Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The 7th and the 8th were good days-The 9th of the month...Not So Much

Same mixed bag as last month and the month before that.

Saturday was good. I took the children and went out to take advantage of the tax free weekend and sales that were going on. We're getting ready for autumn and school. Elijah needed some baby stuff he constantly needs, but he needed a light jacket and some short-sleeved shirts in his current size (6-9 months) to wear with the jeans I had bought. Ariana needed shoes for school, some additional uniform pieces and some shirts for Autumn.

JC Penney was the spot it seemed. Lots of people around. They had a serious clearance going and an instant coupon $10 or $15 off depending on what you spend. I found Ariana two pairs of shoes marked 50% off and found the shirts I needed for Elijah marked down to $3 and found 8 in his size. Got the rest of what I needed from Children's Place where I had a coupon for 30% my purchase and everything I needed was 25% off. We took a spin on the Mall's merry go round and headed home.

Once home, I took some time to prepare Ariana and me for the parent/child reading class we are taking. There is homework every week with a workbook and an audio CD. Plus we practice with 2 books a week. It's been a neat experience sitting in class with her. It is going way better than just a week ago. I went out and got some books with her favorite cartoon characters in them and it was like a lightbulb came on.

Sunday we had to be at church early (8:45am) for a training. We actually got there 10 minutes early and Elijah was quiet and sat in his seat the entire class. Church was good and the message was very encouraging…one of those that makes you feel like you really can attack your issues and even though you may not succeed the first time, it doesn't mean you're a failure. My pastor has a way of stroking you and giving you a good kick in the rear at the same time.

Then off to reading class and whereas last week, Ariana was constantly turning around in her chair and totally unfocused, this week she was excited. We went in with her telling me how grateful she was that I sit in class with her and during class she was really trying and she raised her hand to answer questions…you know with that "Ooo Ooo pick me pick me" wave you did in school when you just knew you had the answer. Class went well overall even though she faded out the last 10 minutes, but I think a lot of them did. They get a break to use the bathroom, but it is a 2 hour class.

Drove by the Godparents' house to pick up Elijah and headed home. Elijah was ready for dinner. He ate all his Gerber carrots and half a container of Gerber Applesauce. He's really good at sitting up now. I marveled at Elijah that night on the floor. He manages to get a long ways just by rolling over, but he is also trying to get up on all fours. He had his belly over and inch off the floor and he got up on his knees and even got up on his toes. My eyes must have widened to the size of golf balls as I realized I have yet to complete baby proofing the house and this child is obviously thinking about crawling.

I hoped the 9th of the month would gradually be more about Elijah being a month older than about the day Thomas "left". Perhaps I just need to be more patient. The night of the 8th as we settled the thoughts invaded. That day Thomas died and the days leading up to it, came back to me clearer than they ever had. I tried to focus on how peaceful Thomas looked when I found him, but I kept remembering the coolness of his skin when I touched him, how I desparately wanted him to respond and the moment I had to accept that he wasn't going to and unless it was on tape, I'd never hear his voice again.

I still remember the relief I felt that he was no longer going to suffer and that relief is still very much present in my daily life. But on the 9th after having 2 good days, I felt like I had 50lbs of extra weight to carry around. I jumped out of bed to turn off the alarm before it woke Elijah (I have the clock across the room so I don't go back to sleep) and as soon as I turned it off I felt like I had 3 bricks on my chest.

I even had trouble deciding what Elijah was going to wear. I mean really…I had trouble dressing the one person in the house who doesn't care about clothes. The first thing I put on was too small. Then I got a shirt that fit, but the shorts were too small. Then I grabbed another outfit that I have in 2 sizes, but grabbed the smaller size. I ended up putting him in some cover-alls with a shirt that looked fine but wasn't the shirt that came with them. Finally without trouble, I put his socks and shoes on. Found some cute little sneakers for $4 on Saturday…perfect for the one reason Elijah wears shoes…to avoid losing socks.

I had to wake Ariana up 3 times before she got herself dressed. Yes, I woke her up, pointed her in the direction of her clothes, went back 5 minutes later to find her asleep TWO TIMES! We finally got out of the house at 7:15, 15 minutes later than the goal. Great way to start off what will be a very busy week.

August 9th meant Elijah is 7 months old and with all he is accomplishing I hoped to really focus on that. This is still so strange. Thomas was sick for a long time, but when the end came it happened so fast and so soon after Elijah was born, it was almost like they switched places in the house, like Elijah said, "I'm here dad, you can go now." Sunday in church Elijah sat in my lap, alert and happy, and appeared totally focused on pastor as he spoke, rocking and bobbing his little head, just like his dad used to and as I listened to the message I absorbed it, but realized I was in Thomas' seat and began to actually feel him there.

Now having Elijah and Ariana together is like a long time dream come true for me, one I thought the illness had stolen and sometimes I feel like God said, before he (Thomas) goes, I want to give you this dream back…here's your son…here's a brother for your little girl. She won't grow up with the loneliness you did…you can breathe. I have siblings, from a relationship my father had before my mother and one he had after her, but grew up as an only child. My daughter has siblings, from my husband's first marriage but without Elijah would grow up as an only child. I know having Elijah has made this process a lot easier on Ariana and me. He brings an element of life and hope to the house that just wouldn't be there. And I just really love having a baby again. I even appreciate our middle of the night nursing session because of the closeness I feel with him when he's nursing.

I guess I just need to be more patient because the first year with a new baby is a huge adjustment. Getting into being a widow is a huge adjustment and I'm doing both simultaneously. The last 2 months have seemed the hardest, I just look at Elijah and I can't believe he's here and his father is gone.

I turned my head for a second and a wind blew in and changed everything. With Thomas' illness I lived everyday with the fact that on any given day our world could flip around on it's ear, but the little stinker almost had me convinced he'd just keep on going-something that both frightened me and instilled an admiration of him in me.

I was really in awe of him. I tried to tell him in different ways, but am not sure I ever got it across amidst the frustration I felt. He often said he was tired of it all and wanted it over, but I'll admit he surprised me when he actually died. But he's really gone. Everyday I come home and it is just the children and me it is more and more real. Each week he gets less and less mail and fewer and fewer phone calls. After carrying around a card with his name on it for 10 years, I now have the new Health insurance cards with my name on them.

Thomas is 5 months gone and Elijah is 7 months old. Some days like Sunday when I walked into that training 10 minutes early, I think I'm doing really well. Other days like Monday, I have to remember to breathe.

One thing somehow never changes though. I still really believe I can do this.

I know that is in large part to the support I have gotten. Those people know who they are. Thank God for them.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Miracles and sadness: the mixed bag of my widowhood part 2

I had to get 4 new tires for the minivan yesterday. I never had to replace all 4 tires at once. For budget's sake I tried to keep myself in a place where I never had to do more than 2 at once. I guess the van's previous owner did things differently because they all wore down at the same time. I was going to wait until Saturday, but looked Tuesday morning and saw threads exposed on one of them.

It's amazing what makes you miss somebody. Most of the wives I know didn't have to take their own cars to the shop. Yeah, I know some spoiled women, but I ain't mad at them. I always took my own vehicle in, but Thomas would have offered some opinion on what tire to get, then examined the receipt and filed it after he looked at them to see how they looked and cleaned the hubcaps where the workers got them dirty.

As the tire tech advised me to keep the paperwork in the van so I would have proof that I had purchased the road hazard warranty and life time rotation and balance, I imagined he actually cared and wasn't just giving me a spill as part of his job. Still, I remembered there wasn't anyone at home to make sure I'd made a wise decision. I didn't get the most expensive tire, but I didn't get the cheapest tire. Thankfully my minivan takes the same size tire as my old car did, so I kind of had stored up advice on what to do.

Went to Wal-Mart like always.

4 new tires…GoodYear 60,000 mile tires

Road Hazard warranty for all 4
Lifetime Rotation and Balance for all 4
New Valve System for all 4


And while it's one of those times I'm grateful I had to do most stuff myself, because I had a decent amount of confidence in my purchase, it also brought on a serious grief response.

I find my sadness is triggered by the small things. The children grow and change and no one reacts to them like he did. A lot of people love them and love them deeply, but as many people who comment on the fact that I still breastfeed, I miss Thomas teasing Elijah telling him to "lay off the breastmilk".

Still in the wake of the difficulties, God is taking amazingly good care of us. I am beginning to see my way in this new life. It's a process, but I'm trying to be patient with myself. That isn't always easy especially with young children who are developing and changing so quickly.

Chief cook and bottle washer that's me. I'm in a summer reading enrichment class with Ariana which is teaching me all kinds of things about her and about me. Adding chores to her list every couple of weeks trying to teach her that families help each other and how important she is to our success. She took a liking to our Dirt Devil Minivac, so much so that she sharpened her pencil over the carpet just to have an excuse to use it. I figured she was ready for a new chore. I told her if she liked that thing so much to hit the stairs with it-one less thing for me. I guess the lesson is sinking in. Today I picked up pizza on the way home. I took Elijah and my bag out of the van and planned to go back for the pizza. I turned around and Ariana had closed the van door and had the pizza in her tiny hands heading for the house. In my head, "what if she drops it?" "What if she sees a bug...she'll throw it and run." I stayed calm and told her to be careful. When she got inside she said, "I just don't want you to have to go back and forth." Wow.

I'm helping Elijah sit up on his own and develop his strength during tummy time, an activity he protests more than enjoys. The introduction of solid foods makes things interesting watching every part and poop praying he isn't allergic to anything. He likes food...not a surprise and he's growing like crazy. So far he's only allergic to scented baby wipes and it's more of a sensitivity. He also requires Aveeno baby lotion to stay moisturized. Inherited his father's sensitive skin, but has his beautiful complexion as well. I adore that little boy. Sometimes I still can't believe he's here. I wish his father could see him now. I wish he could see them both. We talked in detail about how they should be raised. I just move ahead and when I'm down and feel an unexpected push from somewhere, I know it's all those prayers he prayed for me. Towards the end he just mostly prayed...worked and prayed and both of those things are helping me. I'm glad I never failed to tell him I appreciated it.

Miracles and sadness: the mixed bag of my widowhood part 1

First the miracle. The Air Conditioner in the house had been running low for weeks. It was running, but the fan in the unit was running slower and the air wasn't coming out of the vents with enough force. Despite it running all the time, the house was constantly 85 degrees. I had to run all the ceiling fans and an electric fan in each bedroom to keep us comfortable until I could afford to have a repairman visit. Once things came together, I figured it was time to call the guy about the AC. But then something happened. It rained and got a little cooler so we slept without the extra fans. It was 93 degrees the next day and I cringed at my desk when I realized I'd forgotten to turn them back on before leaving for work.

I came home expecting the house to be an oven, but it wasn't. It was actually cool inside. I looked over to the nearest vent and looked at the blinds hanging 3 feet above it. Instead of barely moving every few seconds like it had been for weeks it was moving like it was outside in the wind. I walked over to it and I couldn't believe it…air! Air was flowing through it like normal. I could feel it all the way up to my face whereas before I could barely feel it on my legs when I stood over it.

Looked at the thermostat…78. Went to a window and looked down at the unit outside. Before the fan moved slower to the point where I could see the individual blades, but now they moved fast so all I could see was a blur.

With the house cooler, I have more energy in the evenings so Monday I came home and made dinner, ate w/the children, cleaned the kitchen, read to the children, bathed everybody, put the kids to bed, got Elijah's food ready for the next day, picked out clothes, put in a load of laundry, then sat down with my study guide (pastor provides one with each new sermon) and some fruit and spent an hour preparing for the next Bible Study before I went to bed.

Not sure if God fixed it or sent someone to fix it without my knowledge, but we've been fine in the house since then-no ceiling fans, no electric fans and I can turn the AC off at night when I got to bed. Good thing too because around the same time, I realized my minivan needs not one, not two but 'count 'em four new tires...and this wasn't a "wait til the end of the month purchase. It wasn't even a "wait until payday purchase. It was an "it should have been done last week" purchase.

Oh well...breathe in, breathe out...head to Wal-Mart.