Monthly Archives: December 2015

Another Christmas ……

…… has come and gone.
And even though it was our 9th one without Jim, we had a great time.
I feel so blessed to have had 5 out of 6 of the kids here. Daughter #3 and her fiancé were in Ohio, celebrating with his family. They were definitely missed, but I know that they had a wonderful time up there. I’m thankful that she’ll soon be joining such a loving, accepting and fun family. And I do mean soon. The wedding is a little over 2 months away!

It was great to have Daughter #1 and her lovely partner here. It was her first (and maybe last?) time to see my Texas home.
Daughter #2 and Little Man have been here since Monday night. They arrived about 30 minutes after I got in from NY. Little Man has been a blast to have around. It’s so wonderful to see Christmas through a child’s eyes. Even a 15 month old!
The three of us went to church on Christmas Eve. It was nice to see so many friends that I’ve missed for a long time. And Little Man did very well during the service. At one point we had to make sure that we kept a steady stream of Cheerios going into his mouth, but it was all good. 🙂

Son #1 came in from Dallas on Wednesday and Son #2 came in from Austin on Thursday.
The kids took turns cooking wonderful meals and everyone helped out with the clean ups.
They all have made me feel very blessed.
And Mom and D joined us Christmas Day!

We mostly hung around the house, watched Christmas movies and just spent time together.
Oh, and we’ve also spent time with the three dogs that are here: Gracie, Daughter #2’s dog, R.G. (named after Robert Griffin III … you know … Baylor), and Son #3’s brand new dog that he adopted from a humane shelter in Oklahoma … Xander. He’s a very sweet, large dog.
I have to admit that I was less than thrilled to find out we’d have three dogs here, but they’ve really done pretty well.
If you don’t count the destroyed carpet upstairs in one area.
I guess it could’ve been worse.

Son #2 left this morning and Daughter #1 left tonight. Son #1 leaves tomorrow and Son #3 heads back on Wednesday.
Thankfully, Daughter #2 and Little Man are staying here until Saturday or Sunday. It’s really been wonderful to be able to spend so much time with him.

Yesterday most of us went rock climbing. And yes, I’m proud to say that I joined in.
In fact, see this wall?


I totally crushed it!! And two others!
I think I surprised the kids.
I’m not a fan of heights, so I just didn’t bother to look down.
I just kept going up.
It was quite a workout!
I thought I’d be horribly sore today but I’m not. My body doesn’t feel like it’s been rock climbing.
Maybe it’ll hit me tomorrow. 🙂

Gracie Lou has had fun with the other two dogs. They are all wearing each other out. I think she’s really going to miss them when they all leave.

I hope that you all had a blessed Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year.  May 2016 be better than 2015 for so many of you who are missing your special person.
Thank you for being a part of my life …… even if I don’t know that you are. 🙂

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Eight ……

…… excruciatingly long years that seemed to have flown by in a heartbeat.
I know that most of you get that.

How is it possible?
How is it that Daughter #1 went to, and graduated from, school for her Masters degree?

How is that Daughter #2 worked for a year and then did the same thing?
How is that she’s been a foster mom to the most precious baby boy for over a year now? And she has her own home?

How is it that Daughter #3 has worked in Texas and New York while getting her Masters? How can it be that she’s engaged to be married in less than 3 months?

How is it that Son #1 graduated from high school and college and has a wonderful job and life in Dallas?

How is it that Son #2 survived his teen years, graduated from high school, went to barber school and now lives in Austin where he loves his job and his life?

And how is it that Son #3 made it through middle school, high school and is now in his third year of college at our favorite school, Oklahoma State? How is it that I’ve attended at least three Homecomings there?
At that place where we met.
And fell in love.

How in the hell is it that this all happened without him?

Eight years ago …… this day …… I thought that my life came crashing to an end.
And in a sense, it did.
That life died with Jim, just as part of me died with him.

I have missed that man every second of these past 8 years.
I have cherished our memories, our children and our blessing of being best friends, as well as husband and wife, these past 8 years.
I have loved him with all of my heart these past 8 years.
That won’t stop.
No matter how many years go by.

That doesn’t mean there’s not room in my heart for more love.
Fortunately, hearts grow bigger.
If you don’t believe that you’ve never had more than one child. 🙂

Now eight years later …… here I am …… still alive.
Not only alive, but thriving.

The “before me” would never have believed that I would make it this far.
The me that was left behind 8 years ago would never have dreamed this would be my life now. That me didn’t …… no,couldn’t …… see a future for herself at all. She saw nothing but cold, inky darkness.
For what felt like a very long time.

Eight years later, the blackness is gone.
Most of the time.
Every once in a while a rogue wave roars over me, knocking me to my knees.
But not down.
And definitely not out.

In that way, I don’t think I’m so very different from any other human.
In spite of being blessed, there are still times of grief.
There are times when that night eight years ago comes charging into me. And it feels like I’m right back in that hospital room.
Saying goodbye without knowing it was really goodbye.
I hate being back in that room.

Thankfully that doesn’t happen very often.
Mostly just once a year or so.
Usually around this date.
Around this day.

Eight years.
It’s amazing.
And horrible.
All at the same time.

Eight years.
Eight years of bad.
Eight years of good.
Eight years of growing, loving, learning and finding joy again.
Eight years of knowing that God never left my side.
Even during the times I couldn’t feel him.
Probably especially during those times.
Eight years of grief.
Eight years of blessings.

A lot can happen in eight years.
And though I couldn’t even think this 8 years ago ……

I’m looking forward to what the next eight hold.

What a Difference ……

…… a week makes.
The above picture pretty much says it all about last week.
Thankfully, that was last week. Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers.  I’m feeling 100% better.

Here are some pictures from this past week:

This isn’t a very good picture, but it’s a sight I love to view …. my Christmas tree at night. So peaceful.  And such good memories of sitting with Jim in the peace and quiet and enjoying a similar view.

This was a store in Greenwich, CT.  Yeah.  Pink Chicken.  It’s a children’s clothing store.  If you can explain this to me you’re much smarter than I am.  Or maybe just more worldly.

This is Kathleen Turner.  I met her last night at a small reception before a radio program which was the 6th annual reading of “A Christmas Carol”.  She was Scrooge.
In the program, not in real life.  She was very nice and very friendly.  She spent some time chatting with us.  Pretty cool, huh?

This is part of the cast of the program.  The man on the far right is the sound effects guy for “A Prairie Home Companion”.  It was fun to watch him work. (If you want to watch this, or listen to it, you can find info about it here.)

This was the scene on my way home after the program.  Not exactly the sight you want to see while waiting for the subway.  I have no idea what they were doing, but after waiting for about 20 minutes and noting that they didn’t seem to be any closer to accomplishing whatever it was they were trying to accomplish, I opted for a different subway.

I took these pictures tonight after I got these puppy Christmas sweaters.  I’d love to tell you that Gracie enjoys being a fashionista, but she does not.  If you could see her eyes clearly you’d be able to see the shame and blame pouring out of them.  If she could speak I know she’d say, “Why do you hate me?”
But …… as a mother of 6 …… I’m ok with that.  If I didn’t embarrass at least one of my kids once a week then I wasn’t doing my job.  She is now a sort of replacement child so she has to suck it up.

So yeah, this week has been going better than the last.  The only negative thing is …… my friend Jeni is now holed up in her apartment with a cold.  She probably got it from me after the drive to and from Greenwich, although I felt pretty good that day and didn’t have a fever. But I feel guilty.
See the price you pay for being my friend?  I’m a cross to bear.                                                       But I’m fun.  🙂

This week brought my last BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) class of the year and my last ASL 2 (American Sign Language) class.  Both will start back up after the new year (well, it’ll be ASL 3).  I’m enjoying and learning a lot from both.  We’re studying the book of Revelation in BSF.  It’s starting to get deep and of course more and more interesting.  I love being involved in a Bible study with so many different women of different backgrounds, churches, perspectives, races, ethnicities and ages.  It’s been a great study.

OK, I just saw a news item that declared that using punctuation when text messaging “shows insincerity and annoyance”.                                                                                                         Ummmmm …… what the what?!  I thought it just showed intelligence and a correct use of grammar.  Who the heck did they poll for this?  You can bet your bippy it wasn’t anyone over the age of 40.  And yes, I just aged myself royally by using the word bippy.

Before I close I’ll leave you with a question.  As you know by now I never get political on my blog(s), but I don’t really think this is really a political question.   Yet I feel that it must be asked……                                                                                                                                                   Does anyone else suspect that his real name is Donald “Adolph” Trump?

So Much Can Happen ……

…… in only one day.

My wonderful friend and sister, Jeni, planned for us to go out for lunch today. And when I say “out”, I mean out.
We drove to Connecticut. Greenwich, that is. And it was lovely.
We both needed to get some fresh air …… and to give words to the feelings we’ve been feeling.
It was lovely. And therapeutic for both of us. Which goes to prove that friends don’t have to be widowed in order to understand feelings of grief, of feeling overwhelmed …… of wanting to throw in the towel.

I’d never been to Greenwich before. I think I can check it off of my list (even if it wasn’t ever on my list). We did have a delicious lunch. Then we walked around a bit in the downtown area.
I think we had the most fun at a store where the sales person/manager/owner/whoever thought she was all that and a bag of chips.
Jeni was admiring some cool glass items that looked more like bud vases than what they were …… champagne flutes. They really were neat. I thought about getting them for a few minutes because they were so different. They were really just glass tubes, all etched with different designs.
The moment that I decided to not buy them was when I heard Jeni asking the above mentioned person if they could be used as a vase (pronounced vase, with a long a and an s. Like face, but with a v.)
The woman replied, “Yes, I’ve used one as a vaz.” (Pronounced vahz, only with one’s nose up in the air so that one can look down upon the person to whom one is speaking.)
My purchase plans immediately flew out the window.
And of course I had to sidle up next to Jeni and join her in pronouncing words in the least hoity toity way possible. It was now a case of Houston vs Greenwich. And Greenwich lost this day.

What a crack up. And what a snob.
I will refrain from judging the whole of Greenwich based upon this one woman, but she’s the reason I feel I can check it off of my list.
Oh well. There are many, many places in this area that need visiting. Too many to make return visits to most.
Especially if I have to say “Vahz, dahling.”
No, I doubt that I’d ever have to say that there again, but you get the point.

While we were driving about I received an email from a new friend (thanks to Jeni) who asked if I wanted to go see a “Downton Abbey” event tonight. It was a viewing of the first show of the 6th, and last, season, plus a Q&A session with the cast.
Did I?! You bet!!

See why I love this city? You never know what, or who, is around the corner. And if you’re flexible enough …… you’re bound to have some great experiences.

Tonight was one of those experiences. It was fun and cool and great. I loved the first episode, though it ended far too soon for me. And the Q&A was a lot of fun.

But the best part of the night? I made a new friend. And tomorrow we’re going to see NPR’s traditional reading of “A Christmas Carol” with Kathleen Turner as one of the main readers.

So yay for getting out. And yay for new friends.

My insurance problem has been solved. I had to compromise, so I’m not thrilled with the result, but it’s better than it was two days ago.
I’m working on the mortgage problem, and keeping my hopes up that it will work out without getting attorneys involved. And nasty words like “foreclosure”. The signs are good at the moment.

I’m enjoying my little tree. Especially at night when I turn all of the lights off, except for the white lights on the tree. Jim and I used to sit together in the dark, after all of the kids were in bed, and enjoy the peace and beauty of the lights on the Christmas tree.
I’m glad that I still can enjoy that.
And the memories it brings.

Gracie managed to do well in our therapy dog class last night, in spite of missing the class before.
I was sweating it for a few minutes, but she pulled through. Whew!
Two more weeks and then one makeup class to graduation.

That’s it for today.
But then, that’s a lot for one day, right?
Hopefully you’re all satisfied and as ready for bed as I am.
I’ll give you some pictures just to make it even better.

Now go to bed.
You need your rest.

In the Spirit of Getting Un-Slumped ……

…… I made myself go out today.
And buy a Christmas tree.
And decorate it.
Which didn’t take all that long since it’s the smallest Christmas tree I’ve ever had.

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I also set out a few decorations around the apartment.  I only have enough to fill one box so that also didn’t take very long.

Gracie didn’t know what to think about this activity.


I hadn’t planned on decorating this year since I won’t be here in NY for Christmas.  But today I decided that maybe I should.  Maybe it would help.  And for the most part, it did.  The only downer was …… as I was decorating the tree and listening to Christmas music …… a song called, “One More Sleep” came on.  I’d never heard it before but I can tell you now that I have …… I hate it.  You can find the lyrics here.

But the tree is up and though it’s small, I’m thinking that from the outside it looks like a full-sized tree.  🙂

I still have the same problems that I had yesterday, and the same thoughts.  But I also know how very much God has blessed me.  I’m always aware of that, even in the midst of the pit, but some days I, like everyone else I know (widowed or not), don’t have the energy to fight the waves that come at me.  Especially when I’m sick.  Especially in December.

Thank you to everyone for your love, encouragement and support.  Sometimes I think I should just write out my feelings to get them out, and then delete them so that no one worries about me.  But I think that deleting them would be a disservice to others who grieve.  As much as my words help them to know they’re not alone, your words tell me that neither am I.  And I love you for that.

Now I have to finish watching “The Santa Clause”, keep trying to talk to a real person about insurance (ha!), drink some Robitussin so that I don’t hack up a lung, and then wrap Gracie up in her sling and go to our therapy dog class.  We had to miss a class over Thanksgiving but hopefully she’s still on track.
I’d hate to have to spend time in detention.

Even though I did find her in my bed last night like this:




I Love to Be Happy ……

…… I want to be happy. I know that happiness is temporary. It comes and goes. Especially if you seek it from outside yourself.

I know all of that.
And most of the time …… now eight (8) years later (and only those who have grieved such a loss can understand the obscenity of that number) I am more happy than not.

More than that, most of the time …… now 8 years later, I have joy.
But every once in a while, sometimes when I least expect it …… sometimes when I do …… something flips the breaker and happiness and joy are suddenly gone.

I used to love this time of the year. It was my favorite season, my favorite holiday.
And now, for obvious reasons, it mostly isn’t.

But there are other reasons, too. It’s not just Jim’s death, though had he not died, I’m sure I’d still be labeling this my favorite.

One would think that December 18th would be enough to have to bear.
Wouldn’t one?
But this time of year also brings things like property tax bills, which for some unexplained reason seem to almost double every year. Unfortunately, I have the “gift” of owning more than one house. Trust me, when there’s only one of you left …… it’s not a gift.

I sold our family home this past summer. And because I felt it was the best and kindest thing to do, I carried the note.
I wish I hadn’t. It’s been nothing but a headache since and the thought of this continuing into the future makes me want to either scream or jump out of the nearest window.

And then there’s health insurance. One would think that’s an easy enough item to take care of. One would be wrong.
Because I had to turn to Obamacare after Jim died (I had a pre-existing condition), I am now stuck in the government healthcare trap. And for some reason, it’s very, very difficult to escape.
My healthcare has changed drastically for this coming year, and I have to either swallow it down and accept it, no matter how much I hate it (and I do), or I need to go through the many hoops to contact our beloved government and get cancelled through them so that I can go off on my own.
Anyone ever tried to call the government healthcare system in the month of December?
They’re going to screw me over and I’m going to have to end up accepting it.
No matter how much I hate it.

Again, if Jim were alive, this would bother me about as much as a mosquito trapped in my bedroom at night.
But when it’s just you …… and EVERYTHING is just you …… it gets to be overwhelming.
Most days I can see all of this for what it is …… just something to whine about, and yet still be grateful for all that I have.

But then there are the days that sneak up on me, and make me feel that this crap will never end. That life will never again be anything more than just dealing with shit …… all alone.

I know that I’m supposed to be happy.
I know that I’m supposed to have joy.
I know that things could be so much worse.
Believe me …… I know.

But there’s nothing I can do to stop the feelings that come.
That roll over me and threaten to smother me.
I know they won’t.
I know that, in time, I’ll be ok.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there are days when I wish they could smother me.
Days when being smothered sounds easy and peaceful.

I haven’t had one of those days in a long time.
A really long time.
So maybe I’m due.
Or maybe I’m just whining.

It is what it is.
And it feels how it feels.
Today …… maybe just today …… hopefully just today …… the missing of him feels horrible.

He Says It Better ……

…… than I ever could.

(Here’s his web site:

Holidays and Empty Chairs

The holidays are a time for recognizing our profound fullness, of purposefully dwelling on the abundant overflow we find ourselves in and being grateful.

Our houses and our bellies bulge to capacity and we gleefully overindulge in food and friends and laughter. We fill ourselves to bursting with all the things and the people that make life glorious and make the pain bearable.

This is a season where we inventory our lives and readily acknowledge all that is good and sweet and right.

It is about celebrating presence.

But not for you. Not right now.

Though you may indeed have so many reasons to feel fortunate and to give thanks, what this season is now marked by more than anything else—is absence. Surrounded by noise and activity and life, your eyes and your heart can’t help but drift to that quiet space that now remains unoccupied: the cruel vacancy of the empty chair.

You’re not alone, friend. In fact, though they’re supposed to nurture gratitude and deposit peace within us, the holidays have a way of magnifying loss; of in the middle of all the celebration and thanksgiving, reminding us of our incompleteness.

The empty chair is different for everyone, though it is equally intrusive.

For some it is a place of a vigil; the persistent hope of a prodigal returning, of a severed tie to be repaired, of a long overdue reunion to come. It is a place of painful but patient waiting for what is unlikely, yet still possible.

For some the chair is a memorial, the stark reminder of what was and no longer is, of that which never will be again. It is a household headstone where we eulogize and grieve and remember; a face we squint to see, a hand we stretch to hold, a voice we strain to hear.

For some it is a fresh wound; the painful fallout of a brutal battle that we chose or had thrust upon us, one whose aftermath has yielded silence. It is a place of sometimes necessary but still excruciating separation.

This may be the first time the chair has been empty for you, or you may have grown quite accustomed to the subtraction. Either way, it hurts like hell and I wanted you to know that someone sees you and understands.

This would usually be the time when a writer might offer some silver lining stuff to tie everything up in pretty little bow; some closing reminders about how the empty chair is still a blessing because it reminds us that we had something worth grieving over to begin with. It’s the place where he or she would offer some concluding encouragement regarding the lessons the empty chair teaches us: about living in the moment and being thankful for what we have and growing through suffering.

I’m not going to do that. You’ll learn those lessons and acquire that wisdom and find that healing in your way and in your time—or you won’t. Life is unpredictable and messy that way.

Right now, I just want you to know that I see your waiting, your grief, and your pain, and that I wait and grieve and suffer too. In that way we all sit together in this, gathered around this same table.

Maybe that is all we can offer one another; our compassionate presence in this terrible absence.

In this season, each of us learns to have fellowship with sadness, to celebrate accompanied by sorrow.

May we each make peace with the holidays and the empty chairs.