Summer Letter

Dear M,

I have so much to tell you. I’m sorry I haven’t written in so long. I was kind of holding my breath to get through our first trip back to Riverton without you AND the memorial at Riverton.  As you know from my father’s memorials I am NOT a fan of the two memorial approach. Your brother Doug wrote your obituary, which took took a big burden off my hands. However he ended it with the announcement of a second memorial to take place in the summer at the family home in North Carolina. It has been looming every since. I hoped he would forget, but he didn’t. I didn’t quite understand why it was so important to him, since the two of you seemed at odds much of the time. I think it was about tradition and appearances and the family name and such. In any case I did it. It was lovely in spite of my anxiety. Butter sprinkled some of your ashes in the Lumbee River. We kept some because he was really touched by the episode of This is Us, in which Kate watches football with her father’s ashes every Sunday. He wants to be able to do something like that too. 

Meanwhile our boys have been up to so much. IMac has fulfilled all of the volunteer hours necessary to apply for Bright Futures. He is in full swing with band camp. He secretly auditioned for the flute solo and got the part. He was going to surprise me but two of his band mates blew his cover when they saw us at the grocery store. He was able to keep the secret for all of two hours.

Butter called us yesterday from the top of Mount Baldy at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It was fun to hear him chatting with iMac about their shared experience, with iMac having gone two years ago. Butter took your orange fleece jacket with him to Philmont. iMac is wearing your coolibar hat to band camp. His band mates call him the fisherman, because of the hat. We didn’t save much in terms of garments, but those two items seemed practical.

It’s already time to get ready for school to start. IMac is almost road ready to take his driver’s license test. I have made him drive us to work/volunteering. The drive includes the always harrowing stretch of I 95 through the city where the construction never ends, with jersey walls etc. They seem to move the road every week. 

Miss Murphy is 9 months old now and 40 pounds. I do think you would love her even though you claim not to be a dog person. Cha caught a frog for me today. He was so proud! He dropped it at my feet. Much to his disappointment it hopped away. That’s all for now.
Lots of love,

S

Summer Starts Letter

Dear M,

I almost wrote this morning, but I ran out of time. I had the dream I know I will have again. It woke me from a sound sleep. I was so excited when I awoke, just for a moment. You see, I dreamt you were coming home from a long trip.There were many long trips and homecomings in our 18 years of marriage. I was always unsettled by the travel. It reminded me of our impermanence. You were our joy bringer, our scheduler of fun. It was a big job. I never acknowledged it or thanked you for it. So Thank you. It is a hard job. I have planned a decent summer for both kids. I know that because Butter is already complaining that I over scheduled him. He had no schedule on the first two days of summer. By the second day of summer break I had already misplaced him. I called home at lunchtime and talked to imac. He said he didn’t know where Butter was, somebody’s mom had picked him up but he didn’t know who. Butter had left his phone at home.  I quickly deduced which mom had picked him up, texted her and confirmed his location. Growing up, we could never keep track of my brother Johnny Reb. Pre-cell phone era we usually just drove around the neighborhoods until we found him shooting hoops in a friend’s driveway.

It was Memorial Day weekend and I remembered the long hike we took from Arlington to Reston on the Washington and Old Dominion trail. I remember hearing rolling thunder go by while we walked. 

I cried on my way to work today, then pulled it together on the elevator for a day of anemia, clots and hemophilia. So wishing I could have brought Murphy to work with me today. I hope that you are proud of me. I am not functioning on all cylinders yet, but maybe 4 out of 8. I feel like I have my skin on inside out. I am able to fool most civilians most of the time. It takes a lot of energy. There doesn’t tend to be much leftover.

Sorry for rambling, but you know, that’s just me.
Love you lots,

S

At a Conference letter

Dear M,

I am in Fort Lauderdale at a medical conference, thanks to the generosity of your cousin Mary Mac. Mary Mac and her dog are taking care of the boys, Cha and Murphy. I slept a full 9 hours last night! Took an uninterrupted bath, read, walked on the beach.

Just now I watched Lucy Kalanthi’s YouTube talk. Before you died I read her husband’s book, When Breath Becomes Air . They made a promise to each other to say what they were thinking out loud. It’s a noble idea, but it didn’t work for us. I would have stolen moments of peace and joy from you if I had expressed my thoughts and feelings outloud. That’s how my blog evolved. The reality of your illness was brutal. If you didn’t see or feel the brutality of it, I didn’t want to be the one to point it out. It would have been to wake the sleeping before they’d had enough rest. 

Tomorrow is the last day of school. Tonight the Court of Honor for Boy Scouts. Butter has called me a few times as he prepares. He’s mad about the linens in his closet because it is the fault of the linens, placed there by his mother, that he could not find his merit badge sash. He did find it while we were on the phone. Really he is missing you and now me too. I cried last year during the May Court of Honor because they presented you with an award. You were at home on the sofa. You sent me in your place because your words were all mixed up. You felt self conscious and didn’t want the scouts to see you without your words. They spoke about you returning when you were better. I knew that you never would be. I’m grateful that Mary Mac is there tonight with Butter, though I know he wishes that you and I were there together.

You would love this hotel. It makes me feel like I have dropped into another era. I’m not sure whether I am in the 1930’s or the 1950’s. More later.
Love,

S

Anniversary Letter

Dear M,

May 9:

Happy Anniversary! Nineteen years today. I thought I might feel sad so I preemptively purchased flowers at Publix last night and cleaned the kitchen. Orange, yellow, green, and pink beautiful grocery store flowers in a blue vase greeted me this morning. I also set the coffee maker for 5 a.m, the same time we usually sat on the couch drinking coffee and talking before the kids got up. 

May 15:

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. The boys went all out. Murphy slept in Butter’s room so I could sleep in. Murphy awoke at her usual time 4:15 a.m. Butter took her out in the yard to play for an hour so she wouldn’t wake me. I woke up at 5:45 a.m. The boys brought me coffee and oatmeal in bed.

May 18

Wow! Our last middle school band concert. Both our boys in high school in the fall. Can you believe it? They are going to make their second solo trip to see Bolly and Mob when school gets out. Miss Murphy was up in the night vomiting. It looked like she had eaten her fair share of Kleenex yesterday. Mary Mac is coming to visit Sunday. She’s helping out with the boys while I attend a hemophilia conference. That’s all for now. Wish you were here.

XO

S

A letter about letters

Dear M,

Today I received a nice letter from DuBoff, as you called him. He told stories of you at the Federal Energy Regulatory Comission in the mid 70’s wearing Adidas sneakers with your suit and tie, lots of nice stories. The boys will enjoy these immensely. A story of single you, sitting on the floor playing with the two eldest DuBoff children during a baby shower for number three or four of the DuBoff boys. 

Last night imac and I attended the 2017 Band Banquet. I sat with MK of course. The dinner was better than most, on schedule and with good food. IMac was welcomed into the room by a table of girls calling his name to come sit with them. He was the center of attention at the flute table as the only male. He was surprised and pleased to win an award. He will play in the upper band during his senior year. Things are looking up. Today he asked to meet with me to discuss his Eagle project!! This is akin to eating asparagus, something he had previously avoided. The door from the garage into the house has been opening by itself all week. You never used the front door, even after the faulty handle was replaced. You always came in through the garage. I think of you each time I see it open “by itself.”

I thought of you last night too, of last year’s band banquet. You had independently scheduled your outpatient surgery to have your feeding tube removed and then you were chagrined to find that they wouldn’t let you take a taxi home post-op. It was your “Fuck you” to me about the car keys. You called MK to pick you up. Your head was still shaved in the locations of your two brain surgeries just a few weeks before. We carried on. And still I carry on.
Love,

S

Almost May Letter

Dear M,

I’m sorry I haven’t written in so long. Easter was good. I was dreading it, but an old friend called. She came with me and imac to the Sunrise Service on the beach on Easter morning. The boys and I had dinner with the Command Master Chief and Mary and their boys. I could hear all the kids laughing in the living room. It made me so happy to hear. The Chief told stories about you that made me laugh and smile and miss you too. It’s nice for the boys to have some people around who knew you well. Murphy graduated from her puppy classes. Tomorrow Butter will go on the school Band trip to Orlando. IMac and I will go to Quest for his fasting labs, drop Murphy off for a haircut, out for breakfast, drop a package at UPS, return library books and maybe go to the beach. It’s opening day at the Beaches. There will be a sandcastle contest tomorrow and a parade on Sunday. Next week I will be the one and only hemophilia nurse at work. My sidekick Kayla will be at a conference. Hoping for NO big bleeds. IMac has his AP exams and the band spring concert next week. 

I stopped at Staples tonight and bought another planner. There’s no one here to tell me that a new planner won’t make a bit of difference in the chaos of my life. It was $12, so not much to pay for an illusion.

I’m waiting for the next seasons of House of Cards, and Bloodline. I’m distracting myself with Goliath meanwhile. I started making cards again last weekend. I worked on some that I had started when I was spending days with you in the hospital and at McGraw Hospice. 

Butter keeps looking for your clothes, although I explained to him that you had that all planned out and gave most of your clothes away. Although there are these weird rules about ashes, I’m going to my own thing anyway. The ashes are in the closet that’s what made me think of that. Clearly most people jump directly from the topic of wardrobe to remains. Butter wants to put some in an urn and have some at the cemetery in Riverton. I need to call the funeral home in Laurinburg to have a headstone made. Butter is adamant about a service in North Carolina this summer. It will be important for your family members who couldn’t make it to the memorial here. It’s hard on me. I want to be done with memorials for a little while at least. He wants to make a memory box with your sunglasses, hat, and keychain. We’ve been using your car lately because I need to take the Sonata to the dealer for 2 recalls.  The decent dealer is 45 minutes in the opposite direction so I haven’t worked out the logistics yet.  

I may have already told you, but the guy at Goodyear asked after you when I took your car for an oil change. I was sorry to have to tell him. He teared up and got goosebumps. He looked like he’d lost his best friend, when actually I have. 

I’ve been catching up with CMcC. We have a lot of laughs on the phone. I’m going to make a YouTube channel for her to keep her in good cheer during her open heart surgery recovery and then (fingers crossed) her pancreas/kidney transplant. I’ll be soliciting contributors to the channel.  Currently I just send her videos of me singing popular songs badly. Seems to be effective.

I dreamt about Dr. Beckerman, who delivered IMac. Remember him saying the epidural is God’s gift to women. This time in the dream I think he must be appearing in his new role, the Menopause Fairy. He says it’s going to be great. I hope he’s right and all these women are lying. 
Sending lots of love,

S