Saturday, February 14, 2015

marriage letter: dear valentine

dear peter.

pondered lots about love this past few days.  valentines is so "hallmarkesque"-full of sugary, sweet sentiments, but our love has long past that season.  perhaps love is more of a continuum than cyclical in nature.  love that was once defined by providing & protecting & caring is no longer.  but our hearts are forever tied until the two of us move from here to eternity. even then i believe somehow our love will remain, just not for worldly eyes to witness.

then i thought of what remains of you.  alive & pulsing through the hearts and minds of others.

like when jeremiah & i return home from soccer practice and he always points to the library and says, "i remember when dad and i would hike there.  he would read me books.  he would let me check some out and carry them back home for me"  last night he added, "i still have the library card in my wallet.  want to see it when we get home?"  your love for family & a small slice of plastic in his billfold remains.

like your coworker, you know the one-he looks like the marlboro man but in a crew cab pick-up, who stopped by a few months back to check on me and ask about you.  lots of small talk about construction companies & guys you used to work with and for.  as he was hugging me good-bye with a couple of tears shed, he said thanks.  he wanted me to know how much he appreciated us taking a risk in assisting him with his own company.  your love for hard work & excellence & integrity remains.

like last week when the neighbor stopped me while i was walking the dog.  she asked how we were doing.  you. me. the two of us leading our new separate lives away from each other.  she mentioned her husband and the hikes you two along with sons would take on sunday afternoons, a shared beer afterwards.  he misses those & you.  he built this palapa you would love to sit under.  your love for male bonding & the great outdoors remains.

i miss you this candy-coated celebratory day.  but i realize something.  you life was amazing and monumental, but more importantly, it is the sum of the million little things you did for others that defines who you were.  the passions of your heart remain. each of us carrying them like a torch in honor of you. and i realize that is what love is.  today and always.

love you my valentine.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

the letter link-up: dear refreshment

dear refreshment,

my first recollection of you was in a community room at catholic church.  on a wednesday after grade school.  i wore green as dark as parsley with a splash of lemon yellow. saddle shoes, knee socks, green beret.  your outfit: tan & cream colored stripes.  the scout leader passed you around tucked inside stiff paper towels.  crisp sandwiches of grams & cream cheese frosting.  the afternoon refreshment would sustained me till dinnertime.  the crunchy, creamy snack tasted like grace{unexpected}.

afternoon naps with a toddler, while growing another babe, recharged me for an evening of dinner and bedtime rituals & anticipated tantrums and battles of wills. 48 minutes of sleep for this baby-making mom renewed the patience required for tackling the evening menu while also being present for peter after his day out in the field and managing the diverse demands of both customers & employees.  the afternoon rest felt like grace{unexpected}.

an out-stretched hand holding a venti mint tea followed by a long embrace and shared tears in the wake of peter having another seizure.  the unexpected arrival of a life-long friend bearing hot tea & tissues to sit with me while waiting for the unknowns.  her small gestures of tea, prayers and physical presence revive my spirits otherwise overwhelmed by unanswered medical questions.  the unexpected visit looked like grace{unexpected}.

refreshment.  thank you for nourishing me.  given freely & unexpected.  you remind me there are people in my corner throwing confetti at my efforts.  your presence refreshes my confidence in God & His grace.  love & kindness given with no thought of self, just consideration of another.

refreshment.  teach me.  show me how to refresh those i encounter.  to offer sustenance to another soul weary & depleted.


this inspiration behind this post in a monthly letter link-up over at mr. thomas & me!   

Monday, January 5, 2015

what 2014 taught me...

dear twenty-fourteen,

a year of duplicity...days slowly pass like a gnarled icicle dripping in mid-afternoon sunlight while the months sweep by faster than the waters tumbling over niagara falls into lake ontario.

i begged you to be gentle on me at the beginning of the year and if i am painfully honest, by that i meant for you to end this extended season of waiting. waiting for peter to let go. waiting for God to ultimately heal my husband in heaven.  waiting.waiting.waiting to close this chapter and move on to the next. but in this pause you have taught me valuable lessons which will lose their luster with the passage of time so giving them some space to live & breathe seems important.

lessons you have taught me are:

1.  dying is not easy or for the faint of heart.  with brittany maynard in the headlines this fall and a legion of strong opinions regarding her "dying with dignity", she exposed the topic of death and the role we may want to plan in choosing our own path if faced with a terminal illness.  with peter being on hospice & watching life slowly draining out of him, i struggle. in all the controversy of her death, i realize as a wife of someone who is terminally ill, what i need most in the depths of loss is warmth & kindness, love & mildness. opinions can be rough and jagged, like a volcanic pumice, chaffing my tender, vulnerable emotions.

2.  animals are good for my soul.  a new pup, some chickens and one fat porker greatly nourish my heart.  of course they are work & stretch my patience & create lots of poop; but each of them yearns for my attention. even chickens seem to know i am the hand that feeds them and have individual personalities that just make me giggle.  dr. hugh ross spoke at our church this past year about how different animals are "soulish" or have the ability to form emotional attachments, not just with their own species, but also with humans.  rex, "the girls" and napoleon are all deeply soulish animals and help fill some of the cracks peter left behind.

3.  our world is fast-pace, but finding stillness is fundamental.  information is communicated instantly now with all of the technology we possess.  finding a calm, quiet moment to assess if i have all of the essential information to form a sound decision is difficult for me. when i find my emotions have reached the peak of a mountain, my gut reaction is to immediately deal with the issue.  often this hasn't allowed me any space to sort through the commotion stirred in my heart.  i have learned the importance of stopping. breathing. praying. moving away from the emotional epicenter.  this takes both discipline and courage.  the pace at which we live our lives is a choice we often forget we have.

lessons you failed to teach me this year are:

1.  how do i teach my son, who is black, about race?  yes, we live a great distance from new york city and ferguson, but i would be foolish to believe prejudice doesn't cross state lines.  i have always seen his skin as brown and beautiful, something i envy next to my light-skinned complexion which burns so in our southern california sun.  he brags of his chestnut tanned skin while i seek the shade of our beach umbrella.  but our boundaries are far greater than the shade of my umbrella.  how do i teach him some of those who are the very same color as his mother despise those of his color?

2.  why is the #1 FAQ about dementia always, does peter remember/recognize you?  often it's followed by, does he call you by name?  does he express missing you?  those questions, like the tentacles of a jelly fish, challenging to see in the hazy ocean of emotions, leaves behind a prickly, burning pain.  his mind long ago discarded so many skills-shaving his face, signing his name, reading the morning paper-all of which have been a part of his life far longer than my presence.  i attempt to assure myself that his heart remembers, but as of late i am wondering if that's even true.  how do i gracefully ask why this question begs to be answered? is this how we measure sickness? love? humanity?

and finally 2014, you closed leaving me in if WONDERFUL.  plans had been made for a few months on the perfect proposal.  our son had coordinated every detail .  but come new year's eve morning, God had a more perfect plan.  snow blanketed our town. there were still flurries when my alarm sounded.  instead of running, i woke all of my children to alert them of the most amazing snowstorm.  am & i convinced scoot to propose right then, in the falling snow.  you see, his now fiancĂ©, loves the snow.  it reminds her of her childhood & skiing with her mom, and as much as he planned their day and evening, God had outdone him.  it's a lesson i will carry with me into 2015. i can orchestrate & calculate, but setting my agenda aside and following the will of the Lord is always more beautiful.  and here is the beautiful couple just moments after she said, "YES!"

and our local paper featured them!  here's the link if you are interested.  

thanks for the grandest finale 2014! watch out 2015, i'm coming after you.


Friday, December 12, 2014

if we were on a coffee date-december edition

dear peter.

if we were on a coffee date, i'd order an eggnog latte and you'd have yours with vanilla and extra hot.  we'd sit at the table near the entry door at our "regular" starbucks and chatter pointlessly while people-watching.  you'd tell me to stop with all the gawking while being equally amused by the cast of characters waiting in line for their morning jolt of caffeine.

if we were on a coffee date, i'd tell you my heart just isn't it this december.  amid all the holiday excitement, i am attempting to shake the guilt for not being "all in".  you'd tell me that's okay.  the added self-pressure is alive and well in the hearts of many this season, not just mine. you'd remind me there were other christmases laced with unmet wants and feelings much the opposite of  all the peace & joy & ho-ho-ho.  you'd reach across the table and embrace my hand, telling me to be gentle on me.  i'd tell you i still can't find the courage to mail out photo christmas cards again this year because i don't know how to send a greeting without you being in the picture.  how do i explain to those we only communicate with but this one time year about all that has happened to our family?

if we were on a coffee date, you'd say thanks for being born today because starbuck, instead of you, would be paying for my beverage.  i would remind you of that one year you gave me a billboard for my birthday.  it was simple.  "Merry Christmas" in a fancy script with "jeremiah 29:11" printed below it.  the date and my initials were in the bottom right corner.  how did you plan that? i am sure an office assistant or two did some of the leg work but i remember running down front street with mel early on my birthday morning ten years ago. she pointing up saying, "look".  tears came as my feet stopped mid-stride.  our verse after losing that babe before sweet brown eyes.  the one promising God's plans are perfect and His purpose will always unfold even in the middle of our doubts.  the sign was there for 60 days, and i wonder how many looked up and wondered about Him because of you. 

if we were on a coffee date, i'd thank you for labeling all of the christmas decoration tubs, but ask why you wrote "XMAS" instead of "CHRISTMAS".  your retort would be four letters is more efficient than nine..simple math, chrissy.  i'd tell you i love seeing your block printing in black sharpie on those boxes because it reminds me you are still with me even though you aren't physically here.  just like those cards from you i have tucked behind the facewash and sunscreen in my medicine cabinet.  then i would get all serious and admit i might have those four letters written on my heart with the "Christ" missing from this season.  you'd wisely reconfigure my thoughts for me suggesting He isn't missing if i can acknowledge i am searching for him.  you'd again suggest i be gentle on myself.

if we were on a coffee date, i'd schedule a "date night" with you to watch your favorite holiday movie, chevy chase's christmas vacation.  we laugh at how similar you and clark are.  you'd quote the line where the yuppie neighbor asks clark where he's going to put the giant christmas tree and then belly laugh a "bend over and i'll show you" retort.  or when he says "it's a bit nipply out, i mean nippy."  and we'd laugh when clark's in bed with magazine pages stuck to his fingers because of all the sappy residue from cutting their own tree down.  you'd explain that's why "faux" is better than the real thing sometimes.

if we were on a coffee date, i would bask in all of your strengths & shortcomings because now i know life often has unexpected endings.  you always love a good o'henry story, didn't you.

love you peter.  missing you this december & always.