So far, it’s been not quite two months since Jim died.
So far, the kids and I are all right.
So far, I still don’t know how I’m going to get the roof, ceilings, and floors repaired.
So far, I haven’t quite managed to file the life insurance claim.
So far, I’ve done a little cooking, but not as much as I would like.
So far, there’s far more to be done than there is me to do it.
So far, I’ve started reclaiming my bedroom, but I’m still not quite in the habit of using my new workstation with the dual monitors, because I have such a long history of sitting on my bed with my laptop – which is just what I’m doing right now.
So far, I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around the reality of Jim’s death.
So far, I’m keeping things mostly together, even if the garbage didn’t get picked up last week because I didn’t get that bill paid in time.
So far, we’re making plans a few months ahead, and dreaming a bit further.
So far…to go, and so far from where we were a year ago, when we couldn’t see any of this coming, when Jim and I thought we’d grow old together, in some time that was still so far away.
So, here we are – edging up on the middle of November. It’s getting colder here, and our outdoor preparations for winter are intensifying. There may be snow in our not-far distant future, and, for sure, another upstate New York winter is leaning in on us.
It’s been an interesting few days. In my NaNo novel, my characters have started to breathe, think, feel and live for themselves. I love this feeling, where it’s almost as though they’re playing out their lives for me to transcribe, inviting me into their skins, letting me live with them.
And, as always, things are veering from my plans, and I’m loving the changes, and the chance to find out what really happened…
Then there’s real life. My father-in-law has decided that he wants to treat us all to cross-country airfare so that we can come visit our Oregon family. He’s getting older, and his health hasn’t been great these last few years. This might be the last chance we have to visit him.
Airplanes scare me. The idea of them scares Annalise, too.
But it looks like we’ll be heading to tiny little Dexter (not far from Eugene), in February. We’re hoping to get a chance to get out to the coast, and visit our favorite restaurant in Florence,The Blue Hen Cafe, if it’s still there.
We haven’t been to Oregon since I was four months pregnant for Jeremiah, who is now 13. It’s possible that, one day, we may live there, and my writing nest will be on the other side of the continent…
It’s rather a lot to absorb, though, and I’ve only known about it for a few days. For now, one step at a time. Finish the novel. Have a plan to care for our home and pets while we’re away. Figure out travel and budget. Live the days between now and then…
And get this update posted, from my suddenly twisty nest…
This year, I intend to follow all the prompts, and get the joy of discovery…
I hope you’ll stop by, settle in, and find a little bit of magic here!
Today’s prompt was to write a poem using the theme ‘I was here‘. There were several ideas for prompts; I used the word list, beginning each line with successive words, and adapting when needed. At the end of the list, I came back to the present and completed the poem.
Words for Inspiration
I started a different poem; but it wasn’t flowing- this one was written in less than 15 minutes, while I ate my dinner at Panera, my regular post-workout indulgence. I’ll save the other beginning to play with another time.
This one is a memory, from early in our marriage. My husband and I were camping at Honeyman State Park near Florence, Oregon. After exploring the dunes and the beach, we found a secluded place in the woods, where we could hear and smell the ocean, and where hummingbirds flitted above, and we made love…it’s a simple and magical memory, more warming than butternut squash soup on a chilly, damp fall night.
It makes me think of the secret memory-treasures we all hold within us…
When I was six, my familywas driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.
I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own…
My husband’s vacation officially started when he arrived home last night. As a chef in an area noted mostly for summer tourism, February brings a major slowdown, so that’s when his vacation falls.
He came home with a toothache, and incubating a virus that’s catching up to him today. Not, for sure, the very best way to start two weeks off….
But it could be much worse.
I’m not just saying that as a way to put a bright face on a less than auspicious beginning to this much-anticipated family time. I’m saying it because I know it’s true; know how very much worse it could be.
Two years ago, on another Sunday night – one that happened to be, all at once, the eve of his vacation, his forty-eighth birthday, and the fifteenth anniversary of the day we met, my husband nearly died.
It had been an extremely mild winter here in upstate New York, and Jim never stopped riding his motorcycle, as he’s usually compelled to before November is out, if not sooner. Now, I have no objection to motorcycles – I was a moving force behind the acquisition of his current bike – but I always worried about him riding the bike home from work.
“It’s only ten miles”, he’d say. “I’ve been riding since I was six years old; I know how to handle the bike, and I know the roads.”
The first three parts of those statements were unassailable; I couldn’t argue with any of them. But that part about the roads…
I grew up on the same road we live on. My family moved here when I was four years old; I lived here until I was nearly 21, and visited after. And I knew things about these roads – especially at night, when chefs are coming home from work – that always made me worry.
Between our rural home, and Jim’s place of business in a neighboring small village lies a National Park. Saratoga National Historical Park, to be specific. A park rife with deer, deer whose natural predators have all been eliminated, and where humans are not allowed to hunt.
“Sometimes you can’t avoid hitting a deer,” I said.
“I’ve never hit one yet,” he countered.
And so I watched him ride off, day after day, and I worried.
Until we came to that pre-vacation Sunday. We’d had a fight, that morning, about I really don’t remember what; but likely something small that was blown far out of proportion. Jim had left early for work, without a word goodbye, without a kiss or a hug, without, seemingly, a thought to me, left at home with the emotional wreckage – mine, and that of two children who were hurt, confused, and frightened – and showed those things in ways that further abraded my already raw edges.
So, when the phone rang a little after nine, just at the time Jim would be getting out of work; I didn’t answer it. I was still angry, and didn’t want to lose my cool again.
And then, too much time went by.
I started to worry; not enough to call him; but enough to make me restless as I finished up my ROW blogpost.
I was still doing that when the dog began to bark frantically, and then there was a knock on the door.
And I was looking at a county sherriff, who told me calmly, “Your husband had had a motorcycle accident. He is all right, ma’am; he’s being airlifted to Albany Medical Center right now.” He went on to say that he had had a collision with a deer, and that he had been thrown about a hundred feet. All he could tell me was that my husband was conscious, but that the paramedics had seen something concerning enough to warrant landing a helicopter on a country road for.
That something turned out to be a collapsed lung, lacerated spleen, eight broken ribs, and a hand injury. He could have died, out there on that road, that night.
And he didn’t. He got well. Yes, he aches more than he used to; but he’s alive, two years later.
We’re watching TV together, intermittently. M*A*S*H; Castle, Antiques Roadshow. Jim went out earlier, for a workout and to buy groeceries…Pax left the Burton larders rather depleted. I’ve been visiting blogs, answering comments, and working through the pre-revision stuff for my novel-in-progress, Chameleon’s Dish.
Both children were up all night, and have been asleep on and off today – growth spurts need lots of food, and lots of sleep.
Life is peaceful here, for the four of us – all here, and all alive.
It’s a lovely day. =D
What were you doing, two years ago? What are you thankful for, today? What brings your to a place of gratitude and quiet peace? I’ll replenish your cuppa and listen, and the hugs are free; let’s converse! =)
So, ROW80 is the writing challenge that knows I have a life – and, also, that life is not all unicorns and rainbows, all the time.
It’s been a hard few days, here. Sometimes even good marriages have rough and jagged places, where old wounds fester and burst. We’re in one of those places. Something that has always been a pressure point in our relationship has become abraded, and some resolution must be arrived at.
Always before, I’ve tried to force that, but, this time I can see that that would be a mistake. I am instead learning to let go of expectations from my spouse, and instead to focus on being attentive to myself, to clarify my goals and purpose – and to leave Jim the time and space to decide how – and if – he wants to approach it.
This is new ground, and a little scary. Writing helps, and so do all of you who are here with me as I grow up a little….thank you all!
My Goals Buffet Platter Samplings:
Offering a sustainable schedule of features.
Maintain four non-ROW80 posts weekly, throughout the round. Target attained!
Welcome to Saturday’s Share – Reflections and impressions inspired by and celebrating images from daily life, to add a bit of sparkle to the weekend. Happy Saturday!
Do you share any special, small traditions or rituals with your loved ones, little things you do together that started up as impromptu moments?
I don’t remember when Jim and I took our very first self-portrait, with him holding the camera to frame us both – him, because, the few times I tried, I got the tops of our heads and little more! =) I know that we took one at Shoshone Point at the Grand Canyon, on the day that our friend Tom was taking posed shots for our DIY wedding invitations. We’ve almost certainly got others taken at the Canyon, where we lived and worked together for 9 months. I seem to remember taking them at Desert View, at Duck-on-a-Rock, and at the North Rim.
We have two selfies from the Cody Night Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming, where we spent our second wedding anniversary. One is of us kissing, and the other is of us being kissed by our 4 month old blue-eyed puppy, Bunko. We’ve taken selfies in the hills of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, on the Oregon Coast, in the mangrove swamps of the Everglades, and near Lone Star geyser, in Yellowstone. We have selfies of us in caves, of us in Wall, South Dakota, and even SCUBA diving in Key Largo.
We have a self-portrait, taken in the doorway of a Montana hospital room, with me holding two-day-old Jeremiah, who barely made it into the frame.
I don’t believe we have any of our second child, Elijah, who died at 12 days. When we were holding him, that’s where we were focused, and not on trying to juggle a camera.
There is a widening in the space between selfies, in the years since we became parents, but we have a great one of the four of us all smooshed together and wildly laughing on the couch, disheveled and happily in the middle of a whole-family tickle fest. We’ve got one taken outside Fort Ticonderoga, in the Adirondacks, on one of the rare days when Jim and I took a few hours to go on an adventure by ourselves.
We have one taken on the Metro, on our way from Maryland to Washington, D.C. Jeremiah’s just-turned-seven head barely visible over my shoulder. I’m sticking out my tongue in that one…
And now, there’s this one. Jim snapped this on September 4th – the first day of school for most kids in our area -but not for our unschoolers. Instead, we drove up into the Adirondacks along scenic Route 28, to Minerva and a historical landmark, and then went back to Lake George to spend a delightful hour, all together, walking around, sitting to watch the tour boats, the shadows of the clouds on the mountains in the late afternoon sunshine, and the first SNUBA divers we had ever seen. We wandered a little wild garden tucked into the side of the walking path, and had a sweet treat at Ben and Jerry’s.
And then, tired, but not quite ready to go home, we took the kids to this playground, surrounded by trees. While they played and ran around, Jim and I had a bit of time to chat and just be together. And, spontaneously, we posed for this selfie…
I see us, as we are today -sixteen years and more older than we were when we posed for our first selfie. We’ve lived, and grieved, and been furious with each other. We share passion and the children that were born of that passion. We share jokes and memories and challenges and triumphs and, sometimes, conflict.
And, because of this simple little ritual, started at our beginning, we have a record of it, in scattered images throughout the years.
How do you and your family commemorate the passage of time in your lives? Do you collect holiday ornaments, measure children in doorways, plant trees, or something else? Saturdays are for sharing! =)
Today is a day of interwoven memory and emotion for me….a paradox beyond untangling.
It’s Mother’s Day, here in America, and I am the mom of three children – two living, and one not.
I have a mother. We are estranged. I would like things to be otherwise, but this is the most peaceful and healthy choice I see, now.
I’m learning to accept the paradox of these things, to let them be as they are.
Today has another reason to be special for me.
Sixteen years ago, in beautiful turquoise water deep within the Grand Canyon, a man named Jim held me in his arms and asked me to marry him.
I said yes.
Not every moment has been happy, or could be. We’ve had tragedy – Elijah’s death, more minor catastrophes like Jim’s motorcycle accident, or the time I lost the house payment…
There have been disagreements, arguments, disputes, and downright ugly fights – not too many, and tapering off as we two people who didn’t learn how to handle conflict healthily as children learn more and more to get it right.
We are partners, friends, lovers – the shadows of the hard times are contrast for the prevailing sunshine of peace, love, and passion.
I choose to celebrate the joys, sorrows, and ambivalence of this day – to accept, and not hide from, the feelings it brings.
Resistance brings too much pain, as I struggle against realities I can’t change. Acceptance allows peace. It allows me to embrace what is joyful, rather than fixating on what is less so.
Are there difficult things you’ve learned to accept – or still struggle with? Has acceptance or struggle shaped your life?
There will be more about my own paradoxical relationship with Mother’s Day in tomorrow’s Coffee and Conversation post.
And now, a look at where things stand, ROW80-wise: