Kim’s love story will bring a smile and a tear. I met her on a cruise which was a gift to several of us widows. Yes, this is our cruise ‘table.’ We laughed and had more fun than any one else, baked our skins laying on the sand, and treasured discovering that our common bond, born of tragedy, resulted in comfort, that rare gift of being able to live in the moment, and new friendships. (Kim is second from the right).
October 13, 2009
Since my last update my life has been bipolar. Many very happy stories via email and phone calls have come my way while I am sitting alone in my big empty house missing my boyfriend. My five year old nephew helped a physically challenged classmate climb to the top of the hay pile. A dear friend helps jobless, homeless people find jobs and a place to live while showing them love and compassion. A former volleyball player is working hard to help poverty stricken kids living in Mexico City. My really good friends just became grandparents for the first time to beautiful baby Dillon. My sister-in-law received a great job promotion. A few people told me that they are going to stop watching the news and instead hear news from ‘independent reporters’ like friends and family. There is a lot more joyful news in this world that ever gets reported. I wonder what it would be like if news was reported with a joy slant rather than leaning right or left.
It is hard to know what to say to someone who has been given bad news. When a doctor gives a life changing or life ending diagnosis words can seem insignificant in the face of an unknown future. Some of the words that I have heard over the past seven months have been ‘you need to move on’, ‘get over it’ and ‘life goes on’. Well meaning people try to help bring me to a place where Steve is in my past and my future starts now.
The reality is that Steve will always and forever be a part of me. Steve and I grew up together. We shared children and grandchildren. We shared intimate moments, just the two of us. We shared mortgages, banana splits and socks. Weekend trips to Bed and Breakfast Inns, Anniversary vacations to Ireland, San Francisco, Asheville, Chicago, Alaska and Philadelphia. Surprise birthday parties with a guy playing spoons and tee shirts that said “In dog years I’m dead”. Family vacations to Disney World and St. Croix. Mission’s trips to the Dominican Republic right after Hurricane George and New York City right after the attack on the World Trade Center. We shared the remote control (sort of). We shared a bed, blankets and sometimes even a pillow. We shared colds, French fries and volleyball teams. Victories and defeats. Good times and bad times. Sickness and health.
I will not move on. But I will move. I will make myself get out of bed in the morning, put one foot in front of the other and muster up new determination each new day. I will not let death defeat me. Jesus came to defeat death so that we could have the opportunity to live, not just beyond life on Earth as we know it, but to really live life here, today.
I have to live here for my kids, my grandchildren, my dad, Steve’s mom, my friends, my Dominican son, even for people I have not met yet.
But I don’t just want to live. I want to live. I want my life to honor God and honor Steve. Steve is a big part of who I am. I want life to be a celebration of the good things; excitement for what is to come not mourning what could have been. I want to be a blessing not a cursing.
I already regret things that I have said and done during this time of fog. I think that I have my act together and am fully here body, mind and spirit. But I am not. The clouds are low these days. Sometimes the fog lifts a bit and I can see a couple of hundred feet in front of me but I still have times when the fog is at zero visibility. I am looking forward to the fog turning into just a mist then dissipating all together.
So here is to living fully, breathing deeply and moving forward. I know that God will supply the strength to live, the air I breathe and the grace to move forward.
God is good. All the time.
October 20, 2009
As I struggled trying to open a jar of salsa the other day I realized what I want for Christmas. I want one of those rubber thingys that open jars with no trouble at all. Tomorrow is trash day so I would also like a trash compactor then I would only need to haul one bag to the curb each Wednesday night. And a step stool; my cupboards are tall and I am not. I really want a lawn boy too. The guy that mows my lawn does a great job but I need it edged, weeded, seeded and groomed. Plus the lawn boy could turn into a snow man. I am not gifted at snow shoveling. The plowing thing I can get taken care of but what if it snows in the night and I have to shovel just to get to my car?
And a plumber. I really need a plumber. I can plunge. I can even stop the water from flowing out of the toilet. But what if something starts to leak? An electrician! That is what I really need. I have this outlet that only works sometimes. I think that there is a switch that controls it but I really don’t know. I could try to flick the switches but who has time for that when ‘Shoo Bee Doo Bee Doo Wah’ is on? (That is ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. I did not realize that the shows little theme song actually had lyrics until just recently.)
Something else that I would like for Christmas is a foot warmer. Those Michigan sheets can be pretty cold when I climb into bed. A hand warmer would be nice too. Any car north of the Mason-Dixon Line should have heated steering wheels as part of their standard packaging.
I also need a full length mirror that can let me know if I look fat in what I try on. Clothing stores should have those mirrors just outside of every dressing room, right by the chair where the sleepy, nodding guy always sits.
A mechanic would be nice. There is this noise that my car started making. It is sort of a kaaaaaa but more of a chuuuuuu, it could be a grinding with a little squeaking. Whatever it is I discovered that if I turn the radio up loud enough I can’t really hear it anymore. I may need new tires. I know there is something about a dime, if you can put it in the treads it means six more weeks of winter, or maybe that was a quarter. I usually put my change in those jars with pictures of sad children that are by every cash register so I really can’t check my tires even if I understood how.
My list is getting longer as time goes on. I think that someone should create a gizmo kind of like the Magic Eight Ball but in the shape of a football. Instead of asking ‘will I find my other sock today?’ and get an answer like ‘maybe’ or ‘not looking good’. I could ask ‘why did they just call back that touchdown?’ and get an answer like ‘offensive holding’ or ‘the refs get paid by the home team’. I love to watch football and I do know a bit about the game but sometimes there are crazy things that happen and a new rule gets thrown into the mix. I need that Magic Football to tell me why.
As I look over my Christmas List I realize that at one time had everything on my list. I had the jar opener, the electrician and the Magic Football. I even had the lawn boy and the plumber, the foot warmer, the step stool and the snow man. His name was Steve.
Now I have my son Paul, my dad, and my other sons, Luke and Noah, helping me to do some of this stuff. Sometimes salsa has to wait until Noah comes home for the weekend and none of them watch football but in general they take care of my house things.
I have someone else too. My comforter, protector, healer, wisdom giver and friend. When the men in my life are unavailable God is there. He watches football games with me. We cringe together every time a player gets hit really hard and cheer enthusiastically after a great play. He makes sure that the Boogie Man stays away from my house. God keeps me stable when I climb on the cupboard to reach something up high and has done a great job of keeping the snow away so far this year. And He doesn’t tell me if an outfit makes me look fat because He thinks that I look good in anything, even sweats.
October 26, 2009
My class reunion was a riot. I have the best classmates of all time and when we get together it is as if no time has passed. Super fine, ’79!
A couple of them spoke of the day that I came to school at the end of our senior year and announced that I was going to get married. No one believed me. Not because I was known for telling untruths but because I was the picture of independence, destined to be the first woman President of the United States. What man could ever harness such unconstrained liberation?
Apparently his name was Steve.
Steve and I were opposites in so many ways. He was a pessimist (he called himself a realist) and I am an optimist (he said I lived in La La Land); Eeyore to my Tigger. I love sports, he loved history. My bags remained packed just waiting for the next adventure; Steve’s favorite place was home. Steve was steak and potatoes to my Thai and Tostadas. The words that Steve spoke were few, wise and thoughtful. Words spew from my mouth like sunflower seed shells out of a little league pitcher. Steve was blue jeans and a pick-up truck. I am go-go boots and a sports car. Steve enjoyed the Symphony; I like rock ’n roll. Steve liked quite walks on the beach. I want to ride the waves.
Even physically Steve and I were an odd couple. He was six foot three to my five foot two. He wore size twelve shoes! Moses could have floated down the river in one of his docksiders. Steve had toes as long as my fingers. He was a long string bean of a guy (as my dad once said) while I have always been curvy (my term, not my dad’s). My dentist is a good friend but never listens when I beg him to say those two magic words, ‘no cavities’. Steve very seldom had to have a tooth filled. I am always having problems with some part of my body while Steve had an occasional sniffle.
Felix Unger and Oscar Madison. Abbott and Costello. Lucy and Ricky.
I remember years ago hearing a well respected family counselor say that opposites attract but should never marry. Even the most revered advisors can be wrong sometimes.
It was our differences that made us so good together. Where I am weak, Steve was strong. When he lacked confidence I had enough for both of us. When I lacked faith Steve doubled up on prayer. Yin to my yang. We went together like rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong.
It is the same with God. God brings peace in the middle of my crisis, joy into my sadness and comforts my loneliness. His shoes are big enough for the both of us and He shoulders not just my tears but my woes.
Without faith I am really alone. Aside from God there is no hope. But with God all things are possible and great things are probable.
God is good. All the time.