Jonathon's Closet

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Now serving: foot in mouth!

So we're out together, the 3 of us together for the first time since the return of "The Man". We go to Spag's for pizza (best pizza in town, and they have a jukebox and a ton of really cool video games).

Got the tunes playin' and Jonathon is giving John & me a hard time about pinball being an "old person's game". We're laughing and joking and teasing each other. I beat both of the "boys" at Galaga & Ms. PacMan, John beats me at pinball (and I join in the teasing about it being an "old person's game - after all, John's 9 years older than I am!) and the guys find some (ick!) deer-hunter game (thankfully not very graphic, the deer simply fall over when shot)

We eat and drink and play and laugh, and it's great!

The bill comes, and John pays with a credit card. The waitress takes the card and sees the name printed on it - she's obviously overheard us call Jonathon by name and turns to him and says "Hey, that's cool - you're named after your Dad!"

For just an instant, all 3 of us freeze. Our eyes dart around the table as we try to gauge how the others will react. I can literally feel the blood drain from my face, more a nervous reaction about how the guys are going to respond than anything else. John drops his arm casually around my shoulders as Jona looks at the waitress grinning and says "Uh-yeah, ok. If you say so!" And we immediately return to normal.

Tonight I am thankful for this small bit of proof of the enormous amount of healing that has taken place.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Black Friday

I don't know if it's tradition in your family, but Black Friday is tradition in mine! So that's where we were yesterday!

My Dad loved to shop (WAY more than my Mom does!) and we never missed a Black Friday! My Mom says I've been going along since I was born, but it was way easy when I was little, because My Dad would just carry me in a baby-backpack-thing and I'd sleep the whole time.

So yesterday, we were at Meijer at 4 am. Yes, 4 am. At Kohls by 5:30, at WalMart by 6, at KMart by 7:15. Then we stopped at Speedway for hot dogs, because I was hungry. And Mom needed caffiene. No one should be exposed to my Mom when she's 'fiene - free!

The whole time, I didn't see even one other kid from my class. My Mom said she thinks most kids and teenagers probably stay home, but I love Black Friday and wouldn't want to be left at home!

And then - the main event - we drove all the way to Bronner's! Bronner's is the worlds largest Christmas store and it's awesome! It's right on the edge of Frankenmuth, which is really cool but we didn't really go there because the traffic was a nightmare and my Mom said "No way!" We were going to stop at Birch Run on the way back (really really huge and awesome outlet shopping) but my Mom was totally worn out, and said that the budget was just as exhausted as she was.

We got home at 4 and she went to bed. She got up at 7, because I had made dinner (chicken and rice) and then she went back to bed after we ate. I woke her up at 9:30 when I went to bed, 'cause she's really hard not to wake up - all I did was open the door to her room to check on her and she woke up.

We talked for a few minutes, sorted our Black Friday deals (we did really good, and the best deals were at Meijer) and that's it. We didn't spend nearly as much as we used to (of course!) and it's too bad because there were some really good electronics deals out there as usual, but we had a really good time!

2 years ago I boycotted Black Friday because John went along and it was always a family day and it just bugged me. I don't know why, it just did. Last year, in the middle of all the junk going on with John, my Mom FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER didn't do Black Friday. This year, I wish John had been able to come with us, but he was in St. Louis at his sister's house.

John was at his sister's house for all of Thanksgiving - My mom said that he had made this plan before they were back together. She seemed ok with it, not sad or upset. She said it might do him some good to be with family for Thanksgiving. And for the first time ever, my Mom didn't cook Thanksgiving dinner!

My mom is an awesome cook - I love it when she cooks big holiday meals. But she didn't really feel like cooking a huge meal just for the two of us and we talked about it and she offered to add the Thanksgiving food budget to Black Friday, and that sounded like a good idea to me. So we didn't have even a turkey or anything, but she's promised that Christmas dinner will be awesome and it usually is, so I'm looking forward to it.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

In which I find the answer to my prayer

I wish you and your families peace and love on this Thanksgiving holiday.

It took me a while to get there, but now you know what led up to my blog entries on Oct 19 and Oct 30. When “The Man” called on the 19th, my body released a sigh of relief that I didn’t even realize it had been holding onto since January! I heard his voice and I just melted!

The first several minutes on the phone were spent with me sitting here, tears running down my face, unable to find my voice. My heart was so full, I thought perhaps it would burst!

Later, the fear began to set in; an almost paralyzing fear of “I can’t go thru this again”.

But I needn’t have worried – the instant we got together we fell into each others arms, tears rolling down both of our faces, clinging to each other as if for dear life.

He tried to speak- “Oh, Kate, I just …”, “Honey, never again …” – but apparently couldn’t form complete sentences, his voice just drifted off each time. I didn’t even try, I knew I couldn’t trust my voice!

And now? It’s easily explained: It’s all good.

Meet “The Man” … this is John.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

9 long months apart

Jona doesn’t *quite* have it right. I never had any doubts about “The Man” and I. I had doubts about “The Man”.

Sometimes, when a person is SO broken, sometimes they can never be alright again. I’ve seen this more times than I like to think about. And, as much as I wanted to be wrong, I began to suspect that the permanent damage that had been done to “The Man” was going to be permanently incapacitating.

I never doubted that we were “good” or “right”. I never doubted that it “could” work. I never ever doubted how completely I love him. I merely doubted his ability to ever be whole again.

As Jona shared, back in Jan. “The Man” and I decided that time apart was the only option. I hated this option, but still felt it necessary. Jona and I handled it quite differently – he spoke often of “The Man” and seemed to take comfort in reminding me how much “The Man” loves and cares for us and reassuring me that “it’ll be alright Mom, you’ll see”. I simply retreated back into the “just the two of us” lifestyle that we had been leading for quite some time.

I missed “The Man” and thought of him every single day.

And one day in October, while driving, I quietly whispered this prayer: “Please God, please let me know if he’s ok”.

Later that day, he called.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Want to know what I have to say???

So “The Man” came to my Mom like a week or so after Christmas and, as she explained to me, basically said that he wasn’t any good to any one until he got his head back on straight. And she agreed. And knowing my Mom, she was probably pretty encouraging and supportive. And just like that, the Man was gone.

My Mom removed herself from the committee work they had previously done together – I think she was just hurting too bad to continue. He called a few times; she let it go to voice mail. After a couple of weeks, he didn’t call anymore. I missed him a lot, but I know how much work healing can take. I think my Mom sort of lost hope for a while, but I never did. After all, I saw them together.

Do you think that sounds funny? That I knew it would all be alright because I saw them together? Well, it’s like this: I grew up in a household with lots of love. My Mom and Dad were always holding hands or hugging me or hugging each other. They just were like that. They laughed together and teased each other and kissed a lot. Probably too much, but that’s so much better than the opposite! I wish I could remember more of what it was like when my Dad was here, but mostly I just remember how gentle and caring they were with each other.

My Mom and “The Man” were exactly the same way. Seriously. I’d never seen my Mom just “fit” with anyone the way she just “fit” with “The Man” – well, except for my Dad. Any idiot could look at my Mom and “The Man” from across a football field and just know that it was right. Totally right. So I had no doubts.

But I still missed him while he was gone.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

What "The Man" got for Christmas:

I wanted to scream at you “how stupid can you be?”
Yet I know that you’re not stupid.
Didn’t it tell you anything that he called you?
On his own, he called you.
I realize now that you didn’t catch on
Let me spell it out for you

Time together on the Eve of Christmas
Yeah, I know you haven’t been around
So here’s the translation:
You have been invited to be part of a tradition,
“Our annual night of gratitude,
and you have to be here, OK?”, he asked and you agreed.

No, I didn’t realize he had called you until after it was done
Yes, I was slightly taken aback
After all, this is one of the few traditions we have left,
A ritual started by Don, only a short time before his death
It is time spent together that I value highly
As I know Jona does too.

He explained it to me, how he wanted you there
And there it was, in my face, exactly what you have become
I didn’t need to ask, but I did
“Hey, I thought this was our day …”
And he replied, “face it, Mom, John’s family”
I smiled, and then I hid and cried

I cried with the realization that Don has, indeed, been replaced.
I cried at the sharpness of the pain of his absence.
I cried at the intrusion of an outsider into “our time”
I cried with relief that he accepts you as part of us.
I cried with joy, as I came to understand that you are not an outsider.
And I thankfully accepted that you are, in a sense, “family”.

I am so pleased that he values you as much as he does
I hope you know that I value you as well
I love you completely, and I smile
As I watch the black and white of our rituals fade into a soft gray,
As I feel yet another wall tumble down
My heart, and my son, welcomes the blessing of you.

Yet I am left asking, how could you not understand?
I know you’re not stupid.
Couldn’t you see it? Couldn’t you feel it?
Didn’t you realize what it must’ve taken
For this small boy
To open the door and invite you into his father’s place?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

There's so much between what she said and what he heard.

She said: I’m angry
He heard: I’m leaving

She said: I’m sad
He heard: It’s your fault

And communication broke down even further. Several weeks of struggle ensue.

Scene: Christmas Eve, 2005. Fire blazing in the fireplace, hot cider simmering on the stove, Mannheim Steamroller playing softly in the background, pork tenderloin roasting in the oven, a 4-layer carrot cake rests in the center of the dining table.

6pm, the designated hour, comes and goes. 7 … 8 … 9 …

Jona is crushed and launches into a “I hate everybody” tirade but within minutes changes his tune to “Mom, do you think he’ll ever really be ok?” My only answer is “I hope so”, and Jona quietly responds "I hope so too, Mom" as we sit in front of the fire quietly watching "A Christmas Carol".

Friday, November 17, 2006

3 people in pain does not a pleasant evening make.

The beginning of therapy isn’t a pretty thing. It’s like tearing open a wound and pouring salt in it. And when you initially re-open that wound, you bleed BIG.

To be honest, “The Man” had never really dealt with the pain of losing “E”. Instead he buried himself in a 60-70 hour work week, and tried to hide from the pain.

When he began to see a therapist, things got worse, not better. Much worse. During this time it became impossible for me to remain positive about "The Man" and Jona began to remind me that "it's all going to be ok, Mom - he loves us and would never really leave us" to an almost obsessive point, leaving me with no choice but to remind him that for any number of reasons, sometimes the ones who truly love us DO leave. I frequently reminded Jona that we had been fine on our own for a few years now, but this is something he did NOT want to hear. I became very unpopular with Jona, who never hesititated to demonstrate the complete disdain he felt towards me.

And it's not like "The Man" was actually gone. It's more like even when he was there, he really wasn't there. He was distant, short-tempered, distracted. He barely talked to me at all, let alone us talking like we always had. He was just a shadow of the man I fell in love with.

I’m sure you all realize by now that I write, like, all the time. Writing helps me process. Writing helps me sort thru my feelings. Writing is a wonderful tool. It is my tool of choice.

And as things deteriorated, I began to write.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spiraling Downward

“The Man” began to act in very non-“Man” like ways. First he would reschedule any activity that included Jona, putting it off again and again, leaving me to handle Jona’s disappointment.

And we’d talk about it and he’d apologize and share the struggles he was having and tell me he loved me and he loved Jona and I’d quietly suggest that he might want to find a good therapist.

And after we talked, things would improve … for a while.

Then “The Man” began to show up late for our dates or not bother showing up at all – and getting terribly bent out of shape when this bothered me. I moved from quietly suggesting to stating flat out that he needed to find a good therapist.

And we’d talk about how he was feeling and how I was feeling and he’d share with me what he was going thru and never failed to tell me how much he loved me and I could see that guilt was clearly eating him alive and we’d hold each other and talk about how important we are to each other.

And after we talked, things would improve … for a while.

Soon we weren’t really going out at all, just hanging around my place or his, and talking – and I began to feel more like his damn therapist than anything else. No, wait – all of his anger was directed at me, too. I didn’t just feel like his therapist – I felt like his “whipping boy”. All of a sudden there was nothing I could say or do that was right, and he was sliding downhill fast – looked (and acted) like a walking shadow of his former self.

And I was practically screaming that he NEEDED to get into THERAPY … NOW!

And he did.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Yesterday's "real time" landmine tossed me off the timeline a bit in the saga of "The Man". Today I'm sliding back in time and attempting to get the story back in sequence.

I mentioned earlier that “The Man” and I attended Jona’s swim meets and band concerts together. Yes, over the months we slowly, carefully began to incorporate Jona into our relationship. We watched movies together and played miniature golf and drove (and crashed!) go-carts. We went camping together and went to the beach and even dragged the protesting “Man” to the roller rink! And Jona and “The Man” began to grow very attached.

When you love someone you not only care about them as a person, but also about their well being. When they are hurt, you feel hurt and when they are in pain you feel pain also. Their physical and emotional problems are not only theirs, but they are yours as well. To be in love means to care about that person so deeply that your life would not be complete without them. The fact that you cherish one person so much is a blessing … at times.

Are you feeling like I just took a wild leap into “what-the-hell-are-you-talking-about” land? Or like I just wandered into “lost-my-train-of-thought”-ville? (and I’ve got to be careful – because those trains just don’t come along all too often!)

But no, I’m actually on topic. It’s relevant. You see, the closer they became the more “The Man” felt a profound sadness about E’s death. The more he felt that E should be here, and he should be spending time with E and not this other young man: Jona. The more fun we all had together, the bigger the backlash was for “The Man”. The more he felt guilty about enjoying this new life. And the pain began to overtake him in waves.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tripping Over Landmines

Yesterday I learned of a young woman who only a few days ago gave birth to a baby girl. The husband is out of work (MI economy is tough right now, 2nd highest unemployment in the nation). I have a box of untouched tiny pink baby clothes, tags still attached, that have sat in the closet in my guest room for quite some time now. I decided that these items should be given to someone who needs them.

When I opened the box, I stumbled on something I had quite forgotten existed. It's a photograph of my Chloe; a beautiful black & white photo of what appears to be a sleeping baby. Chloe's image is permanently seared in my mind, but I had forgotten that a photograph existed. I called my best friend, who reminded me that a neonatal nurse at the hospital had taken the pic, and brought it by the house about a week later. (She's obviously quite a photographer, and what a beautiful way she has found to help grieving families.) At the time, I had barely glanced at the photo and simply placed it in the box of baby items and put the box away.

Needless to say, when I stumbled on it my heart nearly stopped. I couldn't catch my breath. The room was spinning - or maybe it was just my head. And I quickly tried to reach the friend that I knew I could count on, the friend that I knew would understand.

I rushed to make arrangements for Jona to spend the night with a friend. I was seriously in "flight or fight" mode.

Those of us who've lost a child really are the best support for each other. We understand what it's like to be simply walking thru life and all of a sudden hit one of these landmines. We know the pain, we know the sorrow ... and we know that there's really precious little we can do for each other, aside from being there.

I couldn't reach the friend, so I simply left a voice mail stating I was on my way. My voice was shaking - I didn't even sound like me to ME! Upon arrival, I simply handed the photograph to my friend, who instantly understood.

"Is that ... Chloe?"


... ... silence ... ...

"Wow- she's beautiful!"

"MmmHmm" (sometimes I'm so eloquent it's scary)

"Just like her Mom"

... ... silence ... ...

"I'm so sorry", he said quietly, and the tears flowed down his cheeks and mine.

I spent last night in the arms of the one person I knew would understand.
I spent last night in the arms of "The Man".

Monday, November 13, 2006

Concerts and Memories and Old Friends - Oh, my!

My best friend calls, she has an opportunity to score CCR tickets – Creedence Clearwater Revival has re-emerged as Creedence Clearwater Revisited – and she’s hoping to get the “old gang” back together. Without hesitation, I tell her “I’m in”.

Several days later, she calls back. 27 of us are going. And she’s taken the liberty to get a ticket for “The Man”, so bring him along!

She hesitates as she shares the concert date with me. The concert is on my wedding anniversary. I cringe slightly, but am still looking forward to getting together with old friends.

I invite “The Man”, who without hesitation says “yes”. I explain that since the concert venue is 2 hours from home, this will require an overnight stay. He smiles and says “not a problem”. I add that the group is planning on getting together after the concert, and he answers “sounds good”. And I finally offer the fact that the concert is on my wedding anniversary.

He quietly asks, “is this ok with you, Kate?” and I have to tell him that it’s hard to tell in advance how that particular date will hit me, but that I don’t foresee any problem, unless he is uncomfortable with the idea of hanging out with a group of people who knew Don. He hugs me as we decide to go and look forward to a fun evening out.

Being the couple (couple? Uh- boy, that IS correct, but I sure trip on it!) with the farthest distance to drive, we don’t meet the group for dinner before the concert. Only about half of the group managed to do that. So we meet my friend Sheri outside the stadium where she’s meeting folks to give them their tickets and proceed to our seats.

The concert is great fun, and we have a great time! Only a few times and only for a few brief moments does my mind wander into the past.

After the concert, we get together for drinks at a local bar. “Hey, Harley” an old friend calls out to me (Yeah, Harley – from back in the day when I had a penchant for bad boys with bikes) “Whad’ya do, replace the old man with a newer model?”

I damn near choke. At least half a dozen quietly clue him in on the events of the past few years. “The Man” is smooth, gently guiding me away from the group and towards the nearest unoccupied pool table. Another couple joins us, and eventually the entire group has migrated and joined in various rounds of pool.

As the waitress distributes another round, another friend raises a glass and toasts “To Don – I sure as hell wish he were here!” I swallow hard as I glance up at “The Man”, while many in the group echo “To Don!” Without missing a beat, “The Man” raises his glass and says clearly “To Don – I wish I had had the opportunity to know him!"

It is in this moment that I am reminded once again how blessed I truly am.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

How we spent our Saturday (and more)

I'm behind again - I spent yesterday (ALL of yesterday - 6 am to 6 pm) at a swim invitational. Nothing like 12 hours of sitting on wooden bleachers all hot and sweaty!

Jona swam well - 3 personal bests. His results weren't what he had hoped - although he swam impressively, he used a one-handed touch in 2 of his 3 events (something that is allowed for younger swimmers but not allowed at his level) so he DQ'd twice! Took 9th place out of 27 swimmers in the 50 free and if it weren't for the DQ's, he'd have had 3rd out of 31 in the 100 free and 4th out of 28 in the 100 back.

Oh, well - lesson learned - he'll surely never hit the wall with a one-handed touch again! Coach isn't thrilled - Jona's 2 DQ's knocked the team results from 6th to 19th in a field of 22 teams. Needless to say, Jona's feeling a little bummed out today!


I've rec'd so many wonderful e-mails (and comments here too), folks speaking out in support - I just have to take a moment to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you! I feel very blessed to have this wonderful group of strong women in my life.


I'm skipping from one thing to another right now, but 3 folks have requested "post a picture of "The Man" and I just had to oblige ... of course, THIS pic might not be exactly what ya'll had in mind ...

Halloween at Kate's place is always interesting! (It doesn't look like it in this pic because I'm wearing 6 inch platform heels, but "The Man" , at 6'2" is a full 12 inches taller than I am!)
More soon!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Brought to you courtesy of a big red 3/4 ton pickup truck:

Before we return to our “regularly scheduled program”, a commercial.

I discovered this week what a totally sweet ride a 2007 Monte Carlo LS really is – WOW! Don’t know how much they cost (don’t want to know!) but it’s a heck of a car, that’s for sure! For those of you that have the bucks to spend, it's well worth at least a test drive!

How did I learn this interesting little tidbit of information?

My beautiful little Mustang convertible was rear-ended. That’s right. Nothing like sitting at a red light waiting for the light to change, hearing the screech of brakes behind you and glancing in the rear-view mirror just in time to see nothing but the grill of a ¾ ton pickup truck. Damn!

The good news is that no one was hurt. Jona was with me, we are both fine. 100% fine.

My car – well, it’s still in the shop. Took a heck of a hit! Among other things, the impact was great enough to crack the back bumper in half! Body work is complete, now we’re waiting on repairs to the convertible mechanism which was damaged when the car was smacked in the back!

Tune in tomorrow for the next chapter of "The Man"!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It's all my brain can handle today.

Today, a meme. The stuff in bold is stuff I've done. This one has been around for a while – it’s been sitting in my e-mail box for months, compliments of my friend Sheri.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa.
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk.
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe.
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the rain
64. Made love in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured an ancient site
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played Dungeons & Dragons for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced - uh, kind of
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Gone whitewater rafting
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently well enough to have a decent conversation
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised (raising) children (child)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident or illness that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote an articles for publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten sushi
127. Thrown up sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

See, Sher - I told ya I'd get around to it!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

We interrupt this blog for the following “public service” announcement:

Hey everyone -
Someone is obviously craving some attention, so I’ve decided to dedicate today’s blog entry to our friend Anonymous, who hasn't quite realized that while my blog is indeed about grief and loss, it's also about love and life - which do exist before, during, and even after grief.

Dear Anonymous;

Thank you so much for showing interest in my blog. I appreciate your comments more than you can imagine. I would like to point out that any person with an IQ above 70 can see where this "love story shit" is leading.

And if pain is what you crave, you may want to continue suffering thru the vomiting episodes. After all, everyone knows that all good love stories take a few good twists and turns.

I would enjoy learning about what kind of life you are leading that causes you to take such an interest in my personal "grief and loss and pain". Because I can assure you that anyone who has traveled down even half the road that I have would gladly sell their soul to the devil to take it all back.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

(While traveling on business, she e-mails “The Man” … and shares the MUCH-censored version here with you today)

Approaching the beach, I feel the tension leave my body as if it were carried off by the gentle ocean breeze. The gentle crashing of the waves, the salty taste of the air; I am transported on the soft silkiness of the massive clouds to a place of peace. One of only two places I know I can go when I need to find myself, to renew myself. These places that let the troubles of the world slip away and return me to myself.

You have invaded this place that is so much for me, and I realize that this can only be because you have become such a force in my life, that you do for me what the sand and the sun and the surf of this place accomplish. You center me. You bring me passion and peace and pleasure. Waves of joy overcome me as I realize exactly how much you mean to me, how much more you are than I ever imagined. And I understand why I can’t escape thoughts of you, even in my refuge from the world. This place, this place that brings to me such peace, such contentment; I want to share it with you.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Those words ... you know the ones

I love you: an expression that should only be used when we have a truly special bond with someone. These words should only be used with someone whom we cherish deeply and who can acknowledge the amazing union we have together.

He said it first, not that it matters. Of course he said it first. After all, there isn’t much on this Earth that I feared more than love. Because the inevitable conclusion to love is pain. Sound a little warped? Maybe. But honestly, even in the best of relationships, someone will be hurt. One or the other will be someday left behind, and one will be left broken. We fell in love. Totally completely head-over-heels in love. We both knew it. But I wasn’t going to say it!

A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. Love, according to Webster’s. At an intimate moment, "The Man" said “I love you baby” and I responded with something wonderfully touching and profound and intelligent – I think it was “Mmm, that’s nice.”

For a while, that’s just how things were. Of course, while this was happening he was also witnessing night terrors – flashbacks of my husband’s death so vivid that it would take several moments to fully wake and orient myself to time and place. He was patient and gentle and wonderfully understanding.

And then …

I whispered, so lowly it shook my guts
I whispered, "I love you,"
- and he was well pleased.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ok, “The Man” is pretty cool.

I knew “The Man” from camp. He’s cool. And fun. And I like having him around. He picks out funny movies and isn’t bad at basketball. He makes my Mom laugh. "The Man" and I talk sometimes. He’s kind of screwed up. Not in a bad way, just the way you get screwed up when someone dies. At first, I didn’t know he had a son who died. I just knew he had two sons, M & D. I found out about the third son while playing basketball in the driveway one day. He said that E liked to play basketball too, and I said “Who’s E?” and we talked a little bit about what it’s like to lose a father, and what it’s like to lose a son. “The Man” is a good man, like my father was. But he’s sometimes very very sad. Sadness can screw you up. I know that.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: A note to the anonymous commenter who was concerned that I was reading this blog: I’m almost 14, not 4 – and hear far worse in the hallways and the locker room at school every day. My Mom doesn’t hide things from me, and we talk about everything (yeah, even girls!) and my Mom is pretty mild in how she writes, compared to what you hear everywhere else in the world, and even what you read for school assignments! I’m glad you stopped by for a visit and hope you’ll come back. But there’s no reason for you to be concerned, I’m not a baby. And those rumors my Mom referred to? I had already heard them at camp, back at the time all of this began, when I was like 11.


For a while ...

This is where “The Man” and I became inseparable. We went to dinners, to movies, canoeing. We rented DVD’s and made popcorn and just hung out at the house. We went for long walks together and talked. We attended Jona’s swim meets and band concerts.

He became my “handyman” and cleaned the gutters, repaired the garage door, installed new locksets and a new motion-sensor porch light and did whatever needed doing. I became the “chef” absolutely delighting in having someone to cook for once again and pulled out all my old favorites; Sesame Thai Chicken, Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto, Roasted Red Pepper Soup, etc.

We spent several long weekends together – among them a perfect weekend at a gorgeous bed & breakfast (with a private Jacuzzi and in-room massages and breakfast in bed!) and another backpacking along the beautiful Manistee River (which was positively wonderful!) And, in the words of “The Man”, it was “as if God had crafted us only for each other.”

And after what seemed like unending pain following the loss of Don and Chloe, I was happy again.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bald and twitching in a corner ... well, almost ...

You’re waiting for me to write “and from that day forward, they lived happily ever after”, aren’t you?

Well, that’s not exactly how it happened. See, she totally freaked out. Felt cold from the inside out, couldn't get warm. Couldn’t stop shaking, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. Had recurring nightmares of her husband’s death. Spent hour after hour on the phone long distance with her reasonable best friend – talking and sobbing, absolutely terrified to the point of being practically incoherent, terrified of being at risk of being hurt again. No, not just for a few hours. For a week. Yep, a whole damn week. A total basket case.

The reasonable best friend kept reminding her that “I’ve seen the 2 of you together – it’s all good” and asking all those annoyingly reasonable questions like “what are you afraid of?” and “do you want to be alone?” and “isn’t he worth the risk?” and “why did you go out with him if you didn’t want this?”

And she gave the reasonable best friend answers like “I can’t do this again” and “I won’t make it thru the pain” and “Alone is safe” and “I didn’t realize there was THAT much there – the potential, the chemistry, the emotions – I just didn’t realize they were there – I thought it was safe, he and I are friends, I thought it was safe”.

And the reasonable best friend said “I’ve watched you ‘date’ in the years since Don died. You stay only until you start to feel something. As soon as you become the slightest bit emotionally involved, you pull out. And you’re just pissed off that you can’t retain that distance with this one.”

She told the reasonable best friend of 26 years to get bent. One good thing about a best friend – you can tell a best friend to get bent and they’re still your best friend.

In the meantime, he was calling (the calls were allowed to just ring and ring) and e-mailing (the e-mails simply went unanswered) and feeling very confused and unsure and irritated – and somewhat afraid that he had done something wrong and wanted to apologize and try to make things right. Feeling like he had no other option, he showed up at her office and demanded, “Tell me what happened. Tell me what I did wrong. Tell me what you need. Tell me you don’t want to see me anymore. Just tell me SOMETHING!”

She took the afternoon off, and they left together. They drove to the lake and walked wordlessly hand-in-hand along the tiny beach and as they walked her tears began to flow and as the tears rolled down her cheeks all the fear began to fade away...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

And then what happened??? they asked impatiently ...

When I met “The Man” he had the “deer in the headlights” look – people get this look that is so filled with pain, so filled with sadness, so filled with loss, so filled with that trapped look of a deer in the headlights that’s it’s often instantly recognizable by anyone who’s ever lost a child or a spouse. I know this look well – I once I saw it every time I looked in a mirror.

I met “The Man” shortly after the death of his youngest son. This handsome 17 year old was killed after witnessing an accident and stopping to help the victims. He was struck by another vehicle and killed instantly. “The Man” and I had talked several times about this tragic event. He initially seemed surprised that he had found someone he was comfortable talking with about this and who wouldn’t shy away from the situation. I hadn’t told him anything about Don or Chloe but I suspect that the night he asked about my “divorce”, he began to realize why that was.

Our first date was amazing. I insisted on meeting at the restaurant – just wasn’t sure yet where this was going! We ordered drinks and began talking. Talking to “The Man” has always been amazingly comfortable (one of the VERY few things he shares with my husband!) and conversation was flowing well. I just couldn’t resist grinning and asking him about a rumor – one that I already KNEW was untrue! – that I had heard from a couple members of his staff. I know, I’m bad – but I really wanted to see his reaction! (Ya'll can see my evil grin, can't you?)

“So, I hear you’re doing Donna …” I boldly stated. He choked on his drink and turned 8 shades of red. “You heard WHAT?” he stammered. I laughed. He wasn’t quite as amused; rather irritated in fact, as he asked me to confirm the source of the rumor. After he ranted for several minutes, he exclaimed “Don’t you of all people know better than THAT?” I giggled. He was quiet for several minutes then finally sighed and asked “Well if that’s what you thought, then what are you doing here tonight?”. It was my turn to say “Don’t you of all people realize that I know you better than THAT?” and I touched his cheek and our eyes met. He reached across the table and held my hand for the remainder of the meal. Seriously. Didn’t let go, not even once.

Dinner was over – that meant it was time to go home, right? Wrong! We just didn’t want the evening to end! We went to the lake and talked for hours. When I began to shiver, he wrapped his jacket around my shoulders. And then he kissed me. No, not on the cheek this time. I mean, he kissed me. He kissed me and I went weak in the knees as I felt his body react too. And after kissing for a few moments, tears began to roll down my cheeks. He instantly said “Kate, I’m sorry” and I just shook my head. I didn’t have to say anything; somehow, he just understood. After a few moments it was all ok. We held each other for a while, just relaxing and watching the moonlight on the lake.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Beginning

There's so much to tell! I'll have to break this down into segments, or I'll never get thru it - and neither will anyone else (without falling asleep, that is!)

Ok, so this all started about 4 years ago when “The Man” and I served on several committees together and became very casual friends. Following a meeting one evening, I overheard him asking another committee member “how long as Kate been divorced?” The answer of course was “Kate’s not divorced – she’s a widow”. I watched his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed hard, turned slightly red and quietly responded “Sorry, I didn’t realize”. That was the first indication of any interest.

We also ran three weekend camp events together. My best friend also came out to work the camp weekends. In the same fashion that we used to rate guys in high school, she (who has a pronounced preference for blonde-haired, blue-eyed guys) grinned at me as the tall dark-haired, brown-eyed man walked away one day and said loudly “7 – I’d give him a 7”. I pointed at him and replied “Naw, he’s at least an 8 1/2” – and realized he had heard us when he turned and grinned.

A few months later I was asked to organize a dinner for about 250 and “The Man” was my contact to arrange cooperation between his organization and mine. So I e-mailed him, and he responded with a lunch invitation. We went to lunch, finalized all plans for the dinner (with his offer of help far exceeding expectations) and then proceeded to talk for hours! And in the weeks leading up to the dinner, he often e-mailed me or stopped by my office for things that honestly required far less attention!

The afternoon of the dinner, I made a necessary trip to his office to pick up some literature and make sure his staff would arrive early to assist with set-up as planned. While we chatted, he directed me to his computer and showed me some pics of a recent ice climbing trip – and rested his hand on my lower back. I was speechless. I’m NEVER speechless. I barely managed to mutter “see you tonight” before I left.

I was a scheduled speaker at the dinner. I am also the person who made the seating chart. And I am an idiot. When I stood at the podium to give my speech, I looked down – and it was at this very moment I realized I had seated “The Man” directly in front of the stage. He caught my eye and smiled – and I damn near lost the power of speech again! Somehow I managed to do what needed to be done and returned to my seat (on stage with the honored guests and other speakers). Had a heck of a time trying to figure out where to put my eyes for the rest of the night, because it seemed like he was looking my way every time I glanced in that direction!

At the end of the evening “The Man” walked me to my car, kissed me lightly on the cheek and said “Well done. I'm impressed, but I knew I would be – drive safe” and then disappeared into the darkness. I couldn’t speak for hours! I don't know how I managed to get home!