Monday, February 27, 2017

And still counting (10,108-10,133)

for Erin, eating spaghetti squash
mild days
outside play

food in the fridge
Anita at the table
her friendship and wisdom
good podcasts on good thoughts
Aldi shopping with my girls

my man
warm flagstones for a hound dog
all the questions during read alouds

clean clothes
open windows
fragrant wafts from the woods
a swingset
books to read

frog song emerging, coaxed by spring-like temperatures
texts with a neighbor
so much sleep
an after dinner walk with Lanie
waves to friends passing by on the road

a beautiful wreath, gifted
and the other things, treasured

Monday, February 20, 2017

Day story


Outside my window, bubbles sailing past. Erin is over the flu. I hear remnant coughs, but she doesn't want to come inside. We've spent the afternoon outside, reading and talking. I came in for coffee. She grabbed the bubbles. I can hear her singing.

Giving thanks, for new responsibilities, relationships moving to restoration overnight, the wrestle and wrangle of thoughts and flesh, her phone call last night full of gratitude that melted my heart, for good friends and good neighbors. I am so very rich--and not by American standards, but by heavenly ones.

In the school room, sympathy cards stacked, lesson plans stacked, projects awaiting review, my dad's paper scraps of miscellaneous notes about crochet or knitting patterns. The room is darkened because we've spent so much time outside. When I woke this morning at 7:30 (the second wakening after making his sandwich), I felt thankful my kids could sleep in this morning after a week of illness, that there was no place we had to be, that this day could unfold by its own rhythm. I didn't mind the sun had been up longer than I had. I would take all the grace this day had to offer.

From the kitchen: taco night. Coffee. A cookie batter waiting.

I am not creating. I am observing and thinking and recovering and resting and waiting and hoping and everything else but creating. After weeks of drain and hustle, I just want to be still with the people I love. Empty and full all at once.

I don't want to forget the timeliness of song, the way she hugged me on the front step and told me about how she prays (that Daddy would say yes to a cat! And a long list of thanks.) She said I was the best mom ever because I stayed right with her while she was sick, even if it meant I would get sick too. Stayed right by her side, and that meant everything to her that she told me about it often these past days and today too, in case I forgot (and told Shane too). "Not all moms would do that," she said. I don't know why she thinks that.

I am reading The Giver by Lois Lowry for our middle school book selection. And All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen. Erin and I are reading a story about Corrie ten Boom.

Around the house, sticks to pick up in the yard, onion grasses and other weedy things to pull. Dirt under my nails. This spring teaser of a day (the last few days) awaken something deep and primal--a need for basics and roots. My dad hated winter because he was always cold, and the cold air gave him chest pains--the season was brutal. I remember hoping for a mild winter for his sake, and lately a sadness that, among all other things too, he isn't here to enjoy these mild temperatures. I got an issue to one of the Taste of Home products he sent as a gift subscription. They'll run out one day. I feel too keenly aware of that. And I got an email of a lovely hat and scarf pattern I would have shared with him. I will have to learn how to do it myself. There are moments, powerful and fleeting panic in all of this, that he's no longer alive for me to call when I forget things or wonder. Boo. I swallow it down, the panic. Down, down.

I am hearing scampering squirrels through the leaves. Bird song all around. The crackling clapping of stubborn oak leaves that hang on and on through the winter. And the occasional sound of a teenager calling out, "Mom!" because there are questions to ask and things to need. Somewhere, there is the buzz of a chainsaw. Oh, woodslife. I'm glad you're mine. This is a good life.

A view of my favorite things:

From Valentine's Day

A text to him on the last day I saw him, when he taught me the Tunisian crochet stitch.
Video team behind the scenes with Kathy

Sheets on my bed, a night's comfortable sleep

School with no walls

New shoots.

Old bricks

Hanging out with this ray of sunshine

At the table, a plan for tea with my girls. Something with scones and jam and clotted cream. And maybe something chocolatey. Something grounding, centering, on all that is simple and lovely.

On valentines and love

We baked cookies in the old neighborhood and delivered them on Valentine's Day.

My kids and I would walk from house to house and drop them off at doors. If the weather was too cold, I'd drive. My kids learned about giving and about thinking of others. And while the door to friendships I had hoped would open didn't, we all learned a valuable, valuable lesson on love. Do it anyway.

When we moved here, my kids still wanted to deliver cookies to our (new) neighbors. That first Valentine's Day here, that first year here, that walk to a neighbor's house seemed the longest and hardest. I had to remember the example it set for my kids--do it anyway. They were excited, and always had been, to be bearers of treats to people. This was no different for them.

I still remember my utter amazement and delight the time we came home to find a red box gifted to my girls. I probably cried. (Oh, hope restored!)

This year, unexpected sadness. My dad died. I had a funeral to plan. I had his affairs to wrap up in a county an hour and a half away (each way). A sister to check on. Appointments at offices. Homeschooling my kids. An upcoming portfolio review. And then Erin got sick with flu. (And even this list is not the full list ...) When Valentine's Day came, I already put off our tea party for a meeting with an advisor. Erin wasn't even sick at that point, but the week ahead was weighty enough on paper.

My kids still got the Valentine morning trail of hearts to the breakfast table. They had, each, a little box of chocolate and small gifts waiting for them (water bead bracelets and Beanie Boos). We celebrated, still, but it wasn't in the way I hoped or planned. And we didn't get around to baking anything for our neighbors (in hindsight--a good thing with flu at our doorstep!). I was surprised how heavily that weighed on my heart. It felt like failure. Because it's not about the cookies.

A neighbor invited us over to give gifts to the girls, and a potted plant of lilies to me. How I wished to muster up lightness in my very heavy heart.

"I didn't even have time to bake the cookies," I said, lowly. I felt so bad. So bad. A Valentine, lost.

Erin came down with fever on Wednesday. Everything felt like heaviness in the house. The review. The estate tasks. The next steps. The appointments. Thursday I went out to meet again with the lawyer--sick kid at home on the couch. I went by the store on the way home to load up on gingerale and crackers and other things in case we all succumbed. I went to the mailbox.

Inside, chocolate hearts for me attached to a gluten-free cake mix and a card. I thought the handwriting belonged to my best friend, but I opened the card and saw it was from my next-door neighbor.

She was wishing me a happy Valentine's day and thanking me for being good to her. She wrote some other things. I texted her immediately. She didn't know my dad had died and that these few weeks had been a hustle and blur. I wanted her to know how much, oh, how much, her words and gift touched me.

Thank you, God.

Your promises are true. Love anyway. That if we don't give up, in time, there will be a harvest. This year, I saw fruit--and it wasn't only a package of cake mix, it was a pouring out of love from all my friends and neighbors, letting me and my family know that we are loved and not forgotten.

Not only a Valentine's Day message, but a Gospel one.

And still counting (10,069-10,107)

flowers from a neighbor
their Valentines for my kids
they made a hilarious Valentine's date video--these two!

and a special Valentine for me from Pamela
hot fires
snowflakes outside the lawyer's window
meeting Drew
thank you notes and a card for Linda, mailed

the hard questions
the stillness and wait of no answer
unexpected changes
Your good in all things
that You equip those You call

her phone call of thanks after nine p.m.
the necklace for Casi
colorful yarn balls in a tote, waiting
the rides out to his house, scenic
food in her freezer, made by friends

Comet the cat
blankets by Granddaddy and TV marathons for Erin
her sweet heart
Fever, headache, lethargy--FLU

for scary things that pass
Slurpees and a stethoscope from a bestie

a review, rescheduled
a clean school room
fever cuddles with my little
and last night, finally off the couch and back in our beds
nine hours of sleep, in a bed, with warm covers!

containers for chocolate chips
a cleaned space for spices and supplies
the mini trampoline
warmer temperatures with Erin outside
Early spring teaser

steam showers

hugs from Becky
the video team
two hawks perched outside the living room
Two hawks for Erin

coconut popsicles
time with Lanie
Lanie and me

Popsicles for hydration (Ok, the coconut ones were really for me)
Greek salad dressing talks with Tracey
a new (to me) mama to write encouragement

On, on.

Monday, February 13, 2017

And still counting (10,036-10,068)

warm days, like spring
schooling outside

deep breaths and long walks
Erin alongside, everywhere
Lanie's resilience
sleep-in days

Your strength
Your compassion
Your power
Your provision
that I'm Yours

meals for the week from Marshall's Mom
a visit with  my sister
Miss Pat at Wegmans
double socks
the softness of rose petals

Joel's voice
spider plants from Cindy
these days
the cyst, gone

canned goods from Joanne
black tea with honey
a love note from Lanie
gifts from Rebecca
a country drive in my dad's car

running into Dave B at The UPS Store
a hug from Katie A at the post office
Tracey on the phone
creamy coffee

gf French toast for dinner
the video team
my dad's face, still, on the sidebar

Monday, February 6, 2017


Saturday. The words by phone. The grief that ripped my heart wide open. The want of more--so much more to say, and the things to do. We had plans. We had plans. Renewed visits, crocheting and maybe twice a month. He was going to come over that Sunday. He'd been looking forward to it, messaging me in the preceding weeks. Then canceled from the hospital. Then, unexpectedly, gone.

Sunday. I went into his home--the first time ever. And that sank in. The boxes. The papers. The counters. The piles. She handed me the tote of yarn balls he himself was going to give me that day. It overwhelmed. And I felt buried. Buried by the overwhelm. Buried by the papers. Buried by the tasks upon me. Buried by grief.

I went to the hospital to the get last of his belongings. Opened the bag and sifted through--wallet, keys, cell phone, charger, watch. Oh, time. I turned away and mumbled thanks in tears.

I got his truck and sat in the place he parked it last. I looked out the window, this view, his last walk outside into an emergency room. I looked for him, fully knowing he was gone, imagining his walk in that day. And in there still, in a morgue. I held the steering wheel and drove away. Drove through the streets and the town that were familiar to him, listening for the call from my GPS to turn left, to turn right. This was his landscape.

Online, his face in the sidebar. The messages, silenced. Conversations over, to be buried in a feed flowing new. Feelings bubbling and my hand suppressing. Down, down, down.

Monday. The important calls and the overwhelm. A funeral home, the memories--old neighborhood, and the funeral home where my mom's services were held.
Tuesday. A cemetery. Grandparents' marker--name in bold across, and his flags placed out, where to dig new. I hadn't stood there since my mom died. I held my daughter's hand.
Wednesday. Gathering his belongings. Documents. Clothing. A drive home by the mountains. A heavy heart. The things that want to bubble up at an intersection.
Thursday. The funeral home to drop off the clothes. A long walk around the block. The memories calling and greeting and I want to go back. I want to go back. We drove to a bakery where I used to work. She got two donuts because she couldn't decide. A woman I used to work with was still there. Her hug spanned the years.
Friday. The viewing. The greetings. The resolve not to cry. Don't cry. Don't cry. His coworkers. His cousin. My cousin. My friends. Oh, my friends. Don't cry. I read the words out loud at the lectern. I folded the papers. I tucked them in his arm. Colored hearts with the names of the ones he's left behind, scattered across his chest. The cemetery. The service. Don't cry.

"Ashes to ashes ..."

The things that are buried. His stories. His voice. His touch. The birthdays. The holidays. The pecan pie after dinner conversations. The crochet dates. The Facebook messages. The laughs.

"Dust to dust ..."

They lowered the coffin. And with it, all the unanswered questions, the wondering, the what-ifs, the hopes. Buried.

Don't cry.

I pulled roses from the floral piece--three reds for three sisters, two whites for his loves, and a lily for the ones behind me. My sister and I tossed them in, and then we turned.

These days are ours now.

I didn't see full restoration with my dad, but maybe I'll see it in other places

Who knew the canyon's edge overlooked a grave?

And STILL counting (10,001-10,035)

the comfort and prayers of friends
challenges and obstacles that build endurance
a eulogy
beautiful flowers
a room full of friends and family

roses and lilies
strength to get it done
old roads home
a bakery
a hug from the ages
I used to hustle bread at this place back in the college days.

walking around the old block with Erin
I didn't knock on the door this time. And I walked really slowly around the block. Home.

the view from the bridge
I used to ride my bike over this bridge

no traffic
time to sight see

good sleep
good coffee
good food
good friends
good words

good life
hearts of the hearts he leaves behind scattered across his heart
back road rides home
mountain views
that home is multidimensional

tears of gratitude for precious friends
strongholds broken
a gluten-free dinner cooler--meals for a week at least!

an afternoon drive by myself
new lipsticks, favorite shades
phone chats with Lori
that You make all things new