Friday, June 30, 2017

We Finally moved...

This is your catch up as lots of changes have taken place since my last post in 2016.  Seems like "change" has been the theme song of all of this.  About the only thing that hasn't changed is my frame of mind.

We have moved from what was our home of 23 years to our supposed to be a down-sized, home to retire in.  So my version of down-sizing is going from three bedrooms and two and a half baths to four bedrooms and three full baths and I know that doesn't sound like down-sizing.  But actually the square footage is about the same. It is not any bigger and actually seems smaller and it is all under one roof.  We went from 26 acres to less than 1 acre --so it really is.

Actually that took place a full year ago now.  We left the area and moved 102 miles from our previous home.  We left my daughter and son in law and all of her boys which does not seem like the smartest thing I've ever done but in a way I did it "for" her.  I was getting so clingy until I was sucking up her life.  She wanted to stop wallowing in all of this. She got a new puppy to fill a hole in her heart and that gave her something to focus on besides tragedy.  She somehow convinced herself to just let go of wondering what happened and go with what she had.  She was tired of crying and being depressed and she wanted to get back to life.  And she's young and I absolutely wanted her to do that.  I would want nothing less for her.  That of course is what I want for me too.  It just has not come.  But i felt like if  we continued to stay close to her - I would keep her pulled into my drama and prevent her from moving forward.

And...we needed a fresh start.  We needed to be somewhere where everything was new and different so that it was clearly apparent that nothing was the same so that I might stop expecting it to be the same.  So I could stop seeing Brian everywhere and waiting for Paxton to come through the door.

I needed a change in my church although that was scary and I really didn't think we would ever have a chance of becoming comfortable anywhere else at this age and with this hanging over us.  But I needed fresh spiritual blood in my veins.  I had been disappointed in the lack of spiritual support during my faith crisis and that was not helping my attitude any.

We moved what seemed the equivalent of "halfway" between my two existing children.  Although my son actually lives in NC and my daughter in NW Georgia and we are in NE Georgia it constituted "halfway" because we are twenty miles from each of his two daughters.  He will regularly come to visit them.  And he said he would never come to our old house again after the funeral and going on three years later - he never has.  So we tried to make it easier on him to come visit and actually easier than it would have been had we actually been halfway.  However, to be honest he doesn't come here either.  He is another casualty of all of this.

We are now seventeen miles from my best friend Kathie as opposed to 85 miles.  For the first time in over 30 years we can see each other more than twice a year.  She came to our house in the summer, we went to hers for New Year's Eve.

In our old home I really had no close friends.  I had good neighbors and I had church family but not real intimate friends with history and longtime loyalty.  And Kathie has kept me out of the closet. She has refused to let me go and live in the darkness.  She helped me decorate the new home or I would still be living out of boxes and not caring one bit.  She helped me purge some of the mountains of stuff we ended up moving with us  She made me put up a Christmas Tree --at least a little one. She drags me shopping and the four of us have a standing almost weekly dinner date.  She has helped me transition to the area by recommending doctors, restaurants, shopping etc. and has made this a lot easier than I ever expected it to be.

Here, we are 35 miles closer to my sister as well and though that isn't close it is half as far as we were.  She is doing okay - not good but it is a day by day thing and still at times I need to take her to the clinic and this allows us to see much more of each other.  We can meet for dinner halfway which helps too.

And as I said, I'm now 20 miles from my two granddaughters that I seldom got to see and now I'm getting to catch up and be a part of their lives.

I am still fifty miles from work but I'm no worse off and maybe a little better in that it is all interstate and my commute though bad, is not as long time-wise.  And after being here a year - I wonder why this wasn't the obvious choice for us all along.  Only because of leaving my daughter and my church did we not consider it for so long.

So there actually was a method to the madness.  And hopefully someday that property will sell and we will be out from under all that upkeep. 

Probably the biggest advantage to moving here though was that we are anonymous.  No one turns all the way around in their chair and stares when we walk in a restaurant or the post office or the bank.  No one pins us down and asks us uncomfortable questions.  No one refuses to work for us.  Still not sure how we will build an intimate close relationship with the members of the new church we've chosen and keep such a huge secret but for now anonymous feels pretty good; almost normal. 

It just sort of seems like a huge deception and we haven't yet worked out all the kinks of whether we will or whether we won't ever tell them.  I tend toward wanting to "rip the Band-Aid off" and just go ahead and see if they are who they say they are but Donald does not.  He is happy there and doesn't want to rock the boat and take the chance.  So until we are on the same page and prepared to take whatever outcome we get - we are just enjoying the small semblance of normalcy in their not-knowing.  I realize it is a trust issue but I don't think I could take it if they turned their backs and started judging us or looked at us differently or started shying away from us.  So for now - we've chosen to maintain the anonymity and deal with the guilt of the church no less!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Never-Ending Sadness

I have absolutely got to get better than this.  It is going on three years now and the depression is alive and well.  There has yet to be a day that I don't think of them most of the day.  The pain is not as sharp and it doesn't feel like I am drowning to the point of being unable to breathe but I cannot seem to care about anything still. 

I wrote this short poem in 1986.

Still I cry.
Someday I will stop.
Unable to feel,
Joy or pain.

And that about sums it up.  I am terrified that that will be my truth and my future.  When I do stop crying and no longer feel pain it will be because all "feeling" has ceased. 

There are days now when I don't cry.  Whole chunks of time that I go without crying but it still doesn't feel like living either.  There is no enjoyment of the things I used to love.  Nothing to look forward to.  Nothing that makes my heart glad.

We always planned to travel once we retired and did some before we retired.  I have no desire to travel.  When we do go somewhere all I can think of is getting back home.  I don't enjoy anything about being on vacation anymore.  I try.  And I go because Donald wants to and it isn't fair to him but I really never want to go and just want to get back home.  I planned a week of vacation back in May.  I decided to take Donald to Charlotte to the AllStar Race and the NASCAR hall of fame and Hendrick Motor Sports Complex.  Figured I may as well do a vacation for him since I wasn't going to enjoy it anyway.  I had planned afterward to maybe go to Asheville and to the Gem mines as I always loved rocks and thought I might enjoy that.  We went to the race, to NASCAR museum and to Hendrick MS and turned right around and came straight home.  Three days.  Basically a long weekend and we were home by Monday evening and the rest of the week was spent in the house doing nothing.  A week's vacation wasted.

I had a moment of enthusiasm a couple of months ago when I decided we'd create a memory garden for the three of them.  We had no graves to go to.  We had no stone with a record of their lives.  We never saw them and we were not even able to attend the memorial service for Kara or Paxton and it had about drove me crazy.  So a memory garden sounded like a good workable solution to the feeling of incompleteness.  Then --it got complicated.  I lost interest when it wouldn't get finished.  I do think it helped Donald to do it though.  He seemed to be going at it like a madman working tirelessly laying stone retainer walls, hauling in fill dirt, top soil and sand.  He was really dedicated to it - for a while.  But like I said it got complicated.  More complicated than it needed to be and now it sits.  He had surgery.  It rained for a month.  Flooded the garden and washed the sand under the fence and there is no sunshine for the flowers.  And I'm not sure it will ever get finished.  So instead of making me feel better, it now makes me feel worse. It feels like I quit on them and it looks sad and neglected now.

"This" is why I stopped writing for almost a year.  Well that and the fact that I've lost interest in writing too.  I don't even recognize the person that I am today.  I'm 30 pounds heavier and cannot seem to get up off the sofa.  I feel like I'm committing suicide the slow way - eating myself into a heart attack.

It just sounds like a pity-party and all I do is whine.  I'm sick of it myself and I know everyone else surely is.  I am going backwards and I don't know how to stop it.  I don't think of dying every minute like I did - but I still think about it a lot and since that had gotten better and now it is back - that is disturbing.

I have no one to talk to about all of this.  And I finally decided that perhaps the blog was keeping me alive.  Maybe it was my friend, my solace, my confidant.  Maybe it was helping me more than I ever realized.  Maybe I can just sit down and write something.  Not something edifying.  Not something inspirational.  Not something helpful to anyone.  Just something.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dear Brian

June 19, 2017

Dear Brian,

I just got through reading your Journal to Paxton yet again.  It breaks my heart just as much two years and ten months later as it did that first week when we found it.  Still what a Divine Gift that was.

As I read back over it the words you leave to Paxton are like knives to my heart as you say things like you are writing these things down so that Paxton can come back and read at any time the things that you had to share with him; the musings and life advice. With every line I read I hear a man that adores his wife and child; plans on the baby growing up someday and reading this and knowing how much he mattered to his parents.  I hear a man that sounds as if he plans to continue writing this for years to come.  Every line stabs at me as I read how much Kara wanted a baby, what a good mother she was, how happy you all were, how hard you worked on your house, how proud you were of it, how smart Paxton was and how you wanted to give him a general idea of what life was like when he was born, what he was like at each stage of his growth and a record of each of his little milestones.  You wanted to tell him how you met his mother, how much you loved his mother and how much the two of you loved and wanted him. 

As I read it in retrospect I want to scream – “He will never read these words.  He will never know your love or your intention.  He will never need your advice.  He is two and a half – and he will never be three!”  I want to protest and stop time where you are on these pages and never let August 23rd 2014 come.  Just to see the year 2014 written out makes me turn literally sick.  As I read the dates you mention in these pages my heart pays careful attention. It is November 2011 as you begin you are 38 years old – I pause and count up the time you have left on that date.  You go back in time now to the date you and Kara met – February 6, 2009 my heart lightens as I remember how happy you were at finding her and I remember exactly when you broke the news to me and your dad that you had asked her to marry you only days later.  I remember distinctly looking straight at her and asking “Are you crazy?”  You were not amused.  But you looked at me and said: “I know what you’re thinking and yes, she knows I’m in debt and that Alex has been in trouble and I know how crazy this sounds Mom, but I let her get away one time and I am just not going to make that mistake again.”  You mention your wedding date July 11, 2009 and my mind flits back to the events of that day.  I typed up your vows that you were to read to each other.  Hers were silly and falling right in line with the goof- ball you had portrayed to her.  Yours would melt my heart.  I thought that day – how yours and hers were going to be so vastly different and how yours would surprise her – but they would not surprise me.  I knew how serious you really were about this and what this marriage meant to you.  And while it was true that you certainly had a silly side and were constantly joking and cutting up – I knew what she did not, that most of the time it was a smoke screen to hide years of hurt and heartache not only from those you were with but from yourself.  It was a light-hearted attempt to detract from the tragic life of hurt that had plagued you for years. Intended to make you laugh and forget.

January 26, 2013 – I read and quickly calculate that you have one year and seven months to live.  You mention to Paxton that he was born on December 10, 2011 – I go back…to the hospital the night of his birth, Kara is in labor, you are a basket case.  You cover it trying to fidget with the medical items in the room like a 12-year old boy and you pace.  They take her down for an emergency C-section and I quickly assess the panic that crosses your face for just a split second before you hug Kara and tell her everything will be okay. 

You tell Paxton then that you moved into your new hour in February of 2012 and I remember the pride and excitement you both had at having a home that you made your own with the blood, sweat and tears of weeks of intense hard work as you both side by side patched a thousand holes, hung doors, replaced plumbing fixtures, painted over bright red enamel paint that spanned the 20-foot cathedral ceiling, I remembered feeling so proud of both of you but maybe especially Kara – at her age – digging in and working night and day beside you to lay custom tile in the kitchen, put in new countertops, hang and stain new cabinets.  She was learning as she went and never complained but actually seemed to enjoy it and she actually saw the beauty in the two of you doing this together.  I was amazed.

Your next entry is December 2, 2013 – My breath catches and my heart skips a beat as you inch closer and closer to the date. You mention Paxton is about to turn two.  It is 8 days from his birthday – his last birthday.  You say it is creeping up on Christmas –the last Christmas; the last Christmas you will ever see; the last Christmas I will ever enjoy.  December 2013 was our last Christmas with our complete family; my last Christmas with the baby;  Kara’s last Christmas and the last Christmas her family will ever enjoy.  Then I remember two events from that Christmas – the baby yelling out “NANA, I MISSED YOU!” when I never heard him put two words together.  And then I remember what I said when everyone left that day.  As the last one got in their car to leave I turned to your dad and I said, “I will never do this again.”  I had my feelings really hurt because I had worked for weeks to decorate and plan, cook, shop and wrap for Christmas and everyone stayed about 45 minutes and ran out the door saying you all had plans to go to a movie – I was devastated - movies play 364 other days out of the year.  Christmas comes once a year.  Jamie and Marie had driven over 400 miles and spent 45 minutes with us and ran out the door to go see Skip’s other children.  And after weeks and weeks of planning and days of working - I was alone on Christmas day hurt and angry.  And I said, “I know you think I don’t mean this – but I’m serious I will never do this again.”  And prophetically, I never will.

June 22, 2014 – your last entry.   I realize I am sitting here “accidently” rereading this and writing “this” exactly three days shy of three years since that last entry.  Countdown.  Two months and one day.  You tell Paxton some of the funny stuff he does and what he is like at this age, you mention things you do together and talk about his new puppy.  Then you cut to the chase – you talk to him about God, you tell him again how great his mother is, you relay life lessons about women, marriage and patience.  You tell how much he means to you and you talk sweetly of your special time with him and how much you value that time.  I realize as I read from an almost three year perspective that it sounds like a synopsis of your book of things you want to leave to your child in your absence.  As I realize for the second time that though you thought you were writing this for him – you were in fact under God’s instruction – writing this for all of us. 

I am both sad and extremely thankful.