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.
chrissy

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

thanksgiving table...

tomorrow we gather around the table.  celebrating thanksgiving. counting blessings. sharing food & drink & traditions.

this year we will gather at our daughter & son-in-law's home.  their first in their new home. we will share the meal around newly purchased linens covering the table he made when they moved in.

the table...crafted after the one in our kitchen.  hearty & farm-like. worn paint. glue & glitter reminding us of that one Christmas project gotten to out of hand.  scars from plates placed with little grace and too much gusto. weather-marked from glasses condensating on warm summer days or mugs resting to cool when filled with too-hot pumpkin lattes on fall evenings.  all there on the table blaring boldly.

but isn't that what giving thanks is about?  finding the grace & mercy only He can offer? remembering harsh, hard seasons that exhaust us?  giving thanks for the days rich with plenty, but laying gratitude wide open for those seasons which stretched our rigid hearts & weary tenacity, knowing they will eventually come to pass but His strength & perseverance are there to tide us over until they do.

we will hold hands and offer a simple prayer thanking God for those who prepared the meal. mashed potatoes & stuffing, cranberry sauce & gravy passed from hand to hand, reminding us how much we need one another.  sharing a meal & sharing lives.  neither living nor eating were meant to be done alone.

dear God.
i am full of gratitude for the many blessings you have given.
family.friends.faith.
thank you for the table we gather around & all it represents.
thank you for the hands held tight,
and the prayers spoken reminding me You are always in the mix.
amen.
me

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

life is more like a smoothie than fruit cocktail...

growing up, a dinner side was often fruit cocktail.  the del monte kind with pears, grapes, pineapple, peaches and a sparse number of cherries all soaked in high fructose corn syrup. it was usually accompanied by frozen mixed vegetables {which i hated} and swanson frozen fried chicken. so much mouth-watering goodness served on a burnt orange melamine plate.

i was a kitchen helper growing up and would grab the can opener so i could dish the fruit cocktail.  i had a secret behind my assistance.  i wanted the cherries…all of them.  while scooping the fruit, i would eat every last cherry.  once dinner was on the table,  we three would sit and stare at the bowl of fruit.  my mom and sister could read my face confessing to the consumption all of the cherries.  dishes passed. meal devoured, except for my golden diced peaches.  i loathed those peaches. they were too soft & slippery. everytime this sugar-laden side was served, rejected peaches remained.  i would rather be denied dessert than eat the peaches. that's how strong the aversion.

yesterday,  i was visiting pjm and we were sitting at the dining table. he was eating an apple & flipping thru a party supply catalog.  the page turning was mostly a finger exercise.  he showed no interest in the items on any one page. me on his left and a caregiver on his right. she looks over singing out with her accent, "pjm, you so skinny.  you so very skinny.  you eat. you walk. you so skinny.  how about you give me some of your skinny.  i love to be skinny like you."

wait.  what?  she did not just say that.  as if she heard the screaming in my head, she repeats, "really pjm. give me ALL you skinny."

yep.  she wants all his skinny.  if felt insensitive as it rolled off her lips and splatted on to the table much like a swatter hitting a horse fly.  she has worked along side dementia for almost as long as pjm has been a resident.  skinny is the sometimes byproduct of dementia. and dementia is something no one would long for.

as i was drove home, i was replaying her thoughtlessness in my head.  there was this mental dialogue…"you want that skinny?  all the skinny?  you can have every diminishing ounce of that skinny.  but there is a catch.  you don't just get the skinny.  you get a laundry list of other symptoms that accompany dementia.  it isn't about just the skinny."

it reminded me of fruit cocktail and my six year old cherry picking fingers.  the skinny isn't about the cherries one loves or the peaches pushed aside.  disease doesn't work like that, nor does life. it's more like a smoothie of choices and not choices all blended up in a glass. the joys of all the cherries and the sorrow of all those peachy chunks commingled-you can't sift out the unwelcome adversity and toss it aside like i did those peaches.










Thursday, October 23, 2014

why i don't photograph his face...

texted a friend the other day.  actually she is family, but a friend as well.  she was asking how pjm was doing and mentioned she and her husband might go see him.  i reply, "perfect. just let me know the day so i can make sure you are the only visitors on that day.  and my only request is you don't take photos of his face."

why?

pjm had these bright blue eyes that told a story.  his eyes told me he loved me.  his eyes told me i was safe because he was protecting me & our family.  his eyes told me there was a joke full of sarcasm on the horizon.  his eyes told me he was exhausted from working in the field all day.  his eyes told me how proud he was of our children and their achievements.  his eyes told me he despised the cat we once had.  his eyes told me he hated that denim dress i wore-once.  his eyes told me i was beautiful without makeup or a fancy outfit.  his eyes told me thank you for a clean home & dinner on the table at the end of a harsh day.  his eyes told me he loved God.

but dementia has stolen the story his eyes could tell.  his eyes fixate on the floor, not on the life around him.  his eyes no longer visually track a plane in the sky.  his eyes don't warn him when a bee is too close.  his eyes don't notice the train passing by.  his eyes ignore the television broadcasting the morning news.  his eyes overlook the plate of oatmeal scotchies i have baked.  his eyes don't recognize his own face in a mirror.  his eyes no longer find me when i enter the room.  his eyes have forgotten how to tell his story.

another challenge of dementia is the mind forgets how to absorb nutrition properly.  pjm consumes plenty of food to fuel the walking he does but he continues to drop pounds.  his face is gaunt.  his limbs are thin.  his defined muscles are no longer.  his skin is dry, bruised and sores just don't heal.  again, his body is incapable of telling the story of life & vitality it once told.

and this is why my photos are like they are on instagram.  i want to always remember this chapter in our lives but i don't want the harsh details of dementia to be what is featured.  instead i want the moments of love shared to be the story.




Thursday, October 9, 2014

#sweetbrowneyes

sweet brown eyes,
you're made of sorrel skin and mahogany curls
Panda triple orange chicken with chow mien,
cabbage pushed aside
Clash of Clans-Axe body wash-"Who Let the Dogs Out".
Oreo milkshakes, more bacon please and "remember when me & dad..."
a charmer of dogs & sweet nephews living to great a distance from here.
honesty-athleticism-tenacity-spunk.
you're made of sweat on hot summer days
in relentless pursuit of mastering a slam dunk.

you're made from biology that is unknown
but love that knows nothing but.
july 3rd waterpark adventures & bootleg fireworks.
santa at Christmas because of the joy in believing,
contempt for mashed potatoes-oatmeal-greek yogurt.
you're made of hand holding over dinner blessings,
bowls of popcorn by the fire on brisk winter nights.
flannel feejays for the holidays & snowboarding in spring.

you're made from a family of sarcasm,
self-effacing humor and chocolate chip pancakes.
not enough fruits & too few vegetables.
beat boxing & the comfort of a noise machine lulling your slumber.
you're made from the love of mom & legacy of dad
and a brother & sisters gently holding his memories for you,
each ready to teach you daddy's values & adventures & salty humor.
you're made from God and His perfect plan,
you're my hope, wrapped in flawless brown flesh. driven by energetic muscles.

happy dozen sweet brown eyes.

love you. xo
mom














Tuesday, September 30, 2014

celebrating sixty-two...

dear pjm.

today is your birthday.  62.  my tendency is to gush with sad & sentimental, but that's not how you would want me to honor you on the anniversary of your birth!  so instead i will celebrate with a smudge of wistfulness and a whole lot of silly, just the way would would like a birthday served…along with a slice of homemade apple pie a la mode with ice cream! that was your favorite birthday cake.

i remember once when we were dating we had gone shopping with the girls for some type of sports apparel.  i was foul with you.  i despised being out in public with you…because of your outfit.  seriously.  you were wearing shorts & a t-shirt.  no big deal except for the fluffy red & blue ski jacket and house slippers you were sporting to polish off your fashion forward garb. what were you thinking walking out in public like that?  i was appalled but was too sweet {cue passive-aggressive} back then to ask snidely "what exactly is that assortment you are attempting to call an outfit.  until you fix it we are going nowhere-together".

so today instead of getting all squishy emotional for your birthday, i thought i would share a little fashion show starring none other than you!


shorty-shorts.  with deck shoes.  and trusty oakley shades.  that's an overabundance of thigh you are sharing with the world.  and exactly how is your "manhood" not exposed?


yep.  that's you on that lion fountain at the pool in hawaii.  in a speedo.  too much wrong with this picture.  and what was i thinking?  obviously, i was the woman behind the lens.


you thought i was kidding about the speedo. i wasn't.


halloween.  you loved dressing up.  this is what you wore to work halloween of 1990! you couldn't understand why no one would go to lunch with you.  hmmm, i wonder.  "Beetle Juice" was your a flick favorite-"it's showtime!" and "save that puppy for later" while pretending to spit in your jacket pocket were lines we heard often.


i would like to say this was halloween also, but it wasn't.  yep, just dinner at your parents. perhaps you should forget the smile and just keep those "teef" to yourself.  


and this?  onesies-those are for babies.  motorcycles-those are for men.  you have somehow crossed generational bridges.  i must also remind you that belt was a thrift store find and on the back it said "chuck". by the way, how many cows are you wearing? and that official stance.  it doesn't make you look any less foolish.


remember when you ran the local triathlon on amber's 18th birthday?  you wanted everyone to know it was her special day.  my guess? she would have preferred a card with some cash in it.  the aerodynamics of the helmet probably didn't work in your favor either.

we could call this project tang.  or orange you glad this is your date.  you didn't rent it. your purchased it & wore it a couple of times before i helped it find its way into the "give away" bag when you weren't looking.

as i laugh at each of these photos, i am reminded of your embarrassment factor.  you seldom avoided embarrassment.  perhaps that's what made you a success.  you were never concerned with what others would think.  you were so busy attempting to be awesome and a standout that others opinions just did not matter to you.  and while fashion was never an arena where you found success, your lack of concern about feeling foolish allowed you to achieve greatness in meaningful ways.

happy birthday fashionista!

love you.
lc



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

marriage letters: to cherish




dear pjm.

"to love and to cherish till death do us part."

we recited those lines to one another.  cherish.adore.fancy.worship.admire.  living those verbs was mostly effortless.  you loved, provided, romanced, encouraged, protected and i mostly adored you for each of those actions.  yes, i suffered from bouts of irritation and we endured seasons of painful growth,  as individuals & a couple. but the life we shared was a treasured gift to one another.

you are still here.  alive & breathing & walking.  and i am learning to cherish this time with you.  once we moved you from our home, your behavior was unpredictable & sometimes scary.  i continued my visits because i cherished our marriage & the memories of those healthy years.  but visiting was more out of obligation, not because i desired to see you. ouch. that's painful to write & i am sure even more painful to read.  but as more time passes and i see the physical toll this disease is taking on your body, i realize these days of visiting are limited. i am learning to cherish our last moments together. i don't have a visiting punch card that indicates the number of visits remaining, but i cherish your hand holding mine.  i cherish walking quiet along the garden path.  i cherish watching the train pass by with you.  i even cherish the gentle kisses you place upon the foreheads of distraught female residents.

i hold all of this dear because i realize our next phase will bring you physically closer to home, but it will be to rest peacefully at the cemetery just around the corner from the home you built for me.  the background noise & distraction of all the others makes focusing on you & us all the more challenging.  i grow irritated with some of them, wanting to explain these are are only moments together.  but like you, they too are sick and don't grasp the magnitude of what is happening.   please know, my love, i cherish our hours together strolling hallways & pathways.  your hand gently grasping mine.

enshrining our love & marriage-even when death will separate us.
chrissy


the inspiration behind this post is from "marriage letters" by seth & amber haines.  they are taking the summer off because she is busy writing a book which i am excited to read.  my daughter, amber, wrote a post about marriage being like the movies, but better.  click on her name and read it! i write them to remember the preciousness of my marriage as my husband lets go of his grip on health & life due to a terminal illness.

Monday, September 15, 2014

forever days...



dear tired soul.

i know.  the forever days.  i feel your weariness.  i see the strain in your eyes & posture. slouched as if you have that 50 lbs. bag of pig feed resting uncomfortable on your shoulder. you walk the stairs back up to the lobby.  sign out while dropping the key fob on the counter for the receptionist.  the automatic doors part as the high noon september heat overwhelms you.  the commute back home to your other life is a blur because those forever tears cloud your vision.

remember the forever days of elementary school?  you sat in class listening to your teacher spout facts-details-data that only sounded like the nagging "wah-waaah-wah-wah" of charlie brown's teacher.  you heard all of her words but your immature mind could not filter out and organize that which was of utmost importance.  you felt lost in a world of nonsensical education just as today your mind struggles to swim in the tidal wave of crazy-making behaviors displayed by so many residence.  the one constantly yelling for jojo and carlos.  or her in the wheelchair with her harsh demands of when cheryl is going to arrive. or him, retired war veteran, chastising pjm for "touching my God damn water glass-and why the hell does he take it every God damn day".  the barrage of harsh voices distracts you from your one true purpose…visiting pjm.

remember the forever days of a new babe?  you returned home from the hospital, sore and saggy with a new soul in tow. bottle. diaper. swaddle. rock. repeat.  as the nervous newborn energy dissipated, it quickly became a season of broken sleep leaving you weary, each passing day affirming you would never sleep an uninterrupted seven hours again.  but babes do grow-mature-transition.  death follows a continuum as well.  it seems you will always be in this phase of watching him die, but this is a fight he will eventually lose and this season will end just like sleepless nights & 2:00 am feedings.

remember the forever days of marathon running?  you woke at 4:15 am.  arrived at the race site.  and waited…race mornings were always full of wait.  the line into the parking lot.  the line for the bus.  the line for the outhouse.  the starting line. and the longest wait of all, that finishing line.  navigating the first 13 miles felt natural, but the second 13 were not only physically taxing but mentally daunting.  your body & the majority of your mind screamed to stop-halt-or at the very least walk.  but those few atoms in your brain spoke louder.  your mental tenacity continued to project your body forward. refusing to walk. and remember those fellow runners? you were never alone in the race.  and the spectators cheering you on? their shouts boosting your spirits.  and countless volunteers handing you water and otter pops?  every ounce fueling you to reach the journey's end called the finish line.  you are correct weary one.  you must run these miles.  no once can do it for you; but family & friends, nurses & caregivers willingly hand you cups of grace along this journey. each encouraging you to press on while you and pjm run these last few miles of his life.

yes, visiting days feel like forever days.  but remember those other seasons you mastered, overcame or just plain outlasted.  he cannot live sick forever.  life & death are mysterious. i, too, don't know how a body can press on even when its very own mind has forgotten how to do so much. but i know this: suffering, his & yours, are temporary.

and remember, sweet friend, when forever overwhelms, pray.  and drive home safe.  and eat a healthy lunch.  and take a nap.  it is okay if you have nothing productive to show for your day.  you are a reflection of Christ in your undying love for husband and that is enough.

press on,
forever yours.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

if we were on a coffee date...

dear pjm.

if we were on a coffee date,  me=double tall with vanilla and of course non-fat. you=tall latte with vanilla & extra foam. why the extra foam?  just to sound fancy? ensuring the barista is paying attention to your cup?  holding her accountable?  for the life of me, i never understood the extra foam.

if we were on a coffee date, i would casually slide this across the table...
you would ask how i cropped your head upon that over-robust body.  i would giggle when you'd quip you were a wimbledon fan.  obviously.  always.  and belly laugh over your snarky remark about needing to laying off the fork & knife.  i would search the photo in pursuit of some goodness. perhaps your affection for consistence, however, having it dictate your fashion choices{every day}was just too dang much. or your desire for adventure, again, except when making selections from the your closet.

if we were on a coffee date, i would tell you i changed all of the non-functioning malibu light bulbs.  it was my inaugural attempt, but i have contemplated it for a few months.  you would label that procrastination.  i would ask where you hid the electronic eye which intellects when it is dusk and illuminates our home making it warm & inviting as the night grows darker.  you would acknowledge i had done an acceptable job & divulge the exact locations of those "eyes".

if we were on a coffee date, we would stare for a moment into one another's eyes as we "chinked" paper coffee cups and cheers{ed} to another summer of warm memories & holding dear to a few traditions.  we would remind one another of the wild & free preschool days of sweet brown eyes & attempt to measure how far we have grown; yet knowing no instrument could accurately reflect our stride.  

if we were on a coffee date, i would tear up when asking you why you broke that promise you made before he was born.  you ensured me you would be there for his high school graduation. but i have learned life shifts & we cannot predict & God is there in the shifty & unpredictable.  and the two of you.  you & Him will be there at that high school graduation watching from above.

if we were on a coffee date, i would bask in your presence because i would now understand the limitation of our time together.  i would snap a mental picture of your face, so full of life & joy.  i would hold your hand & ask you to list the million ways you love me.  not because i doubt your love, but because i desire to hear them all one last time.

miss you sweet pjm.  learning to coffee & other things minus you.
but you live so boldly in spite.

love.
your wife 
{that would love just one more coffee date}



this post was inspired by amber over at "mr thomas & me".  you should have "coffee" with her…soon. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

what i learned from dead birds...

sweet brown eyes & i have been at the beach for a few days.  a soccer tournament lead to the little getaway.  among the many lives left at home was a nest built beneath our patio cover.  for many years i dreaded seeing the nesting birds gathering supplies from around my yard to build that perfect basket of twigs & pine needles & string to cocoon their eggs while they hatched.  i loathed all of their productivity because i knew when the time was right for those babes to spread their wings & adventure into a life of their own, my bird-loving jack russell lay in wait on the patio anticipating the first flight on unsteady wings & he would do what jack russells do to baby birds.

unfortunately, mr. jack russell passed away this winter and a kinder, gentler spirited pup has replaced him.  his nature is to herd instead of hurt birds.  he does an amazing job of gathering my chickens back into their coop without rifling their feathers.  you can only imagine the excitement i had when birds began their annual nesting ritual.  this summer, we will have babes that will be given that chance to fly off and do whatever birds do.  each time i would walk out the kitchen door i would glance up and turn my ear in anticipation of their tiny voices.  sure enough a few weeks ago i began to hear them.  they were tucked up so close to the top of the patio, i couldn't see how many there were but could determine there were at least two by the sounds of all of the chirping.

i was sure when we returned home from our beach week, it would be to an empty nest.  but it wasn't.  when i glanced up, there was a tiny bird hanging out of the nest…dead.  i wanted to cry, disturbed by the sight of death.  i returned inside, attempting to ignore what i had seen.  but i couldn't just leave it literally hanging there.  along with a ladder & broom, i removed the bird & nest.  there was a second bird inside the nest that obviously didn't make it either.

i am not sure what went awry in that nest.  i want to believe that mom didn't leave her babes to fend for themselves.  i want to believe life, not death.  i want to believe in hope, not despair.  i want to believe gladness, not sorrow.  but the reality is those birds did not make it out of the nest this year.  and i want an explanation.  from God.  why didn't You allow these birds to fly?

but then i remembered.  in john 10 where Jesus is telling the disciples that not a single sparrow falls without being in God's presence.  God knows.  even when a sparrow dies.  even when dementia strikes a family.  He knows.  and He cares.  does he derail the train? sometimes, but not always. and this is one {or two} of those not always.  my nature is to always ask why?  why those birds this year?  why my precious husband and not another's?  but if He told me the answer to "why" it wouldn't change the outcome.  the answer would never satisfy me even from Christ himself because it truly isn't the "why" i want answered.

what my soul truly seeks, for those birds & pjm, is to roll back time & have the ending i would orchestrate.  but the verse says "when a sparrow falls…".  the when explains the why. heartbreaking & arbitrary happen.  at that ugly moment of horrible circumstances begging me to doubt-question-distrust, i chose to place my faith in Him.  knowing he is good, sovereign and present in the middle of dead birds & dementia.




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

why i rode a mattress down the stairs...

i am in the middle of transforming sweet brown eyes room from boy to teen.  one of the essentials was a new bed.  he has a twin but his legs are at least full sized in length.  good old pottery barn delivered the new bed frame sunday afternoon.  the twin mattress was still upstairs propped against the banister. i was waiting for amber to come over so she could help me carry it out to the garage.  she arrived with her swollen biceps, ready to assist in lugging the awkward mattress down & around the staircase. but in the process of it all, i somehow ended up moving it down the first section of our stairways on my own.  as i stood at the landing, i yelled for amber to watch me.  i am positive i have seen this stunt performed in an old movie involving alcohol & a frat house.  please note: there was no alcohol or frat boys involved! i belly-flopped on to the mattress & rode it down the final eight stairs…in my bikini.  none of it was planned, especially the bikini part. but this few seconds of video says so much about me & what i have learned in the midst of sick & dying.  

five years ago this month i sat in a doctor's office at pjm's side.  the kind doctor explained in technical doctor-y terms that pjm had already lost pieces of his mental abilities & his brain would continue to unravel until either his body forgets how to swallow & breathe or is too weak to fight an infection.  those words & that day forever changed our lives in a multitude of ways.  over the course of the last 1,825 days i have learned life can be more of a sprint than a marathon for some of us & even though there are statistics & genetics & preventative medicine, none of us truly knows the race we have been called to run.  

when my race is over & people gather to celebrate my life, i want to be remembered for embracing the moments.  for so long i was that soccermom-churchleader-menuplanning-makeupwearing-pictureperfectwife.  and while that all looked good, it lent itself to a life of shallowness.  i busy orchestrating an image that was esthetically pleasing. in doing this, i missed out on some of the riches of living.  i invested in much of what is temporary at the cost of losing out on that which is eternal.  eternal are the relationships-memories-love we share with each other and God.  when i am laid to rest, the part of me that is left are those rich, warm memories. everything else is boxed up, set on the curb left waiting for Goodwill to collect.

so i have spent the last few years embracing the memory making.  what will my children remember most about me?  that she always had every hair in place, cheered quietly from the sidelines, menu-planned each meal for the week ahead? or that she embraced life mid-stairway, grabbed a mattress and rode it downstairs…in a bikini.  and when she landed at the bottom she laughed from deep in her belly, drug the mattress back up the stairs and made them ride it down too.  

so i rode the mattress downstairs because i don't know how long my race is or how many more miles i will be allowed to run.  but be careful because your teeth are supposed to go with you into eternity-so don't knock them out. ever.

dear pjm.
thanks for teaching me life is to be lived robustly
because our days are numbered.
i can't believe what has transformed in five years.
i am sorry it took losing you for me to embrace the mattress & ride it down the stairs.
while you would never have thought that was kosher,
you would be proud of me.
love. always.
me
p.s.  so glad i didn't knock any teeth out.  you know how weird i am about people missing teeth.


Monday, July 7, 2014

a little anger...

dear God.
today was a hard day.  and i was pissed at you.
in fact, there is a dessert slice serving of me that is still chocked full of anger.
it seems what i want & what You what are opposite ends of a spectrum.
and my wants are reasonable. noble. and most of all honest.
and somehow Your ways are bold yet gentle.  and most of all for the highest good.
but today i just want my way and not Yours.
and that makes me realize how much i love & trust You
because i am counting on You to hear me.
give me.
grant me.
free me.
love me as i stand in the middle of my sticky confection of want.
signed-
purveyor of hostile desserts



Thursday, July 3, 2014

dear mune…{pronounce it like moon}

dear mune-

somehow may, you blended yourself into june without my awareness.  perhaps it was all of the celebrations between the two boys that distracted me.  celebrations of endings with anticipation & excitement about how the new season will unfold.

summer brings a schedule with so much flexibility which i tell myself & others i love.  but when i tuck myself in at night and bid farewell to another day, i struggle when days have little to show for themselves.  i long to tick off more items on my mental "to do" list then i actually did.  i yearn to measure a day in tasks accomplished instead of basking in the rest of warm days.  i am trying to shift my focus-work at resting instead of rest from working.  will you try it with me this summer?

i do have four little hooves hustling themselves around the backyard.  napoleon, the pig, squealed his way into our lives.  he gets along well with the chickens & my sweet blue eyed rex.  it makes home feel a homier & countrified.  and he has verified all of those pig sayings.  there is truth to everyone of them…squeal like a pig-its LOUD & attention grabbing. eats like a pig, pig-headed, happy as a pig in shit. napoleon has proven all of them to be fact. they aren't just some old saying repeated generation after generation.

and i randomly learned i have been wearing bobby pins incorrectly all these years.  did you know there is a top & a bottom to them?  the bumpy part is supposed to go against your scalp.  i never knew that-and now that i do, i still don't always put them in correctly.  my hair doesn't seem to care how i wear them.  it stays or doesn't regardless of how i install the pin.

and i found this blog that i love.  jessica has turned my summer into the season of the salad. couscous & quinoa give any salad more texture and add heartiness.  and there is something for making your own vinaigrette.  it's so simple-some oil, an acid like vinegar or juice and seasoning.  shake it in a mason jar.  the oil to acid ratio is 3:1.  i just eyeball it & tailor the dressing to match the salad ingredients.  she also salt & peppers her lettuce prior to adding in the balance of ingredients.  it seems to make a difference-call me crazy, but it does. really. and last, this recipe, sangria berry crumble, is easy & amazing.  i made it for dessert and there was not an oat or tidbit of fruit left.

and i have been busy reading-here are a few of the books i have completed
grace (eventually)  anne lamontt
the wild water walking club  claire cook
the fault in our stars john green
attachments rainbow rowell
and the book of jeremiah in the bible…it was a long read, got to be honest.  lots of wrath & unhappiness & nations not listening to God.  and it made me realize that's how life is.

and my pjm…just feeling quiet about him & me. i try and tell myself all of this is God's plan & timing.  somedays i believe it and others i don't.

and as i march myself along into july, i do it was lots of sunscreen.  i love the sunshine kissing my skin, but sometimes it leaves spots that my dermatologist likes so much he cuts them out and keeps them for himself.  so i slather myself up & seek more shade.

summer kisses!
me



Friday, June 27, 2014

marriage letters: comparison

dear pjm-
so the task at hand is to compare our marriage to something else.  an analogy of sorts i suppose.  i first thought i could compare it to darius rucker's song "might get lucky" because it was all of those things that you did during the day for me & our family that would lead to a glass of chardonnay after the kids were put to bed.  but that's kind of mushy & causes a little blip on the "sexy time" meter which makes me blush so we won't go there.

then i thought of the circus. our marriage was not like the circus that pulls into town for three performances and then loads up to perform at the next little city.  i am talking about the barnum & bailey kind that your uncle ron worked for.  you know, the kind with a lion trainer snapping his whip as the lioness leaps gracefully thru a flaming ring-a motorcyclist riding his honda inside a metal sphere-a clown bursting out of a cannon along with enough confetti to fill time square at the stroke of midnight on new year's eve. but then there is poop & straw from the animals that has to be cleaned up & programs & popcorn littering the sports arena floor that have to be gathered and tossed & crying, overtired children that have to be drug to their cars.  that's not the kind of marriage we had.  no, it wasn't ever one that left a trail of debris, clutter and exhaustion.


our marriage was bold, yet warm and safe and comforting, like a panini.  layers & textures all with their separate qualities gathered gently and placed one atop of another.  two slices of hearty bread stuffed with chicken, provolone, roasted veggies, and pesto-the outside of the bread, brushed with olive oil & placed in a heated sandwich press where each of the individual flavors lost some of itself in order to create a culinary comfort food. with the right ingredients, it's not just a sandwich but a delectable meal pressed within two toasted slices of bread.

and that was our marriage.  a slice called pjm & a slice called chrissy.  two hearty souls rich in texture & contrast.  children were added along with careers and passions and commitments.  the warmth of emotions & love challenged each element to give up a piece of its individuality in order to meld into this beautiful & messy thing we call our marriage. the olive oil of God generously coating us, sealing in His goodness while protecting us when the heat and pressure of the world grew with intensity.  yes, love, our marriage was the perfect panini.  homey. comforting. a blend of you & me that satisfied the hunger in one's soul.

ciao bello & love you-
me


the inspiration behind this post is from "marriage letters" by seth & amber haines.  they are taking the summer off because she is busy writing a book which i am excited to read.  my daughter, amber, wrote a post about marriage being like the movies, but better.  click on her name and read it! i write them to remember the preciousness of my marriage as my husband lets go of his grip on health & life due to a terminal illness.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

single one...

i hear it often…"you don't have any idea what God has in store for you".  and there is so much truth to these twelve little words.  dementia was never something i thought our family would be asked to wrestle with, but we have and we are.

there is a tender, bite-size topic i face & today i have an opinion which feels like it will last my lifetime.  singleness.  spending the remainder of my life without a mate at my side.  and you want to know a little secret?  i am okay with that.  it seems the world gives the message that in order to be complete, one must have a mate.  and i did.  and he was amazing.  like over the top-take me on exotic getaways & give me a new car over lunch & throw an amazing, surprise 4-0 birthday bash {11 months after my birthday-but that's a different blog post}-kind of marriage.  and those memories make me feel complete in my aloneness.

marriage is sometimes like a romance novel, but it is equal parts messy.  if you are taking it seriously, it quickly becomes complicated.  and when hearts are involved, being deliberate and intentional are essential for healthy relations to take root and grow into something beautiful.  and true beauty comes over time, years of nurturing and investing, while letting go of "me" for the sake of "us".  and maybe what remains of "me" is enough.  in fact, better than enough.

my marriage was like a few bites of decadent, chocolate cake, so rich & satisfying that it doesn't leave me craving the entire cake or even another slice.  instead it lingers in my mind as the most delightful dessert ever-just a warm memory of delectable chocolate-y goodness. that's what my marriage feels like-satisfyingly rich.

and maybe that is why i am okay with singleness.  my marriage:  it didn't break.  it didn't wander into another's arms.  it didn't busy itself with work & children.  it started our small. a promise over two slender, gold bands that grew & was nurtured by two people that deeply loved & respected one another.  it grew with children & making traditions that will linger through generations.  together we found faith & God & church.  its roots stretched themselves deep into the soil of our family.  and while i stand without him at my side, i feel complete.

and those nay-sayers are right, i have no idea what God has planned & i don't begin to understand His ways.  but my marriage cake has filled my longing and "me" feels like enough.


Friday, June 13, 2014

father's day…



the days have gotten all hot & sticky in my mind.  one melding into another like gummy bears left on the blazing summer sidewalk.  a rainbow of juicy colors.  identifying one single bear is impossible in the rainbow messy of the heat.  the red of dementia is intertwined with the orange of sweet brown eyes moving up to middle school interwoven with the green of pjm jr. graduating from college this weekend. and it all becomes convoluted by the yellow of father's day.  my emotions are just this sticky gel of joy-sorrow-pride-longing.

i am struggling with picking apart the gradient of this rainbow.  what fraction of all of this is dementia.  how do i find the percentage of grieving red when there should be overwhelming joy in the culmination of orange & green.  and yellow screams at me that it is fading faster than all of the other colors.  and i want to scream back at father's day that we did not have enough.  never enough.  time is of limited quantity & invaluable.  and i can't sell back all that is dear to have him returned to us.  how i long for the wit & wisdom of the father of our children.

but he taught them {and me} to be brave & bold.  and to forget about the numbers and do that which you are most passionate about and it will be rewarded.  to love your marriage and squeeze it tighter than your children even when you would rather lay on the nursery floor in anger at him falling short of your expectations. grasp each day as if it were your last and pack so much living into those 16 hours ahead. when done right,  every cell of your being will scream for a restful night.  talk to strangers & make them friends even if only for those few moments in the starbucks line.  each encounter has a nugget of wisdom that will make your soul richer.

happy father's day pjm.
longing to have you at my side as we celebrate our children's successes.
your heart would burst with pride-mine is.
i pray somewhere in all of that dementia, you know you are an amazing dad.
each of your children is evidence of both your boldness & bravery.
love.
me
p.s.  cheers over a g&t with a lime

Thursday, May 29, 2014

marriage letters: how we "co-work"

dear pjm.

i know, love, sounds like labor doesn't it.  like childbirth.  but it isn't.  no, no.  no more babies.  promise-except for those "grand" ones. no, this is about how we labored. you know, how we worked together as a team.  you+me = a union of glory greater than either one of us alone.

my very first impulse was to remind you how we labored mostly like toddlers.  you know how they "parallel play"-standing next to each other at the sand table, but the only interaction is when one needs the other's shovel or tractor?  we parallel labored so often.  you in your office looking across the hall at me in mine.  in close proximity to one another, but not working hand in hand.

then i remembered that RV trip we took once like two silver-haired senior citizens, except i was 35 & you 45 and we were parenting those two elementary-age blondies.  we loaded that "trailer" as you like to call it with your isuzu trooper hooked to the rear and drove to Washington D.C.  then we made a u-turn and returned back to california.    with a whole lot less technology at our fingertips, we navigated our way across the country with one thick U.S. Atlas-pages of tangled interstates & highways like veins running through ones body.  it opened up about the size of a newspaper.  each evening we would look at it together and chart out a path for our next day's adventures.

you did all of the driving.  i did all of the navigating.  just like siri dictates directions to me now, i sat in the passenger's chair and ordered each and every turn for 3,000 miles as we traversed across the country.  and you listened and turned and merged and sometimes u-turned when i was wrong. i could never have driven our 36-foot home along with a tow vehicle for even three miles or three-quarters of a mile. but following a map from point a to point b was never a gift you were blessed with.  together we labored our way-each depending upon the other.

that trip is a metaphor for our lives-our marriage.  so often we would sit in our bedroom, you in your corduroy tan chair and me in my floral one, with our feet resting on the same ottoman.  we would verbally spread out our "marriage" map and discuss where we had been and the new direction we wanted to head as a couple & family.  there were seasons when you would have to redirect my moral compass away from me & back toward God.  and i, too, would do the same for you.  together we labored at giving up ourselves for one another in hopes of shining a flicker of God's greatness into this world.



and today, as i sit alone with my feet on that very same ottoman we shared, i realize this disease that has manifested itself in you continues to work me into a better person.  more kindness-less selfishness, more peace-less discord, more faithfulness-less disregard, more patience-less intolerance.  you, love, continue to labor at refining my edges and allowing God's light to shine through our marriage.  you continue to give up of yourself and mold me into a better person.

love you & so dearly miss you.
your co-pilot


this is part of marriage letters.  a monthly prompt.  this months was "how we co-labor".  you can read amber's on the runamuck or seth's here at sethhaines.  and you can write your very own to your love and link up for the rest of us to read!  will you join me?




Wednesday, May 21, 2014

chasing crow...

so my chicks have turned into prepubescent chickens or as the farmers calls them "pullets". they have a bit of sass & no longer liked being confined to a toddler swimming pool surrounded by a dog fence inside my garage.  seemed like the ritz of chick living to me, but i guess not as i would open the roll-up garage door and they would be pecking their feathery little selves around the garage.  last week i moved them out to the coop in hopes of allowing them to literally spread their wings.  the coop is within my garden and is surrounded by a white picket fence in the middle of our backyard {all vital info for you, the reader, to be privy to}.

i am by nature an anxious person & was sure a hawk would swoop down and whisk one of my girls away.  additionally, i really know nothing about farm life or chicken rearing, and while i have googled umpteen questions i still really am clueless about what i am doing.  it's kind of like when you bring that first baby home from the hospital & regardless of the number of maternity and infant books read, that first cry leaves you with a pit in your gut that you did not somehow properly prepared for this very moment.  at least that's how it was for me-if that mothering thing came oh so natural for you, i am envious.

so for the first few days, i would arrive home & hustle out to the garden to confirm the safety of my three girls.  they were often huddled together underneath the shelter of a tomato plant.  it took a few days for them to become adventurous & explore their new world.

friday afternoon i walked out to the mailbox to retrieve all the junk mail i receive and noticed donna, one of my chickens, on the grass near the mailbox!  i wish for a photo to explain how entirely impossible this feat could be for this chicken.  she would have had to fly over two 5 foot fences & traverse 96.3 feet of ground to get to the mailbox.  yes, chickens can be adventurous but the likeness of this happening is close to impossible.  but in that moment, after a long day of helping sweet brown eyes & 61 other fifth graders impersonate colonists coupled with the smoke & ash from our southern california wildfires, i lacked clear thinking and sound judgement…and panic arose as i tossed the penny saver & pizza coupons to the ground and began chasing donna so i could return her to my garden.

i was keenly aware of a murder of crows swooping down to peck me while others cried out in the branches of the tree above my sweet {and foolish} head.  but it was my mission to rescue this chicken i had raised {for all of two months}, so i continued to dash to and fro hoping to clutch her gently and remove her from harm's way.  in the dashing, i realized she was missing the comb that has begun to sprout on her head.  in the bustle, i noticed she had lost her tan chest feathers that are intermingled with the black ones.  in the madness, i was keenly aware this was not, in fact, my chicken i was chasing but a teenage crow.

and i giggled & prayed none of the neighbors had seen my misguided heroic actions & realized all those crows were just protecting one of their own.  i was repeating the story to my family over dinner and they too laughed at my antics, but then amber hinted at something so profound in the middle of the crow chase.

how often do each of us chase dreams, relationships, careers, possessions believing it is truly ours to own.  how often have i felt ownership was mine-either because i had earned it or was just entitled?  i was thankful for a moment of clarity-"hey that's not my chicken.  it's a crow!"-but i wonder how many moments i failed to pause and truly assess the authenticity of something before grasping at it.  how many other "crows" have i chased in life believing it was my calling to have, when in fact, it was never mine to own.

dear crow.
sorry to get you & your family all in an uproar.
it was a case of mistaken identity.
i apologize for getting you & me in a panic.
signed-
misguided chicken owner

dear God.
how ridiculous did i look chasing after that crow?
thanks for the lesson in the ordinary of life.
help me to pause & take note of what is genuine & life-giving.
it is so easy to be distracted by emotions & desires & entitlement.
signed-
chaser of crows

Friday, May 9, 2014

i am not a basketball fan; therefore, i am.



sweet brown eyes loves basketball.  he has an alert on his phone {let's not get into a kid having a cell phone discussion} notifying him when his favorite team, the thunder, is playing and the scores during each quarter of the game.  his all-time favorite player is kevin durant. every friday he wears his "kd" jersey to school.  when he goes to the barber he asks for the "kevin durant" minus the sideburns.  he can rattle of "kd" stats & facts fasted then that fedex pitchman.

to be honest, i am not a basketball fan.  i am a fan of my sweet brown eyes, and sweet brown eyes is a "kd" fan; therefore, i am a "kd" fan.  this was called circular reasoning back when i was in high school.

and the other night when durant was named NBA MVP for 2013-14 season {hope i have all of that information correct because i am a fan after all}, he gave a heartfelt acceptance speech.  sweet brown eyes and i watched & listened together.  take a moment, or 26 minutes to be exact, to watch it yourself. i needed a few tissues; you might too.

one line continues to echo in my mind.  he thanked God for giving him basketball as a platform to inspire other people.  and i realize this is why i openly share my life & our sickness.  God is using pjm's illness & death as a platform to inspire others who are struggling.  i could quietly lay in a heap in bed and talk to God about the hows, whys and whens but if i am brave enough to share, perhaps our storm could give words-emotions-and most importantly faith to someone else who is walking what feels like an impossible path. perhaps knowing another aches in a way that will never heal, will give encouragement to face the most daunting of days.  perhaps the love-support-grace that has grown within the circle of our family challenges someone to seek refuge in the arms of their own family or to offer grace & forgiveness to someone who desperately needs it but cannot ask because vulnerability is too frightening.

dear "kd".
my sweet brown eyes is watching your every move & listening to all your words
both on and off the basketball court.
thanks for being a man he can look up to
even if you say occasional"bad words" during practice.
he is going to stand a little taller today
full of pride with "DURANT" hung across his shoulders.
signed-
mom of your #1 fan

dear mama durant.
you have raised a man of God-humble & full of integrity.
learning to be a single mom is plain scary to me,
but you along with your son's words encourage me.
do they make a t-shirt that says "kd's mom's #1 fan"?
if so, could i order one in a small & wear it every friday?
signed-
inspired mom

dear God.
i have said it before. i would trade everything,
in this case let's say enough basketballs to circle the globe, to have pjm healthy,
but that's not the plan You have.
continue to give me words that point to You
even if for only one other set of eyes to see.
signed-
blogger


Monday, May 5, 2014

why i don't pray he will be healed...

unbelief.  i don't want to give life to the whispers of my heart.  can i believe & fully trust God, yet not expect a miracle?  is praying for death blasphemy?  if i say a medical healing is impossible, am i a woman of little faith?  or perhaps no faith at all?

loving, well-intentioned friends tell me pjm can be healed and they pray specifically for his body to remain healthy enough so a team of doctors can find the perfect fix and cure him of his dementia.  and while i have witnessed miracles here on earth with my own eyes & ears, deep in my heart i do not believe pjm will ever be cured of his dementia until he passes away and leaves this earth & his body & brain behind.  it is then he will be cured. once he is with Jesus, his withering body & disease racked mind will be made new.

if pjm were physically healed and returned to our family & his work place, it would only be temporary. none of the miracle healings performed in the bible granted anyone a life of physical eternity here on earth.  the blind who could see again eventually died.  lazuras, raised from the dead, eventually died again.  the leaper whose faith made him well, eventually died.  the woman, whose continued flow of blood stopped, eventually died.  even Jesus who died & was resurrected ascended into heaven and no longer walks the earth as a man.  our bodies are temporary.  God designed our souls to be immortal, not the fancy package we happen to have it encased in here on earth.

death of our physical bodies is inevitable.  therefore, i will chose to find joy, grace and God in the middle of watching my husband lose a battle that each of us will eventually be called to fight.  where my confidence rests is knowing pjm's destination is heaven bound.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

dear april...

my dearest april.

you have kept me hustling this month!  and a little hustle is good for me.  we added 10 feet to our home during the first week which is where all the hustle has come from.  three chicks & one precious, over-the-moon in love puppy has brought new life and reminds me of spring and the new beginnings it offers.

we live on 2 1/2 acres which i just love because it's plenty of land but so very close to the market & freeway.  lots of neighbors have horse, which i am almost deathly afraid especially when we are on the same side of the fence.  i have always wanted chickens...i think because my granny always had them and she would take my sister & me by the hand into the henhouse to harvest all those eggs her girls had laid.  pjm forbid chickens...he said they would bring coyotes who would then eat calvin, the jack russell he despised.  unfortunately, cantankerous calvin, had to be put to sleep at the start of the year, so i did what any grieving "my husband has dementia & my dog is dead" woman would do. i purchased chicks! we have three-with four more on the way!  and they grow faster than a crowd of high schoolers watching a few fellow classmates pummel one another.  they won't lay eggs for another few months, but this farmgirl is excited to follow in her granny's footsteps.  scoot built them an amazing coop the week before he started his job!

as me & the boys were leaving the feed store, we found a flier for puppies, and are now in the throws of house training him!  you can meet rex by clicking here!  he continues to melt my heart especially because he is an amazing sleeper at night!

and all of this new life is refreshing as we watch pjm wither away.  he is literally disappearing before our very eyes. that can happen with dementia-the brain forgets how to process calories so in spite of his hearty appetite & ability to eat, his weight continues to drop.  and it is sad & frightening but seems he is moving closer to heaven. and that is where the blessing will be found, knowing he is slowly making that trek toward resting with God.

and the very last night of the month was filled with bitter-sweet as i walked the halls of sweet brown eyes' school with him so jovial at my side.  pointing left & right, full of fifth-grade pride as he showed me all there is to see at my last elementary school open house. scoot was in fifth grade at that very same school when we were blessed with him.  hard to believe he is off to middle school.  one of us is over the moon excited about what a new school will bring. the other is comfortable in the safety net we have in elementary school. can you guess who's excited and who isn't so much?

pjm was an avid motorcycle rider-dirt, bullet, harley-he loved them all.  and we own a few but it gets tricky because he doesn't have a license to ride them anymore.  i have never had a license to ride them. and i can't insure them because i don't have the proper license.  just take my word, registering them & owning them is all a complicated mess.  we received a notice from the state that they were going to come and confiscate my home-children-pup-chickens if i did not pay the fees on one of the bikes.  i take myself into AAA with my inch high file of forms i have completed numerous times. the kind lady says the hitch in the paperwork pile is i filed that one bike "non-use" not "non-operational".  i must file is both ways for the dmv.  funny because when i look up "use" in the thesaurus right there four words down is says "operate" but according to the dmv, those are two very different things…both of which cost me money.

dear state of ca,
i just paid you income taxes-both for last year and an estimate for this year on the 14th.
it seems like i am paying you to create more work & confusion.
that's beyond annoying.
signed-
non-liker of pointless paperwork

dear kind AAA employee,
yes, those were tears in my eyes today.
no it wasn't the fee.  it was the reminder of the status of my life.
thanks for shredding that 3/4 inch of unnecessary documents.
signed-
loyal customer

dear God,
thanks for busy feet scratching the ground & running a muck in the yard.
signed-
content farmgirl


the chicks the day they arrived just days old.

the girls a month later!



Monday, April 21, 2014

that which frightens me...

i found an old journal yesterday.  the one when we were treating pjm for lymes disease.  the words were so honest and desperate for God to cure my husband and restore his ability to work and provide for our family winning back that equilibrium we had taken for granted.

we are naturally afraid of two things.  loud noise and falling.  and 2 timothy 1:7 says "fear is not from God" so all of those fears i was wrestling with were ones i had chosen to praise above God.

i would spend hours at night when sleep was on the agenda, but instead, wrote endless prayers begging God to fix pjm so i didn't have to be afraid anymore.  i wanted the fix more than i wanted to trust God.  or maybe the only way i could see His provision was for God to relax my grip on all that I was clutching so tight.

and God has provided through all of this mess, yet i still find myself awake at midnight turning over the many game pieces of my life wondering which cards i will be dealt and when.  and none of those pleading for my attention involve noise or falling.  i have yet to unlearn my fear and wonder if i will ever be content with God's grace in the middle of our demented moments.



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

the new man in my life...


rex wandered into our lives at a local feed store.  yes, we live in a little slice of country where there is a feed store just over the bridge from home.  right there. hanging on the bulletin board out front was a notice.  i pulled off one of the tabs and tucked it into my pocket.  after a day of contemplation, i worked up the nerve to call & he wanted to meet just a few hours later.  his baby blues captivated me from the moment we locked eyes.



and after a week with this pup, i realize so much about life-loss-love and pjm.  i was unaware before rex arrived, how much of a hole had been left right there in the center of me.  somehow this pup fills some of the void in pjm's absence.  crazy, right?  and as our family hopefully grows with more grandchildren and regardless of how full my life will become, there will always be a hole where pjm lived.  and i cherish that hole he has left because it is part of my story.  part of who i am.  it has grown me deep & rich.  the loss has made all of my blessings i do have so dear.  and i realize i am okay even though i no longer have him at my side.  and okay is a good.

dear pjm.
you once said when a man loses his wife,
he just needs to get a good dog to help him get over the grief.
and it's just another thing you were right about.
love you.
chrissy

dear rex.
thanks for filling some of that hole pjm left behind.
i thought it was entirely impossible to love a dog so much,
but you, my friend, have stolen my heart.
thanks for sleeping all night 
and being quick to learn the proper place to pee & poop.
sincerely.
smitten by blue-eyed rex


and if you want to see more of rex,  follow me on instagram or #blueeyedrex.
promise.  he is ADORABLE. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

anatomy of a promise.

the other morning at the gym, i gave a hearty hug to tony, pjm's old trainer.  this gentle, muscle-bound, superhero patiently workout with my pjm twice a week while i was given the privilege {and torture} of training with a girl i've known for years.

a few weeks ago tony learned his wife has cancer.  he struggles to focus on anything but his wife and her health and the HUGE ASS question marks in their future.  as you enter the gym, there is a poster with their wedding photo announcing a benefit golf tournament to help with medical expenses.

i said to him, "wedding promises are so easy to make but sometimes so messy to live".  i made promises twenty-seven years ago to honoring health, wealth and "happily every after". yes, there was also that snippet of sick, poor & death; but i was young & overjoyed by our love & above all an eternal optimist.  in my innocence, i trusted those gold bands we slipped on each other's fingers to hold powers of kryptonite warding off illness, infertility, infidelity and any other negative circumstances a marriage could encounter.

a promise is given life only when it is tested by harsh circumstances.  in the middle of this dementia-filled season, i have learned i am a promise keeper.

dear pjm.
i promised but i never expected for you to test my "keeping" abilities like this.
i wish you hadn't but my soul is content in knowing i am at your side,
even when you don't.
all my love-
lc

dear God.
You are the Promisekeeper.
and Your word says You are always with me .
in the middle of this messy life,
You continue to provide me with what we need as a family.
thank you for the multitude of blessings in this season.
me

Monday, March 31, 2014

dear march...

dear march...

isn't there some proverb that says march comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb?
well, march you were a lamb all month long here in california.
i longed for a bit more roar out of you so i could snuggle
by the fire in my flannels awhile longer.
hate packing those up until next november, but you are begging for cotton pj pants & tshirts.

the month started off with scoot's {un}birthday celebration.  
did you know he was born on leap year day?  yep.  so he doesn't really have a birthday
and who taught my kids how to turn their birthdays into festival weekends?
 the best part?  i am included in the festival.
in the middle of the weekend was a visit from pjm's daughter.
there is something about gathering with family in the home he built for us.
in his absence, when we are gathered around that old farm table
sharing dinner & a meal, his presence is felt.
it's as if the more of us that gather, the more pieces of him are together
& the more it feels like we have not lost as much.
the definition of family is changing for us, not that it was ever a traditional definition,
but i am thankful for family that shares, loves & honors my pjm.

and our bit of march madness came early.
 sweet brown eyes was on the most amazing basketball team ever!
his first season playing basketball, and their record was 13-0
won the league championship-go warriors!
and another season of club soccer starts after spring break.

my "one little word"-nourish.
i truly want to honor that word in my life this year,
so the night before the san diego half marathon, amber & i decided to not run.
it fell on the first morning of the time change so we would be getting up at 3:45 am.
no thanks.
we ran here at home and nourished ourselves over breakfast at our favorite diner.
and we aren't training for the june marathon.  so there.  feels more nourishing.

and lent.  i have this small devotion book from naptime diaries.
i haven't miss a day yet.  i don't have a set "devotional" time.
i just tuck away for a bit, alone, and complete it...each day so far!
and it feeds my soul.  
please click on the link above.  jessi talks so openly about her precious family & faith.

and endless miles driven {but, not by me}.  and sweaty palmed introductions.
and emails followed by hand-written thank yous.
and more negations and clarifications.
and my boy has a job.  like his first step on the career ladder.
he finished college a quarter early &
landed a position with a consulting firm here in town...with benefits!
amen.  couldn't be more proud of that boy {man, actually.  he's 22 you know}.

and another birthday celebration!
am turned 25-quarter century baby!  wish i could cue some music here.
or even just a "bow-chicha-bow-wow".  say it in your head for me. please.
lunch date at our favorite place in old town with an evening of music at a local winery while listening to the band that played at their wedding...this was all on friday!
then on her actual day she hosted
an evening soiree with some couples & me and my fabulous date
tall-dark-handsome, sweet brown eyes!
the night was delightful and i left with a heart swollen in pride.
her entertaining in their new home.  that's my girl!

 the annual ski week in mammoth.  that's where pjm proposed to me.
those slopes will always hold a dear spot in my heart.
just me & my two boys & lots of fresh white powder.  that's not how spring skiing usually works.
delightful surprise to have two days of snow.
missed him & the way he could hockey stop on a dime.

and this month my eyes were glued to these pages...
chasing God by angie smith
on writing by stephen king
and i baked pans of these...a must try {except if you are on a diet}
sweet brown eyes begs for them & it's the perfect time to make them because the recipe calls for 
cadbury mini chocolate eggs-royal dark which are abound in the easter candy aisle!
loaded candy cookie bars-please, try them.  we do skip the white chocolate chips.
your scale will hate me for it.

thanks, march, for being a gentle lamb all month long.
i love gentle.  always.
hugs.
me

Friday, March 21, 2014

abraham & isaac

i don't often write about specific bible stories because i am not a scholar of the bible...or anything actually.  so i am nervous to write this. i am afraid my unscholarlyness will show. someone will read the words and my understanding of the story and tell me i have it all wrong.  but it is the way my heart has heard this story.  and today it is okay with me that my heart has heard it this way.  and so i share.

in gensis 22 God asks abraham to sacrifice his son isaac.  and abraham obeys.  he takes his son up on a mountain and is going to offer him as a sacrifice-like kill his own son right there on that mountain top.  but at the very last moment, a ram appears in a bush.  the ram is isaac's replacement and is killed instead. abraham was obedient to God and He provided. and with humble reverence, abraham thanked the Lord for providing a ram in place of his son.

as a family, we have given generously of our time & resources.  quite frankly, it was easy being charitable.  we gave and God always provided.  and i never questioned where the finances came from-pjm, of course, and his astute business sense coupled with his work ethic.  through pjm, the God always provided.  honestly, the giving was easy.  it did not require great sacrifice on us as a family.  yes, pjm went to the philippines for three weeks to build a medical center and yes, i missed him and managed the home alone, but it was not a huge sacrifice.  we have sponsored numerous aid efforts, but not at the cost of feeling any discomfort at home.  none of this giving felt like a sacrifice...at all.

but then in '09 when pjm was first diagnosed with substantial cognitive impairment, i turned to God.  moment by moment asking him to change this plan.  and there were many doctors advising me that it was depression, an autoimmune disease, a thyroid issue, vitamin deficiency. and i clung to those threads of hope, believing God would not take my husband-father of our children-president of a handful of companies.  i believed God would send a ram to be pjm's replacement just as he had done for isaac. i believed he would not allow my husband to continue to lose his ability to think & care for himself.  i believed at the very last moment, pjm would be healed.  i believed people would look at our situation as a medical miracle with pjm back doing what he did so well-working & providing for his family and employees.  i believed we were called to walk this difficult "medical" mountain because when we got to the peak, God would provide a ram in place of pjm.  i believed pjm was my isaac, but instead he is my ram.

and i scream at God to change all of this.  i am not brave enough, strong enough, wise enough to handle the loss of my husband.  please God, choose another family that can walk this path better than i can.  choose another family more christian than mine & has memorized the Bible back to front.  please God, chose a man that is an ass to his wife and loathes his children.  please God, chose a wife that hates her husband's existence and stays married because it is easier than divorce.  please God, chose someone who is old & doesn't have a family depending on his working hands.  please God, not me.  not this sacrifice.  not my husband.

i am sure those were the very same words abraham struggled with as he hiked up that mountain with his only son. and i sit in the middle of sick and loss and sad and still cling to the words that He will provide.  no, not like i had thought or prayed. but i know His words are truth & He will provide.  and i am learning this is what claiming to be a follower of Christ is about.  when life goes sideways, He still hears my utterances and sees my tears and knows i am so damn afraid.  and i give thanks for all He has provided.