Posted in Stream of Consciousness Saturday

With Reservation: #SoCs for June 16, 2018

I’m about to write a post I don’t want to write, and which I’ve put off writing for most of the day.

My reservation is a bit of a mystery to me…but I think it goes back to attitudes impressed upon me in childhood. About how it’s somehow a failure to ask for help, or maybe even to need help.

But I do need help.

A year ago, my husband and I were well on our way to launching a successful cottage industry selling his artisanal hot sauces. It was something that had been a passion of his even longer than I was – I remember him telling me that he wanted to marry flavor and heat way back when we were only dating, and I really had no idea that he would be my husband in a matter of months.

He went through all the legal steps to be able to sell the sauces, and we invested the bulk of our modest savings in the company. Jim believed in what he was doing – and I believed in Jim. I designed labels compliant with state law; a friend made us a logo image for a very reasonable price. We became vendors at three area farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and other events – and we were seeing not only increasing sales, but also repeat business.

But, inside Jim’s body, pancreatic cancer had taken hold. A string of minor but annoying health concerns that began on August 24 – the day after our twentieth anniversary – culminated in a swollen, painful leg. A trip to the doctor became a hospitalization for deep vein thrombosis – and revealed that my powerfully built husband, who had struggled with his weight for most of his life, had lost 20 pounds in the month since his last doctor’s appointment, and had protein markers for cancer in his blood.

Further testing showed pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his liver. He was given six-twelve months to live, and chemotherapy to try to minimize tumor growth was to start within weeks.

On the first day of chemo, he went into distress twice. The last time was severe enough that he was transferred to the emergency room, then admitted to a larger medical center’s critical care unit. It was determined that he’d had a minor heart attack either during or after the infusions. The tumors on his liver were overtaxing his heart.

And he was turning yellow from jaundice. Stents were placed to try to circumvent the tumor, but they only seemed to help for a day or two. Then the jaundice was back, and there was nothing more to be done. He came home on hospice care on December 13, 2017.

On January 12, 2018, he died at home in the bed we shared.

He had life insurance – but it took me a bit to track it down, since he’d lost the paperwork. It took longer for me to file the claim. I had strong reservations about that – it was so final, and so much like profiting off the death of my best friend. Things weren’t urgent – I had the IRA distribution, then the tax refund.

But the money trickled away, and now we’re waiting. That final hospital has taken months and still hasn’t released his medical records so the insurance company can make a determination about the settlement. We have Social Security benefits, and are cutting expenses where we can – but it’s not enough to meet our needs. I could take part-time work, but we have a couple of events coming up, and I’d have to ask for those days off. Also, my daughter, who was very close to her father, would rather I stay here. She worries that I might die, too. She’s not quite 14.

What I most want to do is freelance. I want to be able to support us with my writing, and maybe, eventually, with some voiceover work (I’ve been researching that, but need more time to get to the point where I can seek jobs in that arena). I’d like to be able to provide for our modest needs.

What I need is help getting the word out.

What I need is customers and/or patrons willing to support my craft on a monthly basis.

I’m hoping this post will help me to find that. Because I’m not looking for a handout, but helping hands would be hugely appreciated. Our needs are modest, and we tend toward the frugal.

    • I have a Patreon page, here. It’s been a bit neglected, but I have plans in the works to spruce it up. Even a dollar a month brings benefits, and patrons add up. Being able to count on a specific monthly amount would ease some of my burden of worry.
    • A week ago, I posted my first freelancing gig to fiverr. It’s based on stream of consciousness writing, like this post, and an idea I’ve wanted to pursue for years. If you’re looking for a unique gift at a very reasonable price – it might be just the thing to tickle your fancy.
    • If neither of these options is right for you, I can use people willing to spread the word. Share the links, this post, or bits of our story. Help me to cast a net to find those who can use what I have to offer, and everyone benefits.
    • I’m adding a donate button at the suggestion of one of my readers.

    

Well, I had reservations. I still do. It’s a place of vulnerability, sharing this difficult position we’ve landed in. Sharing my pain, and my worries.

Thank you for reading, and for helping.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Wade into the waters here.

Posted in Stream of Consciousness Saturday

Food and Growth for #SoCS June 9, 2018

 

Food is something I didn’t think about a lot in the days when Jim was alive. You see, I’m not especially food-motivated myself, and, if left to my own devices, I often forget to eat for hours on end, as I do and tend and dream and write and hang with the kids and and and…

It’s worth noting that Jim was a chef. He often brought home my dinner, and I usually ate what he brought. The kids, in those days, preferred non-cooked foods or convenience items, having long since rejected my obligatory and rather phoned-in efforts at feeding them “right” when they were smaller.

But then, Jim was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, and, in the day less than two months between that date and the night he died at home, I realized that food was going to have to become something I think about, plan for, and prepare.

More than that, as it turns out. The life insurance claim has yet to be settled, and, at the moment, finances are extremely finite. Where we used to spend about half (or, when Jim shopped, sometimes more like three-quarters) of our grocery budget on convenience items and snacks. A lot of it was motivated by Jim and the kids, but I had my favorites, too – many of them single-serving freezer meals I justified the expense of because they were “healthy” versions.

But that doesn’t fly, anymore. I am the mom of two teens. My son, who will be 17 early in September, is about 6’3” and burly. He can go through a half gallon of milk in about a day. My daughter, 14 next month, is nearly as tall as me now – and I’m 5’9”.

Food needs to be an important factor in our budgeting, because it takes fuel to grow these people into adults. And, if I don’t eat as much as I need of the things I need, it’s hard for me to do the work of two parents.

It could also adversely affect my health – and, just because they’re older kids doesn’t mean they’re ready to be without parents altogether.

So…

I’ve been growing (in my approach to food and feeding us; my body is actually shrinking). I haven’t stopped buying snacks, but we buy considerably fewer of them these days. I can’t promise I’ll never buy another freezer meal, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it mindlessly, or fooling myself about why I’m buying them, when I do….

And I don’t feel the same need for them…because I’ve started to cook.

It began with buying an Instant Pot, so I could prepare things without babysitting them – the part of cooking that tends to literally drive me to distraction. I can also often cook in the one pot, and save considerably on the cleanup (wonderful, because I generally want to accomplish about four times as much as I can physically manage).

These days, I look up recipes online (365 days is my current favorite site for these), and our grocery budget is weighted toward ingredients. Food has become sustenance, art form, and agent of growth – both literal and symbolic.

This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday, hosted by Linda G. Hill at Life in Progress. This week’s prompt is “begin your post with a noun.”

Posted in #atozchallenge, #atozchalllenge 2017, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, poetry, slices of life, The 12 Week Year Two, Writing Sample

Y is for “You’ll Always Be a Part of Us”: #atozchallenge Day 25

Accept What’s Ahead

Why do some live while others die

Why is that fact so hard to accept

Accept that death is inevitable

Accept that my beloved is no more

More of him is what I want

More time and more love denied

Denied his touch his kiss his embrace

Denied his laughter and his smiles

Smiles that made my heart beat faster

Smiles bestowed with great generosity

Generosity of heart love freely expressed

Generosity of spirit always with a willing hand

Hand holding my hand in sweet intimate caress

Hand him over unwillingly to whatever’s next

Next year and the next and the next lived without him

Next to me still is where I want him yet to be

Be my lover my companion my friend and husband

Be my children’s devoted silly father forever

Forever is a thing that doesn’t exist in the physical plane

Forever alive is a fantasy no one gets to claim

Claim him as my own forever but death took him away

Claim what I can that I was loved long and sweet and well

Well of tears and sorrow born of a love that sustains me

Well past the time of separation on this mortal coil

Coil my heart and soul around all I hold so precious

Coil his love inside me as protection for the future

Future uncertain and gaping wide before me

Future days and years waiting for me to live through

Through the acceptance and the resistance

Through sorrows and joys and laughter and tears

Tears of grief at his life so soon ended

Tears of future joy as my saddened heart recovers

Recovers from this sudden devastating blow

Recovers the beat and pulse of a single life

Life continues on though he is now gone

Life without him, but he’s still here

Here in hearts and souls that love him

Here within his children’s very selves

Selves that would not exist without him

Selves that carry so much of his nature

Nature sees that we have means to continue

Nature ensures something can carry forward

Forward past the length of time he lived

Forward into a future as yet still unknown

Unknown joys and sorrows yet await us

Unknown peace and turbulence ahead

Ahead as behind he’s there in every step

Ahead whether the trail is level or rough

Rough

Step

A few years ago, long before I knew where our story was going it go, I wrote a poem about our love, titled, It Levels Off Up Ahead. The name came from something Jim and I said to each other repeatedly during a rather grueling 3 mile hike to Montana’s Lava Lake.

The thing is – it never did level off then, or, really, since. Even now, as I adjust to the realities of widowhood and raising our children, it hasn’t quite levelled off, because finances will be an issue at least until we know the status of Jim’s life insurance. I know it’s probably fine, as we certainly aren’t trying to defraud anyone, and that the review is simply a formality – but needing those funds makes a huge difference, as there are bills to be paid, two adult-sized and still growing hungry teens to feed, and a house in need of some rather urgent repairs. I haven’t worked outside our home for more than a decade, so that I could be available for homeschooling. Just at the point where I was considering a return to the workforce, Jim launched his business, and my initial small contributions became a full-blown partnership that left me with little time and energy for my writing or looking for another job.

And now, the kids and I need some adjustment time to settle into our new lives. I want to wait until fall, and stay with part-time work, because my ultimate goal is to be able to support our modest lifestyle from home – with writing and writing-related endeavors that make use of my skills and passions.

If the insurance doesn’t happen soon, though, I will have to re-evaluate.

The trail ahead hasn’t leveled off – and yet, I feel strangely secure, even with the concerns I’m dealing with. Why?

Because, in some sense, Jim is still here with me. When he was alive, we were never rich, but we always found a way through the lean times….and more. We managed to find and create joy even in the times when we were struggling to make those frayed and stretched ends meet.

To Jim, now, I say, “You are always a part of us. For the rest of my life, you will be a part of everything I do. Every breath taken by our son and our daughter is, in a way, also your breath. And you love and laughter still sustain me, still provide a delightful anchor through the many, many changes of life after your death. And I will love you always.”

Rejoin us a little later in the day, when we’ll wrap up our #atozchallenge with the Zen of grief.

You don’t want to miss these Y posts!

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, Parenting, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

Z is for The Zen of Grief: #atozchallenge Day 26

 

Being Within Zen

Zen is more than just a word

Zen is a way of life and being

Being a thing of mind and soul

Being a matter of acceptance

Acceptance that what is is

Acceptance without resistance

Resistance wastes energy I need

Resistance intensifies the inner pain

Pain can crush if I fight against it

Pain part of the process of mortality

Mortality brings permanent separation

Mortality is simply a fact of every life

Life and death are the yin and the yang

Life and death are forever intertwined

Intertwined in an endless circling dance

Intertwined and immutably inseparable

Inseparable as our two souls while we lived

Inseparable and each a part of the whole

Whole of the grief I feel at life’s impermanence

Whole of the pain at the loss of my marriage

Marriage of two human souls bound in one love

Marriage of life and death in perfect harmony

Harmony of corporeal reality

Harmony and flow circle and spiral

Spiral through cycles where we live and we die

Spiral of birth and growth and death

Death is the endpoint of each life

Death is the beginning of what’s next

Next breath next heartbeat next meal

Next level of consciousness or energy

Energy that maybe swirls through the air

Energy that might fuel the universe

Universe contains so much life and death

Universe holds more than we can ever know

Know that death is not truly the end of all things

Know that in some way he is still somewhere

Somewhere within this universe we share

Everywhere within the confines of my soul

Soul now bereft of his physical touch

Soul now with my own ever intertwined

Intertwined in life in ways that remain

Intertwined after his death in ways that sustain

Sustain me as I learn to live in new ways

Sustain through grief’s sharp jagged edges

Edges that are less distinct than they seem

Edges that soften when touched with Zen

Zen makes of death not only a sorrow

Zen blends bloom and decay into grief’s garden

Garden

Sorrow

 

I’ve often described myself as religious rather than spiritual. I’m not fond of doctrines or agendas, proscriptions and rituals that others devised, and I’m intended to follow whole, without question.

I need something more than that.

I need something that requires my active participation, my mindfulness, and my awareness that the life I live is more about my own choices than any external divine.

Zen matches my personality, and my approach to life – and death.

I come again to that Welcome to Night Vale quote:

“Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.”

We were all born, and we will all die. Those are immutable facts – the brackets of a lifetime. But that can’t be the whole of the story, because lives are fueled by energy, and lives touch other lives; changing them, creating memories, adding layers and levels to others’ living.

I am not who I would be if I hadn’t known Jim, and loved him.

If I hadn’t loved him, and agreed to make my life with him, our children would not exist, and all that they’ve brought to me life wouldn’t, either.

I would be a different version of me, living a different version of my life.

Life with Jim wasn’t perfect. He and I were imperfect people living imperfect lives, carrying the scars and wounds of a lifetime into our relationship. There were issues that cropped up again and again, and never truly got resolved in his lifetime.

But that’s not to say that it was a bad life – because it wasn’t.

It was very, very good – often magical. Jim and I didn’t come to each other from a place of need. When we met, we’d both independently decided we’d be happy alone rather than settle for someone who didn’t truly suit us. As a result, we complemented one another very well, and lived our lives together with a general state of harmonic teamwork. We were friends who delighted in one another throughout the two decades of our marriage.

So, while I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of heaven, I know that, as long as I live, as long as the children do, as long as there are people in the world whom Jim’s life touched and changed, he’s still here, in a sense. He lives on in the way he’s affected the world, and the energy he gave in his life.

It’s not the same as having him here, but it allows me to find the Zen of acceptance – most of the time – and to accept the lack of acceptance when I just can’t find it.

And, for me, that’s enough.

Which works out well, since this is the final day of the #atozchallenge. Join me again in May for the wrap-up festivities.

Before you head off for your Zzz’s, check out more zesty Z posts.

 

Brancing out in the last months of his life. Jim as Chef Bluebeard, selling his “flavor enhancement sauces” in July 2017.
Posted in #atozchallenge, April CampNaNoWriMo 2018, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, Parenting, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

X is for X’ed Out of Our Future: #atozchallenge Day 24

 

Sign X Away

X marks the spot

X the place to sign

Sign we’re losing him

Sign of a changing future

Future a little darker

Future schism approaches

Approaches with the crazed growth

Approaches with multiplying cells

Cells that mark the spots

Cells that create spots

Spots on his pancreas and liver

Spots on the emergency room screen

Screen the predicts the future dimly

Screen that offered fictional hope

Hope that it was only a fatty liver

Hope it was a minor sign of aging

Aging love growing

Aging love deepening

Deepening understanding of who we are

Deepening ability to communicate

Communicate a love that remains

Coommunicate a love that sustains

Sustains us as we face his illness

Sustains us through devastation

Devastation marked out with an X

Devastation growing near and swift

Swift passage of time flies by

Swift moving cancer ravaging

Ravaging his once-strong body

Ravaging this man I love

Love can’t cure him

Love can be an embrace

Embrace while we have the chance

Embrace what is as best we can

Can this strange nightmare be true

Can we still find pockets of joy

Joy marked out in X’s and O’s

Joy an art form in times like this

This is life wrapped in death

This is death still clothed in life

Life twists and weaves

Life lived at two speeds at once

Once we thought life almost a dream

Once we thought we’d grow old together

Together we face this concrete reality

Together until death came and he slipped away

Away from disease and away from great pain

Away from wife and children and life’s promise

Promise

Pain

It all started to change on August 24, 2017 – although we didn’t recognize it for what it was at the time, and, by then, it was already well in progress in its hidden state.

The what was Stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had made a leap to Jim’s liver. We’ll never know how long it lurked there, unnoticed – but Jim had been feeling less than great more often for a few weeks, maybe even a few months, before that day.

I remember the date so well because it was the day after our twentieth anniversary. We’d gone out to dinner, just the two of us, and eaten rich foods.

The next evening, he told me, rather casually, that his right side had been bothering him all day, but the pain was intensifying, and now he was worried that it might be appendicitis. The pain didn’t go away, and then he had a spell of vomiting and severe chill, and I all but insisted we were going to the emergency room.

That’s where we first heard about the spot.

It came, couched in comforting language, and after the likely diagnosis of a sludgy gall bladder irritated by the rich anniversary meal…”and we found a small spot on your liver. It’s probably fatty liver disease, but you should have it checked out in the next week or so with your primary care physician, to rule out cancer.”

Yup. It was just that casual, the moment that changed our lives.

Jim didn’t check into it with his doctor. Maybe he was already worried it might be true, and didn’t want confirmation. Maybe he thought that, since he had an answer, and he’d struggled with his weight most of his life, so fatty liver made sense. I can’t say, because, when I mentioned it, he basically dismissed it by saying that he hadn’t talked to her yet, but he would.

So it would be mid-November, almost 3 months later, before he received that terminal diagnosis. Would it have been better to have known sooner, to have been able to trace back all his odd health complaints in the intervening weeks to that one deadly source?

It’s hard to say. He was increasingly plagued by belly pain he thought was maybe an ulcer, or the sludgy gall bladder again. He was constipated more often than not. Occasionally, he vomited, but attributed it to the stomach pain. He never said so to me until after he was diagnosed, but he was increasingly exhausted, and his appetite faded.

Looking backward, it seems obvious, but it wasn’t at the time.

We were growing his hot-sauce business – a dream he’d had since before I met him –  and took our first romantic weekend away, to Acadia National Park, which was a dream from early in our marriage.  In truth, we argued rather a lot, but it seemed to clear air that had long been heavy – one of those places in a marriage where we needed to clean house – and things felt better, after that.

He decided to get to the root of not feeling good. He had a colonoscopy, which, to our relief, was negative. But, at the same time, his right leg was swelling painfully, and, eventually, he went to the emergency room, was admitted with deep vein thrombosis that probably would have killed him in days if left untreated, and then the diagnosis of terminal cancer was made – the culprit of all those random, seemingly minor, concerns.

But it was that first X – the spot on the emergency room ultrasound screen, that ultimately X’ed Jim out of the future we’d hoped to share.

Check out our next post, when I say, “You are always a part of us,” to my late husband.

X marks the spot for more extraordinary X posts.

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

W is for When It Ends, It Begins Again: #atozchallenge Day 23

Life Begins Anew

When the last breath comes life changes

When it ends that’s where it begins

Begins to dawn on me that it’s all new

Begins with that alien word widow

Widow the label that ends a marriage

Widow for the rest of my life I’ll be

Be the only parent they still have

Be the one who survived when he died

Died with so many good years still ahead

Died so that last line can’t be the truth

Truth maybe for me but not for him

Truth is I’d rather not do this alone

Alone with the years stretched far ahead

Alone but yet not because he’s still here

In the children who share his eyes and smile

Here in my broken heart and in my wounded soul

Soul still trying to grasp what’s been lost

Soul to soul we were for so long not long enough

Enough love to fill my life to overflowing

Enough time to intertwine on so many levels

Levels of grief that shift like ocean waves

Levels of solitude now mine to explore

Explore the empty bed and things now unsaid

Explore the emotions that ebb and flow

Flow as the tears that move like the tides

Flow into a new way of life and living

Living my way into each new day’s dawning

Living and growing even though it seems strange

Strange to make so many decisions without him

Strange not to have him here chatting and laughing

Laughing our way through twenty years and more

Laughing even when life was tragic and shattering

Shattering us as he held our dying newborn

Shattering me as I held him on his deathbed

Deathbed that had been our marriage bed

Deathbed he made with his very own hands

Hands that will never again build or cook

Hands that can no longer hold or caress

Caress me with his love and tenderness

Caress me with his passions in his eyes

Eyes that were windows to all that he was

Eyes I adored and will never see light up again

Again I will sleep this night here without him

Again I smile at the shelter dog in his spot

Spot he doesn’t need she happily fills

Spot where my life has become something new

New bed of my own where our marriage bed was

New life new belongings in a strange new reality

Reality

Was

 

For over twenty years, Jim was my reality. It would be a lie to say that every moment of our marriage was wonderful, or that there weren’t problems from time to time. Some were external and beyond our control – like the death of our secondborn at 12 days old.

Others were internal – arguments we never really settled between us. Maybe we would have, if there had been more time.

Or maybe not.

I’ll never know, now. I can guess, from the ways we’d grown in our marriage, and were still growing. From the business we were building together, and the bonding we were doing while we did that. It was his dream, not mine – and it was a dream that died with him.

Other things have changed, too, since his death. I know it’s inevitable – and yet, there’s a little stab of something like guilt when I take apart the bed we shared, and in which he died, and buy a new one he never shared with me. When I adopt a shelter dog to share that bed, because I wasn’t sleeping very well when I was sleeping alone. When I rearrange the bedroom we shared, but which now is mine alone.

In so many ways, in so many choices from the tiny to the enormous, I’m moving beyond a marriage I valued and was committed to – beyond a man I still love with all of me, and whom I talk to about the changes: “Babe, do you SEE what I’m doing here?! I’m COOKING! For ALL of us! And it TASTES good!” “So, what do you think about this new dog in our bed. I know, I told you I probably wouldn’t get another one after you died, but it’s lonely, and she snores, and she loves to snuggle.” “Hey, did you know that Charlotte Rae, who was Mrs. Garrett on The Facts of Life, was Sylvia Schnauzer on Car 54? Or that she did stand-up in the 50’s, and was really, really funny?!”

It helps, this bridge of talking to my dead husband while I remake my life and figure things out I never expected to need to before last fall. It’s not exactly what I wanted – but I know beyond doubt that Jim would want me to enjoy my life, not sit around mourning him for the rest of it.

I know that because we talked about it, when he got sick, and long before that, when it was all theoretical, and not anything to do with our real lives….

But now, he doesn’t have a real life anymore, and I do. My goal now? Finish the raising of our children, and make the most of it, as joyfully as I can manage.

Join us again tomorrow, when we explore the way Jim was Xed out of my present.

Want more wonderful W posts?

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, Parenting, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

Sweetness Softens Bitterness: #SoCS  and #atozchallenge Day 19 (belated)

Death Inside Sweetness

Life is sunlight which causes shadow

Life will always end in death

Death so often takes us unawares but

Death is a lifetime’s natural conclusion

Conclusion of the life of a family of four

Conclusion of that chapter but not the end

End only for the one who has passed on

End brings new beginnings for those who remain

Remain among the living to breath another day

Remain to carry forth the love he spoke and lived

Lived his love with action deed and affection

Lived with a purpose to spread joy and passion

Passion for flavors and for creating delicious dishes

Passion for his wife shown in so much more than kisses

Kisses bestowed generously when our children were small

Kisses shown more widely in the things he did and said

Said Will you marry me and I do and he certainly did

Said I love you often and showed it oftener still

Still hugging the son grown larger than him

Still moments broken by his joyful laughter

Laughter was what first brought us together

Laughter his own particular brand of magic

Magic that made music that lives in my soul

Magic that lingers on and brings sweetness

Sweetness that eases the pain of his loss

Sweetness that softens the bitter truth

Truth that his life is ended forever

Truth that we three must go it alone

Alone but yet not completely bereft

Alone but with a warm spirit within

Within the deepest grief hope exists

Within the coldest sorrow there is a warm glow

Glow of his sweetness and his love freely given

Glow in our lives as we share what he gave

Gave us himself for as long as he was able

Gave us a way to survive this loss with joy

Joy in the years when we were all here together

Joy in finding ways to eat dessert first

First thing our daughter did to remember him

First birthday of his when he wasn’t alive

Alive in a legacy of living life richly

Alive still in the things that matter

Matter to those whose lives his touched

Matter in the way we live life today

Today he is dead but we’re still living

Today a new chance to sprinkle the sweet

Sweet memory to dull the edges of grief

Sweet kindness to soften a hardened world

World

Grief

 

Although I don’t reference it as much now that my kids are teens and prefer much more privacy than they did when they were small, we live a very unconventional life, by modern American standards. We are radical unschoolers – and that fact had proven to be a wonderful asset to us all (including Jim, when he was still alive).

Why?

In part, \homeschooling allowed them a great deal of time with their dad while he was alive, and unschooling meant that both of their parents were aware of what fired the kids’ passions. It’s through their passions that they most readily engage in learning, and through them that they most easily discover other interests, branching outward, and, at the same time, becoming more refined and sophisticated as they grow.

This led to our relating with our kids not primarily through the roles of Mom and Dad, but as people. People older and generally more experienced than them – but not beyond learning from them, or seeing that they, too, are people, and not projects for us to “complete” by the time they reach the age of legal independence.

So, the kids knew Jim well – as a man, not just as their Dad. They knew his history, even the parts he wasn’t so proud of. And he knew them – well enough to bring an eight year old Lise a tool set – in a lavender bag, because she is the kind of girl who likes doing and fixing – and pretty things, too. And it wasn’t a cheap set – she still can use those tools at thirteen.

When I was a teen, I wasn’t at all sure my father loved me. My kids were filled up with Jim’s love, each in a flavor that suited them, and adds sweet memories to the bitterness of going through the rest of their lives without the big laughing man with the even bigger heart whom they called Dad.

Join us again on Monday, when we’ll explore truths….

Stroll over for more sumptuous S posts!

This is also my (belated) entry for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, where this week’s prompt is “spoke” – with bonus points for not using it in the first line of the post.

Take a Swim in the SoCS waters!