Friday, November 29, 2013

I Continue To Learn

The holiday season is officially upon us. I've had five months, almost six,  to prepare for it; that is, as much as it is possible to prepare for any of these "firsts." And I've discovered some things I'm learning.

I'm learning that going from  feeling good and singing along to the radio one minute, to crying when the next song plays the next minute,  does not mean that I am going crazy. I'm learning that it is okay to feel really lonely and alone like I did on Wednesday night in anticipation of the holiday.

I faithfully did the  30 days of gratitude exercise on Facebook. I learned that I have MORE than 30 things and people to be thankful for.  And living in gratitude feels really, really good. I'm planning to make it a habit.

I'm learning that I really do have a lot in common with football players. It seems like when I'm scared of the next stage, I just plow through it, head first for the "goal line" with hopes of getting there faster so I can check it off my mental "list."

For instance, I'd barely been home today before I put up the outside wreaths and the tree inside. I wondered why I felt motivated to do it today. Was I trying to prove something? No. I decided that this is still my home and my refuge, and so I did it just for me. That is a brand new concept for me. I'm learning to think about what I want.

 I opened the trunk that contained most of our special things, such as our stockings  and our collection of Santa figures that we've accumulated over the years,  but that seemed too painful. So I closed it. Maybe they won't come out this year...or ever again. That's okay. I'm learning to be gentle with myself.

I'm learning not to look too far ahead. I stopped  myself from thinking that  I'd never cook a Thanksgiving dinner again, or other such holiday traditions. Maybe I will and maybe I won't.  It's okay.

I've had some wise advice. One from my friend Sherri who assured me a few months ago that life wouldn't be terrible, it would just be different. Very true words that I continue to learn from. The other was that I never have to try to "get over it" , but that I can know that I will  one day get used to it. That offers me much peace of mind.
More lessons on the journey.

Friday, November 22, 2013

It Is the Small Stuff

I used to be an advocate of the saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff."  Now I realize that life IS the small stuff.

It has been officially five months since Glenn died.

In these months, the ENORMITY of his death has mostly left me. The night he died in front of my eyes is reaching a place of peace. There are times when it still overwhelms me, but mostly  I  have reached a place where I realize that I could not have saved him, and I am willing to release that. Pretty much. Not all there..

What still gets me is the small stuff. In planning for my brother and sister-in-law's visit this weekend, I realized that I didn't need to buy 7-up because Glenn wasn't here. It stupidly made me tear up.

Some morning tv show this week had a segment on Thanksgiving. G had his favorite-whole cranberries- no need to buy them...watching the segment made me tear up.

Recently I found a card that Ariel made  into a wonderful wall hanging for me.  G gave it to me while I was on a retreat when we were first married. At the time "If ever we are apart" was a romantic fantasy. Now that is reality....oh my.

I opened his bedside table drawer by accident the other day. I haven't felt strong enough to go there.  All the remnants of his last day were there: his  wallet, his watch, his pix(pocket communion set); all signs of a life interrupted .  He always complained about not having enough cash in his pocket. The poor guy died with $4 in his wallet. A small thing I regret.

Small stuff. How many times did I say, "No we can't afford that?" How many times did we not do something because of money or fear of it being  not accessible?

I was the health cop...I made sure alarms were set for every medication he was to take. I monitored all our movements as to whether it would be ok for him and his mobility. G had one of the first Cpap machines out there. Fat lotta good it did him.  Still a little resentful.

It really is about the small stuff.  Go for life to the fullest on this journey.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chutes and Ladders

My favorite childhood game was Chutes and Ladders. My kids and now my grandsons play it. The purpose of the game is to make your way to the end, avoiding the "chutes" along the board. If you land  on a "ladder"you get to move many steps forward. If you are unlucky enough to land on a "chute", you slide backwards to where you were several rolls before. Then once again you try to move forward and hope that landing on a ladder will jump you forward past your original spot.

This is what my journey through grief is like. The die rolls, I move forward one move at a time. Sometimes I land on a ladder and "Whoosh" ....I'm  way out front. Then, as has happened the last few days, I land on a chute and "Zoom"...I'm back to the beginning again.

Yesterday I opened a drawer ,without thinking ,that contained Glenn's wallet and other things that he stuck in his pocket daily. That led me to notice all the signs around the house that indicate that he lived here with me and not that long ago. Our wedding rings that now sit side by side in my jewelry box, were on our hands 23 weeks ago. His writings on the calendar, his boots in the closet, the cords for his now silent devices, the love note he left me on our chalk board. "Zoom" ....down the chute I went. Once again I realized how gone he really is. And he really won't be back. Somehow different levels of my subconscious keep relearning that, even after I think I believe it.

Thankfully I had an appointment with my awesome therapist today; truly she is a gift to me. What a safe place to grieve. She helped me see that this is how I feel,right now. And that it is okay. Maybe it will get better.  And that while I probably will never get over it, I'll get used to it. I liked that. No matter what the future holds, Glenn will always be in my heart. And that maybe I'm doing better than I think. 

Tonight I am  doing much better. Lots of online laughs with my amazing friends, Boo and Attie are rolling and chasing around the house,  and I'm looking forward to see my kids and grandsons this weekend. 

Tonight I landed on a ladder during the journey.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted

Apparently there is now a piece of technology called "Google glasses" or something like that. And here I think I'm cool owning an IPad and knowing how to tell my students to "share the doc" with me. Besides I don't need those glasses right now because I've got some internal high-powered specs on, ever since June 16th. I feel like the lady from "Romper Room" who used to look through her big magnifying glass and pretend she could see everybody out there in TV land. I view life in 3-D these days.

I spent the morning with my family. No, not my biological family, but the people in Glenn's last job at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Minnesota. It is about 90 minutes from here; 90 minutes that have come to be dear to me. Glenn served Emmanuel twice a month for the last three years. Those of you with teenagers know that often it is in the car where the most meaningful conversations happen. And so it was for us those last few years. In the business of daily life there wasn't the quiet time to share stories of the past, good and bad, and to dream for the future. I had taken to being the driver; on the way down, so that he could meditate and finalize his message; on the way back so he could unwind and we could process the morning. The long miles of farm fields in between  led to many intimate and touching conversations and reminisces from both of us.

I knew I would attend church there today, because in our faith tradition, it is All Saints Sunday. The Episcopal church considers our hymns another way of praying. And so when the organ started playing, "For All The Saints", the "theme song of this day, I didn't make it through, "from whom their labors  rest", before the tears came.Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, we don't pray to saints to intercede for us....we go straight to the top:). We do acknowledge and celebrate those who have been martyred in the faith, known or unknown,  and they have their own feast days, including today. But our focus on this day is two-fold; first it is to recognize the "small s" (they aren't really called that) saints who have gone before us, and secondly, to welcome and pray for the newly baptized .

When I wrote Glenn's obit, I said that he "joined the communion of saints." Those were words I grew up with. I know what it means now. The Rev Linnae Haeg was the priest at E today. She and Glenn were due to mentor together, and he held her in very high regard. Her sermon spoke to how even the members of the early church didn't behave well, and yet were referred to as "saints." And how in the Old and New Testament the word "faithful" is used interchangeably with "saint." She said, "A saint is not someone who is made holy, but one who is blessed by God."

Yes.  Glenn Derby was human. Not perfect.  At all.  Even as an ordained priest, he knew his flaws; a human who made mistakes in his life, was forgiven and redeemed, and therefore blessed by God. The cycle of faith.

And this is really why that drive became dear to me. When my kids were young and he was a parish priest, he always left the house early to prepare for both services. I wasn't privy to his prayers and meditations, because I was trying to feed the pets and get the kids to church. For the last few years when we pulled up to the church in Alex, he would take my hand and pray, and his final words before we got out were always, " Lord, may I be the first one changed by the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart."

I close with the third verse of my favorite childhood hymn, from which language  you can tell that we truly are the Church of England, "I Sing A Song of the Saints of God"

"They lived not only in ages past, there are hundreds of thousands still; the world is bright with the joyous saints, who love to do Jesus' will. You can meet them in school or in lanes  or at sea, in church , or in trains, or in shops or at tea; for the saints of God are just folk like me, and I mean to be one too."
Comforting words on the journey.