Monthly Archives: January 2018

Tiny Letters: A Day in Retrospect

Dear Primary Children’s Hospital,

Thank you for having responsive staff and doctors who can handle all the nutty behaviors. When Jack and his entourage enter your doors, we essentially put you through an unwitting, rigorous testing period. Can one’s facility stand up to a nonverbal, frustrated, ear-infected teen with severe developmental delay? Let’s find out!

 

Dear University Behavioral Health Clinic,

Thank you for existing and for being in our corner these last 13 years. My goodness, we would be up a creek without you. Also, paddle-less.

 

Dear Jack,

Thank you for putting your head in my lap today and letting me scratch your scalp and run my fingers through your gingery curls. You’re such a good, brave boy.

 

Dear Jeff,

For installing the new microwave after the old one died when we lived a dark, sad existence for five long days without one, I salute you. You are super handy and wonderful (and lovable) to have around. Same goes for your work with the fireplace mantel. It is magnificent.

 

Dear My New Refrigerator,

I realize I am perhaps TOO happy about your presence in my kitchen. But, New Fridge, I’ve never before in my life owned a brand new fridge that I picked out myself. So you see, MNF, I think you are a thing of beauty and I love you. Putting away the groceries on your shelves yesterday was a gratitude exercise, which may make me a pretty weird-sounding, yet completely honest person.

 

Dear People of Instagram,

Consider yourselves LUCKY and also BLESSED that you were not subjected to photos of a) My New Refrigerator or b) my Costco groceries reposing in loveliness on said fridge’s shelves. The thought of posting them crossed my mind. I squelched it (you’re welcome).

 

Dear Henry,

Watching your basketball game was super fun for me this afternoon.

 

Dear Wasatch Mountains,

Your pink, frosty peaks did a number on me this evening. Sheesh, the shifting light, the smudges of pigment, the ephemeral brilliance of your altered states! This is why people (who aren’t me) write poems.

 

Dear Thomas S. Monson,

Thank you for inspiring me to be a better person. The best funerals, I believe, leave participants with a feeling of uplift and hope. I only caught a few minutes of your funeral broadcast, President Monson, as I drove from Jack’s appointments to Jack’s other appointments, but I snatched up the sense of goodness which permeated the service and, as it were, your life. Thank you for being you, and for making people feel important and loved.

 

Dear January,

I’ve never been so neutral and okay with you before. I think it may have something to do with the 50 degree daytime temps and the storms which basically stay in the mountains. Maybe, January, it has something to do with the fact that for the first time in a very long time, this new year feels like a real fresh start. 2017 pummeled me more than once, but I don’t feel desolate. I’m hopeful, plus grateful. Which equals happy.

Buoyant by Association

Things are a little weird right now, at least inside my head, mainly because of the old grief houseguest. And yet, here I am bravely sallying forth, even when that means occasionally doing things like going back to bed on a Wednesday morning after driving Charlie to school in the rain. Which I did yesterday, and which I do not regret one whit. It was fine, because then I got up and did all manner of email/teaching correspondence and updating of lesson plans. And laundry.

Anyway, the bottom line is, grief is back. She’s a withered old woman in tattered babushka garb who silently appears, sitting on my couch and doing nothing other than lending an air of quiet, heavy sadness to my surroundings. It’s not her fault. She’s not even real. She is merely a projection.

She’s an embodiment of the nebulous feelings wafting into my life with greater frequency in the last 8 months, first with Jack’s move to residential care and then the recent death of my father. The emotions of which she is comprised are loss, separation, altered hopes, heavy acceptance, adjusted life plans, a growing awareness of life’s fragility, and constant change.

This very, very serious list doesn’t mean I’m not coping, or moving forward, or being grateful, or feeling peaceful. I am doing and feeling all of these things, much of the time.

And yet, grief holds in her gnarled, arthritic hands both peace and sadness, gratitude and sorrow, hope and weariness. Maybe she has a basket to help her carry all of it, the contradictions and the enormity of emotions.

I don’t have a basket, and I don’t want one, because it’s all too much for me to carry around.

“Cast thy burden on the Lord, and trust his constant care,” says the hymn.

I am doing this. I am accepting all the things I’m asked to experience. I’m asking Jesus to bear the burden with me, so I can get up and do the things I need to do.

And he does, so I can.

I realized today as I drove to the university to teach my classes that through both of these processes (Jack’s care and my dad’s passing), the central emotion I have experienced is buoyancy. Is that weird? I feel lifted. I don’t feel low, at least not most of the time.

I feel like I am being raised up. I feel buoyant. Not because I myself am inherently buoyant, but in the sense that I am holding tightly to something that keeps me afloat.

By which, I mean Jesus of course.

A Letter to the Six People Possibly Still Reading this Blog

Dear Reader,

You probably don’t check in here much anymore. And who can blame you. When the content isn’t refreshed multiple times per week, why bother?

I am posting to say that I know, I’m sorry, and that writing is hard in this season. It’s Grief, Round Two. I am able to (sort of) sleep. I am able to get up and shower and do laundry and do dishes and make breakfast and clean up kid clutter. Today I was able to update my syllabus as the semester starts next week. I am managing Jack’s transition from hospital to home to returning to school.

What I am not doing, dear reader, is living out loud. I’m living softly, weirdly, incompletely, one day at a time.

I do lots of pondering, remembering, musing, and feeling. I am feeling the hurt. I am forgetful and spacey, and making plenty of mistakes.

After my dad’s passing and up through the funeral, I was on a spiritual high. I honestly felt lifted up and really pretty buoyant. Since the funeral, though, the adrenaline has ebbed. The crush of friends and well-wishers has calmed. Regular life has returned. And I’ve been struck by the sense of enormous loss that follows me around.

Before I forget them, reader, I’m going to write down a few things that have happened in the last little while:

  1. I dreamed my dad was at Jeff’s parents’ house, in their kitchen. He was loading up a dinner plate with tri tip roast and flank steak. “Oh boy, how is this going to play out?” I wondered to myself, thinking of my dad’s inability to eat anything solid for the last month of his life. But in the dream he wasn’t sick, weak, or starving. He was healthy. I looked over where he stood by the sink and saw him chugging Sprite straight from a 2 liter bottle, which is bonkers because my dad cared nothing for Sprite. But it was a happy image which, my sister remarked, represents that my dad is “catching up.”
  2. I felt that my dad was close to us on Christmas Eve. Like, literally close by. I knew it. It didn’t seem odd, but comforting and amazing. It happened during our annual variety show, where the kids tell jokes and play songs on the piano. My nephew, Auguste, danced and did the signs to Mele Kalikimaka as we all sang along, which was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. When he finished, we all cheered and I distinctly heard my dad’s voice calling out a whoop from behind me. I actually turned around and looked behind me, at which point I remembered and thought, “Oh yeah, he’s not here.” I figured my ears were playing tricks on me. My sister, Sarah, and her family brought my mom to my house on Christmas Day. My mom told me that after opening presents that morning, she and Sarah had watched the recording of Auguste’s variety show number. “I heard Dad’s voice on the video. It was when we were all cheering.” She started to weep. This experience taught me that his spirit still exists, that he isn’t far away, and that he still knows what we are doing and rejoices in his family. It isn’t easy to describe the beauty I felt from that single audible cheer. Some people may regard me as a weirdo for a) having this happen to me and b) talking about it. If it makes me weird, I’m comfortable with that. I heard my dad’s voice and he sounded so, so happy.
  3. The goodness of people astounds me. Friends from all the various corners of my life came to the viewing, the funeral, the cemetery, my mom’s house, my house, my sisters’ houses. They brought hugs, chocolate, dinners, bread, soup, homemade rolls, sweets, fruit, sympathy cards, and compassion. They sent flowers, gifts, and stories with expressions of love. I’m blown away at the love that exists in the world, both in happy times and in emotional and painful times. People are so good, especially my people. They have reached out to me and my family with what I feel is an extension of Jesus’s love.

This is the end of my letter, dear reader. I’m hopeful to be in a state where more writing can happen. *Dear HF, Please bless my brain cells*

Cheers,

Megan