Misplaced Anger ……

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…… is something I’ve been dealing with lately.

Now before I continue, I need to say that there is no finger pointing contained in this post. I’m not writing about anyone personally. I’m writing about my feelings, which are mine, and mine alone (although some readers will perhaps relate to them).
When I read about good things happening in the lives of my friends, I truly am happy for them, no matter how else I also feel.

Now, where was I?
Oh yes …… misplaced anger.

Has anyone else noticed that there are a boat load of wedding anniversaries in the summer?
Well of course there are. There always have been. Always.
I’m sure that in the past 7 1/2 years there have been just as many as there are this summer. But for some reason, I’ve never noticed them as much as I have this year.

If you’re on Facebook then perhaps you, too have noticed.
It’s been constant.
I dare say that it’s been daily.
Friends wishing their spouses a happy anniversary.

Again, I’m very happy for all of my friends who are married and who’ve had anniversaries this summer. Truly.
But …… all of these posts have started to trigger something inside of me.
And that something is anger, pure and simple.
I’m not proud of that, but it’s there.

With every additional post I can feel another log thrown into the furnace burning within.
A slowly building fire that starting to gain strength and heat.
It’s probably also kind of a greenish color.
Because I’m jealous.
Every time I see a post that says a couple has been married over 25 years, the fire becomes a deeper green.

I don’t feel angry towards any one person.
Not a human person, anyway.
But I surprised myself when I finally realized that I’m angry at God.
Or should I say …… I’m still angry at God.
And getting angrier.

There’s a second thing going on that’s been stoking that angry fire inside of me.

Have you seen a new TV show this summer called, “Answered Prayers”?
If you have, and you’re widowed, then you know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

It’s on TLC and is hosted by Roma Downey. She and her husband produce it.
I know that they are Christians and that they’ve done a lot in faith-based movies and TV. And I’m glad about that.

But this show …… this show makes me angry. Or maybe, I make myself angry when I watch it.
But it seems to me that it tells only half of the story.

The show features 2 or 3 people a week and their true stories about life and death situations that happened to them.
All of these stories have had happy endings. People are brought back from the brink of death, or rescued from sure death accidents …… because of prayer.
And not just prayer.
But “answered prayer”.

God heard their prayers and said, “Yes”.
And these people were healed, rescued, saved, etc.
Happy, happy endings.

But here’s the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say.
God doesn’t always say yes.
Sometimes he gives you a big, fat, “NO”.
But that’s still an answer.
Isn’t it?

This show makes me feel …… strike that.
When I watch this show I feel the same way I feel when I hear someone say, “If you’d only had enough faith …”; “If you’d only prayed hard enough …”; “If you’d only truly believed …”
Yes, I’ve personally heard all three of those partial sentences. They start out the same: “If you’d only …”.
And they end the same: “God would’ve saved him”.

Is it any wonder that some people turn from their faith, and others never approach faith at all, when their loved one dies and they hear something like that?
From “Christians”?

Nothing stokes the anger inside of me as fast as those kind of words.
Nothing brings my anger level from zero to a million faster than those people.

And this show, without giving the other answer, without giving the rest of the story, really does make me feel white hot anger.

From my experience (and I can only cite mine) God gives three answers to most of our questions:
“Yes.”
“No.”
“Wait.” Which will ultimately end in either “Yes” or “No”.

God, much like most human parents, sometimes says, “No.”
Yet loves us as much as those who received a “Yes”.
The answer has nothing to do with the love.
I have no doubt that He loves me.
In spite of my anger.
And maybe because of my anger.

To claim that, because people prayed and someone escaped death, God heard and answered prayer …… is to tell already hurting people that God only hears some people.
And he evidently doesn’t hear them.

Who wants to follow that kind of God?
Who can feel love from that kind of God?

And who can give sound Biblical evidence of that kind of God?

That’s not the God I know.
That’s not the God I love.
That’s not the God who loved the world so much that sent His only son to die for EVERYONE.
Every.
Single.
Person.

So, while I’m happy that these people were saved from death …… I’m going to stop watching “Answered Prayers”.

Because it’s time for me to finally let go of my anger.
And because God did answer my prayers that day/night (and thousands of others’).

He said, “No”.

A Surprise Around Every Corner ……

…… can be found in this city.

Seriously.
Every.
Single.
Corner.

I was checking out the neighborhood around my church yesterday since I had some time to kill before the service started.
Imagine my surprise when, as I was walking around a NYC block, I came upon this:

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I know, right?!!
Who would’ve thought there’d be a waterfall smack dab in the middle of the city?!

That’s not the only thing I discovered.
It seems that the church is not only behind a park with a waterfall, but in a neighborhood of embassies.
These two are across the street:
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They might not be as cool as a waterfall, but I think they’re pretty interesting.

After church I went up to the roof of my building.
As usual, the view was beautiful.
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That’s pretty much all I have for you today.
Other than the fact that it’s blazing hot here …… which I know makes my Texas friends roll their eyes.
But I’ve been surprised (though I’m not sure why …… it’s not as if this is my first summer here) by the intensity of the heat.
The temperature reads in the low 90’s, which made me think, “Yay!”. But in reality, temperatures in the low 90’s in a cement jungle, with as much humidity as Houston, makes for a pretty miserable outdoor experience.

Thankfully, if you live in NY you really never have to leave your building.
Truly. If you’re an agoraphobic, this is THE best place to live. Everything you could ever need can be delivered to your apartment.
Many times in less than an hour.
Even Amazon.
Though I may have to re-evaluate using that site, based on today’s news.
Innocent until proven guilty.
Except in the eyes of the press.

Anyway, I still went out today.
Though not very far.
I went to a movie with a few friends from my building.
The movie was in an Indie movie theatre that’s below our building.
So yeah, it’s pretty convenient.

We saw a foreign film entitled, “Phoenix”.
It was a very good movie.

Oh, and I also saw the new Meryl Streep movie, “Ricki and the Flash” last week.
While I didn’t think it’s one of her best, I still enjoyed it.
I mean …… it’s Meryl Streep.
What’s not to love?
And I happen to enjoy Kevin Klein quite a bit, too.
And then there’s Rick Springfield.
That’s all I need to say about that.

So there you go.
An update from THE city.
And a less emotional day.
Yay for that.

And yay that Tracy Morgan is going to host SNL sometime in October.
He’s come a long way on a very hard road.
And I’m looking forward to seeing him and hearing his humor again.

The End.
For now.

“She’s Going to Be Famous” ……

…… is what a woman told me yesterday while she was petting Gracie.

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Daughter #1 was in town and we were down in Hell’s Kitchen at a flea market and I was schlepping Gracie around in my bag. It was blazing hot and I think she was still tired from our two mile walk through the Park the day before.
She also doesn’t really care for walking where there’s traffic and a lot of people.
Oh, and hot cement.

So yeah, she was in my bag. I thought she’d draw less attention that way, but she has some inborn talent for drawing attention no matter where she is. She also has an inborn talent for making people smile. And even, dare I say, making some people happy.
It’s a gift.

It’s a gift more humans should have.
Or maybe work on.

But I digress.
Evidently, if this woman has a talent of foretelling the future, Gracie is going to be famous.
From her mouth to God’s ears.

I told Daughter #1 that maybe I should just sit in Central Park with her, day in and day out, to see if maybe a talent scout will discover her.
I’m pretty sure we both thought that would be a huge waste of time.

So instead, I’ve applied to have her trained to be a therapy dog. I believe she could be making people smile, who, for whatever reason health-wise, don’t have much to smile about.
We shall see.
While I’m writing this she’s evidently trying to dig to China through her dog bed.
I’m not all that confident of her intellectual ability to pass a course.
Any course.
Unless it’s for cuteness.

Oh, and she now has her own Facebook page.
It’s “Gracie Takes Manhattan”.
In case you’re interested.
I can’t blame you if you’re not.

In other news …… there really is no other news.
Not any “new” news anyway.
There is a bit of old news.

For the past couple of days my emotions have been brimming at the surface. You know, when you feel if anyone says, “How are you doing?”, the tears will flow over the dam?
There’s really no reason for it.
Other than the same one I’ve had for over 7 1/2 years.
I miss Jim.

Some days it just comes out of the blue.
I miss him.
I mean, I miss him every day. I think about him every day. But I don’t always feel emotional about it every day.
Thank goodness.

The missing of him rarely crashes over me now. But it does sneak up on me every once in a while, with no particular pattern.
As it has does done this weekend.
Maybe it had to do with D#1 going back home.
I don’t know.

All I know is, I was working at the theatre last night when my “boss” asked me what brought me to NY.
I get asked that a lot, and I rarely get emotional about it. I just tell the story matter-of-factly …… and say “thank you” when the person says, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” when I mention that my husband died …… and then I move on with the story.
I can’t leave him out of the story because he was in it from the beginning.

So I started telling her. And the tears started brimming, while I dug my fingernails into my palms, trying to keep them from falling.
I persevered and they didn’t fall.
But she saw them anyway.
Especially when I said that, yes, sometimes I feel lonely. But I feel less lonely in NY.
Still, loneliness can creep in anywhere.

So that’s where I am.
The tears fall as I type this.
I don’t feel particularly sad.
But, oh do I miss that man.
And always will.

I know that I am beyond blessed to live the life I live.
To have the children I have.
To have the parents and siblings I have.
And …… just as with Jim …… I never take any of this for granted.
Ever.
I knew every day that I was blessed to have him.
I know every day that I am still blessed.

But that doesn’t keep the missing of him from creeping up on me every once in a while and bringing forth tears.
Nor will it ever.

It’s the cost of love.
For there is a cost.
The deeper the love, the higher the cost.

But he was definitely worth the price.

One Last Day ……

…… of hanging with one of my children.

Son #3 leaves early tomorrow morning. He’s heading back to Oklahoma to start his Junior year at Oklahoma State. GO COWBOYS!!!!
It’s been so fun to have a child attend the school where Jim and I attended, and most importantly …… met.

It’s been great to go back for football games, especially Homecoming (OSU has THE biggest Homecoming in the world!), Mom’s Weekend, etc. It’s been wonderful to re-connect with my college friends and “sisters”. I loved my time at OSU. Completely and totally loved it.
And am thankful and happy that Son #3 seems to love it, too.

We had a relaxing day today. Gracie and I headed out to Central Park to watch the Broadway show teams play. They usually play on Thursdays. We watched the “Beautiful” team play the “Matilda” team. “Beautiful” won. But the best thing was that the “Matilda” team played under the name of “Maggots”. Loved it! You have to have seen the show/read the book/seen the movie to understand that.

After that, some Central Park worker kicked Gracie Lou out of the area where we were watching the games. He was very rude. Gracie and I have spent many a day in that area, peacefully watching softball games and welcoming tourists to the Park. Gracie is quite the ambassador for NY.
I didn’t go off on the guy, although I really wanted to. I didn’t tell him that we’ve spent the better part of the summer and spring sitting in that exact spot with no problems. But I didn’t.
Instead, I slowly packed up our stuff (slowly enough that it seemed to bother the rude guy) and then we went to sit in the bleachers of the next game, “Jersey Boys” vs “On the 20th Century”.
Now, I totally loved “On the 20th Century”. It was a lot of fun.
But I have to tell you that the “Jersey Boys” team was one heck of a fine looking team.
Very, very fine.
In fact, I found myself sometimes distracted from cheering for “On the 20th Century”.
What can I say? I’m weak when it comes to fine looking men.
So fine.
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After watching that game we came back to relax for a bit. Then Son #3 and I went down to the lower east side to watch a free concert at the East River Park. We had great timing because we were able to easily find seats when we got there.
Within 15 minutes after our arrival, there was nary a seat to be found. The place was packed. I have no idea how many people were there, but it was in the several hundreds.
We listened to two bands play and then we headed out to go hang out at the Top of the Rock.
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One very interesting thing that happened at the concert is that soon after it started, some guy came up the steps carrying a soft sided cooler filled with small plastic bottles that contained liquids of varying colors.
I have no idea what was in those bottles …… nor did most people …… but I do know that he made a KILLING selling them to thirsty concert attendees! No kidding, he was making money hand over fist. People were coming down the stairs, up the stairs and across their row to get to him. Everyone was under the impression that he mixed up something at home, filled these bottles and then came to the concert to become a wealthy man. At least for this evening.
Here’s a picture where you can sort of see the type of bottle I’m talking about (you can see part of it in the guy’s hands):
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They were those small bottles with an orange top. The guy next to me purchased one. When I asked him what the liquid was he replied that he was still trying to figure that out. He thought it might be something alcoholic, yet organic. But “it wasn’t very tasty”.
Shocking, isn’t it?

After that …… on to the Top of the Rock.
It was Son #3’s first time to go up there. And we had a great time. The views were fabulous and the evening was cool. It’s really fun to look out on the beautiful NY skyline and point out areas that we’re familiar with. Like the apartment. No, you can’t see it from there (well, I guess you could if you had some really great binoculars), but you can see Central Park and so know where our building is located.
Here are some pics:
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As you can hopefully see, we were there in time for a fireworks show.
No, I have no idea why there were fireworks going off, but go off they did. And for quite a long time. It was beautiful to see.
Whatever the reason.

On our walk back home we walked past the Ed Sullivan Theatre, where David Letterman hosted The Late Show.
I had just asked Son #3 when Stephen Colbert was going to start the new Late Show and wondered if they’d done anything to the theatre.
Talk about perfect timing!
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The workmen were putting the new signs up as we watched.
As one chapter ends, another begins.

Such is life, is it not?

A New/Old Chapter ……

…… begins …… again.

Daughter #3, who has been living with me in NY for the past two years, flew back to Texas today …… to live/start a new fantastic job in Austin.
She will now be employed by the Texas School for the Deaf. Which is huge. She did her first internship there and loved it.
It’s pretty difficult to get hired by that school. Particularly for hearing people.
Daughter #3 moved to NY two years ago to do an internship (for her Masters through Gallaudet University) at a school for the deaf in Queens.
She was supposed to be here for one year.

But then she met someone.
Someone special.
And so she decided to stay another year. She became a nanny to a very precious/precocious boy who lives in our building. He’s like the smartest 3 year old I’ve ever seen.
Ever.

Daughter #3 has not loved living in NY. Hard to comprehend, I know.
But the girl was raised in Texas, and is really a Texas girl at heart.
So she flew out today to head back there.

Her “someone special” will be moving to Austin the first of September. Fortunately, he has been blessed with a job in which he excels. The company he works for really values and appreciates him, and so they agreed to let him continue to work for them, and start an office for them, in Austin.
God is good.

Now, I have to remind everyone that, when I decided to do this “NY thing” …… like, three years ago …… there were no children involved.
None.
Zero.
Zip.
Nada.

However, by the time I got settled in up here, I had not only one, but two children living with me.
Daughter #1 got a fellowship at a well-known theatre here before I moved in.
And so she moved to NY not long after I did, to live with me while she did her fellowship.
And then came Daughter #3.

Two more children than I had planned were then living with me.
But hey, the more the merrier, right?
Whatever.

Sometimes merrier.
Sometimes tense.
But it worked out, for the most part.

Daughter #1 finished her fellowship last year and is now living in Philadelphia, working at a small college there. She has left the world of theatre, which seems to be a smart, and more lucrative, career move.
Plus, she’s able to come visit me in NY on some weekends.
Which is very nice.

In fact, she came up this past weekend, as did Daughter #2 and Little Bit, plus a couple of D2’s friends.
We had a full apartment.

Son #3 was added into the mix this past Sunday.
I seem to thrive on a full house.
Since it’s the only kind of “house” I know.

We had a great time and I was able to spend a lot of time with Little Bit, while the girls hit the town.
I had a great time, having all of them here.

Then today arrived all too soon. Daughter #2 and Little Bit left for the airport around 12:30. I was sad to see them go, but sadder to think of Daughter #3 leaving.
But the time came for her, too, to hit the road for the airport.
And my eyes were not dry.
Not for a while.

I helped her take her bags downstairs and then helped her find her really bad Uber driver.
And in a matter of seconds …… she was gone.

Son #3 is still here …… until Friday.
And while I’m glad he’s here, I am still feeling the absence of D#3. This is going to be more difficult than I thought.

Part of me is really looking forward to finally being alone up here …… the way I initially planned.
But the rest of me is going to miss D3 like crazy.

I know that I’ll adjust soon …… and find my new normal up here. But part of me is really tired of always having to find …… and get used to …… these new normals.

The thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that D3 will be starting an amazing job next week …… and I’m excited for her.
She’ll be living with a wonderful friend in Austin (someone I have lovingly referred to as Daughter #4 a time or two) and she’ll be doing work that she loves.

In less than a month her significant other will also be moving to Austin …… and will hopefully have an apartment ready for him to live in.
He grew up in Ohio, so I’m hoping that he learns to love Texas. It’s unfortunate that he’ll be moving there at the end of August/first of September …… but if he can keep in mind that he’ll never have to shovel walks/driveways in January/February …… I think he’ll be ok.
:)

It’s been a teary couple of days.
But I’m doing ok tonight.
I know that all of my children are exactly where they should be.
They’re all healthy and relatively happy.
What more could a mom wish for?

I’ll be going back to Texas in September.
I’m not sure how long I’ll be there, but I know I’ll get to see some kids and one Little Bit.

I miss you already, Daughter #3. And I’m so thankful that I was blessed to have these last couple of years with you.
I’m excited for what lies ahead for you.
God IS good.

I’ll see you soon.

Much love,
Mom

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Do I Say His Name ……

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…… too much?

You’ll have to bear with me …… because just asking this makes me cry.

I wonder …… do I mention Jim too much?
Not in everyday conversation with friends.
But in conversations with other men.

I have to pause every time I type that question …… because I really am shedding tears.
Jim is as much a part of me, as I am a part of me.
We met when we were 20.
We married when he was 23 and I was one month shy of 23.

We grew up together.
We thought we’d grow old together.

We really did grow up together.
We married one year after we graduated from college.
We were babies.
Though we didn’t know it.
And would’ve bristled at that thought.

We became parents at the age of 24.
We were so young.
We had our whole lives in front of us.
Or so we thought.

So now, when I find myself getting to know someone …… specifically, a man …… I find myself talking about Jim.
Not a lot.
But when a man shares a memory with me …… a memory that Jim shared with me …… I talk about that.
When someone shares something in common with Jim, I comment on it.

It’s not that I’m comparing the two men. I truly am not doing that.
It’s just that my past and Jim’s past are so intertwined, that I can’t help but identify with someone …… even if it’s from Jim’s identity.

Does this even make sense to anyone?

When a guy tells me that he loved growing up in a very small town, I can totally relate, because Jim loved that, too.
And I say that.

When a guy tells me that he loves “Caddy Shack”, I tell him that Jim did, too, and I recite Jim’s favorite line from that movie.

Is that too much?
It doesn’t feel like it …… at the time.

We grew up together. His past is intertwined with mine.

I’m not comparing one man with Jim.
I’m just noting what they have/had in common.
It feels natural.
To me.

But then I stop …… and wonder.
Does a man really want to hear about another?
Does a man realize that it’s not a comparison, but a likeness?

I don’t know.

I hope so, but I don’t know.

Yes, of course I miss Jim.
With all of my being ….. with all of my heart and soul …… I miss him.
But I don’t expect to find him in the form of another man.
I try not to compare them.

In mentioning him, I’m just thinking of the ways that they’re alike.
Which is a positive thing.
In my opinion.

But in the eyes of another man …… I don’t know.
Is it too much?

Should I stuff every memory of Jim way down inside?
Should I work hard to refrain from mentioning him …… and anything that they might have in common?
Should I shut the door on common memories?

I have to admit …… that I hate this part of “dating” …… of getting to know someone else.
I hate that I have to stop and re-think my natural response.
I hate that I feel like I should censor anything about Jim.

And I especially hate that I find myself in this position.
That, because he’s dead, I’m meeting men.
I.
Hate.
That.

But there I am.
Meeting men.
Trying to figure out what to say.
Trying to figure out what to share.
Trying to figure out what not to say.
Trying to figure out what not to share.

This is not where I was supposed to be.
This is not what I was supposed to experience.

But here I am.

It is what it is.

And I’m doing my best.
My best includes mentioning Jim.
It always will.

Maybe I’ll meet a man who’s ok with that.
Maybe I won’t.

Either way …… I’ll be ok.
Truly ok.

It is what it is.

Not Your Ordinary Camp ……

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…… is Camp Widow.

I know …… the name is suggestive of a hotel full of little old women, wearing black and sitting in rocking chairs.
Well, the word “widow” is suggestive of that.

Until you become one.

Not at first.
At first I think that most people hate that word. I did.
Because I wasn’t old and you’ll rarely find me sitting in a rocking chair.
My husband was dead, yet I still felt married to him.
I was not a widow, thank you very much.
I was not one of “them”.

Then came my first Camp Widow.
Only it wasn’t called that the first year. It was called the National Conference on Widowhood.
Yeah, we all know it was a blah name.
Which is why it was changed before the weekend was out.

The name wasn’t important to me.
The experience was.
It was full of laughter, tears and more laughter.
Outsiders would never guess what we all had in common.
Never.

After that first weekend of spending time with over 100 people in the same boat with me, the definition of the word “Widow” started to change.
I loved every person I met.
And I still do.
They are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
Each year I look forward to seeing them again. And again.
We love, and hate, the reason that we all love each other.

We are widowed.
And so much more.

Now I embrace that word. Because to me, “widow” means that I’m a survivor.
I’m still here.
And I’m strong.
I’m living as fully as I can …… because Jim can’t.
And because he loved me.
He would expect nothing less.

The definition didn’t change overnight.
It took time.
Sometimes it felt like forever.
I wasn’t always sure that I’d get to here.
Sometimes I’m amazed that I did.

And all of the time …… I’m glad I did.
For Jim.
For our kids.
And for me.

God is good.
All the time.

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