Sunday, April 16, 2017

16 April 2017 (2 yrs 120 days after The Day)

So, let me just preface that music in my family is important.  Jan and I were both active musicians in high school and college.  It has always been a symbol between us I suppose... It is even on the back of our headstone.  I mainly loved to play jazz.  While Jan leaned towards classical music she also had a love for jazz.  Harry Connick's Blue Light, Red Light was a staple in our music library.  She would also sing Ella Fitzgerald's tunes.  Summertime, for example, is one that she could sing beautifully.  I would find her humming or singing to herself sometimes.  Her voice is angelic.    

Two days ago I spend the day rebuilding a tool box.  I spent the entire day in the garage disassembling, cleaning, re-lubing, and reassembling this box.  I listen to all types of music but that day was a jazz day for me.  I listened to the jazz I love- Glen Miller, Benny Goodman, Chick Webb & His Orchestra, BBC Big Band Orchestra, Chu Berry, Duke Ellington, Jerry Gray, and Doc Severinsen to name a few.  Perhaps this type of music has just been with me recently.  I don't know.  Anyway - as I have previously stated - I don't really recall my dreams.  I know I do dream but nonetheless I awoke this morning with a song sung by Ella Fitzgerald which I knew the tune but not the lyrics.  As I found myself humming this tune in the shower, I was thinking to myself - what is the name of this tune?? ... Then it hit me.  Dream a little dream of me.  I looked up the lyrics on Google and they are a bit eye-opening since I hadn't thought of Ella's songs in such a long time and I didn't know this one.

Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper "I love you"
Birds singing in the sycamore trees
Dream a little dream of me 
Say nighty-night and kiss me
Just hold me tight and tell me you'll miss me
While I'm alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me 
Stars fading but I linger on dear
Still craving your kiss
I'm longing to linger till dawn dear
Just saying this 
Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me 
Stars fading but I linger on dear
Still craving your kiss
I'm longing to linger till dawn dear
Just saying this 
Sweet dreams, till sunbeams find you
Gotta keep dreaming leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
You gotta make me a promise, promise to me
You'll dream, dream a little of me
Needless to say I immediately thought of Jan and her singing of Ella's songs.  I don't recall her ever singing this but in a way it was a sweet reminder to me that our loved ones are always with us.

Today, in our family, we celebrate Easter.  Easter represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb.  It is a touchy subject for me since death generally helps each of us get real on what we believe.  I was reading today's Sunday School lesson yesterday which asks the following:
Do you actually believe that Jesus was the Son of God, the literal offspring of the Father? 
Do you believe that the voice of God, the Eternal Father, was heard above the waters of Jordan declaring, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”? (Matt. 3:17.) 
Do you believe that this same Jesus was the worker of miracles, the healer of the sick, the restorer of the infirm, the giver of life to the dead? 
Do you believe that following his death on Calvary’s hill and his burial in Joseph’s tomb, he came forth alive the third day? 
Do you actually believe that he yet lives—real, vital, and personal—and that he will come again as promised by the angels at his ascension? 
I get that religion is different for many.  I get that people have differing beliefs.  I only share this section to highlight that for me, "What do you really believe?" was a question I had to answer when Jan died.  I had to get very clear.  I had to do this not only for me but for my children who were looking to me for guidance.  Do I believe that there is life after this one?  For me the answer is a solid yes.  Because of that belief, life events like this silly song hit me with profound influence reminding me that there is more to life than mortality.  For me, knowing that I will still be very much alive ten thousand years from today makes me think of mortality differently.  My life decisions are different because of it.  I think eternity has a place in all of us.  We may not want to acknowledge it but as children of God he has put a little bit of divinity in each of us.  God is not dead nor will we be in the hereafter.  That I believe.

Happy Easter to all -

Saturday, April 8, 2017

8 April 2017 (2 yrs 112 days after The Day)

So I guess I kinda suck at keeping up with this blog.  At the time that I started it was used in an attempt to keep those that wanted to know what was going on updated.  It then turned into a place for me to write down my thoughts and begin to understand my feelings.  Once I felt like I was on my feet again I slipped back into just living life.  I feel I have done myself a disservice by not writing down my thoughts.  After all - how many times do we hear stories from our kids and we honestly don't remember it.  I swear that is my life.  So again - I will give it a go to keep up with this blog.

So - much has happened since the last entry.  I have had some growing experiences with all the kids.  Some are more receptive to change than others.  Ammon wrote thank you notes to everyone.  He did this on his own.  It was very touching.  I swear that kid has such a kind heart.

The adjustment to this location is starting to settle in.  I know it sounds weird since I have lived here for as long as I have but I am starting to call this place home.  I am looking at the entire family (both biological and extended) as one.  This has helped me to adjust.  I still have sad moments.  Today was a sad day for me.  I don't know what triggered everything but I just was a little down.  I took Madilyn early this morning to eat donuts and that was a fun experience.  I am making time to not only go on daddy/(son/daughter) dates but also to have a date night with Samantha.  We went to dinner and then bowling... which was a bit interesting because of my knee... ok - need to fill you in on that.

Last weekend I smoked a bunch of BBQ and it turned out nice.



We had a bunch of Samantha's side of the family over.  It was good to visit with lots of people.  Afterwards the boys were playing baseball in the back yard with various yard objects as bases.  They invited me to play and I weighed the options ... and decided to go ahead and play.  The grass was a little wet and after about 30 min of playing I ended up slipping on the grass and injured my knee .... again.  So, I always hate that moment when you are injured and everyone tries to help and you are just a pathetic pile on the floor.  I decided I was going to smile and laugh.  It was a silly moment of excruciating pain.  The first thing I asked was if I landed in dog poop.  I think everyone knows THAT would make any injury worse.  Luckily I hadn't.  I was able to get up and hobble to the bed where I got some ice and tried to get the swelling to lessen.... so bowling a week later was more like slow pitch softball than bowling.  I find that I get a better score if I chuck the ball 1/4 of the way down the lane.  Anyway - we had a good date.

So - yes - I am settling into this new normal... yet I have times of sadness.  Today was a bit of sadness.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

8 Feb 2017 (2 yrs 52 days after The Day)

Sometimes I dream.  It is not often or perhaps better stated - I don't always remember my dreams.  I know I have them but for some reason when I wake up if I don't immediately write down the dream I really forget it quickly.  So anyway - Since Jan's death I have had only a handful of dreams with her in them.  Generally speaking she just acts normal like nothing happened and I am the weirdo flipping out that she is alive.  Anyway - all of my dreams so far with her are like that.  I always awake feeling odd like it is weird that I miss her or something.  It is hard to put into words.  Apparently my kids have also had dreams from time to time.  Sometimes they are good... sometimes not.  One of my kids is worried that I will die.  I think all my kids felt this way initially after Jan's death but since that time we have settled into a new life.  It is just a little unsettling when my kids are upset.  I don't know what it is but seeing my kids in pain is much more painful than me in pain.  I still remember Ammon at the funeral just standing amongst a mob of people in the viewing room where Jan was... he was just standing there in the center of the room looking at Jan's closed casket.  Alone.  I have so many thoughts and feelings when I see my kids experiencing pain that they shouldn't experience at that age.  At least... in my opinion.  I wish I could take their pain away.

My life when Jan was alive seems a blur.  I still have anger and still have sadness.  I am happy again. Samantha and I have a different kind of relationship which I attribute to two things - 1.) we are older so we kind of skipped to the end like we have been married for 20 years and 2.) we both experienced losing a spouse so we both strive to put first things first with our marriage.  It is so easy to stop being husband and wife and just exist as mom and dad.  That happened between Samantha and her late husband and me and Jan probably more than we want to admit.  Having a weekly date night has helped us.  Samantha found a saying on social media that said "raising kids is like being pecked to death by chickens"... sometimes it feels that way.  With one kid in college and 6 at the house we thank God that we have some sanity in being able to manage all that is going on.  Scouts, church activities, service projects, kids working, school activities, cleaning the house, go go go... honestly nobody has to rock me or Samantha to sleep.  And... little miss priss keeps us smiling the entire time.



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

20 Dec 2016 (2 yrs after The Day)

Well - two years has passed since that hellacious time in my life.  I learned much about myself, my children, my family, my friends, and my work.  I learned the most about God.  I learned that God allows us to live through horrific times so that we can love deeper and help others more.  For those that have to live through awful times I think you can appreciate this.  During this healing process, it was very tempting to emerge bitter and angry.  I was angry at Jan for leaving.  One thing is for sure... this event helped to strip me of pride.  I think I appreciate life more now than I ever have before.  I think back on all that has transpired and realize that I still really miss and love Jan.  I also realize that moving out of state has helped me "move on" in a way.  I suppose this pain will always be there for those that I love that pass on.  Samantha and I have an agreement with each other.  Since we are both widow/widowers ... our agreement... "You are not allowed to die".  I have grown to appreciate the love that spouses can give to each other in times of trial and sorrow.  I don't think I can adequately say how much I love and appreciate Samantha.  She really has provided stability for me in times that tough.  

Today I celebrate Claire's birthday.  I also celebrate Jan's birthday.  We had Jan's favorite cake... (yellow cake with chocolate frosting) only this one had a #2 candle on it.  It is a tough day for me.  I don't like to think about all the hell that transpired two years ago but I am thankful for a sweet daughter that loves me even during my darkest of hours.  I'm thankful for children, spouse, and family.  Love really does heal.



Thursday, November 24, 2016

24 Nov 2016 (1 yr 341 days after The Day)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well - I figured it is worth writing so I don't forget a lesson I learned yesterday.  I watched the movie "Interstellar" last night.  I couldn't get through it.  I think I just felt pain for the child "murph".  Time is a respecter of nobody... it keeps moving on... regardless if you are ready.  As I think on this movie for me it reminded me of how Jan's departure meant that she missed out on interacting with the kids during their life.  I believe we will all be reunited one day but that fact doesn't lessen the pain caused by the absence of a parent.  I am thankful beyond measure that Samantha has taken in the kids as her own.  I don't want anyone getting the impression that I am not thankful or happy in any way.  I just felt the pain for the first time through a child's eyes in what it was like to not have a parent.

Long ago I mentioned how Jan got me an Audible account for me to listen to books.  At the time I traveled a bit and found listening to books fulfilling as I was able to learn and grow.  Because I wasn't a big reader in my youth I feel somewhat disconnected from all the books referenced in society.  These classics were just book titles.  I started reading and have over 50 novels in my collection now.  I enjoy reading a book I have heard about only to formulate my own opinion.  Fo example, I had heard that the Great Gatsby was a classic... I thought it was dumb.  I'm reading the Grapes of Wrath now... so far, I like it.  The joy I have found in listening to these classics has helped.  My daughter asked me if listening to a book was just as good as reading.  I personally think they both have advantages.  Anyway - in a way this reading is like a gift from Jan that keeps on giving.  I really have enjoyed formulating my opinion on all of these classics.

So - today we are having Thanksgiving here at the house.  It is good to get family together.  It is good to smile, to laugh, and to enjoy what life has to offer - both the good and the bad.  I am thankful for this journey life has given me even though at times it is filled with the darkest of times.






Sunday, August 7, 2016

06 Aug 2016 (1 yr 232 days after The Day)

Today Ammon was baptized.  I was a complete mess.  I think I just missed Jan being there.  It was good... just tender.  We had lots of family there and it was good.  We came back to the house afterwards and got to visit with everyone.  Tom played the piano and Emma Jane and Jennifer sang.  I could imagine Jan joining them.  It was a good moment.  I will cherish it forever.  Samantha was so very supportive and helped me through it.  I just feel so very lucky.  I feel I have really been blessed in this life.  Sure - I have had challenges - but I have also had my eyes shine the brighter.  I have a wife that loves me and supports me.  I have seven amazing children.  I am blessed indeed.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

30 Jul 2016 (1 yr 225 days after The Day)

I have reflected much on why certain people do what they do after a spell of grief in their life.  Previous to Jan's death I thought on how people who remarried or people who moved or people who in some way changed their life were just acting opposite of who they really were.  I thought perhaps in their eyes it was a good thing but in mine it wasn't.  Living through tough times does make your eyes shine the brighter. I suppose it is because you can now appreciate things more than before.  I never realized that moving 1200 miles for me would give me a place to start fresh.  How often do you go about your day and take for granted all the things in your life that remind you of your loved ones?  For me, it was a normal occurrence.  It wasn't until Jan's death that I realized all that reminded me of her.  It was both a blessing and a curse.  I could drive down the road and remember an experience at a restaurant when Jan and I went to eat.  I could go shopping at the grocery store and recall memories of going down a list of items she wanted me to buy.  Memories made me smile... they also made me cry.  So - relocating has enabled me to start fresh.  It has given me the ability to look at things anew as nothing is familiar.  In a way it is like turning a page in my life.  I am able to move forward.  

Life is a little different here as well as a little the same.  I am blessed with a wife that loves me and the kids.  She and I strive to serve each other and that I believe is a secret for a happy marriage.  We decided to purchase a home here.  We were going to build one but that just didn't work out.  We should close on our new home in the next few weeks.  Everyone in our home is looking forward to more space.  Samantha and I are also looking forward to our own bathroom.  Sharing it with everyone in the home is a challenge.   We also are down to one at the moment.  Samantha and I went to Alaska for a vacation.  I had some points accumulated from business trips overseas and cashed them in on tickets to Alaska.  It was always on our bucket list.



We spent time with Tom and Collette who live there now.  It was so good to see them again.  In a way it was like taking a step into my old life.  (I didn't get a pic with us all when we were there... bummed about that but perhaps a good reason to visit again)  Tom played the piano and it just took me back.  It was very healing for me.  We got to experience the land of the midnight sun.  It was weird to see the sun up so late /early in the day.  When we returned home that night we had a water pipe bust in the basement which put about 3 inches of water in the bathroom and about an inch in the neighboring room.  We ended up opening up the wall and our once assembled bathroom is now a construction zone.  We got the pipe fixed and the water removed.  We are waiting on bids for fixing everything and amidst this everyone is using the upstairs bathroom.  Yes... it is packed.

Claire continues to call me "mom".  It is both frustrating and funny.  I correct her constantly but she just looks at me and says "mom" and holds my finger to take me places in the house.  She is a joy.    It is a blessing that I have these kids to remind me of Jan and also to take this journey with me.  I believe Claire will be a joining link between our families.  She loves Samantha and it is so sweet to see her give hugs to Samantha around the neck when she rarely hugs anyone around the neck.  Below is a pic of her drawing.  She is content with just a pad of paper and a crayon.

 

I am humbled to be a father to older children.  I think that is the challenge of any step-parent.  How do you be a parent and build relationships of trust when the child is old enough to look like an adult but act like a child?  I am thankful to be in their lives.  I know they may not have a super-close relationship with me since they are older but I am thankful to be in their lives... to be a father to them that I didn't have.  I struggle being "soft" in my instructions.  I'm sure that doesn't help bonding of new relationships.  Samantha helps me to improve in that area.  She really does help me to be a better me.  I am thankful for that.

Well - I will make a habit of writing more.  I have found that when I do it is healing for me.  Until later -