Letter # 8

Dear M,

Thanksgiving! I entered into this Thanksgiving thing with some trepidation, but we did it!!! Tomorrow it will be 2 months since you died. There is still so much I don’t have a handle on yet. It’s tricky balancing taking care of myself, and the kids (because we are all so needy) and getting things done. So I did not get the Christmas decorations up as planned. I am not sure why there is an expectation that the house will be fully decorated, by Sunday after Thanksgiving, but there seems to be one. I am making a new schedule for myself because sticking to the standard will make me grumpy. Grumpy moms at Christmas are no good for anyone.

I channeled you this weekend with the homework. I had been trying to get the kids to take ownership of their own school work on the weekends. Bad idea. Every Sunday night Butter has had a meltdown, surprised, shocked even that there was this or that assignment that he had NO IDEA about until now. Then imac and I would be treated to a long monologue about the unfairness of life, some door slamming, talk of never getting into college. No acknowledgement made during these monologues of the amount of time wasted on XBox. Have I told you how much I dislike the XBox?

This weekend I assigned reading for pleasure and I assigned spiritual reading.I assigned a minimum amount of homework time every day except Thanksgiving day. I assigned some fun things and I put some limits on gaming. At first of course it was NO FAIR, and I was UNPOPULAR, but now we are having a fairly peaceful Sunday night.

I am still amazed at how much energy and attention these two fellows need. Very similar to having toddlers and as emotional and illogical. I feel like I need to take two days off while they are at school to do nothing but sift through and act on the piles of papers. I can’t do that right now because I need to start accruing vacation time to be able to spend with them during the summer. So I am going to try getting up at 4:30 each morning this week. Sounds crazy right, but it is for the short-term. I did the 4 a.m. wake up during my one semester of grad school. It was ok for one semester, but it was not a longterm sustainable plan.

Another funny thing I have noticed since you died, lights flickering. The lights in our bedroom flicker when I walk in the room. The lights at Kristy’s house flicker when I walk into the kitchen. I feel like it is you saying hello. Lights have flickered other places too, but now I can’t remember where.

I went to the 9 a.m. service this morning, planning not to cry. I haven’t attended the 9 a.m. for about a month. It was your favorite service. Rick did the sermon. You would have loved it. He talked about times when the veil between this world and the next becomes thin so that we can briefly experience sights, sounds, and feelings that are not of our mortal world. He spoke of a being with a parishioner named Elizabeth a few hours before she died. She asked him,”Do you see it? Do you see it?” She pointed across the room. “It’s so beautiful, so so beautiful,” she said. I see it Elizabeth. I see it.

My tears came flowing. I remembered your last night at home. The paramedics arrived with the ambulance to transport you to the inpatient hospice unit. They were so sweet, so young, so earnest. You held my hand and told me, “I am crossing the river now Saire. I’m crossing the river.” It was time. I still miss you so much every day.

 

Love,

S

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Letter # 7

Dear M,

I haven’t written for a while. Sometimes I pretend I wasn’t married because then I can’t miss you. It’s been almost 2 months since you died. I found a little sticky note in my handwriting  that says “2/24/16 R frontal 1.3 x 0.9 and L superior parietal 2.7 x 2.3.” It refers of course to 2 of your brain tumors. You must’ve called me after your appointment in Tampa with Dr. Etame that day.  Your handwriting is still all over the house. I cleared your desk. I have to go through the papers, but the stack on the desk made it seem like you were coming back. I can take them out in small batches I suppose. They’re in the closet with your ashes now. Cha is still taken with napping in the closet near you. Most days  I have to tell at least one person that you are dead. Wednesday morning checking Butter and iMac in for their annual visits with their allergist. I thought they all knew, since I work there, but it turns out they didn’t. MK and Alan had us over for Thanksgiving. It was perfect. You will never believe this. Both boys ate ASPARAGUS!  Last Saturday both boys went on the Boyscout day trip swimming with the manatees. I had lunch with a friend, a pedicure and a nap. Four days off for Thanksgiving could be great or awful. There’s plenty for me to do at home to keep getting things in order.

Love you lots,

S

Letter #6

Dear M,

It’s about the fries and the steak. Your last fries and last steak. Last weekend Butter wanted to stop at Freddy’s for fries. Every time I pass Freddy’s I can hear you saying “Pull over. I need fries!” It makes me smile but also makes me sad, because you knew those would be your last fries. Tonight on my way home from work I passed Longhorn. The steak was 2 Saturdays before you died. You knew it would be your last. There was your sweetness when you held the door for an older woman having trouble getting around. You were happy to be the helper instead of the one in need.

 

Love,

S

Letter # 5

Dear M,

Wow, wow, wow. Wish you were here to discuss this. Donald Trump has just been elected as our next president. I am flabbergasted, as my Dad was fond of saying. Onward because, since you aren’t here, I don’t really feel like discussing politics. You would be calm about the election, as you were about most things. The pressure in ON at work, not as much from the big bosses, but from one coworker. It’s always the one you don’t expect. It is usually the one who has never grieved.

While you were sick I felt as if a careful incision had been made, my chest cracked open to reach my heart, another more jagged set of cuts into my heart. My heart held the kindling. It was on fire. That fire was our family or maybe it was you. It was my job to keep it burning, but also to keep it hidden under a nice crisp white button down shirt.

Now that you are gone the heart is still open and charred, the fire is out, wind blows right through me and I feel cold. I put on a sweater over my white button down shirt so people won’t see how cold I am, won’t see the wind blowing through my center. It would scare them. I really shouldn’t fear because only those who have grieved can see and feel that wind blowing through me. It doesn’t scare them.

Our fancy dog is being born tonight! We were hoping Butter could be at the delivery, but we did use Facetime so he could be a part of it. Tomorrow after school he will go see mother and babies. imac is still wary about the prospect of a dog. He may think I have lost my mind. Friend Katherine reminded me of the time I said to her, “You need a dog, like a hole in the head.” I conceded to her this week that I was wrong, for the record.

imac is going to the state band competition this weekend. I can’t go because…work and resentful co-workers. I am working on becoming indispensable at work, re-certifying in my specialty, taking an online course in Motivational Interviewing, studying for an additional certification, and volunteering to go to the satellite office that is farthest away.

I cancelled ALL of your credit cards today. It took about 3 hours. The customer service folks were actually quite nice. I also spoke with Social Security. I have my appointment scheduled at the social security office next month. Oh, one more thing, I went to the dentist to get my permanent crown. It was a big day around here. Butter was back in the closet with your ashes again tonight. I think I had better get a proper urn. I told him we can keep them instead of burying or scattering them if he would like. He’s taken it under consideration.

 

Love,

S

Letter # 4

Dear M,

It’s election day! Although I voted early so I wouldn’t have to worry about juggling everyone’s schedules today. It’s been 6 weeks since you were here, about the length of your longest business trip. When we first married and the boys were little you would be gone for 4-6 weeks at a time, with a 10 day visit home in between trips. I guess you could hardly call those business trips. Really your return home should be called home trips. So I am used to the rhythm of absence, but not this kind.

You would be excited today. The boys would be asking you lots of questions about the candidates, about previous presidents, about our political system. You would be reading articles to them from the Economist and maybe the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times. I have tried to fill in a bit, but in my own Laundry Thief way. Last night I read them an article by Celeste Headlee, How to Talk About Politics Constructively .I know many adults are exorcised by this election. The trickle down effect is that many kids are too and will be passionately and sometimes meanly expressing their views today. I want Butter and imac to be prepared to take the high road, to be listeners, to be humble and kind. Cha is missing you. I picked Butter up from school yesterday. As soon as he got in the car he asked me what day you were cremated. “Where are the ashes? Can I see them?” Moments after we walked in the house he said, “Ok mom I’m ready to see the ashes. They are inside a plastic bag, which is inside a labeled plastic box, which is inside a cardboard box, which is inside a shiny burgundy bag on a shelf in my closet. We got the bag down and Butter inspected the ashes, then put them back on the shelf in the closet. We turned the clocks back last Saturday. As a result Cha settles in to the house an hour earlier. I knew we had let him in. He wasn’t in your chair, not in Butter’s bed, nor on your side of our bed. I went to brush my teeth and saw him in the mirror, behind me, sleeping in our closet next to the Burgundy bag. He’s never slept in our closet before.

 

Love,

S

Letter # 3

Dear M,

It occurred to me tonight that I just wanted more. I wanted more time with you in your healthier days when the work of raising a family and earning a living and taking care of everybody was distributed more evenly. More sleep, more free time, more date nights. Every year there was less left for me as all of the other needs were met. Now I am just downright tired and I sometimes have to trick myself into doing easy things. Easy things seems hard. Hibernating almost seems like the right thing to do. It seems like the kids should be easier instead of harder, but that is just my selfish tired self. I just registered imac for the SAT and the ACT. I wished you were here to do it. It would have pleased you. I feel good about who he is becoming. He is talking more, thinking ahead to his future self. He wants to become a psychologist. He gives me good advice in the car on the way home from band. Oh that reminds me that I need to teach him how to drive. I’ll have him drive to band practice on Saturday.

Butter continues to be the little firecracker he has always been. I am getting better at being still during the storms, letting them whirl around and lose energy and being there to hear his story when the sparks subside. I am trying to rack up a whole bunch of parenting skills in a big hurry, listening to some parenting books on CD on the way to work and on the way home. Tonight we hung out with our therapy dogs across the street. They are not actual therapy dogs, but they have that effect on him. He is thinking of becoming a veterinarian this week, but there is plenty of time for his plans and dreams to evolve.

After awhile I will have some dreams again too. Goodnight, sleep tight.

 

Love,

S