Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Follow-Up to Birthdays and Stuff

With Nikki's suggestion (see comments on Birthdays and Stuff), I was able to make Todd's birthday a celebration of his life in a way I did not anticipate. It seems so obvious now what a perfect idea that was. I usually celebrate birthdays with cake and presents and getting together with family and friends because that day is "about me," but I think from now on I will celebrate my birthday (and Todd's) by doing something special for others so that it is not "about me" (or my grief over the loss of Todd), but about giving thanks for the gift of life (and the gift of Todd's life). I didn't include my children in this year's surprise activities, but next year we will do this together and begin a tradition that will honor their daddy's birthday in a healing way.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.

Psalm 126: 5 - 6

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Birthdays and Stuff

Friday is Todd's birthday. Luke's is Sunday. We thought Luke would be a birthday gift the year he was born, and he was, kind of--but I guess he decided he wanted his own day to celebrate, so he just sort of hung out for a couple of extra days. Todd never forgot my birthday (or our anniversary, or the kids' birthdays, or his family's birthdays, etc.), but I did forget his one year...I can still remember grading exams when I got a call from a dear friend wanting to wish Todd a "happy birthday." I panicked--my mind raced as I tried to grasp exactly what he was saying on the other end of the phone and I tried to remember what the day's date was. I had prepared NOTHING! Our friend helped me pull together dinner by providing potatoes and some kind of meat he had grilled or smoked that day, and I quickly made a cake so that when Todd arrived home from work he was unaware I had totally forgotten...until I narked on myself...I've never been one to be able to hide stuff like that--I always feel a need to confess. We laughed about it, and I never forgot again...although last year I did accidentally schedule a girl's trip at the same time as his and Luke's birthdays...I was mortified when I realized what I had done, but Todd just laughed about it and told me to ahead and go on the trip as scheduled. I went on the trip, but I met up with the family in Bowling Green (Corvette Museum) on Luke's actual birthday. Todd was so good natured about things like that...he rarely cared if he was "neglected." He taught me a lot about not taking things personally and rolling with the flow of things (although I have not achieved his level of success in this area).

I have begun to recall even more good things. I finally remember the affectionate names he called me. I remember the smell and feel of his neck when I would bury my face in it , and I remember the softness of his cheek right after he shaved. I remember the look on his face and expression in his eyes when he shared something he was excited about. I also remember how I could shut him down with a word or two that expressed my lack of enthusiasm...that memory I could do without. I guess it's a packaged deal, though, huh?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Good Day

I had a good day today and yesterday...and even the day before that. That's pretty darn great--three days in a row! I know there will be more difficult days ahead, but I am going to enjoy the reprieve for however long it lasts. More good news: I slept 9 1/2 hours last night...I cannot remember the last time I slept that long. Hallelujah!!

I have a thankful heart today. That, in itself, is amazing since I have been angry and ungrateful (to varying degrees) for quite some time now. My poor family and friends who see me on a regular basis are probably going to get t-shirts that say "I survived the wrath of Susan" by the end of this first year...but thankfully (for real) they never let on that they are frustrated with me. Thank you all, who continue to stand by me in the face of my neglect and my ugliness. May God bless you as you have blessed me with your servant's hearts.

One thing that has made these last few days particularly nice is that I have had a new wave of memories of Todd. Sweet memories that are filled with good emotion...not like the photo snap-shot memories I have been having. I hated that I couldn't really hear, in my mind, the sound of his voice or laugh...and now I can. The psychologist told me I would recall these things over time, but it is difficult to explain how awful it feels to have spent the last 26 + years of your life with someone and have very 2-D memories instead of the rich 3-D one's you long for. I can't really explain it, so this may not make sense to anyone but me...but that's okay because it is a very good and satisfying thing. At least twice I have even had the whisper of the thought that I needed to check in with Todd. Once, when I was leaving the park after a walk, in the back of my mind swirled the thought that I should go by and see if he needed me to do anything for him, like make the daily deposit or something. I know it was because the park is near his work, and whenever the kids and I left the park we always went by his office and said "hi" and checked to see if he needed anything. And today, I went shopping in a neighboring town...I was gone longer than I expected to be, and when I got in my car to head home I again had a moment where I thought I should call him to let him know I was running late. These things might sound like they should make me sad, but they don't --they are comforting for some reason. Like a veil has been lifted between me and my memories. I would say months 7 and 8 have been pretty hellish, but I have survived. I have lots of hope that the worst part of winter is nearing its end and "spring is coming."
Thanks for listening.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pressing On

This was a difficult weekend. Actually it's been a extraordinarily difficult few weeks. It feels a little like my heart is being ripped up and trampled on all over again. I love my new home, but I still miss the old one (where we lived very happily as a family of four) and all its good memories. I haven't really wanted to do anything much, but there is much to be done. Some days it has been very easy to slip into a pity party, but for the most part I'm just sad. I know a lot of it is being hammered with the many decisions that must be made...decisions that Todd and I have always made together. I have had a lot of help, and for that I am sooooooooooo thankful.

I am still not totally moved out. Each time I go back to the house, I am assaulted by emotions as I look around at a home that is clearly not lived in any more, but is not yet empty of the things that once resided in a cheerful household--and I know that no matter what I do I can't reconstruct it in another location...and to try, of course, would be unhealthy. Making healthy emotional choices is sometimes a real struggle and sometimes not so much, but that was pretty much true for me even before August 2. Overall, though, I think I am headed in the right direction, and everything I see in my children tells me they are too.

Hang tough.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Deep Roots

No one really believes my apple trees will survive. Yesterday I had to remove all the flowering buds from them in an effort to save them. I have been told that is the only hope there is. By removing these buds I am allowing the trees' resources/energy to be redirected to the roots. I have been told I have transplanted them at the absolutely worst time possible as they were just beginning to bud. In the week since they were transplanted these buds have flowered which gave me false hope (that they were thriving in spite of all the shock) but apparently this activity was sapping necessary resources away from the roots...and I know that without well-established roots a plant can't survive for the long haul.

I cried as I began to clip the flowering buds. It just seemed like more loss on top of so much loss already, and I was just emotionally pissed that I was having to do it...but I didn't want any one else to do it. If it had to be done, I wanted it to be me. Now all this may seem silly over a couple of trees, but it wasn't silly to me at that moment. As I continued to clip and cry, I felt a sense that God understood exactly how I felt, but that this pruning was necessary for the greater good of the trees so it had to be done. It strengthened me somehow, and I was able to continue with new resolve. I had gone in to get my mp3 player so I could listen to music as I worked, and a few minutes after my new resolve kicked in there was a conversation (of course, when you want music on the radio it is nowhere to be found) going on about how even when we are acutely aware of the great suffering in the world, it is still so easy for us to slip into ungratefulness for what we have. That was not exactly how the radio personalities said it, but that was how I understood it. How quickly I choose to focus on what's missing at the expense of appreciating all that is there.

How many of us as parents have actually encouraged this attitude in our children by failing to prune the flowers because we think it will be too painful for us? We have allowed the buds to flower at the expense of deep roots...and we all know they will desperately need those deep roots as they grow into adulthood. Deep roots are essential in order to thrive (not just survive) spiritually, physically and emotionally. As Scott Peck says in the first line of his book, The Road Less Traveled, "Life is difficult." God has gifted us with the privilege (yet serious responsibility) of helping to grow these deep roots in our children, and it has been my experience that apart from Him this is not possible.

I don't feel I have quite fleshed this out like I would like too, but it is time to post it and get going. I am sure I will continue to think about this in the days to come. I said at the beginning that "no one really believes my apple trees will survive." That is not completely true. I do--or at least some part of me does. Only time will tell.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Peaceful Evening

I am sitting on my back porch enjoying a glass of red wine. The weather is perfect...warm and breezy. My kids have gone to visit Todd's parents and sisters as they do most weekends...I miss them, but I am so happy that Todd's family is close. I know it will keep them connected to their dad in a special way. The insects are buzzing...I just had to put Race (the dog) in his kennel because he was playing a bit rough with the cat...but he will be back out here in a bit to sit beside me. May you have a peaceful evening where ever you find yourself...enjoy it to the fullest.

Deer Sighting

I saw the four deer again this morning...Caley and Luke got to join me this time! Luke sat out on the couch and watched them for about 30 minutes, and Caley said "thank you for showing us that, momma!" They are so beautiful and awesome to watch.