without the trilling and yowling, the rest of us should as well.
So that's your family report for the night. It's another night that you probably aren't sorry to miss. But we miss you. I'm still struggling with missing you so much, but I've come to realize that grief is made up of remissions and exacerbations, so I expect it to be that way at times. Know that your little family loves and misses you, and that all is well with us.
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mixed-Up Confusion

Dear John,
With due credit to Bob Dylan, "I've got mixed-up confusion, and it's a-killing me." Come with me while I wander around in the back of my head for awhile.
I finally have a single friend my own age, and it's really good. That friend happens to be male, and that puts some wrinkles in the situation. For example, when we had lunch together last week we went to Goshen in order to avoid giving Topeka too much to talk about. And there's a wrinkle that I didn't anticipate: doing things with a male friend is making me miss you so, so much more.
Maybe it just underlines the fact that you're not here and I'm not doing things with you. Doing things with anybody else can never be like it would be with you - that's obvious. I didn't expect going places with a friend to make the grieving get so bad again. I don't have it all figured out yet - that's obvious. I'm working on it, and would appreciate any insight you could share with me. I feel like I'm back in the grief of the first six months.
That last paragraph was a nightmare. Sorry. I can't seem to make it better, so I'll just leave it. I suppose it demonstrates my state of mind. I can't get a handle on feelings or paragraphs.
This isn't pleasant, but I will weather the storm. I won't let it keep me from making friends and having a social life. That would be more comfortable right now, but wouldn't be healthy or comfortable in the long run. I also won't judge, blame, or should myself. I'll let myself feel whatever I feel. Being me, I'll observe and analyze it, and I'll probably keep coming to you to talk about it. You always have understood me better than I understood myself.
If you can, please come and talk to me about this tonight. I need your wisdom. Aw, heck. I just need you! How is the Skype project coming along? I'm ready on this end. Or you could just come and get me - that would be okay, too.
Love you more than life,

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Baffling Eccentricities

Dear John,
The snow storm arrived on schedule, so I slept in and stayed home. Now it's blowing and drifting and wreaking general havoc on the county roads. Your little family is safe and warm at home.
I did a bunch of small chores today. While we were all piled up in bed this morning and the cats were sleepy, I trimmed their toenails. Abby won't let me do hers, but she uses the scratching post so much that I don't really need to. Hunter and Maggie seem to enjoy it. After my shower I washed the sheets, blanket, and bedspread. The bedspread is still in the dryer - it takes a long time. "Washing" is really a euphemism for removing animal hair. The lint filter always looks a bit scary after sheet-washing day.
Then I emptied the dish washer, had a bowl of raisin bran, turned on the television, and found Duke was playing St. John for Krzyzewski's 1000th win. He's the first Division 1A coach to reach a thousand. It was a good game without that, but the milestone made it special. One of the best things to come of the four years I worked at Duke was my love for Duke basketball. You may want to pull up the game and watch it. It was a bit of history.
I asked Jen and Bob to stop over because I had a new bottle of lamp oil that I couldn't open. They changed the packaging a few months ago, and I haven't been able to open one single bottle since. The next bottle I buy, I'll have Lynn open before I leave the store. Anyway, Bob got it open easily - testosterone at work. When they pulled up I was on the phone with your sister. I had a glass of milk in my hand when Jethro saw the car. He jumped up and sent the milk flying everywhere. After Jen and Bob left, I cleaned up the milk, changed, and put the clothes in the laundry. And I called Irene back.
Jim and Irene are leaving Friday for a week in the Keys. They're staying in Tavernier this time. I told her to be sure to eat breakfast at Annette's and to try the Islamorada Fish Company. We had such a good time when we went there. We always wanted to go back and do all the things we hadn't had time to do, like go to Dry Tortugas. Maybe one day I'll go back and do those things for you. The only place I think I will never go again is Mackinac. But you know that. There's no sense in torturing myself to that extent.
Wow - I just looked at the knuckle on my left index finger, and it's black and purple. I wonder what I did to it. You know I always have bruises that I can't account for. We used to joke that, if I ever went into an emergency room, you'd be arrested for spousal abuse, since one hallmark is bruises in different stages of healing. I think you're safe now. But I still manage to injure myself and have no memory of doing anything to earn the injury. I have no clue what happened to my knuckle.
You loved me in spite of my tendency to self-destruction. Thank you for that, and for loving all of my baffling eccentricities.
Missing yours,

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It's All Jen's Fault

Dear John,
Blame Jen. It's all her fault. Her influence on me is definitely enjoyable and probably a bit questionable. She did this to me.
This afternoon, after work and running errands, I sat down to knit and watch television. After the UK game, which was wonderful, the choices were bad enough to drive me to Netflix. I was wondering what to watch, and decided that Jen had talked so much about The Walking Dead that I would watch the first episode and see what the fuss was all about.
Two episodes later I came up for air. It's wonderful. I was addicted after the first fifteen minutes. It wasn't at all what I expected. The zombies - excuse me, walkers - are a plot device. The show is really about people.  The characters are wonderfully well-developed. And they have a lot to say about being human.
You'd love it. If you don't have Netflix there, you can get it on Hulu. It's an AMC show, so it's probably available on their website, too. Just don't watch too many episodes in a row. It is very intense. I think two episodes at a time will be about my limit.
I know what I will be knitting to for the rest of the winter. I have five seasons to get caught up on, so it will keep me out of trouble for a while. I will try to remember to eat and do laundry. I actually forgot dinner tonight, which won't hurt me any. But it's 8:30 and I'm starving.
I'll be off to bed now. I hope to get to church tomorrow. It depends on what time the projected snow storm arrives. Don't worry, I won't take chances. We'll see what track the storm takes. And, if I'm snowed in, I have something good to watch on television!
Love you bunches,
P.S. - Yes, that is Atlanta in the background. It does hurt some to see Atlanta look like it does in the show. I'm seeing places I recognize and it's sad. But a town that rose again after Sherman went through can handle anything. Love you!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The First Forty Years

Dear John,
Do you realize that I've been in love with you for forty years? Yep, forty years. Among other things, that means that I'm not in my twenties. That is, unless I've loved you so much that I got double credit for it.
The number is a bit mind-boggling, isn't it? But I knew from the first that it would be for life, and so it is. It's already been for all of your life; now it will be for the rest of mine. Death hasn't ended our relationship. It has created some communication challenges, but the essential relationship is unchanged. And because the separation is temporary, I will love you for much longer than forty years. I will be able to love you for all of eternity. (As we've noted, "until death do us part" is for wimps.)
Now I'm in the next-to-the-last frame of this photo. One day I will rest with you under our headstone and live eternally in Heaven with you. And we'll look back and realize how short forty years really is.
Yours forever,

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Great Cat Escape

Dear John,
I got Abby to the vet this morning - her shots are up-to-date and she got a clean bill of health. Since we've had parasite excitement among the felines, I took stool samples in for each of them. All is well in that department, too.
Transportation was more of an adventure than I expected. Abby yowled all the way there. And just before I got to the stop sign where County Line Engine used to be, I found a cat in my lap. At the stop sign I looked to see how she had gotten there, and discovered that she'd clawed a hole in the mesh side of the carrier. Needless to say, I'll be getting a new cat carrier. She spent the rest of the ride between my lap, under my feet, on the floor of the back seat, and standing up behind the steering wheel. I'm glad it's a straight, lightly-traveled road. When we got there I put her back in the carrier and took it in with my hand over the hole. The trip home was a repeat performance. Now she's sleeping it off. I need to vacuum, but she's had enough trauma for one day. It will get done over the weekend. She spent most of the evening in my lap.
I need to get that carrier on Saturday. Next week I have a half-day off on Tuesday, which is now June's surgery day. So I'll take Maggie in before work and pick her up after I get off. Bless her, she won't have to go through heat again. And Hunter won't be forced to walk up and smack her. None of us will miss the yowling and trilling. And it will be done before it's warm enough to have the windows open. We can avoid the tomcat crisis.
Everybody is in bed except Maggie, and we're ready to go to sleep. You don't know how much it means to me that I can come here and tell you all the silly little things that make up my days. If you know what is going on here, then I'm not as separated from you. This will have to do until you get that Skype issue worked out. My computer is set up and ready, so get it together there!
Love you so much,

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The White Knight is Talking Backwards & the Red Queen's on Her Head

Dear John,
It's been a strange day. Weather-wise, we had freezing rain, then snow, then fog. Area schools started with a two-hour delay then cancelled. I had no trouble driving to work; the excitement was walking from the parking lot to the bank. All that weather gave us a very slow day. My fibro flare seems to be winding down, so I actually felt human today. It was nice.
Everything was upside-down last night. I dreamed that Jen came over, looked into the kitchen cabinet where I keep the glasses, and said they weren't organized right. So she took everything out and rearranged it, and told me I needed to be more organized. (When I told her about it, she said, "Me, organize something?!?") Then there was a long, complex dream that kept coming back to your mother sneaking away to go play with kittens. By morning I was on the lookout for the White Knight and the Red Queen.
Tomorrow morning I'm taking Abby in for her yearly vet check-up. Poor thing, she so hates riding in the car. Every time she's been, she cried all the way there and all the way back. None of the other animals minds, and the dog loves rides. But Abby won't be happy. And everybody else will be worried until I get her back. They don't like being separated, bless them.
I'm off to bed now. I'm still trying to get as much sleep as I can so this flare will completely go away. I do hope to dream right-side-up tonight!
Your upside-down wife,

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sin and Misery in the Air, People Dying Everywhere

Dear John,
And you know exactly what that means: Happy Birthday! We always loved that song that Kyle and Becky taught us:
Happy birthday! (grunt)
Happy birthday! (grunt)
   Sin and misery in the air,
   People dying everywhere.
Happy birthday! (grunt)
Happy birthday! (grunt)
I still love it. And I love you. And I celebrate your birthday because, above all events in the history of mankind, I am glad you were born. It's still sad to spend this day apart from you, but my joy in your existence trumps the sadness of separation. So, happy birthday!
And today is Kyle's birthday, too - his second birthday, his birth from earthly life to Heavenly. That is much harder to celebrate down here. When we all get there with you guys, then we'll be able to celebrate it. But not quite yet.
So this is a day of celebration and mourning, not unlike the rest of life but a bit more acute for this twenty-four hour period. Go have a piece of birthday cake with Kyle and celebrate. And don't forget to pray for your wives. We'd be with you if we could. Save some cake for us!
Eternally glad you were born,

Monday, January 19, 2015

Why I'm Up Past My Bedtime

Dear John,
It's almost 10:30 so I'll be brief tonight. Father came over for our house blessing this evening. I so love being Orthodox! Every year he comes and blesses the house and me and the critters, and then sits down and talks to me to be sure I'm doing okay. Before he leaves, he takes chalk and writes the date under the others, on the wall behind the front door. We have quite a long list there now. I don't want to re-paint that wall because I'd hate to lose the list.
The parish is growing by leaps and bounds and lots of babies. We have more young families coming in, too. I know I keep saying how wonderful it is to have so many children, but I remember the days when Austin was the only one. Now he's graduating from high school this year and we're overrun with little ones. It's a joy and a delight.
And bless Father - he wants me to be there on Sundays because he knows it is good for my soul, but he understands fibro the best anybody who doesn't have it can. And he knows that I want to be there, too. It is so good to have his support and understanding. Today I've felt a bit better than I did yesterday, but still not good. It was an unusually slow Monday, and I was glad.
Now I need to get some sleep. It's already an hour past my bedtime. I'll turn the light off before I turn into a pumpkin.
Love you great huge bunches,

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Soft Sheets & Gratuitous Sock Information

Dear John,
It's been bad fibro day and the football was just as bad. Be glad you missed it.
It was one of those days that clothes hurt my skin and sounds hurt my ears. I got up early, hoping to go to church, and was hurting too bad to get back to sleep. But I slept a good bit of the day on the couch. The good thing was that I got a fair amount of knitting done. I started the first sock for Jim's birthday. He particularly liked the pair I made for AJ for Christmas, so I'm making another pair for him. It's taken some finagling - the original pattern is for a women's medium. I made it a little longer to fit a men's small. But Jim has big feet, so I'm using the gauge, needle size, and cast-on number from another pattern and knitting it in the pattern he liked. It's working well so far. Most of the brain work had to happen before starting it. I'll have more figuring to do at the heel, but this pattern uses a simple heel so it shouldn't be difficult.
Well, that's more information than you ever needed about a sock, isn't it? You were always so interested in the things I was interested in. And I was the same with you - I never cared about golf or chess, but because I was interested in you and in your interest in it, I learned about it and came to find it interesting. And so you taught me the history of golf and I taught you about the color wheel, and we both became better-rounded people. I miss talking to you about these things so I come there and tell you all about the socks I'm knitting. And you still listen, probably with that same half-smile on your face and the love in your eyes.
I'm going to turn the light off now - I'm having a hard time staying awake. I'm in my softest flannel nighty and sleeping on my softest flannel sheets. Please pray for me that the covers don't hurt and that I can sleep, and that I'll feel better for work in the morning. I'll miss you between these nice, soft sheets!
Adore you,

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Plan B: Never Stop Dreaming

Dear John,
Weekend work is back to normal - I had a hundred transactions in four hours. It was a busy day. Connie is back and Emily is in labor, and we anxiously await news. I came home and ate lunch - I had put green beans, potatoes, onions, and pork chops in the crock pot this morning, and it was wonderful. Then I dusted, straightened, and did some major organizing and sorting. I don't want to leave too much of the weekend housework for tomorrow; after church I will be planted in front of the football games. I'll have lots to tell you about tomorrow night.
Since I didn't see you last night, I'm assuming you can't manage things so that we can live in that lovely house together. So we're on to Plan B. The WFFs have decided to live there. It's bigger than the last one we wanted to live in, and our little group is bigger now. So we need the space. As before, we have no idea where it is and somebody else owns it. There are some small impediments. But we can all look at the photo and think about sitting together on the front porch having iced tea and cookies.
And that's what we really are - no matter that we're scattered around the world, we're still together. You should give notice to all our guys: when we get there we'll spend some time with you first, but then we women are going to go off on our own for a while. You can all batch it occasionally while we have girl time. I imagine Heaven has iced tea, cookies, and big front porches. If we women don't get our time physically together here, we'll wait and have it there. And if that house is in Heaven, we can all live there. Each couple can have their own room, and we'll all share the front porch. And the iced tea and cookies, of course.
It's a lovely dream, and we all need to have dreams. The only one I have for this life is to one day drive the Blues Highway from Memphis to the coast, and stop at each juke joint along the way. Now I've added to my dream of being with you again - I want all of us to be together. I want to sit on that front porch in Heaven with all my widowfriends and drink iced tea and eat cookies and have all of us and all of you there together. Could you start working on that? Between all of you guys, I'm sure you can pull it off and have it ready for us when we get to come join you.
Dreaming of you,

Friday, January 16, 2015

So Here's the Plan . . .

Dear John,
I had a busy, busy Friday at work. It was my long day; the animals were agitated when I got home at 6:15. We were one short, then Connie got sick and went to the doctor's office, then Emily left in labor. And the holiday-season lull is over. The day went fast and well. And I need for you to come rub my feet now. They hurt up to my waist.
I found this photo on Pinterest tonight and had to show it to you. Isn't it lovely? Of course, it's yellow and white, and we had both of our houses done in those colors. But look at that big porch! And the little room over the driveway! Big windows, big porch - it's perfect for us. It's way too big for just me, but perfect for the two of us.
So come back, find the house, buy it, and we'll live happily ever after. Okay? And you can rub my feet after work, and we can work in the yard together, and be happy just being with each other. How's that for a plan?
Well, if you can't manage it, I suppose I'll go to bed early and take Motrin for my feet. But do think about it. I have the perfect house waiting for you!
Love you so, so much,

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Reporting In: Functioning Technology and Gentleman Callers

Dear John,
I'm back! It feels like I haven't been able to talk to you in years. It was difficult and unpleasant to a greater degree than I'd expected. And while I couldn't talk to you, we passed the 2 3/4 year mark of being separated. It wasn't a good day. But now I'm back, and I promise to talk your ear off tonight. We have some catching up to do.
First, about the computer: I took it to Microsource today. The cord and connection were fine. The he took out the battery, discharged the built-up electrical charge, turned it on, and it came right up. That was all it needed. He could have talked me through that if I'd been able to call from home where the computer was, but because of their hours and mine, I could only call from the bank during my lunch break. Now I know what to do if it happens again. I learned some interesting stuff, have my computer back, and it didn't cost anything. And it's just in the nick of time - I have two bills to pay tomorrow, and I thought I was going to have to do it over the phone. I'm happy.
I didn't get to tell you, but I'm sure you already know: Dick died last week. I took my lunch break to go to his funeral on Monday. It felt very strange to be there without you, especially for a funeral, and know that you went ahead of Dick. He was 82; we first met him when he was 62. This is the first time I've lived in a place long enough to watch people grow old and die, and it still feels very strange. After you look Dick up, please find the husband of another of Becky's college roommates. He got there a day or two ago. Invite him to join you and the rest of our men, and look after him.
I took Jen out for her birthday today, and she told me that you came and talked to her last night. She appreciated it so much. Thank you for that - she really misses you. She loves you very much, you know, and losing you has been hard for her. I'm glad you visited her. Thank you for thinking about us.
I finally found out who left that note for me. It was our neighbor, like I thought. He's divorced - I missed that, since I live very happily outside the town grapevine. He isn't looking for anything romantic, and I made it clear that I am not. He just wants a single friend his own age, somebody to go places with, and I've been wanting the same thing. We've been friends and neighbors, and I'd enjoy going to First Friday  or the fair with him. So if anybody tells you that I'm dating, I most certainly am not. I have a husband - it will take much more than death to get rid of me. "Until death do us part" is for sissies. 
I love you so much. I miss you every day, and it was even worse when I couldn't come here and talk to you. Passing the 2 3/4-year mark was hard, the hardest day I've had in a few months. None of this is linear and I know that, but some little part of me seems to expect grief to be an orderly process. It is neither orderly nor logical. Sadly, it appears to be survivable. Come visit me some night, like you did Jen. Maybe you could take me with you when you go?
Forever yours,

Saturday, January 10, 2015

On Being Somebody's Forever Human

Dear John,
I was checking Facebook tonight and read a post from Jackson Galaxy's page. It was one of the rescue stories, but this one was written from the cat's point of view instead of the human's. And it brought me to tears. I hope that my animals will talk about me that way when they're in Heaven.
I know they love me - all of our animals have loved us very much. And we've both said that we wanted to be the kind of person our dogs believed us to be. I want to be the kind of person that my dogs and cats will say good things about after their lives here are over.
That is what I'm pondering tonight. Do Naomi and Caleb tell people about us, how we brought them home and loved them? Does Naomi know now that we went through so much, with all the moving we did, to be able to have her with us in all those places we rented? I was certain that Caleb always knew how much we pinched the budget and sacrificed for his cancer treatment. And I know that Jethro tells the cats all about his wonderful, heroic Daddy who went to Heaven. I hope one day the cats will tell about the dog and human who brought them inside and fed and loved them, kept them warm and safe, and never made them live alone outside again.
The way we treat animals really is a good measure of our spirits, isn't it? You and I are so softhearted toward them. So tell Caleb and Naomi how much I love and miss them. If you see Duchess - she might be with Mama - give her a scratch under the chin for me, and stroke her feathers. She always liked that. Pet Prince, and the thirty-four tadpoles, and Sylvester the lizard, and the toads that lived in the window well.
Tonight I'll sleep cuddled up with Jethro and his three kitties. We're all together here on earth for now. One day we'll join you there. When that day comes, I hope they say good things about me.
Love you so very much,

Friday, January 9, 2015

St. John Chrysostom & Ryan Gosling

Dear John,
I found this today:
“A young husband should say to his bride: ‘I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us.’” — St. John Chrysostom
Isn't it wonderful? It sounds very much like the talks we had before and right after we were married, about what marriage meant and how we felt about each other. I remember when we had our premarital counseling and Roger asked what we expected of each other, and we both said to be obedient to God. He thought we were being flippant and avoiding the question. What we were doing was taking the question much more seriously than he intended. That really is all we ever expected of each other. If you meet that expectation, everything else will fall into place.
This was our most ardent dream - to not be separated in Eternity. And it's what I look to now, all that I look to. Past, present, and future, this is what matters. Thank you for loving me this way. Thank you for making the journey of your life with me. I'm sorry you couldn't be here for all of my life. But I'm honored to have been with you for the rest of your life. And my dearest hope is to be with you through eternal life.
Just can't get enough of you,

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bosses, Haikus, and Fruitless Murmuring

Dear John,
I've felt better today. I'm still a little nauseated, but not as much as I have been. Today I felt the need for meat so I went down to Tiffany's and got the beef Manhattan to go. I was careful not to eat too fast, and it was good and good for me. I had another small baked potato for dinner. I'm feeling sicker as the night gets later - nothing unusual there - so I'll have liquid jello at bedtime.
Just an aside: Abby was in front of the television watching it when I turned it off. She's still sitting there with her face almost against the blank screen, staring at it. Sometimes I can't figure out what's going on with the cats. It's the funniest thing. I tried to take a picture for you, but it's a black cat against a black screen in a dark room, so that didn't work.
All the local schools were closed today because of the wind chill, which stayed about -30. By mid-afternoon the temperature did finally get up above zero. Tonight we're getting a few more inches of snow. On Sunday we're expecting a sudden warm-up to the mid-20s. We'll all be out in shorts.
I found these two memes to share with you. Don't you love them? The first reminds me of Ben. Remember when you were in ICU with pneumonia years ago, and I called Ben to let him know, and he said, "He'll be in to work tomorrow, right?" I asked him what part of "in ICU with pneumonia" he didn't understand - I really did, in exactly those words - and said that you'd be in whenever I called and said that you would. Ben and I were friends from that moment on.
The second I knew you'd love because it's so completely me. I keep the house at 63, which is fine when I'm either up and dressed or in bed between flannel sheets. It's the in-between time that's tough. And I so hate getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom when it's cold like this! It's the perennial winter dilemma.
So go to sleep tonight knowing that I'm snug and warm in my flannel nighty under my flannel sheets with my four furry heating pads arrayed on and around me. And picture me peering out from under the sheets murmuring fruitlessly, like Sheldon, "I am the master of my own bladder."
Missing you between those flannel sheets,

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Angle Clamps & General Hodgepodge

Dear John,
This is Hodgepodge Night. Brace yourself.
I didn't make it to work today. I've been a bit less nauseated, and even managed to eat a small baked potato. Tonight I had liquid jello - it tasted good and stayed where I put it. So there is progress. I'm off tomorrow, and will be ready to go back to work on Friday.
Isn't this the coolest
thing ever?
Last night I dreamed that Glenn Miller was teaching a class on selling real estate, and your sister and I were taking it. I have no idea why a church history professor was teaching it, or why I was taking it. But, barring the faulty premise, the dream was fun. It was good to be back in one of his classes, even if it was real estate.
Ronda posted a photo of her repairing a picture frame with an angle clamp. I had no idea such a thing existed. I've got to get me one of those! I haven't been this excited about a gadget since I discovered faucet wrenches and post levels.
It truly is winter. We have about three inches of snow and more expected, with wind chills around -30. The snow is interfering with satellite dish reception. And Jethro is staying out as little as possible. I'm glad I got lined curtains. We're all warm and safe and dry here. But my Ginger Ale is still flat - you were supposed to pick some up for me last night, remember? Try not to forget tonight!
Leaving the light on,

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ginger Ale & Lofty Goals

Dear John,
I'll be brief tonight. I've been home with an apparent tummy bug today. I haven't thrown up much, but I've been terribly nauseated. I ache all over and I've slept most of the day. I haven't even felt like knitting. I so hate missing work. But today I had no choice. I still have hopes for tomorrow, but they are dwindling as the night goes on. I feel worse now than I did this morning.
The animals have been cuddly today - that always makes me feel better. But could you do me a favor and pick up some ginger ale on your way home from work? The bottle I have is flat. Oh, how I wish you could! Actually, forget the ginger ale and just come home! You know I always miss you even more when I don't feel good.
Please pray about tomorrow. I hope do exciting things, like get to work and eat and stuff. Lofty goals, indeed!
Love you great bunches,

Monday, January 5, 2015

Of File Cabinets & Furnaces

Dear John,
Winter has arrived. The temperature was zero when I woke up this morning, and never reached double digits. Last night I left the cabinets under the sinks open for the first time this winter, and I probably won't close them for a few days. Don't worry - I made certain they were cat-safe.
I'm in the drive-up at work, which isn't insulated. But today the heat in the back half of the building was out, so the drive-up, Mark's office, and the restrooms and break room were freezing. Mark and I have space heaters so we did okay. But the break room was so cold that I ate in the drive-up. It's good that I'm the one back there, since the hot flashes keep me way too warm and my internal thermostat is broken and I'm always comfortable when everybody else is cold. This can be an advantage.
I got to be anal retentive today. The loan files have always been kept together in two four-drawer file cabinets. But in the new building, each loan officer will have a file cabinet. So I've started separating them according to loan officer, which involves looking each loan up on the computer. I got through three drawers today, and hope to do better tomorrow. This is a good week for it. The weather is keeping business slow, and tomorrow is Amish Christmas.
The good news is that the watch was cancelled. It turns out that the storm is going south of us. They were calling for several inches tomorrow, but now we're expecting only about three. I am happy. I don't have to shovel if I don't want to, since I can walk anywhere I need to go. But we're expecting lows around -10 with wind chills of -40, and I'd rather not walk to work in that. Today I got out the red parka you gave me twenty years ago. It's still wonderfully warm - thank you again for that. You kept me warm again today.
Come by tonight or tomorrow night! You can check out the new flannel sheets, meet the cats, and cuddle with Jethro and me. We can all keep each other warm on these next cold, cold night.
Cold without you,

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Should Auld Stoneware Be Forgot?

Dear John,
It's back! Today I brought our old stoneware home from Jen's. She's doing well. She still has some loss of vision and occasional difficulty finding words, and will be in therapy for a while. Mostly she's exhausted. So Willi and I went over and did housework for her today. For a while I'll be taking Elyssa to school and bringing her home, and whatever else is needed.
When Jen moved out and didn't have any kitchen equipment, I gave her our old dishes. I think I told you that. Well, she just got her own set so I have ours back. And it feels so good to use them again! They're completely 1970s, and I'd probably hate them if I didn't love them. But they're wonderful to me.
Not quite ours, but so close!
When we first got engaged, the grocery store near my parents' house had a special give-away on stoneware. So all the neighborhood ladies went together and collected dishes for me - twelve place settings and all the serving dishes, bless them! We used them for twenty years. Then the three of us were at Kohl's and I saw a set that I really liked. Jen got me four place settings for Mothers' Day, you got me more later, and we used those. I'll still use them for summer. But I so love the old ones! They have so many memories - of our early years, the places we lived, the friends who ate off of them, the ladies who got them for me and are all gone now. Those dishes make me happy.
So now I have to find/make room in the kitchen for them. And it will be good - this will force me to go through the pantry and clear some stuff out. I foresee a trip to Goodwill with boxes of stuff. I'm still paring the kitchen down to what I need for only one person. It's gradually turning into your mother's kitchen. And it even has her Hoosier cupboard in it.
But the dishes are all ours. And I'm glad to have our old ones back. I don't care if they look dated - so do I! We'll be out-of-date together. Now all I need is for you to come and eat off of them with me!
Come for dinner tomorrow?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Down the Rabbit Hole

Dear John,
There were things I couldn't say to you last night because not all the important people had been told. But I'm sure you knew everything already, being outside of time and all. You probably knew way before I did.
Jen had a stroke yesterday morning, thankfully a small one. Everybody agreed not to call the bank because there was nothing I could do anyway. Now I understand why Jen didn't like it when we did that to her - I'm supposed to do that, not her! Bob dropped Elyssa with her dad and took Jen to LaGrange, who then airlifted her to Parkview North. At the beginning she had right-sided weakness, some expressive aphasia, and loss of vision in her right eye - just the combination you'd expect. Over time it all cleared, and I don't believe she has any residual now. They discharged her this evening on low-dose aspirin.
I haven't seen her yet due to an ice storm. I was planning to go down after work today, but they started the discharge process. Now she's at home sleeping it all off. Of course she's exhausted, poor kid. I'll spend some time with her tomorrow. Waiting that long to see her is one of the greatest acts of self-control I've performed in quite a while, so be proud of me.
I got the text from Ellie about finding the note for me on her car while I was on the phone hearing about Jen. So, at 6:10 yesterday evening, I fell down the rabbit hole. (I used that expression at work today, and none of the young people had any clue what I was talking about. Lewis Carroll is turning over in his grave.) Everything has been off-kilter since then. I had a hard time concentrating at work.
The "love letter" is nothing of the sort, thank goodness. It's just a neighbor asking me to give him a call. He's married, and a friend, so there's nothing romantic about it. He probably wants me to dog-sit for a vacation or something. The fact that it was taken the way it was by others is a reflection of how much I'm getting hit on at work.
I'm still down the rabbit hole with the caterpillars and hatters and chess pieces and things, but I'm feeling a bit better about it than I was earlier today. Now the Steelers are playing the hated Ravens, and looking good. We'll hope the world gets back on its axis soon. Thank you for praying for all of us.
From Wonderland,

Friday, January 2, 2015

*unprintable words*

Dear John,
Unprintable words. That's all I have to say - things that I can't type.
After work I got a text from Ellie saying that she found a love letter on her car that was clearly meant for me. There was only a first name on it and I have no idea who it could be from. I hope the content reveals the author. But, drat it, here we go again.
What is happening here? This is the second time, and the second man. I'm married, darn it. What's wrong with these guys? Widowed is not the same thing as single. I'm not single. I'm married to a man who got to go to Heaven ahead of me. I. Am. Not. Available.
And who on earth would be interested in me? I know you would. But what are these men thinking they see in me? If I don't know who they are, then they don't know me well enough to be sending me love letters, darn it.
Do I need to get a bodyguard? Do I need to do what I did when Tom was stalking me in college - get an karate black-belt and a member of the wrestling team to escort me around? Maybe I need a pest control ring like Chris gave Jen when she moved to New York, so she could wear it when she didn't want to be bothered. But I'd never take it off. LEAVE ME ALONE, WORLD!
End of rant. But I am quite puzzled and rather annoyed. And I need your advice. You know me - am I doing anything to invite this? I'm Southern - if you're breathing, I'm friendly to you - I start conversations with strangers just like my mother did - and I don't think any of that is going to change. It is being misunderstood? What do I do about this? I need your help!
So come visit, or text me, or call me, or Skype with me. And I'll try to maintain control over my language.
*unprintable words*
Yours way beyond when death do us part,

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Cleaning & Climbing

Dear John,
I've had a busy day off. I tried to sleep in but the animals wouldn't let me. They were up at 8:00 and so was I. But I guess that is sleeping in, considering that I'll be up at 5:30 tomorrow morning. These things are relative.
I took the tree down today. And I did the post-holiday housecleaning: sheets, bathrooms, dusting, vacuuming, kitchen, and general tidying-up. I got out the Dirt Devil and cleaned the basement stairs. And I moved all the furniture when I vacuumed. I still didn't find the missing birthday card - the cats probably hid it under the fridge, which means that the next people who own the house will find it. If they have cats, they'll understand.
Today is Ron's nameday. You know that - it's the feast of St. Basil the Great. Say extra prayers for him since you're his de facto, in not official, godfather. I know you won't forget his birthday since he was born on the day you turned twenty.
And that's the next painful anniversary. I wonder how hard your birthday will hit me this year. Everything is a surprise in this strange world of widowhood. There are no maps. And, if there were, they wouldn't help because everyone's journey is different, especially when it comes to timing. I do know that I am glad you were born, so it is a day to celebrate. When I say my bedtime prayers every night, the thing I give the most thanks for is you. I give thanks for you, for the years I spent with you, and for the hope of being with you again. Save a spot for me!
Climbing towards you,