Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Evolution of Missing You

Dear John,
 
We have heat again. The new igniter had gone out. It worked for eight days. I do hope this one has a longer life-span. The very nice repairman let me look over his shoulder and ask stupid questions, so I had  a lovely morning.
 
I never did run errands in Goshen. I've been flaring this week like I always do when I go to church after working Friday and Saturday. So I looked and the grocery list and decided I'd make it a bit longer. I had leftover stew for lunch, took an over-an-hour nap, then proceeded to roundball overdose. I watched Kentucky beat Arkansas and Duke beat Syracuse. I got a lot of knitting done, had a long lovely phone conversation with Jen, had a good sports day, and did all of it in a warm house. Life is good.
 
There seems to be some evolution in this widowhood thing. You know it was hard to adjust to being on my own in practical ways - learning to use the trimmer, working full-time again, doing the finances and taxes, keeping the house and yard by myself, dealing with things like the furnace going out. Today I realized that now I take that stuff pretty much in stride. I seem to have adapted. I didn't mind dealing with the furnace without you, but I so missed spending the day with you - talking and shopping and watching the ballgames. I'm accustomed to having to do the things you used to do. What I miss is you. I don't expect to ever get accustomed to that.
 
This says it: I will stop missing you when I am with you. No matter how proficient I become with the trimmer, taxes, and appliances, I will miss you just the same. Know that I'm doing fine in the practical realm, and I have plenty of back-up when I need it. But don't forget that I will never be complete again until I'm with you.
 
Missing you more than I can ever say,
Joan.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Heavy Hearts & Cold Ankles

Dear John,
 
I was getting dressed this morning and felt cold air blowing on my ankles. Yes, the furnace is out again. I called NIPSCO at 6:15, got up with JO Mory before 9:00, and they're coming out between 8 and 10 tomorrow morning. They could have come today but there's no way I could get off work on a Friday to meet them. I have my new space heater, and Harold and Janice haven't picked theirs up yet, so we're doing fine. When I got home today the thermostat read 65, which is one degree warmer than I keep the house when the heat is working.
 
It's a bit discouraging. This morning I wasn't taking it in stride quite as well as I did when it went out less than two weeks ago. I felt better after talking to the people at work. It's amazing how much better everything is when you know somebody cares. And that's what women are all about: group moral support. It is good.
 
My heart is heavy tonight - Leonard Nimoy died today. When I was a child watching Star Trek, he wasn't just my favorite character; there were times that he was the only rational adult in my universe. I remember Daddy saying once that he was cold, hard, and unfeeling. I replied that he had feelings, he just didn't let them rule him, and my parents didn't understand that. But Spock let me know that it was okay to be me. I saw my ruthlessness and detachment in him, and loved him for it. Spock was a very important role model for me.
 
But you know all of this - we've talked about it many times. You always loved the Spock in me, and I thank you for that. I doubt that you'd have loved me without it. It's an essential part of who I am, and you loved every bit of me, bless you, even the parts that others didn't.
 
I'm sending you this photo to give you a smile. Isn't it lovely? Facebook is collectively weeping tonight. But it seems to me that this little nod to how important Leonard Nimoy was to all of us is in order, too. And remember, "God grant you many years" is just Orthodox for "Live long and prosper."
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

More on that Spring Thing

Dear John,
 
I'm still pondering the spring thing. You couldn't wait to hear more introspection, could you? I try to not disappoint.
 
When I was younger I had a restless attack every spring. I knew things were serious with you when we dated through two complete springs. I did wild things like buy blue and green nail polish - in the 1970s when that wasn't done. Later I'd tackle new projects in the house or the garden. I'd love to do that again. But since your death, spring is just depressing.
 
I've though some more about it since last night. I believe the hardest part is that in early spring we were so hopeful. We really expected you to be okay. And that's what hurts the most. We went into that spring believing you'd come home, take some time to get your strength back, re-start chemo, go back to work part-time, and life would go on. The first thing we wanted to do was go up to Michigan and spend a week in Holland, just to get away and be with each other. And you couldn't wait to get home to the dog, the bed, and the channel guide on Direct TV. Not necessarily in that order.
 
That didn't happen. The contrast between the hope of early spring and the reality of subsequent events is quite painful. The joy and beauty of spring hasn't yet been able to overcome that. I hope it will - I really don't want to be depressed every spring for the rest of my life. And that bring up the obvious fact that I don't want the rest of my life, either. But that's another night's topic.
 
In spite of my moods, everything is really fine here. We had another inch or two of snow today so it was slow at work. I did my half-day today, and was in the lobby where there is central heat and you can sit down, so it was quite luxurious. Then I ran the car by for Bob to see why my tire pressure light was on (I need a new sensor for the left rear wheel) and to put on new wiper blades for me. I got milk, picked up the mail, and came home and knitted all evening with animals lying all over me.
 
I washed sheets today, so they're nice and clean. You always loved going to bed on fresh sheets. It's better if they're dried on the clothesline, but today they'd just have frozen. I'd love for you to visit tonight, in person or in my dreams. Come and let's just spend time together. Come and make me feel better?
 
All my love,
Joan.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"The Long Year Remembers You"

Dear John,
 
I think I figured something out. I've been very sad for a few days and have had no idea why. This afternoon it was sunny and I could hear birds singing, and I suddenly wanted to go to the rehab hospital and see you. Then I understood why these days have been hard. It's because you can tell that spring is coming, and you died in the spring.
 
It isn't the date on the calendar this time. It's the change of seasons. The days are getting longer - it was light so early this morning that I was worried that I was late for work. There's still plenty of snow on the ground, but the birds are coming back and the air has that different feel to it. Three years ago you were rehabbing when spring came. I remember taking pictures of the flowering trees and bushes and showing them to you.
 
When I realized this, my mind immediately went to Millay: I miss him in the weeping of the rain; I want him at the shrinking of the tide. Will spring always make me sad? I don't know. I can only say that I miss you now; there is a hole where you used to be and I miss you like hell. She always says it best. The long year and I remember you.
 
Come for me soon?
Joan.
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Godzilla vs. Daryl

Dear John,
 
The Walking Dead has a couple of  things rattling around in my head. So of course I have to talk to you about it.
 
First, I think you'd love the show. Like I said before, the zombies are just a plot device. What it's really about is life in a post-apocalyptic world. I know you'd like it because you loved Godzilla vs. Megadeth. Okay, the real title was something about Godzilla and Mechagodzilla, or something like that. But it sounded like Megadeth to me. This is an infinitely more intelligent version of those films. You'd like it.
 
The second thing is something that I'm learning about myself. As I watch it I'm struck by the characters' drive for survival. I'm a bit puzzled by it, and I've realized that I don't have that anymore. For most of my life I had a normal survival instinct. But it seems to have left when you did. It's hard to know what you'd really do when faced with a horde of hungry walkers. But I don't have that will to live, to survive at any cost and effort.
 
See what happens when you forget to take me with you? I hope you've learned your lesson. I always told you to make a list when you were going to be traveling. And you always said you didn't need to, then forgot something. A toothbrush I can understand. But me? Really.
 
That's the extent of my nightly cogitations. I'm off to bed now. Feel free to drop in on my dreams tonight!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Night the Butter Froze, & Other Anomalies of Early Marriage

Dear John,
 
Today I was putting butter on a slice of bread and thought about the night the butter froze.
 
It was thirty-five years ago - can you believe that? It was our first winter in the house in Springfield and we'd hardly begun restoring it. The kitchen wasn't insulated and we were having a very cold spell. One night I went into the kitchen and opened the fridge, and that little bell went off in my head that tells you something isn't right. I stopped, retraced my steps, and discovered that it was warmer in the fridge than in the rest of the kitchen. We always kept the butter on the counter so it would be softer. But that night I put it in the fridge because it had frozen solid. I put the butter in the fridge to keep it warm. How upside-down was that?
 
The house got warmer when we got the wood-burning stove installed. We heated the whole house with it. The floor plan was perfect, with the stairs right there so the warm air could rise and heat the upstairs. I only remember the butter freezing that one time. It also helped as we worked on the kitchen - put in new flooring and subflooring, fixed the windows, patched up the holes in the walls.
 
We had some adventures with that house, didn't we? Bats and bad wiring and holes in the floors. But we loved the house and were so happy to have it, and we took everything in stride. Our friends were all doing the same thing - buying old houses that we could afford, and fixing them up. There was a lot of experience there for us to turn to. We were happy there. I still love that house, still dream about it, go check on it every time I'm in Springfield. It is the house against which all others have been measured, the house of mythic proportions. I'll always miss it.
 
And I'll always miss those early years of happiness and unlimited optimism. We didn't know you couldn't have children, didn't know the radiation was causing progressive damage that would take your life way too soon. But the twenties are like that, and rightly so. You don't know the difficulties and suffering ahead of you. I'm thankful for those few - very few - carefree years. Even if we did have frozen butter.
 
Our butter is still a good thermostat. It's pretty hard now with the house at 64. When I have people over and turn the heat up to 66, the butter is lots softer. And when it starts to get runny in the summer, I know it's time to close the windows and turn on the air conditioning. It has taken over your job of telling me that it's too hot.
 
Know that my memories are good. And know that putting butter on bread can make me feel very sentimental. You are so woven into the fabric of my life, into my heart, into who I am, that you are a part of everything I do. Today you were a special part of that piece of bread and butter.
 
As Adrian Monk said, "Bread and butter!" I'll see you soon!
Joan.

100 at Rupp Arena!

Dear John,
 
I've had a lovely evening. I watched Duke win at 4:00. And at 7:00 I watched Kentucky beat Auburn 110-75. It's the highest score in the SEC this season, and it was Calipari's 100th win at Rupp Arena. And you have to give us (meaning all the UK fans) credit - when the game was over there were still no empty seats. It was a fun game to watch. They're 27-0 now.
 
I love watching games at Rupp Arena, partly because we never missed a home game for three years. My first two years we played at old Memorial Coliseum. It was a lovely place, but not air conditioned, so games could be a little rough. I went, though, to almost all of them. But when they built Rupp, it was amazing. There really isn't a bad seat in the place. A couple of years ago there was talk about replacing it with something that could seat more people. The suggestion elicited a fan-base-wide uproar, and it seems that the idea has been shelved. I would hate to see it go. 
 
The only other thing is that I need you to come and deal with the dog for me before I kill him. It's been warm today - teens above zero - and he has wanted to go out every half hour all night. I hope he's gotten it out of his system until morning. When he does this, it seems that he goes out to come in and comes in to go out. You're much more patient with that than I am. Can you come and give me a break for a while?
 
It's after midnight now. Jethro and Hunter are asleep on the bed with me, Abby in the office window, Maggie in the living room. They'll all be here as soon as I turn the light off. Bless their hearts, they love me. I took a nap on the couch this afternoon and Hunter came and lay on me and slept with me. I've had each of them asleep in my lap tonight. They don't make up for not having you here, but they do make life so much better. I love my furbabies.
 
And I love you, with all my heart!
Joan.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cold, Centipedes, & Cat Cuddles

Dear John,
 
The theme today was cold. It was -12 when I went to work this morning, and that wasn't the wind chill. The drive-up felt like a walk-in freezer. Neither space heater would come on when I got there. I thought we'd tripped a breaker, and I was right; Charley fixed it for me. I got both of them turned on since I was working with Amanda and she is usually cold. She's a lovely hothouse flower and I'm a native prairie weed, but today it was cold enough that even I had trouble getting warm. After a while we ran fast enough to stay nice and toasty.
 
I found this today and thought you'd like it. This is Jethro's goal in life. And it's what the living room looked like tonight. I was on the couch with Jethro at my feet, Hunter stretched out in my lap, Maggie on my shoulder, and Abby next to Jethro. It was a delight. But even with all those little heating pads and the green throw, I couldn't get warm. So I was terribly self-indulgent - I turned the thermostat up to 66. I'll probably have to turn it back down to get to sleep, after the critters and I get all piled up with the flannel sheets.
 
I'm working tomorrow so I'm going to bed soon. I'll rub my feet tonight and wish you were here to do it for me. You gave wonderful foot rubs, you know. You'd rub one foot then reach for the other. When you were finished with that one, I'd give you back the first one and say it was my third foot. Sometimes we'd go through quite a few feet. You didn't know you were marrying a centipede, did you? Thank you for rubbing all of my feet all those times. I appreciate and miss it. And I appreciate and miss all of you. Come rub my feet tonight?
 
Miss you,
Joan.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Crying & Spilt Milk

Dear John,
 
What we have tonight is crying and spilled milk, with no causative relationship between the two.
 
I've been missing you all day, more than usual, with no idea why. When I was getting ready for bed I was imagining what it would be like to go back to Mackinac without you, and burst into the first tears I've shed in a while. I started the dishwasher, let the dog out, fixed my bowl of Cheerios with a banana and my glass of milk, and came down the hall. I settled myself in bed with the laptop and cereal, and coughed. That's all - just one little cough. Maggie was drinking her evening milk out of my glass. The cough scared her, and everything on the bedside table went flying. That included a full glass of milk.
 
It is amazing how much milk a small glass holds. I had milk all over the bedside table - top, front and sides. There was milk on the floor, the rug, the side of the bed, my pillow, and in my bedroom shoes. And in the middle of all of it was Jethro, happily licking it up. I cleaned it all up while my Cheerios got soggy. It did make me stop crying. :Life with the animals is nothing if not entertaining.
 
About my day: I did reschedule the vet appointment and did go to work. Tomorrow is Friday so I'll be in early, and should try to get some sleep. I'll use another pillow. It's things like this that I imagine you don't regret missing. But we still miss you, even in the midst of spilled milk!
 
Love you more than dry pillows,
Joan.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How Tomorrow Went Pear-Shaped Already

Dear John,
 
Tomorrow has already gone pear-shaped, lest I am deluded into thinking for one minute that I have the next minute planned . . .
 
Tomorrow is my day off. Amanda needs to take her baby to the doctor, so I'm going in from 1:00 to 5:00 to cover. Unless we're closed, or Amanda's doctor is closed, or there's another level three snow advisory. I'm also taking Hunter in for his yearly check-up in the morning. Unless we have the aforesaid snow advisory, or I can't find the driveway. I short, I have no idea what's happening tomorrow.
 
We're under a persistent band of lake-effect snow. The wind is gusting to 35 miles per hour and causing white-out conditions. We have a level two advisory now - only essential travel allowed - and multitudes of accidents caused by nonexistent visibility. We're also under a wind chill advisory, expecting to reach -35 tonight. I an fervently thankful that my furnace is working.
 
I'll get up in the morning (not too early, because I'm up late watching Duke beat Carolina) and evaluate the situation. After all, it is lake-effect and you never can tell where it's going to go. If the roads are bad, I'll call June and reschedule Hunter's appointment. I'm not driving County Line Road to Rome City if there's blowing snow, and the north-south roads were drifting shut when I got off work. I'm planning to go in to work at 1:00 unless we have a level three advisory and have to close, or Amanda can't get to Kendallville for the doctor's appointment and doesn't leave, or the weather has business so slow that they don't need me.
 
I'll find out what's happening when it happens. Bless the animals, as long as they can't tell time or read a calendar, changes of plans don't bother them a bit. Your mother used to say that one of the hardest things for her after your father died was realizing that she could make plans without checking with anybody. Nobody knows or cares about my schedule. So I'll hang loose and let what comes, come. I'd enjoy the day off, but I'd also enjoy the extra on my next paycheck. So either one is fine with me.
 
Tomorrow I'll tell you all about whatever it is. I can't tell you the Duke-Carolina score because Hunter has decided to stand in front of the television.

..........

Okay, it's almost midnight, Hunter moved, and the game is over. Duke won in overtime. It was one exciting game. If you get the chance to see a replay, don't miss it. Now I'm off to bed while I still remember where the bedroom is. Love you great, huge bunches!
Joan.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Joy of Central Heating

Dear John,
 
Don't you love the photo? It's me, popping in to say hello.
 
I have heat again. It's wonderful. I love central heating. I think everyone should have it. There was a crack in the ingiter and it needed to be replaced. Now the water heater is on its last legs. I'll call NIPSCO about it next week, after this frigid air has moved on and the furnace crisis is over for them. We're expected to break our low temperature records this week, and more snow is on the way. You can imagine our excitement.
 
That's really all the news today. I had a very busy day at work and have stayed up way too late watching UK beat Tennessee in Knoxville. It was a good game. It's always good to see Tennessee lose, isn't it? I do hate that ugly orange floor. But then, we know that you can't get to Heaven in an orange canoe because God's favorite color is UK blue.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Walking Dead Furnace

Dear John,
 
I'm beginning to understand the appeal of Daryl. Any man who'd gut a walker to see if he ate a little girl is alright with me. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go at this chronologically.
 
I called JO Mory this morning and found out that they'd told NIPSCO at 5 AM Sunday that they wouldn't be able to get to me until Tuesday so they'd need to have somebody else fix the furnace. I called NIPSCO and they said that they'd called Sears, who also couldn't get here until Tuesday, so I'd need to find my own repair service and they'd pay be back. I said that my choice was JO Mory, so they could go with them. I called JO Mory an hour later and they didn't have a work order for me. I called NIPSCO and they said that they did, too. So I made NIPSCO call JO Mory. It's all fixed now. And this is why I have unlimited minutes on my cell phone.
 
They're coming tomorrow; I'm working tomorrow; we're desperately short-staffed so I can't be here. I called the cavalry in the form of Richard, and he's coming. I gave them his number, wrote down the furnace's medical history, and gave Richard the bank phone number just in case. I may have heat this time tomorrow. If it needs a part they don't have with them, we'll have to do it all over again on Wednesday. I don't want to think about that.
 
I got the house cleaned while playing phone tag. When it was all settled - which was after 2:00 this afternoon - I sat down with knitting and Netflix. I'm still working my way through The Walking Dead and loving it. It's intense and often painful. Tonight I watched the destruction of CDC. When I was little I watched it go up and lived across the street from it. Seeing my home town in such a condition isn't easy sometimes. I'm into the second season now, and I have to hurry to be ready for the new one in a few weeks. Like my day, this show has to be taken chronologically.
 
Oh, there is one other bit of news. Last night Abby came and slept on me for the first time since she was a kitten. I woke up three times with her stretched out on my side. It was a nice treat. Hunter, being sensible, is sleeping on the bedroom rug right in front of the space heater.
 
And, thanks to said space heaters, we are all doing fine. This house really is wonderfully insulated - two space heaters are keeping the whole house quite comfortable. I'm thankful for friends who came to my rescue. I need to get some sleep now - Tuesdays after Monday holiday are notoriously dreadful. I'll wear comfortable clothes and be ready for a hectic day. And I'll hope to come home to central heating!
 
Love you so much,
Joan.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

And One Unscheduled Onslaught

Dear John,
 
I woke up at 5:00 this morning and was cold. I went to the bathroom and found cold air blowing out of the vent again. I went downstairs, turned off the system, turned it back on, and still had cold air. I can hear the furnace trying to come on. I think the igniter may have finally died.
 
So I called NIPSCO, giving thanks that you put us on the furnace protection plan twenty years ago. They contacted J. O. Mory, who hasn't contacted me yet. I did laundry all day and the washer and dryer helped warm things up a bit. I thought about vacuuming, but today's high was +4 so it was way too cold the put the dog outside for half an hour. I ran the dishwasher and cleaned, trying to keep warm. But bless Facebook! I posted the news and that we were okay so far - still 57 inside - and friends came to the rescue. First Harold and Janice came by with a space heater, and while they were here Cindy came with another one and three dozen eggs. Now it's 64 and everybody is much happier.
 
You should have seen Jethro this afternoon before the space heaters came. You know he doesn't like cold. He apparently decided that it was too cold for my safety. I lay down for a nap since I couldn't get back to sleep after the excitement at 5:00, and he came and lay down on me. I was on my back, and the dog spread out and covered all of me but my head and feet, and we both went to sleep. He's so protective of me now that you're gone and he's the man of the house.
 
So between Jethro, Cindy, and Harold and Janice, I am nice and warm. I hope they come to repair it tomorrow - after that, it will be Thursday before I can be here to let them in. I'll be following up with NIPSCO tomorrow to be sure. The furnace is twenty years old, so it's entitled to have some issues. I'm just thankful that the repair will be free. Don't worry about your family tonight. We're plenty warm, and there are repairmen on the way. But I still miss your warmth under these flannel sheets.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Calendar Onslaught: Day 2

Dear John,
 
I've survived another Valentines Day. Actually, there was no acknowledgement of the day in my life at all, and that is good. Most people's plans for the day got changed. And that leads to the big news: the weather.
 
We've had a blizzard most of the day. It started with system snow, then the lake cut in. There hasn't been a huge amount of snow, but a terrific wind turned the northern two tiers of counties into white-out. I kept hearing from customers that traffic outside of town was creeping along with the emergency flashers on. When I went home I got to Tiffany's, looked down the road, could see Doc King's clinic, and nothing after that. From our front windows I could barely see DeWayne's house across the street. There were pile-ups of twenty or more cars on I-69, US 30, and the bypass. It's nasty. This photo was taken today and sent in to WNDU.
 
We do excel at blowing and drifting snow here. County roads are drifted shut and visibility is near zero. Elkhart County has a Level 3 travel advisory and we have a Level 2, so church has been cancelled tomorrow, along with every other human activity. To make it more dangerous, wind chills are supposed to be -25 tonight and tomorrow, tonight's low is -6, and tomorrow's high is +5. I left the cabinets under the sinks open tonight, and with the basement under them they'll be fine.
 
Monday is the Presidents' Day holiday so I have two days off. Looking at the weather forecast, it will be a knit-and-watch-basketball weekend. Today I watched UK trounce South Carolina (please extend my sympathy to Mama) and Duke win a close one over Syracuse. I may get started on the taxes - it's that time. They will be much simpler this year and downright boring next year. I do have help if I need it even if you don't get Skype up and running, since Jen got your love of doing taxes.
 
Feel free to stop in and take a look at the taxes. The driveway is fine since our snow has blown to Albion. I'm putting beef stew in the crock pot in the morning, so Daddy may want to come with you. You're all welcome - the more, the merrier.
 
Always your Valentine,
Joan.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Calendar Onslaught: Day 1

Dear John,
 
I've survived another Friday the thirteenth, this one the thirty-four month mark after your death. I was too busy today to think about it very much. I ended up working the drive-up alone. We all ran full-speed all day. We had a carry-in lunch to celebrate Kristen's first full week with us, and my berry crumble was a hit. I got home at 6:15 and came down the hall at 8:00. I'm tired enough to sleep well tonight.
 
So how am I doing at the thirty-four month mark? Generally, I'm doing better. None of this is linear so there are occasional bad days. And I can't say that there are any really good ones. But I'm getting a handle on things. My job has helped the most. It's given me financial stability, which is wonderful. But it's also given me new friends, social contact, self-confidence, and a purpose of sorts. I seem to be regaining some sense of identity, too, probably because I see myself reflected back in the people I see every day. And it occurs to me for the first time that this job has given me something to look forward to: I look forward to going to work because I enjoy it, and I look forward to my days off so I can do other things.
 
I would still give this life up in a heartbeat. What I really want is to be with you. But I'm learning to be content while I wait. I still have nights that I cry - I probably always will. But there are good things in my life and people that I love. And I have four animals that love and need me. I'm alright. I'm making it. And it really is getting easier.
 
So don't worry about me. Keep visiting me in my dreams, keep praying for me. And, for goodness sake, keep working on getting set up for Skype!
 
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,
Joan.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Attack of the Calendar

Dear John,
 
I had a busy day off - lots of chores and errands. That snow storm never got here. It's stuck over St. Joe and Elkhart Counties. I don't think this county ever saw a flake. It's been cold today but clear and sunny. That's the vagaries of lake-effect snow for you.
 
I'm braced for another calendar onslaught. Tomorrow will be 34 months since your death and another Friday the thirteenth. It seems inconsiderate on your part to have died on Friday the thirteenth. I'm aware, of course, every time the thirteenth of the month rolls around. But it hits a bit harder when it comes on a Friday. And Saturday will be Valentines Day - another date I do not enjoy. The good thing is that I'm working both days and will be too busy to think much.
 
Oh, remember that wretched time share at Myrtle Beach that my father refused to sell and insisted on leaving to me? We tried to sell it, were only allowed to use one realtor, and he wouldn't return our calls or letters. And, to add insult to financial hardship, no matter how many copies of the will we sent them, they refused to put in in my name but put in in yours. Well, after your death I couldn't continue to pay $3000 a year in fees and consulted with a lawyer. Since it was in your name, I informed them that you were no longer living, died with no assets, and no probate was opened. Now, two years later, I got a document from them saying that they would buy it back from me for a dollar. We won. It's over. And nothing is going against my credit report. It's being done as a sale.
 
And that's the last thing left hanging after your death. No, wait - that's wrong. There is one more thing. That's your 401K with Pizza Hut. I keep calling to report your death, being told I have to leave a message and someone will call me back, and it's never happened. I may have to turn that over to legal counsel, too. It isn't much money, but waiting 34 months is a bit ridiculous.
 
How's that for a hodgepodge of a letter? You can't say that I'm boring. Incoherent, maybe. But not boring. I'll be at work early tomorrow since it's Friday, and it's my turn to work late. So I'd better be getting some sleep. Come visit my dreams if you can, but not like last night. You're not very convincing as part of a kidnapping ring. The plot had too many holes in it. Come and let's do something fun.
 
Waiting for you,
Joan.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Snow, Spoons, and FICO

Dear John,
 
The flare is over. I woke up feeling normal. Of course, what is normal for a fibromite would send most people to the ER. But it feels wonderful to me. It's amazing how much I enjoy my job when I feel good. Today has been a delight. I haven't had this many spoons in a day for a while.
 
It was an odd day. We were having our typical slow Wednesday when the weather forecast was changed; at around 3:00 they started calling for a couple of inches of lake-effect snow tonight and tomorrow. You'd think the date of the apocalypse had been announced. The entire town decided it had to get to the bank before the snow started. I had 98 transactions today, and 50 of them were in one hour and a quarter. There were lines in the lobby and in the parking lot. It felt a bit like there we were having a run on the bank. .
 
I'm off tomorrow and have a list of chores and errands. I need to get to the pharmacy, mail Jim's birthday present, drop off some dry cleaning, pay the water bill, then come home and pay bills. I'll wait to get groceries until I get paid on Friday. Maggie's spaying cut into this month's budget. Car insurance is due later this month, but I have the money for that tucked away in savings and ready to go.
 
Oh, I don't think I've told you this! You know that your death wrecked my credit rating. I told you about the mistakes that were on my credit report and the hassle of getting it all straightened out. A couple of weeks ago I checked Experien, and I've gotten my credit rating higher than it's ever been. I'm so proud of myself. It's still lower on Transunion, but that's because the bank doesn't report mortgages to them so they don't think I have one. Isn't it funny that your credit rating goes up when your home isn't paid for? I haven't figured that one out yet. I've increased my credit and identity protection since Anthem was hacked. I haven't been with them for a long time, but you never know.
 
So all is well with your little family tonight - we have enough spoons, we're ready for snow, and we have a healthy FICO score. What more could we want? Well, obviously, you. We're prefer you here in person, but we will accept Skype. Or the phone. Or texting. Or email. For you, I'd even get on twitter. How's that for the ultimate compliment?
 
The animals are slowly drifting onto the bed and falling asleep, so I'd better turn out the light and join them. Know that we miss you, but we are alright.
 
Love you more than life,
Joan.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Surrealism Attack

Dear John,
 
Today I was thinking about time and how my experience of it differs from reality. I know we've been over this before. But I think I have a bit more understanding of my head now. And that can't be bad, right?
 
I was at the drive-up window a few minutes before 5:00 today, looking out at the town and thinking that I've lived here for twenty years and we spent half of our marriage here. It feels laughably impossible that we were married for almost thirty-four years. I look back now and it feels like seven or eight years at the most. Time passes so quickly that it's a bit bewildering. I had thirty-four years with you, but it doesn't feel like a quarter of that. Becky must feel like she and Kyle had a week.
 
You know that since your death I don't feel time pass. I know that it does, but I don't have any sense of it. Today I realized that all the normal markers of time are gone from my life now. With you not here, there are no more birthday celebrations, no anniversaries, no holidays, no yearly vacations. The only thing that ties me to time is keeping track of payday and when the bills come due.
 
It seems to be part of the general sense of unreality that characterizes my life now. Father would say that it's to be expected - part of me is in Heaven, and Heaven is outside of time. Maybe it's just my brain. After all, I had a serious head injury a few years ago and clearly nothing can ever be expected of me again.  Maybe this is a normal part of grief and widowhood. Whatever the origin, it's still strange and a bit disorienting. And it's one more thing that sets me apart from everybody else, makes me feel alien and alone, on the outside looking in.
 
I seem to have raised more questions than I answered, didn't I? As always, I would love to hear your input. Come in my dreams and talk to me about it. Or you could just get the Skype problem worked out.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dilemmas & Unprintable Words

Dear John,
 
The fibro flare continues. I went to bed last night early enough to sleep nine hours. But the dog woke me up at midnight to let him out, and I was hurting too bad to get back to sleep until after 3:00. I hurt bad enough today that the people at work could tell. But I did get there and had a good day. Now I'm up watching Duke beat Florida State. I won't stay up for the whole game - I need to try again to get some sleep - but I'm enjoying being able to see some of it.
 
The sleep thing is a challenge. The more you hurt, the harder it is to sleep. The less you sleep, the more you hurt. It's a nasty cycle. The best way I've found to break it is with Oxycodone at bedtime, but I don't have that option now, thanks to new laws. Joe gave me a prescription for 60 tablets almost two years ago and I'm just now out. But the government won't allow doctors to prescribe it anymore without an office visit. And I hate to take a day, go to South Bend, take up his time, and pay an office visit co-pay, just to get a prescription. I've been hoping something else will come along that I need to see him about, but I'm staying disgustingly healthy. I suppose I'll have to break down and make an appointment. What a nuisance. Laws like this don't make the drug any harder to buy on the streets. They just put an obstacle in the treatment of people with legitimate needs because of chronic pain. And you remember how much the round trip to South Bend increases my pain. [unprintable words]
 
That's all the excitement here. Jethro is asleep at my feet, Maggie in my lap making typing a challenge, Abby in the office window, Hunter on the bed. I need to round everybody up and get us all to bed. We love you so much, and we miss you. I'd sleep better on your shoulder with your arms around me. If you can manage it, drop by when I'm ready for bed and let me go to sleep in your arms.
 
Love you with all my heart,
Joan.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Doing What I Need to Do

Dear John,
 
Today was a rest day. I read, slept, and knitted just a little. The only thing I did was one load of laundry. But that's okay. The most productive thing I could do was to make myself ready and able to go to work tomorrow.
 
It's hard for me to remember that rest is productive work for us fibromites. This meme is important. It helps me to not glorify activity. Now that you're not here to tell me this, I have to be able to tell myself. It sounded better in your voice. But I'm getting better at listening to myself.
 
I found another meme that you'll love; this one is just for fun because I know you'll love it as much as I did. Maybe this is the reason Greek yogurt is so good - the cows don't talk like ours do. So giggle at this tonight, and go to sleep with a smile on your face. And don't worry about me - I'll be up and at work tomorrow, because I did what I needed to do today.
 
Miss you so much,
Joan.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

KMN

Dear John,
 
Kill me now. This has been a bad fibro week and I'm tired of it. So just kill me now.
 
It's not surprising. The weather has been all over the place. I did lots of housework last weekend and had a busy week at work. And I'm paying for all of it. Everything hurts. In the system you and I used to communicate pain levels, I feel like I've been run over by a herd of wildebeests. (You know the scale - on a good day it's a herd of ladybugs, on the worst possible day they're buffalo. Probably odd, but definitely an effective communication tool.)
 
I so hate to do it, but I'll probably have to stay home tomorrow. It's supposed to be 40 and raining, which won't help any. I hope I can get the pain down enough to sleep tonight. But I have my little furry heating pads to help me sleep, and that is good. If you were here, I don't think there's anything except my feet that you could rub to help me sleep - everything else is too tender to touch. I would welcome a foot rub, if you can get away.
 
Have I told you lately that I love my job? You know we missed last Monday - were closed because of the blizzard - but they paid us for the day anyway. And everybody knows how much pain I've had this week and they're grateful that I've been at work. But I'm grateful to have work to go to. I'd hurt just as bad at home, and at work I have something to keep my mind off the pain. And it's something that I enjoy, and it pays the bills.
 
It was just pain all week, but this afternoon the exhaustion hit me. I guess my adrenaline level dropped when I got home from work. I couldn't even stay awake to watch Duke finish trouncing Notre Dame. When I feel like this I usually spend the day on the sofa. But tomorrow I may actually stay in bed. We'll see, and I'll report in tomorrow evening. Or you could just come and check on me. If you do, try to remember that bottle of Ginger Ale you promised to bring me.
 
Longing for your touch no matter how much it hurts,
Joan.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Our Burrowing Cat

Dear John,
 
There is strange behavior in your little family. Which is a normal thing for us. So maybe it's normal behavior? I'll let you decide. 
 
Maggie has decided that she likes to burrow under the  bedcovers. I woke up in the middle of Wednesday night feeling something odd at my back. I sat up and turned on the light, and discovered Maggie under the covers, thrashing around at the small of my back. She seemed very happy when I dug her out. I think she'd found her way under them and then couldn't get back out.
 
Now I'm sitting up in bed with the laptop, and here she is beside me, burrowing again. Do you have any idea why a cat would do this? Maybe you could ask Mama - she might know. She doesn't act like she's cold or afraid. She seems curious. Maybe she's just exploring.
 
I really have no idea. But the next time I feel something funny in the middle of the night, I'll know to look for a burrowing cat. Aren't you sorry you're missing all of this? I now we're sorry. Burrowing cats would be so much more fun with you here. It's another reason for you to come visit us - a new local attraction!
 
Leaving the light on,
Joan.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

How I Used Algebra Today

Dear John,
 
Today was mostly a rest day. I've been hurting a lot since the snow and the cold arrived - since it became February - so I took my day off to be off. Except for this morning.
 
I took Maggie in early to get her sutures removed. I thought I was going to have to call June and cancel and take the sutures out myself, which wouldn't be a problem since I've removed nobody-knows-how-many sutures over the years. But the roads were manageable. I was also supposed to take in a stool sample from Jethro, which caused all kinds of difficulties.
 
We got about four inches of new snow last night, so any existing Jethro-poop was buried. He went out at 3:00 this morning and then refused to go out after I got up. The temperature was below zero, but I've never had him refuse to go out first thing in the morning. So I put on my coat and boots, and got him to go out with me. He immediately peed - on my boxwood, of course - but wouldn't poop. I went out into two feet of snow to see if I could find any from yesterday, getting my jeans wet and my boots filled with snow. He went with me and romped and played, then yelped and started limping. So I brought him back inside and checked out that leg. He was fine and didn't limp again. But he never did poop for me.
 
I got Maggie into the carrier and headed off for Rome City. County Line Road wasn't bad, just snow-covered. But State Route 9 between Wolcottville and Rome City was a sheet of ice. There were two slide-offs, and the semi I was behind was going fifteen miles an hour, so you know it was bad. It was a good thing that I left plenty early. Maggie got de-sutured and given a clean bill of health, and we got home without incident.
 
I spent the rest of the day knitting and resting. I'm having enough pain these days that I have to rest my arms after about half an hour of knitting. But I did finish the socks I'm making for Jim for his birthday, and started a pair for me. He won't get them on time because the next chance I'll have to get to the post office when the office is open will be when I'm off again next Thursday. But he'll love the socks. They're just like the ones he admired that I made for AJ for Christmas. I owe him so much more than a pair of socks. But it's a start.
 
As I drove into Wolcottville today I saw that sign that says "Reduced Speed Ahead," and I laughed at it like we always did. It sounds for all the world like Wolcottville is having a sale on amphetamines. So here's another funny sign for you to ponder. Of course, it's easy to solve. But I do love it. That's our kind of creativity. I miss laughing at things like that with you. We've always had the same sense of humor that enjoys the absurd; it's one thing I've always loved about you. I can't laugh with you now, but I think about you when I laugh at things without you. So that's the next best thing to laughing with you.
 
Missing our silliness,
Joan.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Pain of the Calendar

Dear John,
 
I've been pondering this calendar issue. Several of us are struggling with painful dates - not the dates that grow on trees, but the ones that show up on the calendar. These holidays and anniversaries are hard for us.
 
The hardest part of the year for me is the month or so coming up to the anniversary of your death. The first year was hard, but the second was so much worse. And, being me, I'm trying to figure out why. I remember being so glad that all of the "firsts" were over. I had the na├»ve concept that the second everything-without-you would be easier. And maybe the end of the second year was so hard because I'd discovered that the second Christmas-birthday-anniversary-Valentines Day-New Years Day weren't appreciably easier than the first ones. By the end of the second year I had learned that grief isn't something that you get over; it's something that you learn to live with. It's the knowledge of unendingness that's so daunting and discouraging.
 
Well, thank goodness we're none of us doing this alone. As long as we can remind each other that grief isn't linear and orderly, and smack each other when we start to should ourselves, we will be okay. We walk through the calendar together. And that is good. I know you and the rest of the guys are outside of time now, but do remember that we aren't. Do nice things for us when these painful dates come along. Visit us and plan fun things to do. Let us know that you still love us. Remind us that this separation is temporary. And, for goodness sake, get the Skype situation settled!
 
Love you more every day,
Joan.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Snow & Sore Feet

Dear John,
 
I had a crazy day. With us being closed yesterday, I did two days of work today. I had the number of transactions I usually have on Friday, didn't finish night drop, merchant deposits, and mail until 3:30, didn't get lunch until 2:00, and set a new personal record for cash through my drawer. And it all went quite well. Except for my feet.
 
I was limping by 4:00. My feet hurt up to my waist. I've taken Motrin in hopes that it will help some. Sooner or later I'll be having foot surgery; I'm hoping to delay it until we get moved into the new building and staffed for it. If you could get a leave of absence, I'd appreciate it. You could come and look after me for a week or two. It would be a lot of help and lots of fun. I can arrange the surgery around the easiest time for you to get away, if you need me to. So let me know what works for you, and I'll get things set up on this end.
 
It's snowing again. We have a clipper coming through tonight and are expecting another couple of inches, followed by freezing rain. This should be fun in the morning. I finally heard our snowfall total: 15 inches in 24 hours. You know the empty lot across from the pharmacy? The town is using it to put the snow that they plow. It's a great idea. By the weekend the piles should be big enough for sledding. We're expecting an inch or two every day until the weekend.
 
Meanwhile, your little family is safe and warm and eating left-over chili. I'm ready for bed now, and the animals are all riled up and running around. They usually settle down pretty quickly when I turn the light off. I hope they do tonight - I'm worn out and ready for some sleep! Tomorrow should be much slower; I believe we're all ready for that!
 
Sleep good, and let me know about that leave of absence. I'll wait to hear from you.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Demise of the Groundhog

Dear John,
 
Well, Sunday didn't go exactly as planned.
 
The weather did - by the end of the evening we had over a foot of snow and 35 mile-per-hour winds. I didn't even try to get to church. We were under a travel watch, the level just below what used to be called a snow emergency, where they want only essential traffic on the roads. I kept hearing the snow plow go by, then I'd look out and you couldn't tell it had ever been there. It was snowing two inches an hour for part of the afternoon.
 
My little Super Bowl party was cancelled. Besides there being no visible roads up here, snow covered the satellite dish and cut off television reception. I ended up watching the game streaming online. Sadly, I didn't get the same commercials that television had. Equally sadly, I did get the halftime show. It was a good game, though, the best Super Bowl game I've seen in a while. Ronda reminded me to tell you that I cheered for the Seahawks. Well, really I cheered against the Patriots. I'm sure you assumed that, but here's confirmation.
 
I've been home today, too. The bank texted all of us around 5:15 this morning that we wouldn't open today. And it was a good call. The schools and the plants closed, too. I did hear that the pharmacy was open. The sky was clear today so the sun helped clear the roads some. And somebody came by and plowed my driveway yesterday evening and again this morning, bless them! I got out around noon and got the front steps and walkway, and the three feet of the driveway nearest to the garage door. It was over two feet deep.
 
I've been glad to have the days to rest. The fibro made me pay for doing so much on Saturday. It doesn't help that Saturday follows Friday, when I'm so busy at work. I've had arm and shoulder pain bad enough to not let me sleep the last two nights. It feels a bit better today so I'm hoping for a good night's sleep without pain medicine. Bless my little feline vibrating heating pads! They help so much on nights like these!
 
If you come see me tonight, can you get snowed in? I have a big pot of chili in the fridge and a loaf of homemade bread, and a winter wonderland right outside the windows. But all I want is you.
 
Love you so very much,
Joan.
 
PS - Phil saw his shadow today, so we're in for six more weeks of winter. Could you manage to get snowed in here for that long? Pretty please?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

An Energy Attack Put to Good Use

Dear John,
 
I had an energy attack today and tried to make the best possible use of it. Once again, the only way to tackle this is chronologically.
 
What was happening at Meijer today . . .
The first errand was to the farmers market. I got cheese and onions from Fritz and a candle from the Soapy Gnome. Then I went to Lowes and got a new piece of glass cut to replace the broken piece in a picture frame. I had a junior burger at Wendy's. Then I went to Meijer. That was probably a mistake.
 
I was out shopping because today was my once-a-month Saturday off of work. The entire population of Goshen was there because the Super Bowl is tomorrow and we have a winter storm warning. John, every single register was open and each one had at least ten people in line. The lines went almost half-way to the back  of the store. I've never seen anything like it.  I just stood there and laughed. From there I went to the co-op for bread and yogurt - it was decidedly less adventurous and much more enjoyable. And I got the car washed.
 
After I got home and unloaded the car, I replaced a light bulb in the garage. Then I cleaned the inside of the car, which means I got rid of the animal hair and dog slobber. I went inside and washed windows, then went outside and replaced the screens I had taken out when I hung the wreaths for Christmas. It was an act of faith that it will one day be warm enough to open the windows again.
 
At that point I was on a roll, so I kept going. I dusted, did two loads of laundry, scrubbed both bathrooms, and took out the trash. I hung two pictures on the living room wall. I had bought two new bathroom rugs at Meijer and put them out. And I did something that I may regret in a few hours: I gave the cats two toys that squeak. It's been fun to watch them play with them. I've never bought toys that make noise before. I'll let you know how it works out.
 
I'm learning something important. You know I've had trouble wanting to clean the house now that I'm not cleaning it for you. Well, I'm learning how important it is to do those things for my own sake. My morale and emotions are so much better when the house is clean and the little things are done, like pictures and bathroom rugs. I'm happier and everything is better. I need to remember that.
 
I'm not setting the alarm for the morning. It's snowing now and is the beginning of a severe storm. They're calling for an inch an hour tomorrow with high winds, so blowing and drifting. We're expecting a total of 12-18 inches by Monday morning. There's no way I'm going to try to get out tomorrow. I'll put a pot of chili on and watch the game. Richard is coming over, so I won't watch it alone. There will be good food and football. It should be a nice day. As always, if you can get a hall pass, come for a visit. Football and chili - can you turn that down?
 
I'll leave the light on,
Joan.