Outside my window, it is bleak and gray. Many local areas have ornamental trees sprouting blossoms. Our dogwoods have died. Our cherry tree is a late bloomer, if it blooms at all. Anita once called this a lush land, and I often feel it is a wonderland, but today, everything feels slow to waken. Fall's leaves still fill the garden beds. Maybe next week I'll get outside with a rake. I always felt my garden was a reflection of hospitality--an inviting space. The garden fascination feels far off without Linda.
Giving thanks, hard thanks. Walked with Erin through the wine store to stock our Friday wines, and my chest felt tight. How it could hurt to reach for brands we'd shared before over the years. Linda is not at my table, and as the weeks pass to months, the familiar things hurt: a bunch of tulips for the island pitcher, a milky brie for appetizers, the white chocolate raspberry ice cream that she'd indulge in (her whole life a vanilla girl). Everything reminds me of her, and it hurts that she is gone. I picked up a card to send to her, a third with no response. I don't even know if she is getting them. Oh love's double edge of hurt and healing. I don't know what to do with it. Thankful for conversations with my sister after weeks of decline, and now her voice is back--she is back. We are looking forward and thankful for each other. Thankful for all types of restoration. Thankful as I adjust to this new normal, even when the pieces haven't settled into place. February was a blur. And March is too. I have never carried so much.
In the school room, Erin's on a new cross stitch. The room is cold, and I will start an afternoon fire. I'm thankful for homeschooling. Thankful for my kids. Thankful for the closeness we've had this year. Erin asks about poetry teas in the summer, and I think of Linda and wish that she could join us.
From the kitchen, a pitcher of yellows to cheer a space. I bought a gluten-free cookie mix to make blondies from. I keep trying to keep the days normal. Our fridge is packed full, and our freezer too. Today, too many binge purchases: chocolate covered pretzels, a favorite tea, sushi for lunch, crackers and brie, pizza crusts and ice cream. These things not on my list at all. I drink from a favorite mug I use just for tea or hot chocolate. It warms my hands. I still want to cry.
I am creating a new life. Trying hard to push forward. I cannot bear the empty spaces. The old of my life, ripped away. Who will He bring to our table?
I don't want to forget five years of Fridays. Garden walks and herb talks. We shared our hearts, even the hurtful things, we found encouragement and healing from each other. I wondered what our lives would look like when Dad was gone--but I never imagined this. Any of this. God brings good from the hard things, I KNOW! But the waiting ... the wondering ... Thank you, God, for those Friday nights with Linda. Thank you that we found each other and filled something in each other that the world wouldn't and couldn't. Thank you for the power of love. Those days meant something.
Around the house ... I bought a bird feeder staff that I hope the fat squirrels won't climb. Piles of my dad's mail. Piles of my sister's mail. Bags packed for her transfer, and me, ready for the signal. We went from zero cats to two cats overnight as we've taken in Comet and Haley as house guests. The girls are thrilled, but poop scooping novelty and early morning breakfast cat calls aren't as fun on day three and four and five. The cats are fun, and they're comfortable here. Haley is a sweet girl with honey-colored eyes. Comet is a fat boy that I call Pigeon and Fat Head and Bully--because he is.
I am hearing the spring peepers at the pool. Their cheerful chirp, sometimes all day, and some other frog song that feels alien, long and eerie. It calls out at two and three and four in the morning. I hear birds singing. Squirrels tramping through dead leaves. Cat meows. Kids laughing.
A view of my favorite things. All of March is nearly passed, and I have just a handful of pictures.
|Lori and me, we were so young then|
|Lanie with Haley|
|When he said I need a haircut--maybe next week.|
|A bestie drops off a garden gift|
|Comet, Cosmo, Fat Boy, Fat Head, Bully, Pigeon. He's got to weigh twenty-five pounds. Seriously.|
At the table, I menu plan for another week. Oh, how Fridays stare back at me. There is such an emptiness. Such a void. Almost two weeks ago, my family of four sat at Lori's kitchen table, and I cried to think of how her table at home was transformed when our dad died. Oh, tables matter. They can be uplifting or destructive; they can be inclusive or lonely. Tables matter. How we'd crowd around my (Joel's) kitchen table, more than four with friends and family, and plates and wine glasses, all the food arrayed, displayed, and music playing and merry talking. Chairs pulled up tight. Elbows to elbows. Or in the dining room, spread out and grand, a feast. Oh, the life. It was good.
|With Dad and Linda|
|Dad ate everything on his plate, and I felt full for it.|
|It was a good day.|
|This was the last time we were all together. Thanksgiving 2016.|