While Lisa was home on spring break, she pulled up some posts from the garden, and showed me how to mow the lawn. I would have to give it a try after she left, but I wasn’t convinced that I would be any good at it.
We cleaned out the garage, too. It was mainly sweeping and hosing, but there were some things we got rid of. It was just so difficult for me to handle Roger’s stuff. Stuff that he had a reason for keeping. Stuff that was important to him. But I didn’t need it. So hard.
And then we got to thinking this time last year Roger and I were sitting on the porch when Lisa came home from spring break. This time last year Roger and I were getting our ideas for the yard and what we wanted to do with flowers in the front of the house. This time last year. But that was then. This was now. We couldn’t go back, but we could be thankful for the memories.
Some happy days
When I was at Chad’s in December, he broached the idea of me going with them to Florida on their spring break. Things worked out that I could, so we flew to St. Pete and stayed near Disney for several days of fun.
Here’s an odd perspective I now have about flying:
- When I was young I enjoyed flying immensely. The speed, the takeoff, everything was so exhilarating.
- The older I got, the less I enjoyed it. What if the pilot messes up? What if he banks and turns too steep and stalls? What if he overshoots the runway? Maybe it was because I had responsibilities–family, kids, church, and school–and I didn’t want to leave those earthly ties. For whatever reason, it made me nervous.
- Now I don’t necessarily enjoy flying, but I am so much more not afraid. It must be the mindset that my ties on earth are few, my days are numbered, and it would be ok if I died. Strange. Freeing.
The week was absolutely beautiful. A day at Disney, a rest day, and a day at a waterpark, all with perfect weather, made for great memories. I met me best friend from college, I walked and walked and got blisters, and we had so much fun.
I did several things I had never done before, and never dreamed I would do:
- I went down 2 water slides with tubes without being afraid! I’m not a swimmer. I had never been to a water park.
- I went down a water slide without a tube, arms crossed, and landed in deep water. Again. I’m not a swimmer. The thought of doing that frightened me to death.
- I saw a 3-D movie at Disney with plates flying at me; I hardly knew how to react. WOW! Never had been to a 3-D movie. It was a great experience.
Then we came home.
- I had a sore throat.
- I had a stuffed nose.
- I had a headache.
- And it got worse.
So I went to the doctor. Another first—me going to the Primary Care doctor without Roger.
And it was strange. Every time I spoke to our Primary Care Doctor, I got teary-eyed. It was that way when he was first diagnosed. It was that way when we had appointments with the doctor after the diagnosis. It was a little bit unnerving. And at that first appointment alone, I teared up. I guess it’s the memories.
One Sunday at church I sat in a pew. That’s not odd, but where I sat and what I felt was. I sat in the front left pew where I sat during Roger’s funeral. I looked up and saw the preacher. It was Pastor Thompson, speaking like he did at Roger’s funeral. I looked at the communion table, and instead I saw Roger’s casket. So many memories. I guess it is to be expected since our lives pretty much revolved around activities at church.
April 15, 2015
Tax Day. And it was spring. I found the first violets in the yard on that day. It reminded me how much Roger’s mom loved them. And then as I walked around the yard I got to crying. I missed Roger so much. I missed him taking care of his birds. I felt like part of my heart had been ripped out.
I don’t know why I was in a hurry. In a hurry to get things cleaned up—to organize my files—to get rid of stuff in the basement—to know what I was supposed to be doing in life—to be profitable—to have a male friend (Don’t faint. I didn’t consider marriage at that time, or now for that matter, but I was mentally impatient to see how my life would turn out.)
Then the Griefshare email #139 showed up in my inbox.
“We’re in a hurry-up, throwaway, disposable, microwavable world,” says Gretchen, a widow. “And we do not want to wait. God doesn’t do everything yesterday. He answers our prayers, but it’s ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ and ‘Wait.’ Most of the time it’s ‘Wait.’ It’s in His timing and not our timing. We want everything in our timing.”
April 17, 2015
It happened. I had to do it. The grass just wouldn’t stop growing, so I found Roger’s key to the shed, opened it up, propped open the doors and looked at that machine. It was as though he was daring me to try to start him up and back him out.
You have to understand that I DID mow the lawn in the past. It’s just that Roger got the tractor out and EACH TIME reminded me what to press, lower, and hold as he sent me on the way. So I wasn’t green. Just a little ignorant!
Well, I did one smart thing. I decided to call good friends Bill and Sally to give me beginning pointers. They came, Bill looked it over, checked the oil, and said, “Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah.” Sorry Bill. I probably couldn’t regurgitate the directions you gave me on a test, let alone here.
Somehow I turned it on, backed it up and got it out of the shed without sliding off the side of the ramp. They stayed a while to see if I had a good handle on getting around the yard and then left. But not before Sally reminded me not to blow grass toward the road out front.
One evening I had a pleasant dinner with dear friends, Don, Barb, Helen and Kari. I also got to meet a woman who had been a widow for six years. I was struck by how she shared a story about her husband and a situation in Hawaii and the red dirt. She didn’t stumble over the words, she didn’t tear up, and she didn’t get choked up. She just related it as though it was a normal story.
I always thought that widows would always be sad when they talked about their husbands. I thought they would always get weepy.
And then I recalled that twice that very day I referred to Roger and didn’t cry. How can that be?
I know that I will still cry about him, but I had just been able to talk about him in an extended conversation without crying. Didn’t think that would ever happen.
We have an odd friendship. Well, not odd, but strange. Not strange. Just an unusual student/teacher friendship. I taught Kari when she was in 5th grade. And I taught her to play the organ. She has a beautiful voice, and I enjoy singing with her. She has grown into a wonderful adult and has become a local person who checks up on me and makes sure I am doing ok. She needed someone to drive her to Indianapolis for a doctor’s appointment, so I said, “Sure.”
It was a great trip, and an adventure. On the way home we put Cracker Barrel in the GPS, and it lead us…astray. But little did we know what a great historical cemetery we would find on the detour.
Another new phase
I was struck with the reality that the head of our house was missing.
I had recently been asked to take on a responsibility at church and was praying about it and thinking about it. I had pretty much decided that I wasn’t going to do it, when at State of Grace rehearsal, Gary had said he thought it was a great idea. I felt so conflicted.
I cried and told Della and Carol that I hoped they never had to go through this; it was so hard not having a husband to advise me. Someone to guide me. Someone who was the head. That was what I missed the most, I think. I told Gary and Mike that they were kind of my advisors in place of Roger; I valued their judgment.
…and for the inquiring minds, I declined the ministry at church.
OBSERVATION: If it seems insurmountable, it might not be.
OBSERVATION: Loss of a spouse is losing part of your heart.
OBSERVATION: Perspective changes as you age.
HELPFUL HINT: Watching others grieve will affirm that everyone grieves differently. Don’t gauge your grief on theirs.
HELPFUL HINT: If you are a widow, find someone who you can bounce ideas off of. Their perspective will help bring clarity to decisions you have to make.
HELPFUL HINT: Don’t be afraid of detours. They can bring a lot of fun into your life.