Lights in the Dark ……

…… can light up anyone’s face.

Last night I went to Brooklyn with several women from the Manhattan Women’s Club (remember, not as fancy/snobby as it sounds, I promise). We went to look at Christmas lights in Dyker Heights. Don’t worry, I’d never heard of it either, but wow! Check it out here.

Here are some pictures:

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One of the neat things about all of those lights, aside from the fact that I don’t have to pay those electric bills, is the look on people’s faces when they see each house. It’s like you can’t help but smile when you see the decorations and all of those lights.

Light dispels darkness in more ways than one.

And light comes in more ways than one.

Today my Facebook page has been a huge light on what could be a dark day.
So has my cell phone.
The comments and texts today have been so full of love and support that I’ve been speechless, which of course is no easy feat.

I hadn’t expected so many people to post on my page.
I hadn’t expected all of the loving and kind words.
I hadn’t expected so much light.

Seven years.
Seven sometimes-very-slow-years.
Seven sometimes-faster-than-the-speed-of-light-years.
Or so it seems.

Seven years that I never want to re-live.
Ever.

I’m thankful to be on this side of that valley.
The voyage out wasn’t pretty …… to put it mildly.
It was bloody, and messy and ugly.
It was horrible.
And it took a long time.
But it’s good to be out.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have my moments.
I’ll always have moments.
And I’m ok with that.
Because moments are sure better than that valley.

So to all of you who gave me light today …… thank you. From the bottom of my heart …… thank you.
You helped make this day the easiest one yet.
I love you.
Each one of you.
More than I can say.

Thank you for filling my day with light.
And thank you for filling my heart with love.
I.
Am.
Blessed.
<3

Contrary to Popular Belief ……

…… for at least some people, the 7 (seven) year mark does not mean that I am all better.
That I am healed. That I am over the loss of the other half of me.
That tears do not come now.
That I no longer miss him.

When I think about that last non-friend who posted how I should no longer be mourning Jim, I want to scream. It didn’t affect me like that at the time. I just felt sorry for her.
But now, NOW it pisses me off.
Because who the the hell does she think she is, that she can tell me, ME, the one who had Jim ripped out of her life and her children’s lives, how I’m supposed to feel now. I’d like to punch her in the face right now.
Tonight.
And probably for the next few weeks.

This is the hard time.
Yes, it’s much easier here in NY. SO much easier. But that doesn’t mean that it’s painless. Because it’s not. I still miss him. And I still cry when I type that. Every damn time.

My life is good.
I am happy.
I’m content.
I feel joy.

But I also feel loss.
I feel the hole left in my heart.
I miss him more than I can say.

And I don’t expect that to ever change.
This time of the year will always bring joy and sorrow to my family.
It is what it is.

I loved him with all of my being.
I still love him.
I will always love him.

I never took him for granted.
I knew that I was blessed.
And, truthfully, I never thought for one second, that I deserved him.
I thanked God for him on a daily basis.

And though I didn’t feel worthy, God blessed me with him.

So …… when it comes to thinking of another love …… I doubt very much that that will happen.
Because I know I’m not worthy of two great loves in one life.
You may think differently, but that’s what’s ingrained into my brain. Into the very fiber of my being. I will never have another love as true and as wonderful as Jim.
And really …… I’m mostly ok with that. Because I had a love and a relationship that very few people have.
Which makes me sad. For those people.
But at least I had it.

I can’t expect it to happen again.
So I don’t.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t long for it to happen again.
But I guess I’m a realist. If I was so blessed to have it once, it’s not very likely that I’ll find it again.

Part of me is ok with that. I like doing what I want to do, when I want to do it. I like having all of the closet space. I like having a pretty clean garage.
I like my independence.

But I’d also like to have love and security in my life. The kind of security that comes from having someone who has your back, no matter what.
I miss that.
I miss holding his hand.
I miss falling asleep next to him.
I miss catching his eye from across a room, and feeling the warmth that came with that look.

I miss the family that we had.
Things would be so different if he were still here.
So much better.
But …… it is what it is.
So I try to make it better.
As much as I can.
I don’t have as much power as I wish I had.

So …… that’s all.
I’m happy.
And I’m sad.

I’m content.
And I wish I weren’t alone.

I have a great life.
But I wish I had love.

It is what it is.

Just as it is with everyone else in the world.

By The Light ……

…… of the silvery tree ……

OK, it’s not silvery, but then it’s not a moon, either.

I’m sitting in my dark living room …… which really isn’t dark because the lights on the Christmas tree are twinkling and dancing and preventing the room from really being dark.

I haven’t truly enjoyed sitting in the almost-dark, looking at the tree, for several years now.
But this year, I feel differently.

This was one of Jim’s favorite things about this time of year. After all of the kids were in bed, and after we had turned all of the lights out and were headed to bed, he’d ask me to come and sit in the living room with him …… to just sit and look at the tree …… and the lights.

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I can’t see the lights, and not think of him.
I miss sitting on the sofa, his arm wrapped around me, my head on his shoulder.
I miss the silence that actually said so much.

But I’m thankful that I can now sit and enjoy the lights …… and the silence that still says so much.
It says different things now, but I can sit with it …… and be ok.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss him.
That doesn’t mean that I’m ok with him being dead.
It just means that I’m ok with enjoying things again …… and enjoying the memories of him.

It’s definitely easier to enjoy this time of year here in New York.
And for that I’m very, very grateful.
There are no memories here, except for the ones I’ve made in my “after”.
I hope that my children feel the same way.

This time of year is a bitch to go through.
In eleven days we’ll hit the seven year mark.
Which, as always, is unbelievable.
But it comes, whether we believe it or not.
Time is kind of relentless like that.

But it’s also nice to be able to sit with the memories.
Instead of being overwhelmed with them.
It’s nice to be able to smile with the remembering.
Instead of being wracked with sobs.

I hope that those of you who can …… will take the time to sit with your loved one …… and enjoy the lights on the tree. And the silence …… that says so much.

And I hope that those of you who can’t …… will be able to sit and enjoy the memories.
<3

It’s Winter’s Eve ……

…… here in NYC.
Or at least, here in my neighborhood.

There was a huge (supposedly the largest in the City) Holiday celebration in and around Lincoln Center and Columbus Circle.
There were tents set up from various local restaurants, bakeries, stores, etc.
I didn’t notice this last year …… and I’m thinking that I must’ve been away that night because there was no way to NOT know about it from inside my apartment.
There were bands playing all around, people singing, dancing and just plain noisily celebrating.
It was great.
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This guy was on stilts.  Very high stilts.  Several people were walking around on them, engaging small children in games of “Catch the Christmas Ball”.
I may, or may not, have just made that up.  I have no idea what they were doing, other than throwing a glowing ball and having the kids run for it and bring it back.
Like “Fetch”.
Mostly.

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This guy was making an ice sculpture of a nutcracker:

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He’s pretty dang good, is he not?

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So …… I have to admit …… I have no idea why they call it Winter’s Eve. Winter doesn’t start tomorrow. It starts on December 21st.
Maybe they just mean the eve of winter in general …… the winter season, as it were.
Are you as excited about this topic as I am?
That’s what I thought.
Moving along ……

Gracie and I flew here today. She did pretty well on the plane. She whined but at least she didn’t scream. Her screams are ear-piercing, and I’m quite certain that if she were to start up with that …… we’d both be escorted off of the plane.

So far, so good.

I came home from the lake on Saturday. Everyone else headed home, too.
Son #3 picked his car up from the shop and drove to Dallas to visit a friend.
His car needed a side mirror replaced, all fluids topped off, an oil change, 2 new tires, and some cosmetic work inside.

A few hours after he left I received a text from him with this picture attached:
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Yes …… it’s a tire iron.
It came flying off of a semi.
And launched itself here:
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Karma can be a real bitch.
Or at least, trucks that don’t have things locked down can.

Of course he wasn’t able to get any info off of the truck. I’m guessing that he was so stunned by the noise that he was lucky to not have a wreck.
I’m thankful that he’s ok.
And hopeful that the damage is just cosmetic and not further beneath.
Life.
So.
Much.
Fun.

Speaking of fun …… my Christmas tree was delivered today.
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Last year it wasn’t in a box. But I think this tree is a lot nicer than the one I got last year. Both of them were Groupon purchases.
Sometimes, Groupon totally rocks.

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I pulled out all of my Christmas decorations after we set up the tree:
(When I say “we” I mean Daughter #1 and K.  They came to spend a day or two here since they didn’t get to see us for Thanksgiving.  :) )
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That’s the box that contains all of them.
ALL.
That makes me grin.

Here’s how the tree looks now:
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I think it looks great and smells even better!

My friend Lisa is flying in tomorrow.  She’s never spent time in NY so we’re going to have a blast.
And she’ll return home FULL of Christmas spirit.
As long as the cold weather comes back where it belongs.  It was in the high 60’s today when I landed.  I was not a happy camper.  I’m sick of warm weather.
Thankfully, it rained some tonight and the temps fell about 20 degrees in 2 hours.
Picture me happy.
:)

Well …… I think that’s all the news I have.  Although none of this was really “news”, so much as boring story-telling.
Other than the tire iron thing …… that wasn’t boring.
For anyone.

Night all.
Stay tuned.
:)

Giving Thanks ……

…… in Sorrow.
Sounds so cliché, doesn’t it? Especially for those of us who have been, and continue to be, sometimes mired in sorrow.

Those of you who know me, know that this time of the year is difficult, at best. Thanksgiving starts what many of us widowed people refer to as, “The Death March”. For some reason, it starts up the march that carries me forward to December 18th, the day Jim died, through Christmas, through the New Year, and almost right up to February 14th.
It’s a season.
Maybe yours is in the summer, or her’s is in spring, but we probably all have them.

Last year I spent Thanksgiving and all of the rest of the Holiday season in NY. A vastly different place than Houston, TX, where the leaves fall of off trees, not because of the cold, but because it’s just their time to do that. Raking leaves in 78 degree weather just doesn’t have the same “It’s Fall!!” feeling.

Last year the “Death March” drummed forward very, very quietly. It’s impact upon me was negligible. Of course, I missed him just as much and of course I thought of him on the 18th, but the physicalness of the march wasn’t there (I’m sorry that I can’t explain that any better for those of you who don’t understand, but it’s very, very physical …… your body can indeed remember things when your brain is trying not to).
I was in a different place. A different space.
And it was good.

So I figured it would be the same this year. After all, we progress forward, don’t we? Isn’t grief, as all things are, linear?
Not so much.

I started hearing the rumblings deep within me the day before Thanksgiving, as we were preparing lots of dishes.
I decided to ignore it, knowing that last year was better.
I wish I could tell you that it can be ignored.
But it seems as if it will NOT be ignored.

And yesterday, as I drove home from the lake, the march was all around me, inside me, inside my car, loud and dark.
I didn’t lose it, or even cry. I just wondered at the power, and at the ability of the human body to have a memory of its own.
It occurred to me that this march, my march, has a lot to do with exactly where I am, and where I was those days in December of 2007.
It’s warm outside …. yet a bit damp. As it was 7 years ago.
The trees look the same, some dropping leaves, some staying forever green.
The humidity feels the same.
The lake was the same, only without him.

The “sameness” is what starts off the march. Maybe.
The “sameness” can feel quite smothering. I feel it as I write this and sit by a window, looking into my beautiful back yard.
The house isn’t the same. The yard isn’t the same.
But the “sameness” goes beyond that.
It FEELS the same. Maybe that’s it. The feeling of “sameness”, where there is no sameness.

I’m looking forward to heading back to NY tomorrow, where the “sameness” can’t follow.
I hope. :)

OK, that’s it. I think that any widowed Peeps will understand this. The rest of you will read it as rambling. Good for you. Truly. If this seems insane to you, then I am truly joyful for you. And ask you to hug your loved ones even closer this season. Spend more time staring at the tree at night, saying nothing, but just holding hands.
Spend less time cooking and more time playing.
Spend less time shopping and more time giving.
Spend less time talking and more time listening.

For those of you who “get it”, I’m sharing this reading with you that I found here.

I hope it brings you comfort.

Happy Advent, friends.
:)

Give Thanks In Sorrow

Text: Psalm 31:1-24, Psalm 34:18, Psalm 56:8
“If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.”
– Psalm 34:18, The Message
I don’t know if you’ve ever lived with someone who was learning to play a musical instrument, but if you have, I bet you know about a glorious little piece of metal called a mute.
Growing up, my younger brother played every instrument he could get his hands on—the trumpet, guitar, piano, ukulele and, unfortunately, the bagpipes. I loved being part of a musical family. I didn’t love being part of a we’re-learning-to-be-musical family.
“Can’t you find a mute for that thing?” was my most frequented phrase, hoping for a silenced version of “Hot Cross Buns.”
One day, my brother came home with a new piece of music in hand. The composer’s note at the top read, “Play muted, with sorrow.”
He began playing the song on his trumpet, and I braced myself for sweet relief as he transitioned into the “sorrow” section. Much to my dismay and delight, I learned that the mute did not silence the sound, it just changed it. The piercing, shrill signature of the instrument was replaced by a deliciously pleasing sound. The sound emerging from the horn was unlike anything that could be produced by the trumpet alone.
Sometimes, I feel like God is asking me to put a mute on my feelings. When His Word says to be thankful in every situation, I find myself thinking, Even in this? In grief, in fear, in sorrow? You can’t possibly mean in this.
It’s easy to forget that all songs of thanksgiving don’t have the same sound. I don’t know exactly what musical directions were given when the Psalms were played as songs, but I can guess that many of them were instructed to be played “with sorrow.”
God doesn’t ask us to silence our sorrow in favor of thanksgiving. Rather, He uses our sorrow to proclaim a type of thanksgiving we wouldn’t be able to express otherwise.
Just like the trumpet’s song wasn’t any less a melody because of its change in pitch, your sorrow isn’t any less a sound of thanksgiving than your highest shouts of joy.
Extracted from all earthly attachments, void of trimmings and trumpets sounding, sorrow is a connection to Christ and our need for Him in its purest form. And, Sister, the world needs to hear that.
You’ve sized up your grief of what was lost, what should be, or what will never be, and felt the sharp pangs of this fallen world. You’ve avoided playing a thanksgiving song because it won’t sound the same as before. But by doing so, you’re withholding one of the most precious tunes the world has ever heard—the tune of Glory.
Thanksgiving doesn’t devour your sorrow, but it acknowledges the Glory that will.
The thanks be to Him who says our sorrows will be worth it.
The giving of our souls to say that, even if our earthly hopes have been deferred, our eternal hope will never be lost.
When you think you’ll never again be able to sing a song of thanksgiving, try it anyway. Our hearts may not be comfortable praising tragedy, loss, or bad days, but our hearts were created to praise the Hope of Glory.
Allow Him to work in your sorrow, friends. Even—and especially—if it’s muted.

Kaitlin Wernet is a Carolina girl who now plants her feet in Tennessee as the Community Coordinator for She Reads Truth. Each day, she excitedly celebrates grace with her SRT sisters while attempting to tame her curly hair and avoid parallel parking.

A Whole Lotta ……

…… Nothin’.

That’s what’s been going on around here.
Well, except for binge watching a few TV series. And while I enjoy Kerry Washington, I can tell you that continuous watching of Olivia Pope reveals a limited range of emotions. She seems to have three: somewhat happy, very ticked off, and very, very bossy.
I like her clothes but I’m getting awfully bored of winter white.

Anyway, the reason that my life has sunk to such a boring low as to critique a tv show character, is that I have spent the last 19 days in a lot of pain. When I went to the doctor on Friday (because isn’t it ALWAYS on a Friday?!), I thought that it had only been 10 days. I was wrong.
I left out an entire week.
Which shows you what pain tends to do to someone after several days.
Or maybe just to me.

It started on my right side, above my hip, just below my waist (or where a waist would be if I had one) and more to the back side. My right “flank”, I discovered, when I decided to google it after several days.
Yeah, like a mare.
Wonderful.

I thought that maybe I had over done it at my last barre class in NY, because it started bothering me while I was sleeping that night.
I didn’t have a point of injury, nor felt any pain as if something had happened, so I’m still not too sure where this came from.

I saw an orthopedic on Thursday and he diagnosed it as sciatica, which wasn’t a huge surprise to me, although I’ve never experienced anything like this. The pain moves every day to a different location on my right side. One day it’s below my waist. The next it’s low on my front right side. Then it’s down at the top of my back thigh. Which makes sitting down very, very painful.
As well as walking, lying down, and standing.
Walking up stairs is right out.

The dr. prescribed some steroids and anti-inflammatories. That first evening I started feeling relief and was very hopeful.
But the next morning (yesterday) the pain was back just as bad as the day before and it never really let up.
Ditto today.

This should make grocery shopping for Thanksgiving dinner very, very interesting tomorrow.
Maybe I’ll just ride one of those scooters and make 15 trips in and out of the store with that little basket.
If you see me out, please refrain from laughing too hard.

In other news, when you’re a puppy that weighs only 2 lbs …… the vet has to do things a wee bit differently:
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See that box behind her? It contains mosquito/heart worm prevention meds.
For kittens.
Talk about a sock to the ego!
Not that I’ve told Gracie that. I’m going to spare her that humiliation.

She is still so cute that I’m truly worried about diabetes.
But you can judge that for yourself from the above picture and this one:
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She and Son #2’s kitten are slowly becoming friends. But interestingly enough, watching them interact is kind of like watching “Groundhog Day”. They start off each morning fighting and chasing and bopping each other.
Well, the kitten does the bopping. Gracie just runs like the wind and barks.
But by the time evening comes, they’re sitting next to each other and following each other around the room.
And then they go to bed.
And we start all over again.

It’s a lot more entertaining than “90 Day Fiancee”, or “Naked and Afraid”.
Not that I know that personally.

Pain can take you to some really low places.

OK, enough.
I’m now returning to my current binge:
Benedict Cumberbatch.
In “Sherlock”.

I’m only 2 episodes in but I’m finding him thoroughly enjoyable.
Hopefully he won’t pull a Kerry Washington on me.
There’s only so much winter white a person can stand.

I Know It’s Hard to Believe ……

…… but this little monster has gained a HUGE 9 ounces since I got her!!!
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She went to the vet today to get her second set of shots and a check up. She’s doing great, if you don’t count the fact that she has a hernia that will have to be repaired.
I’m starting to doubt the professionalism of the “breeder”.

The positive thing is that we can fix that when we spay her at 5 months.
And when I say “we”, I mean the vet. While I feel that I could comfortably deliver a baby at any point in time, I do not have the skills to remove anything else from a body.
I’m using the royal we.
I don’t know why.

I have spent the better part of today putting together a Thanksgiving menu for our family of …… let me count …… ummmmmm, me, five of my kids, my parents, Daughter #3’s boyfriend (I know!), my brother and his two daughters and hopefully my sister in law.
What does that give us? 13?
Yeah, 13. Hopefully not the unlucky number most people pin on it.

So yeah, recipes. Yawn.
I think I’m pretty much sticking with anything Pioneer Woman makes.
Heart-clogging, creamy deliciousness.
For one day a year.

Except for the turkey.
For that main even I’m using a brine recipe that I saw on the Steve Harvey show.
Do NOT judge my tv viewing. I think that guy is a no-nonsense parent, a terrific husband who puts his wife first, and he says what he thinks and lets the chips fall where they may.
Having said that, I’m not a regular viewer, but the TV was on one day last week and when I walked into the room he had a guy on there fixing a turkey using Dadgum That’s Good Brine.
And that’s pretty much when I knew what I was doing to our turkey.
Bam!

After I found all of the recipes I wanted, made up a shopping list for everything (Oh. My. Word.),
took a shower, and got ready to leave for the grocery store …… I got to the garage and then thought better of it. I want the fresh stuff that I have to purchase to be fresh next Wednesday, so I decided to put the shopping trip off until Monday.
This may have been a terrible judgement call.
We shall see.

Speaking of taking a shower …… I happen to have a walk-in shower. Which means that there’s no door.
I have no problem with that and in fact, I happen to enjoy having one less glass door/shower curtain to clean.
But today, for the first time since I got her, Gracie showed what it’s like to have such a teensy brain.
She always follows me around. Always. And everywhere. It’s like having a two year old again, when you couldn’t even go to the bathroom without tiny fingers being stuck under the door and the wailing of the dying going on because of the 60-second separation.

Now, she usually just sits in the bathroom and waits on me to come out of the shower, but evidently she was feeling extra needy today because she just walked right into the shower. And I have to tell you that she’s not a water-lover. If she’s ever gotten close to the water in the shower, she’s backed off quickly.
But not today.
She marched right in, whining the whole time.
Do you know how difficult it is to take a shower while a tiny, 2 pound, 9 ounce, fur ball is circling your feet?
I’m totally going to have to get one of those necklaces so that I can call someone and say, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.”
She’s going to kill me.

On the bright side, it was a terrific way to get her bathed and now she smells just as wonderful as I do.
:)

I tackled another project today, and I must say that I think I did a great job:
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Yep, I put that together. Plus the glider ottoman that goes with it.
It’s going upstairs in the guest room, which will soon contain a white crib.
It had a white crib in it when I got home on Monday. Son #2 had put it together, but some of the slats had been pretty damaged in transit, so I took it apart, boxed it back up and hauled it downstairs for the UPS guy to pick up, which he did this morning.
I think the replacement crib will arrive Friday, so we’ll start all over.

Now you need to know that this crib (and various other baby stuff I got) is not just because of Little Bit.
It’s for any and all future Little Bits. Or Medium Bits.
The room looks really great, so I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time Son #3 comes home and lights into me for putting that stuff in “his” room.
And “light into me” is putting it mildly.

Oh well.
Such is the curse of a horrible mother.

OK, so I have a question. How big of a turkey should I get for 13 people? I’d appreciate any turkey advice you can give.
Most of the other dishes can be made the day before, which is exactly what I plan to do.

It is now time to rustle something up for dinner (See? I’m already sounding like the Pioneer Woman!).

Take it easy, Peeps, and if you have any terrific suggestions for Thanksgiving meals, bring ‘em on!
:)