Author Archives: mysecondplana

Being Quarantined With Children ……

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…… should not be a thing.

It really shouldn’t.
And before you think I’m horrible for saying that, especially since I’m quarantined (read: stuck) with two of my delightful littles …… know that I love them with the fierceness of a thousand suns.
And can be driven up the wall just as fiercely.

I think that if our government would’ve been better prepared for a pandemic (hahahahahaha!) they would’ve thought through this scenario.
Or they should have.

If you’re going to have a pandemic then I think you should have professionals standing by to be stuck (read: quarantined) with young children.
And by professional I mean anyone who signs up.
After a background check, of course. I’m not an idiot.

Now, I’m not talking about babies. I would love to be quarantined with a baby. Especially one of my two new ones (one I’ve yet to see in person …… sigh).
No, I’m talking about any child between the age of 18 months (when the Terrible Twos/Terrific Twos (whatever) usually start and oh, …… 13. This could be stretched to the age of 18 if enough parents sign a petition.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for these two precious (read: precocious) little boys. They make me laugh and they touch my heart on a daily basis.
They also make me very grateful.
Mostly grateful that I don’t have to raise them.
I did my time.
I’m good.

They are wonderful little creatures who can be loving on one another one minute and then trying to see who can throw a toy at the other one the hardest a split second later.
They can be happily engaged in a project, making you stare in wonder at their creativity and intelligence.
Then they can then turn on a dime, screaming that the crayon broke, the Lego wheel fell off or the paper tore, making you stare at them in wonder at their ability to reach decibels you thought only possible on an Air Force jet.

Their ability to switch between calm and rage (and back) amazes me.
One would think you might need to warm up before going from zero to sixty.
Not these guys.
They are professionals.

I realize that they won’t be little for long.
I know that each phase they go through won’t last.
(Even though they feel like forever when you’re in them.)
I know that this time is precious and that I’m blessed to be able to be with them.

And yes, it’s better to be stuck down here than in Covid-19 riddled NYC.
I may think differently tomorrow.
😉

In the Stillness of the Evening ……

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…… memories tend to come back.
Sometimes it’s the memories that you forgot you had.

That happened tonight.
While I was holding my granddaughter (I’d nickname her Granddaughter #1, but since she’s an only that would be silly. I know that you, my wise reader, know full well who she is.)

For the last week and a half (a bit less than that) one of my jobs has been to take her at night so that my daughter and her hubs can get a few hours of sleep. I get her early-ish. Anywhere from 8:00 to 10:00 or so. And then I hold her, rock her, walk her, sway with her, etc. to try to let them sleep as long as possible before her next feeding.
Tonight is my last night.
(Cue tears.)

Her other grandparents come tomorrow evening.
I’ve never had to share grand parenting.
It will be …… different.
I don’t feel negatively about it. I’m thankful that she will have so much love in her life.
But it’s …… just different.

Anyway, they will arrive tomorrow and take over helping out around here.
I will take care of the grandsons tomorrow night and we’ll all be here Sunday for her baptism (which her grandfather has the honor of performing) and then I’ll head back to Waco with Daughter #2 and the boys.

The other grandparents are lovely. I’ve enjoyed being around them the few times we’ve been together.
They raised 3 terrific children and one is the best husband I could ask for my daughter.

And yet …… this short visit will be a bit difficult.
Another feeling that I didn’t foresee.
It came out of nowhere.
Or everywhere, I guess.

There are two of them.
A couple.
They are beyond excited to see her …… their first grandchild.
They get to share this excitement.
With each other.
They get to watch each other hold her and compare her to each other and to their children.
That is a blessing.
I’ll be fine, with a tinge of sadness.

But I digress.

Memories.
In the stillness of the evening.

This one came back to me:

One morning, back when we had only 3 or 4 children (only!), I woke up to find a letter from Jim.
He had stayed up late and wrote it while he watched me sleep (not creepy at all if you don’t over think it.)

It seems that he had listened to a Garth Brooks song that night and it made him do a lot of thinking.
And he wanted to tell me about it.

He wanted to tell me how much he loved me.
He wanted to tell me how much he appreciated me, as a Christian, a wife, a friend and a mother.
He wanted to be certain that I knew all the things.
Without a shadow of a doubt.
In case.

In case tomorrow never comes.
About 17 years before it never came.

That’s the memory that came back tonight.
A blessing …… in the quiet of the evening.

She’s Here ……

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…… and my heart has grown yet again.

She’s tiny (just shy of 6 pounds), beautiful and perfect.
Her birth was easy and relatively quick.

When I first looked into her eyes I felt such joy …… and such sadness …… that it was hard to breathe.
My heart is full and yet it hurts.
A lot.
God, I miss him.

I didn’t expect it to hurt this much.
Which is what grief does best, I suppose.
It sneaks up on you at the worst times.
And the best ones.

He should be here, falling in love with a little girl all over again.
He should be here. For Daughter #3.
And for Granddaughter #1.
But since he’s not …… I’ll have to give her all of the love we both would’ve.
I think I’m up to the task.

They named her James.
There.
Are.
No.
Words.

Her middle name is Eliana.
This is what my daughter posted:
“She is named after her late grandfather (my dad), whose integrity, generosity, and wisdom we hope she inherits. And her middle name means “God has answered”- she is indeed the long-awaited answer to our prayers.”

She is indeed.

A Gift ……

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…… that sure didn’t seem like one.
At the time.
Until it did.

Loneliness is something that a lot of people worry about. And something a lot of widowed people experience.

With the approaching arrival of our first granddaughter, Jim has been on my mind. A lot.
I mean, he’s almost always on my mind, but these days it’s more often. I find myself missing being able to talk to him about this birth and the one in March of our grandson. The missing of him and the missing of being able to share this with him is palpable.

As most of you know, I dated twice after Jim died. Seriously.
Neither worked out (duh). In fact, the second relationship was a disaster and he was the worst person I’ve ever met (though he sure hid that well in the beginning).
But he did leave me with something. Something that I knew, without a doubt, I’d have with me for the rest of my life.
At first I was beyond pissed over this. Then sad. Very sad.
But today? Not so much.
Today I consider it kind of like a gift.

What was it?
The knowledge that I would most likely never date again and that I would never re-marry.

I know, I know. That doesn’t seem like a gift.
But it feels like it now.
Most of the time.

It feels freeing …… to not be dating and to not feel like I’m missing anything.
It feels freeing to not want to date.
It’s difficult to explain this. Because most people want to be in a relationship.
Most people spend a lot of time and energy looking for “their person”.
And I don’t think that’s wrong. Everyone needs to do what’s best for them.
Being single …… being alone …… isn’t for everyone.
Just as being in a relationship …… being married …… isn’t for everyone.

I think this probably seems strange to people because the people who know me, who knew us, know that we had a good marriage.
A very good marriage.
And it would seem that I’d want that again.

I did at first.
And then I didn’t.
Because the one thing that those relationships taught me is this:
It’s much better to be single than to be with the wrong person.
Whether that person is good, or not, doesn’t matter …… if he’s wrong for you.

I guess that’s another part of the “gift”.
I can be happy being single because there are way worse things.
And it taught me that being alone doesn’t always mean being lonely.

It also cemented the knowledge that what I had with Jim is something that many people will never experience.
And that knowledge makes me happy.
(That I had it, not that most people won’t. That makes me sad.)

I think it’s also what makes me not feel lonely while being alone.
The memories, the love, the knowledge …… make me feel content.
And that is a gift, indeed.

So while I do miss him, sometimes more than I can stand …… I know that his love is still with me.
I know that I had something really great.
And I know that’s rare.

I guess a gift is in the eye of the beholder.

Holy moly ……

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…… it’s been a hot minute since I last wrote.

A lot has happened in that minute.
And yes, it’s mostly been hot.

Let’s play catch-up, shall we?

When last we met, it was August. 2019.
We’re now in a new decade.
Time flies.

Back in August I had 6 children, 1 son in law and 2 adorable grandsons, a home for sale in Waco and my apartment in NY.
Today I have 6 children (most likely a firm number as I don’t foresee getting pregnant anytime soon), 1 son in law, 1 daughter in law, 2 adorable grandsons, 1 highly anticipated granddaughter (why does the spelling of that word always look wrong to me?) arriving in two weeks (WHOOP!!) and 1 highly anticipated grandson arriving a few weeks after that (WHOOP!!), a home off of the market in Waco (don’t get me started), my apartment in NY and a studio apartment at my daughter’s new home in Waco.
Whew.
That seems like a lot, even to me.

So yes, Daughter #3 is expecting a beautiful (I’ve seen the ultrasound pics. Trust me, she’s beautiful. Even if her hands were blocking her face in most of them.)
I’m headed back to Texas (my third trip since Christmas) in a little over a week to be on Mom/Gigi duty.
And yes, I’ve been purchasing a fair amount of pink.

Son #2 and his lovely wife are expecting a son in March. I cannot wait. And will be there to help them as much as they’ll let me.
They also just purchased and moved into their first home. Double whoop!

Daughter #2 sold her lovely little Fixer Upper (feel free to take a moment of silence to mourn). Thankfully, Fixer Upper homes are a hot commodity in Waco.
Unfortunately, non Fixer Upper homes are not (okay, you got me started).
And so mine is off the market, for the time being.
It had very little traffic. No one seems to know why. Everyone who saw it (all 7 of them) seemed to love it.
Except.
It was “too big” (like they didn’t know that before they saw it?!).
The back yard is “too small” (see above parenthetical comment).
It needs “updating” (?!).
The HOA rules are “too stringent”.
Yada yada yada.

And so it sits.
With occasional visits from me.
I’m weighing when to put it back on the market and with whom to list it.
I hate home ownership.

Back to Daughter #2’s new home.
It has much more space for them and the backyard is an adventurous child’s dream.
It has a fort and a large wooded area in which to imagine all sorts of adventures and games.
It also has a studio apartment for moi.
This apartment has a tie to Fixer Upper, so there’s that.
When Clint, the carpenter who worked with Joanna (and built the cute desks for D2’s house), started his own show, he did this apartment.
Unfortunately he didn’t do the rest of the house so D2 has spent considerable time (and $) updating it.
It’s been great to be that close to the boys and yet far enough to have some space.

Speaking of the boys …… they continue to be a joy.
Most of the time, because let’s just be honest …… boys.
Grandson #1 is 5 (I know!) and growing like a weed (is that a saying in other parts of the country?).
He and I went on what was supposed to be the start of a tradition in October.
A trip to DisneyWorld when a grandchild turns 5.
And yes, you did catch the words “what was supposed to be”.
I’m getting too old for DisneyWorld.
Or maybe for 5 year olds.
Or maybe for taking 5 year olds to DisneyWorld.
All I know is that he may have killed that dream for the rest of his cousins.
We’ll see. Maybe it’s like labor and you kind of forget about the pain.
Until you’re in it again.

Grandson #2 is changing almost daily. He has gone from speaking toddler to speaking English in only a month or so. At Thanksgiving I still couldn’t understand much of what he said (not that that bothered him …… he just kept repeating the same foreign words, patiently. Like I was a child who would eventually get it if he just stuck with it.) and now we can have full on conversations. In English!
He is hugely funny and has a wicked sense of humor.
He also likes throwing his body down anywhere (a sofa, the floor, the dirt) just to make people laugh.
Daughter #2 needs to buckle her seatbelt for this one.

Everyone else is doing well.
Son #3 is over halfway through law school.
Hallelujah.

I’m going to take a moment to talk with those of you who’ve been with me since Jim died.
In real life or in the other blog:

Can you freakin’ believe it?
After going to hell and back with a couple of my children (you know who they are) …… to now see them happy, healthy and doing well is nothing short of a miracle in my book.
Thank you, Lord.
Seriously.

Gracie Lou is doing well.
She had surgery a couple of weeks ago for bladder stones.
That wasn’t fun.
But she has bounced back and probably feels better than ever now that she’s several stones lighter (see what I did there?).

She and Oliver now get along most of the time. They even play together on occasion. Not as much as she would like but Oliver has to uphold the rules of his species.
Cats. Go figure.

Okay, that’s it for today. I need to get ready to go see a play later today. It’s called “Grand Horizons” and has Jane Alexander (Whoop!) and James Cromwell (Whoop! Hopefully I can resist the urge to yell out, “That’ll do pig. That’ll do.) in it.

I need to squeeze in a lot of things before I leave because I won’t be back to NY until April.
Unless my children get tired of me wanting to hold their babies all of the time.
Then I’ll be back sooner.

Take care and Happy New Year!

Dreams ……

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(photo credit)

…… are just so …… so very weird.

When Jim first died I was disappointed that I didn’t dream about him.  The first dream that I had of him came a few months after he died.  And it was very comforting.
But later dreams were not.

I still have a vivid memory of the first dream that left me reeling.
It was the first dream that I had where he was back and he wasn’t dead.
Actually, he had never died. In that dream.
I had just dreamed that he died. Like when Bobby Ewing spent an entire season being dead on the show “Dallas”, and then on the first show of the next season we found out that his wife, Pam, had just dreamed the entire thing. He never really died.
He was just in the shower.
Yeah. It was stupid then, too.

Anyway, it was the first of many “not dead” dreams. And when I first woke up, I still thought it was real.
And then reality set it …… and knocked the breath out of me.
Again.

So yeah, I’ve had many, MANY “not dead” dreams.
In the first few years they were pleasant. I’d wake up and re-hash them in my mind.
In those dreams, for some odd reason (and always a different one), Jim would just reappear, out of nowhere, and be home. I was always a bit miffed at him for being gone but only for a few seconds. Then I was ecstatic that he was alive.

Over the years those dreams have changed from pleasant to downright disturbing.
He still comes back, but I’m less than thrilled to have him back.
In most of them he left/pretended to be dead because he was with another woman. And he comes back for various reasons.
When I wake up from those dreams it takes me a moment to realize that it’s not real.
And that he’s still dead.
Which, as horrific as this may sound …… is a relief.
It’s a relief to remember that I actually saw his body …… and that he did not cheat on me.
Wickedly disturbing, I know.

A couple of weeks ago I had a dream that really made me think …… about how much has changed.
Jim came back.
Again.
He had left with another woman.
Again.
But he decided, 11 1/2 years later, that he wanted to come back to his “before” life. With me.
In Texas.
Right where he left off.

I was less than thrilled.
I mean, I was happy (sort of) that he was alive but also really upset that he’d left me in the first place. With her.
Whoever she was.

And, I had just moved to NY.
I explained to him that I had moved and that I was happy living in NY.
He said that we could keep the apartment but we’d have to live fulltime in Texas.
Back where we lived 12 years ago.
Where I’m no longer friends with some of the people who used to be quite close.
Where I still have friends but where life has changed.
Where I don’t really want to live again.

Because really, you can’t go back.
Things are never the same.
Nor should they be.
Life moves on.
Even if you don’t.
Or pretend to be dead for 11 1/2 years.

The worst part of the dream was having to move back from NY.
Yep, even worse than the slut he ran away with.
Whoever she was.

I think I woke up soon after that discussion.
And again, it took me a moment to land back in reality.
And remember that I really did see his body.
And that I’m still in NY.

The relief that filled me is hard to describe.
Probably because it sounds terrible to most people.
People who think they’d welcome back their loved one no matter what.
People who haven’t walked this road for almost 12 years.
People who don’t …… can’t …… get it.

I love my life.
I love my home.
I love my city.
And I still will always love Jim.
I will always wish that he never died.
But he did.
And life, and I, have moved forward.

It took me a long time to be here.
I never thought I’d be happy again.
It’s a different happy, but it’s happy nonetheless.
And it’s my happy.
I think I’ll keep it.

And continue to feel relieved when I wake up.

Even When It’s Dark ……

…… there’s sometimes a bit of light.

Or maybe that’s just here in NYC when there’s a blackout. 😉

So yeah, I lived through the blackout of 2019. Of course, it’s easy to live through it if you’re not stuck on a subway train, or an elevator (like some in my building).
It might also help that it only lasted 5 hours. But hey, those were 5 very long, hot and exhausting hours. Especially when you have to climb down and back up 20 flight of stairs.

So yeah, I’m a survivor.
Now I just need to find a t-shirt that says that.

Here are some pics from the aforementioned blackout.

This is me after getting a text from some neighbors about the power outage to the building.  And then another text saying that it was from Midtown to 72nd on the Upper West Side.  I live at 63rd.  At this moment I had just finished a 2 1/2 hour walking tour (wearing the wrong shoes) and was tired, hot, sweaty and 3 1/2 miles from home.  With sore feet.

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I walked a while and then finally found a cab driver who didn’t seem to know about the outage.  Score! Because if he’d known, he never would have agreed to take me “as close to Columbus Circle as you can get”.  He looked at me rather oddly when I said that.  And then I confessed why.  He and I became good friends.  Trauma does that to people, you know.  As do dangerous situations.  We’ll never see each other again but for a while we were best friends, surviving the carnage together.
Too much?

Aaanyway, he got me a little more than halfway there so I gave him a good tip and bade him goodbye.  And headed home.

This is the dark Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle.  Odd to see it dark in the daylight.

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These are the people who had been in said TWC and were now just hanging out, waiting to see what would happen next. You can also see the people congregating in the Cirlce across the street.  It was getting crowded.

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This is the other side of the Circle, where the steps leading down (or up) from the subway are.  A happenin’ place right about then.

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These are the people who had been stuck down there on those trains and in that dark subway station.
I’m glad I was with my good friend, the cab driver.

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These are some of NYC’s finest, keeping dumb people from going down into the dark subway station and trying to tell other dumb people that they have no idea when the power will be back on.  Do their uniforms say “Con Ed”?  I don’t think so.

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This was the sign on the door of West Elm.  I found it amusing.  All of the stores, restaurants, cafes, etc. were closed.  ALL of them. But it was nice of West Elm to sign it.

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This is the view of my building as I was walking up to it.  Notice that some poor souls were already opening windows.  I tried that.  For about 50 seconds.  It was so hot and humid out that I couldn’t take it.  Not to mention the constant, and I DO mean constant like I’ve never heard, sound of the sirens screaming past the building as firemen, police and ambulances rushed to free people from elevators and rescue others who needed electricity for things like oxygen.  You know, survival necessities.

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This is my lobby.  With no light.

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This is the view of Columbus Circle from my apartment, at dusk and with no lights. Well some lights, but very few in buildings.
Did I mention that my apartment is on the 20th floor?  I did?  Well, good.  Because it is.
And that stairwell was very warm.

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Here’s the view of Columbus Circle after dark.  So weird.  Some buildings had generators.  Lucky them.

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This is a dead flashlight, thus proving that its name is a lie. I spent quite a bit of time looking for it, then put fresh batteries in it only to find out that it was going to be of no use to me at all.
Stupid flashlight.
(I now have 2 new flashlights and a lantern sitting on my dining room table, courtesy of an irate shopping spree on Amazon, in the dark.  I’m sure I’ll never have a use for them.)

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This is the candle that I chose to light before I found the perfectly useless flashlight.  I’m not sure if it helped with my stress level, but it smelled good.
It was also hot.

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This is a view of a mostly dark and closed Lincoln Center.  They had all manner of shows going on that night.
For a few minutes anyway.

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These aren’t anything special, just some dark buildings across the street.
Though I bet the people who live in them would be highly offended by that comment.

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And this …… THIS is the email that I received a few minutes before the power came back on and I did a very, very happy dance.
I’d do it again and film it for you but it wouldn’t be the same.  Tragedy turning to joy cannot be successfully re-created.

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This has nothing at all to do with the blackout.  I went on another walking tour the next afternoon (the irony does not escape me that I was tempting fate to do another tour so soon after barely surviving Armageddon the last time I did a tour) and the tour guide pointed this building out.  This happens to be in my hood.  When it’s finished this will be the tallest residential building IN THE WORLD at 151-ish floors. It will be taller than the Freedom Tower with its radio tower thingee on top.
Let me know if you want to buy an apartment in there.  I’m sure I can hook you up.
And I bet we’ll NEVER have another blackout again so you can feel safe living on floor 151. Ish.

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So there you go, the tale of surviving what must have surely been one of THE most dangerous and exciting nights in the history of this city.  If not the world.
I’m just glad that I survived so that I could tell you all about it.

Too much?
Tough.  It’s my blog.
🙂