30 January 2011

Yesterday, I was struck with the notion that I should not take on any new responsibilities or ties for the next year. Considering that I am still knee deep in PTO and LEND, means that the year could not start until school lets out this summer. And considering that Julia will still have her uber therapy time, cutting myself off from the work I do -- right now, all volunteer -- will not change the day to day as much as if I was childless, or even therapy-less. Also, so much of where I like spending my time is based on a school year, I would have to forgo involvement for the same calendar. On first blush, I worry that I will "lose my place" -- as if I am traveling with a pack and will be left behind. If I do not do a second year of LEND next year, would they consider me for the next? If I ramp down my PTO participation, will people want be back a year later?

What I am wondering about is whether I am ready to face myself for a year? Could I, without distraction, clean out my inners and outers? Can I renovate my house, get rid of old furniture, clean out boxes and boxes of books that have not seen the light of day since David and I moved to Madison 3+ years ago, and do that outer cleaning that i don't even know about yet? Can I bear such an intense time?

Then again, ideas to throw myself into seem to be littering the street. Do I pick up a few and not concern myself with the scrubbing? Last week's cleaning of my own closet pushed me over the edge emotionally. Not bad, at all, but intense. Could I do that day after day without the distraction of interpersonal interaction? Could I do that and continue to maintain and build my community?

I don't want to get stuck, and I feel like I have such a potential for that. I could take a year for "cleaning" and get nothing done, or I could continue as I am and still be looking at the clutter that I need to clear next year.

And of course, this does not have to be an either/or decision. But it does need to be a directed decision -- a projected leaning. Even moderation takes intention.

And no comments about "waiting." Official announcement: I've stopped waiting.

27 January 2011

. . . cause I built my life around you . . .

So, one more post with tears before I go to bed.

I was teary off and on all day. Umm, on and on all day. Doing chores, driving Julia around to therapy, and cooking, I'd sing the single line -- I've been scared of changing 'cause I built my life around you -- and tears would come without further bidding. The main task of the day was cleaning out my closet and drawers. A task that has been on the list, the bigger list that almost never gets taken care of in the midst of stuff life heart transplants and death. We had talked about a grand clean out, a paring down, a releasing all the useless baggage that we accumulate for years without thought. All the stuff that we collected to live with, not because we liked that stuff for the most part but because we needed some stuff to sit on, to sleep on, to put out stuff in. And some of that stuff we moved from NYC to Bloomington to Indy to Madison. Some of it is still in boxes from the move over three years ago. Further testament to how unnecessary our stuff really is. But now, I have to deal with the stuff and our plan to get rid of it. Alone. And getting rid of stuff puts me that much further from David. But living in a house that is cluttered in a way that We had always talked about changing does not make me comfortable and happy.

Dammed if I do . . . and if I don't. Walking right through the muck of this day, this grief. Walking through without flinching or turning away. That is the work of the day.

And I have gotten rid of most of the clothing that is older than Cheshire!

And so, with all that baggage, I cleaned out my closet and cried. My heart cracked open and wide. I don't know whether I cried more when I sang, "I've been afraid of changing" or when I sang, "cause I built my life around you." Both and each.

How lovely to have had the chance to build my life around someone. Around David. How lovely to have had to give up some of what I wanted, to watch him give up some of what he dreamed. How lovely to compromise and to want some things and people and places together. How lovely to build that life.

And what I take from this day and these tears is the vow that if I ever get the opportunity to do that again -- build a life around someone -- I will do it better. Not that I could have improved in the way that David and I build our life around each other, but next time, I will not take it for granted. I will not take it as if it was due to me. I will appreciate such an opportunity every day.

In truth, for some time, I have been appreciating a whole lot more. Every day. Every smile. Every kindness.

I am watching "Eat Pray Love" tonight. For a moment, I fantasize that if I did not have Julia to raise, I could go to Italy, and India, and Bali, and eat and pray and love and recover from all the mourning and grief. Then, I recover from this fantasy, I see that I really rather be raising Julia than indulging in purely personal recovery, that if I ate in Italy I would be fat, that if I went to the ashram I would indeed get malaria from some mosquito, that lovely men at each stop would not fall over themselves to be in my company, and that I am where I belong.
First I read:

"By far, however, the most emotional moment of my time in China came one night when I was able to meet with a group of older orphaned teens I had watched grow up over a five year period. Every time I would visit their orphanage, I would enjoy getting to know them more. They all seemed so close, such good friends, and they always had smiles for me when I arrived. That night, however, was a night when the kids finally let their guard down. It was a night of real conversation and sharing what it means to grow up as an orphan. Toward the end of the evening we were all in tears. Afterwards, one of the older boys stayed to talk with me privately . . . . [H]e told me that growing up without a mother or father “hurts more than death.” Children aren’t supposed to raise themselves. They are not supposed to grow up alone, which I know sounds impossible when you are growing up in a crowded orphanage." (http://www.lwbcommunity.org/on-my-own)

Then, I wrote:

“Hurts more than death.” I know what death hurts like, more than that, I have no idea. Of course, you know I think of one girl, but I hurt for all those others too. My heart cracks wide open. Would that those words touch so many more.

Then, I listened to Stevie Nicks' Landslide:

I've been scared of changing because I built my life around you . . .

And now, I can't stop crying.
I wrote this to a friend today, and with a bit of editing, this is where I am at today:

I was so sick for my birthday -- I told a friend that I couldn't even grieve that David was not here for the first time in 30+ years. I will reserve next birthday for that. Today, I am happy to have a head off the pillow and to want to wash dishes and fold clothes. Nothing like enjoying little things.

And of course, it is snowing. I am cocooned into my house and I am loving it.

The longer that I live the more I see how the opportunities to love and cherish should not be ignored. They don't litter the path but are more apparent when seen with an open heart. I believe that there is something that draws us together. Call it God, the Universe, Spirit, a soul's longing, whatever. We are part of a whole that informs, calls out, exhorts us to make love the answer and the reason.

As I write this, I am reminded of the joke about the man and the flood that eventually kills him. Upon arriving in heaven, the man marched over to God and said, "I had faith in you, I prayed to you to save me, and yet you did nothing. Why?" God gave him a puzzled look, and replied "I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you expect?"

That's where I am today, chuckling with and at a god who would look at me exasperated and say, what more did you expect?

26 January 2011

So that was about the snarkiest comment ever! The last blog entry, that is. I laugh today.

More seriously, which is all I seem to be able to be these days, I was thrown by those close to me saying I was not ready to move on and make decisions. Even decisions that would change my life. Moving on is such an impetuous idea. I remember when David's father decided to get married again -- less than a year after Inez died. I was rather amazed by his decision but even at the time, David and I realized that his parents had lived with Inez's terminal condition for a while. Her death was expected and I am sure that Dad had been in the midst of mourning, oh, not exactly mourning, but something akin to it, for a very long time.

I can understand those who counsel waiting for everything, but when change comes from within, then I think it is time to move. Rearranging a room, giving clothes away, throwing away some of the paper that man generated may seem like safe actions to take. Actions that I might regret at some point for some reason I don't know now, but safe. They may look safe from the outside, but only I know what is safe from the inside. And although my actions might seem wild, crazy, and unconventional from the outside, that is an illusion. I am listening to my soul these days.

And I have to because there seems to be little else for me to do! Still, needing huge naps and lay downs during the day, but a doc visit assured me that I certainly have a nasty flu but nothing else. I will recover and I need patience. So, I examine my heart and soul and I lay bored and sleepy on the couch and bed.

As for my dinosaur, we have had almost a week of going to sleep by herself. Yahoo! Yesterday in Speech Therapy, her therapist read 4 sentence stories and asked Julia questions. Julia was able to concentrate and answer almost all the questions. The therapist also used "inference cards" -- picture and question cards, that demanded an answer that went one step beyond the picture. Granted these were very easy, but Julia could do them. She is understanding picture cues, she is able to predict what logically follows, she is able to infer, she is able to generalize. That brain of hers is so busy. I have read that our brains learn at incredible rates when we are very young and slow down by certain ages. I wonder about the rate of learning increasing for children like Julia. Who has done the study on that? Someone surely.

25 January 2011

I have a rhetoric questions to all those who feel it is too soon for me to make major life decisions: Can I get rid of all the old furniture from dead family members that David and I used (instead of buying our own) over the years? Is it time for that decision?
At least a morning, an early morning, feeling somewhat better. Dizzy and achy legs (weird that the achiness of the flu has wound up in my legs) but with a drop more energy than this past week. I want to get back to exercising that I was doing so well with, but I'd also like to get through the day doing some organizing. I was just reminded by a comment (thanks, Sharyn) to rest easy. I can't forget that today. I feel like I have been "kinda" sick for too long and I need to start moving or I will go nuts. On the other hand -- I need to ensure complete recovery. I am not seriously sick but I can't lose patience with naps and early bedtimes.

For those concerned, I am seeing my doc today. This has gone on for about 10 days and I need to just make sure all is on the mend. I am appreciating the insurance that I pay so much for -- I could complain sometimes but I am also fortunate enough to afford it and to use it!

My school materials for this term grow and I've been piling the books and research print outs and print outs from class. It has been living on top of the tall boy set of drawers Julia dragged it all to the floor -- one of our bones of contention, her getting into my things. But it is a mess of stuff and needs attending.

That feels like a lot of my house right now -- David and I had planed to do massive cleanings of our stuff that we brought and could not use in this smaller house. Then my mother died and I brought some of her stuff here -- mostly boxes of documents and pictures, but still needs to go through. David's father also dumped some schanker stuff on us. And then all of David's stuff. I've been putting it all off. And I needed to do that, but I have the feeling of drowning these days. I need to divest and live that simpler life.

And I was asking for some direction for the next year! LOL! Is clearing my life of unnecessary stuff enough for me? I shuttered at the thought of a garage sale. No, I don't think I am up for even the planning of that, but I want less stuff, less clutter to move from place to place.

And a Julia update: She made me a card and on the bottom it said, Illustrated by Julia Dinosaur. Sometimes I think that grammar school is such a waste for this kid.

24 January 2011

There are days when I feel alone. I miss that ability to have a live-in best friend who has a stake in my future. I am wondering right now, how I should plan out the next year. I wonder whether I should apply for some work, whether I should take on some new volunteer project, whether I should not be busy at all.

I have been very fortunate that since David died, I have been able to put one foot in front of the other and do things that I enjoy and that have kept me busy. But PTO responsibilities are going to be over in May -- should I take on some larger project like that? I've recently started working with the Families with Chinese Children in Madison and I could give more time and energy there. I am interested in the gradual loss of Madison's music program in schools. I could be interested there. But all of this seems to be on the fringes of my interest.

I've enjoyed LEND tremendously -- I am learning about disabilities, trauma, leadership of sorts, policy making, etc., but I don't see clearly what my role can be in that world. I do not want to do policy/advocacy work which is a bit unfortunate because as a lawyer I could possibility have some credibility pursuing that. I am not really interested in research which is fortunate because I have none of the qualifications needed. I probably cannot engage in treatment with kids because (whether I would enjoy that) I have no qualification.


The idea of running a transition foster home in China for older kids on the adoption track is of great interest. And I know that if adoption changes in China, there are other places that could use this type of program/home. But I can't consider taking on this project in any form until and unless Julia is ready for that kind of life. She is not ready for that now. I have guessed that she might be in 4-5 years, but I doubt it could be sooner. But then how to spend those 4-5 years. How much of my time should be devoted to preparing for something that I cannot put a date on.

I have not considered living a totally selfish life -- doing for me and for Julia, of course, and nothing else. Going to the gym, having lunch with friends, making nice dinners, taking care of us, fixing the house for our enjoyment, traveling. A friend accused me of being selfish in thinking about adopting another child with the prospect of leaving Julia and another child as Cheshire's responsibility if I died suddenly. No amount of assurance that I would take care of the futures of my minor children, seemed to satisfy. Another child would bring a sure path for me, I know that. And would that be so awful? Some advising me think that it would be foolish to set down a path I could not alter so soon after David's death. But what is it that I am supposed to think about doing? Do I putter on the fringes of causes for the rest of my life? Do I take another course, volunteer for another committee, and wait to see what comes up? For how long? And why? I cannot see that something better, something more appealing, something more . . . . I have no idea! is coming along?

Yes, I will keep working and asking questions. I will keep my eye open and ears to the ground. When I was in heavy grief, I was content to just do what I had in front of me without examining future prospects too much. I couldn't really examine much. Now, I think I can examine some but apart from Julia I don't know where to put my focus.

Looking for clarity these days.
Julia and I had some bumps yesterday and I yelled at her. I hate yelling at Julia because I know that it is counterproductive. She either digs in her heels and get more angry at me than I can ever be at her, or she closes down and does not respond. But she repeatedly does things that I feel are bad behavior and no amount of reasoning and asking or telling her to change the behavior works.

Julia has been taking my things from where they belong, especially books. She takes a book, a shelf of books down and leaves it where it falls. I have told her over and over that she can do this to her own books in her own room, but not my books. I've told her she cannot leave books anywhere she wants. I have helped her clean up what she does to my stuff, and I have made her clean up alone. None of it seems to make any impression.

So, last night, I started taking things away from her. When she takes out my cook books and leaves them on the floor, I take her crayons and put them out of her reach. When she empties the book shelf by my bed, I take the clay. I explained consequences and she told me she doesn't want to talk about it.

And it doesn't help that being sick extinguishes any patience that I might have.

I feel like i don't have the answers here. And it is frustrating.

22 January 2011

A very successful haircut

















Getting better but after a few errands this afternoon, we are going to call it a day and not go to church tonight. After we got haircuts and did a bit of coop shopping, I was regretting not making the effort to go away for the weekend. Two hours later, I am on the couch and down for the count. I hate being sick.

Julia's cut looks very cute. Shorter than she's had home, but she wants to take care of it herself. Tries to wash it in the tub and comb it in the morning. Even shoulder length it is too much for her and it looks a mess too often. Slightly longer than ear length she may have a chance.

And it looks to cute.

I needed to get some passport pics taken and thought doing it right after a hair cut might get a decent picture. Oy! I have little vanity about my looks, but these are AWFUL pictures!

Correction: I have lots of vanity! I hate taking really ugly pictures, even for my passport. Okay, I've never taken good pictures. Maybe I should get another set taken. It didn't help that my hair cut didn't work out the well either. Either I am going to have a grand pity party or a beer, or both. Pretty pitiful for the day before my new year.

Enough! Enough feeling sorry for myself. I'll put away the groceries, plan on cooking tomorrow, defrost some of my great chili, open a beer, light the duraflame, play some Mario Brothers, and hug my kid.

21 January 2011

I missed David today is a casual way. In a he is away from home and I can't get in touch with him sort of way. I had a good meeting for a PTO event, a frustrating phone call about the Bloomfield house, I was looking forward to my class this afternoon, and hated leaving before it was over because I didn't have someone to cover my for childcare. And I just wanted to tell him that stuff -- to complain, to crow. Nothing at all important.

In the pain and grief, part of me, some more physical part had forgotten how it was to miss him without doubling over.

And now, I remember.
Needing someplace to cheer. Quietly. Julia is in bed alone and this time, tonight, said she could fall asleep herself. I am not counting my chickens yet, but yahoo!

In the weeks after David's death, Julia snuggled very close to me and always wanted my arms around her. If I turned in the middle of the night, she either positioned herself to still be touching me or in my arms or start whining. She was aware of every time I went to the bathroom. She needed every bit of that closeness and I did not deny her, although I did feel very crowded in my king size bed and suffered lots of little aches and pains due to sleeping too long in a single position.

It is such a path we walk. Yes, she is still sleeping in my bed . And I have no intention of putting her in her own room until she asks for it. But she has been sleeping deeply and well and sometimes very long for a few months. And it is harder to wake her up -- normal hard. Isn't that wonderful?!

One more Julia-ism. On the way home from school, out of the blue, Julia told me she was never going to have a baby growing in her tummy. She was going to adopt (said, 'dopt) babies. She does have a pregnant teacher who is showing now. I wonder if that has anything to do with the announcement. I did tell her adoption was wonderful, and she told me, "I know."
I wanted to write about one more Julia accomplishment.

She went to sleep by herself last night!!!

Now, honestly, Cheshire has managed this at times, but neither David nor I could do the night time ritual, tuck her in, and kiss her and leave the room. Whether it has been in her own bed or mine (or ours when David was alive), Julia insisted that one of us lay down with her. There were times when it was hard for her to get to sleep, and it was a real pain to lose an evening of grownup time to laying in bed doing nothing. Both of us were pretty determined to give Julia what Cheshire had in that way. (We did the same with Cheshire until she was about 5, and who knows how it shaped her, but she turned out pretty well.) I can't put a definite finger on it, but we always knew it was important.

Since, the fall, I've been asking Julia to do more dressing and undressing for herself. So, I tell her to go upstairs at bed time, put on her pjs and put all dirty clothes in the hamper. That is a lot of directions for her but over time she has gotten pretty good at it. I still go up for teeth brushing, but she gets the tooth paste on the brushes (hers and mine) before I come up.

We then read a story or two, and I turn out the lights. Also since the Fall, I have stopped just laying down with her and now, bring my laptop in the bed and do work (or not) as she falls asleep. This started because I needed more time for school work.

Last night, I tucked her in and had to walk the dog (I usually do it before I come upstairs, but not last night). I told her I needed to walk the dog and she told me she was going to go to sleep. And she did.

Frankly, I was astounded.
The flu has started its wane. I napped once yesterday but was able to stay up late without agony. I am whining and I am a big baby about being sick. I can't wait until it is over.

A few wonderful Julia things this time 'round:

In attachment therapy, we continue to work on the volcano workbook. Three of the last four weeks, Julia has asked to work on the book. Marilyn does a few pages a week depending on the content. The book is set up for the child to be read to and then given a drawing assignment. When we started the book, Marilyn was not quite sure that Julia could handle the directions o Julia's drawings this week were quite breath taking -- one of a sad and hurt heart that was exploding with anger, and another of a very sad heart that released some of its anger but not in a hurtful way. She was careful to make the pictures mirror each other, but with great differences in color, expression and tone. When Julia talks about what she is doing, her use of language is not close the sophistication of her pictures. I carry around the nagging feeling that Julia will never be able to live independently and need life long services, but then she draws. The part of her brain that does art is in no way cognitively delayed. That part of her brain is sophisticated and growing. It can regulate itself and its output more and more.

Clearly, Julia is also drawn to the healing work. It does not come easily for her. Some weeks, she does a certain amount and then tells Marilyn to stop. I think I see some reaction behavior at home sometimes, and there is some at behavior at school -- a bit of being whinny and also wanting more control. I have been explaining it to teachers and they have been very receptive.

I don't know any other child like Julia, and so I have no basis for comparison. I am both patient with the changes I see and just dying to scream out for prognosis! How far can she go? Will she progress in school along conventional lines? Will she ever have real friends? I can be afraid for her cognitive abilities, and then when I see how hard she has to work through trauma and deprivation to make progress and to learn, I wonder at her genius. Which is it? I want to jump ahead and see where we get to. My believe in process has never been tested as it is these days.

I am coming to the believe, hard won because it is all field work, that early trauma must be worked out first. First, before anything else. The attachment and trauma work go hand in hand and sometimes are the same, sometimes veer off in different directions. Every other learning seem to take a back seat to this work, although maybe the principle interest of the child -- art and dinosaurs in Julia's case -- grow with this trauma work.

Tonight, I could write on this forever but I need to get back to sleep for a little while.

20 January 2011

Conventional Wisdom

I have been thinking about the idea of conventional wisdom for the past few days. I do not easily disregard it these days as I am older and somewhat wiser myself. But I also do not and cannot accept it without question. I have not been conventional in my life. Julia, my greatest teacher, is learning about "why" these days -- the reason that things happen, the difference that some reasons make. My child who needs learning in the past and future informs so much of my present. I have made so many life decisions ignoring conventional wisdom and truthfully, have not been punished. I want to know the reason behind the rule. It is that that I wonder about. I have been in search of my highest and best self for a long time. After the trauma of the last few years, I have grown at least a little bit in clarity. I don't expect to really recover from the trauma that I've experienced. It has become woven into my day, and I expect woven into my best self. I lived and breathe the loss of my beloved partner. I don't expect to ever recover or get past the loss. I expect to live with it and make it one of the companions that inform my life choices.

As for adopting X or any other child for that matter. I did not expect to make such a decision last month (I was leaning heavily on conventional wisdom,) but it was this particular child who moved me. Still, there were safeguards already inherent in the system and in this decision. Adoption, especially from China these days, is a long and tedious process, and the informal pre-formal process that I am in right now has gone on far too long. I expect rejection (and I expected it even when I asked. The ice cube in hell has nothing on me). Still, I don't regret the asking. It is bringing up so much good thoughts and discussion. I know I grow from it.

And if I was approved to begin the formal process of adoption, the process is taking at least a year, 15-18 months is probably a better estimate. And during most of that time, X will know nothing about it. I will have the chance to consider and re-consider the wisdom of another child considering those most beloved by me without involving X. Although I used the words wild and crazy, this is my code for living the unconventional life. It is not strictly wild or crazy to fall in love with this child. She needs a family, no one wants her, and I might be the best chance that she has. And she is a dancer. I can raise another artist.

Finally, some of what I do might be considered generous and open hearted. We do what we do because we enjoy it. I have more than reaped the benefit of every open hearted and generous act that I have committed. I constantly want to say to my very lovely community that they have done so much more for me than I have ever done for them. But I also find the need to commit and re-commit myself to the generous life because my family of origin has never lived in this way. I was taught a miserliness of the heart, and I admit, I fear it can still return.

I am feeling better enough today to compose. I have some reading to do for tomorrow's class, but I need a nap before I dive into it. I am a better sick person, that is, more patient and willing to take the time and care for myself, when I can see progress. I do need this time on the couch.

Unpaid adverts

Just a quick plug for what looks like a good book: Carl Safina, author of THE VIEW FROM LAZY POINT: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World, whose NYT book review I quoted in the last post, wrote a commenting plugging his book. It reminded me so much of David in a way that I have to tell you, dear reader, to check out his website, http://carlsafina.org/. He does appear to be a very interesting man with some thought provoking ideas.

And his book might be very good book club material.

And . . . closer to home, check out the Forward Theater's Monologue Festival (http://www.forwardtheater.com/forwardtheater/on-stage/monologue-festival-the-love-that-changed-my-life). David's “An Evening with Jon Jones” will be performed in February. Jon, and his partner, Jim, were great friends of ours who lives were ended in the waves of AIDS deaths. I still think of them so very often. I will be the one with the kleenex box at the festival.

18 January 2011

I hit a high today when a friend came over and gave me some soup for supper. And then, after a nap, I hit another high to make a few phone calls and take care of the remains of fallen snow. I am very grateful today that our therapists are here. If they weren't, Julia would have spent after school time playing by herself, watching tv, or playing with Mario Brothers. Alone. I am now hoping for a nap before supper and a swift bedtime thanks to that visiting friend who left soup and nan for our evening meal.

And a note, when I am sick, I become a great pessimist. I feel like the world is ending and my days are all wasted. And I never, ever make decisions when I am sick. Ever.

And yet, I would consider making life altering decisions a mere 6 months after my beloved partner of 30 years died. I had a number of conversations and emails last weekend about grief, decision making, and timing. My email to Lisa and my Findhorn friends, I proclaimed my independence to be wild and crazy as I had stated my aims last July. I may seem to rail again proverbial wisdom to wait, wait for a year, wait, before making any life altering decisions after such a loss. Someone suggested that I seemed to have worked through grief awfully quickly, and others that decisions like moving or changing my life's work would be more appropriate than adding someone to the family.

(Also some discussion that I used the pronoun "we" as if it means that there is some other responsible responsible second party who is sharing decisions with me. It is true that I slip at time and use "we," as in: "We moved here three years ago." Well, we did, but it is of little matter most of the time now that David was part of the "we." But there are other times, when the "we" could include a couple or instead, a mother with children. And sometimes, it is hard to come up with the pronoun that I need. I think of Julia and her struggle with pronouns from last year. Pronouns are hard of language learners -- Julia has only recently really understood "you and me" in use. She loves using both words, especially both words together now. She will use it properly and then ask me for praise. I also realize how often I used "we" before David died. Becoming single is complicated -- it involves pronouns.)

A friend of mine who had been through family challenges last year, said that she carried a lot of fear around with her. Still. But to look at her, to find out what she is doing and how busy she keeps herself, one would imagine that last year's challenges has little to no effect on her day-to-day. I have insides that feel like that -- oh, not being articulate. I have parts of me that seem to mourn all of the time, but other parts that dance and live. They are in the same me, and I don't mean that I compartmentalize since one bleeds into the others, but I can't seem to be satisfied or content waiting for complete recovery from grief before I fully engage life again.

There is a sacred year hanging out there. A year of magical thinking?? Yes, good book. But the author, who managed to write the book in the second half of the year after her beloved partner's death, was still grieving at the end of that year. It is not clear to me when she or I, mainly I, should start living full out. Again, or for the first time.

Actually, as much as I hate this being sick, it is making me slow down, really slow down. My thinking is not more clear, but I cannot in any way advance life today. I cannot change anything. And this is a familiar feeling. This powerlessness reminds me strongly of the powerlessness that I did feel for months after David's death. It was a powerlessness wrapped in fear -- I did not, could not lose anymore. When Cheshire called from Europe a weeks after the memorial to tell me she has lost her passport and money and described it as an incredible awful thing that had happened to her, I wanted to laugh. I wanted to rejoice in the pettiness of this loss. Yes, I understood her feeling of powerlessness at that moment, but I could only compare it to what we had just been through and compared to losing David, passport and money were so nothing!!

I am no longer feeling such a lack of power. In fact, I have the fledgling chick feeling of new wings. I have no idea of the reach of my powers. And maybe, everyone (and there are many) who suggest that I wait to make major life decisions, are absolutely correct. But there is another side and that side is my new wings.

It is funny in a way. I feel I have new wings but I need to see an accountant and to buy some life insurance before I test those wings. My money and insurance are the kinds of practical thinks that have kept me living slowly and conservatively. The physical weight of grief has lifted -- it will be back. It revisited for Julia's birthday as I remembered last year. But with the lifting of ever constant physical grief, and as the mundane practicalities of economics is clarified, I do not see the absolute reason for waiting any longer to test my wings.

I must have more advice to think about.

My friend, Steve, posted an except from a NYT book review on his face page. I need to quote more of the review here. It is answering some question. It is informing my path.

From the very beginning, Safina asks us to reconsider the importance of that perennial question: “What is the meaning of life?” Which, he believes, is the wrong question to be asking because “it makes you look in the wrong places.” The right question is, “Where is the meaning in life.” And the place to look is “between.” In other words, we should look for the ways that all living creatures and all habitats are connected, look for what happens “between” them. “Relationships,” he insists, “are the music life makes. Context creates meaning.”

Safina returns again and again to this consideration of interconnectedness, and to the need for each person to cultivate a more considerate life: “To advance compassion and yet survive in a world of appetites — that is our challenge.” He calls for reverence and caution, and a humbling awareness that future generations must live with the consequences of the decisions we make today. “Ecology, family, community, religion— these words all grope toward the same need: connection, belonging, purpose.”--

Excerpted from a review by Dominique Browning, of THE VIEW FROM LAZY POINT: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World, by Carl Safina.

I am sick and it is getting worse. I was supposed to meet with one of Julia's teachers this afternoon and was preparing for it be a midmorning nap. But I woke up feeling worse -- that all over achy body, a complete lack of concentration, coughing, and no energy at all. And that is with cold medication! I have to go out and do some snow clearing and I have to meet Julia at the bus. Hopefully, I will be able to both of those and return to drink tea, nap and recover.

Oy, I hate being sick.

17 January 2011

Steve Jobs of Apple is taking "another" "medical leave" says the NY Times. To put it much more bluntly, he looks like he is dying. Jobs is a cancer survivor and had a liver transplant in 2009. Lately, he looks gaunt, more and more gaunt with every picture. No, I don't keep tabs on business leaders, but Steve Jobs picture is regularly flashed across my screen as the Apple home page still my internet home page -- just lazy on my part. I've looked at those pictures and casually wondered about his health. The look is undeniable.

Jobs' statement was that he needed to concentrate on his health. Oh, the code! The Japanese stock market fell a few points after the news got out. The code understood? What would this world be like if Job could make a clear and truthful statement and if the natural cycle of life did not inspire fear.

16 January 2011

All I can think about today is last year. It is not awful, but I am rather weepy for a 10th birthday. I have kept it quiet today. I think Julia may have wanted more, but she is not complaining. We woke up to presents -- the play mobile spinosaurus that Julia really wanted. She knew immediately from the size of the box, opened it with glee. A dino book that she can read with pictures done by an interesting French artist. And a new copy of the Tangled coloring book (we lost the other one during out trip out east.) which thrilled her! She played with these new toys, I did some Wii exercises and she joined me. We had breakfast and played some more. Before lunch we ventured outside and it is frigid. We walked the dog, went shopping for a cake, went to Noodles for lunch, and then on to an early show of Jack Black's Gulliver's Travels. We did find a tiny dinosaur cake at the local grocery, so I will light a few candles after dinner and sing. It is not much for a birthday but it is what I can give her. At least, today.

I feel that I am better able to pace myself. To do what I can do. To not expect more than what I have to offer. No guilt. And no heroic effort that is really unnecessary. There will be years of big parties. I hope years of friends. Just not this year.

I have an early evening fire burning in the fireplace. The cat siting on the sofa arm as close as he can get to the blaze. the sun is setting outside and the color at the bottom of the sky is almost the same as the flames the lick the logs.

It is a hard day. I miss David a great deal. The remembering of how hard I worked last year to make it all work, relying on my sureness that by today, all would be fine. We would be a working family again, and we would really, really celebrate. I am sad about the effort, the open heart that believed so intensely that I could bend the whole world to fit my plan. I am sad for myself from last year. This was not the way she wanted it to turn out.

At the same time, and mixed in with the sadness is a profound gratefulness and a joyfulness that is about the present is. And all this mixing is has made me so very weepy today.

I look forward to a good piece of dinosaur cake this evening!

15 January 2011

The day before Julia's 10th birthday. I am so happy that we brought this child into our family. She is a quirky and amazing as the days are long and I love her for that.

14 January 2011

For Julia's birthday, I wanted to give her a party, but I just couldn't get myself in gear for it. It was yesterday, Thursday before Sunday's birthday, that I remembered that last year I did give Julia a party with David in the hospital for the first time for his heart. Gosh, I was trying to do everything and with the help of one of Julia's therapists we had a party and it was fun. And later, we opened Julia's last few presents with David in his hospital room and shared some cake with him. I just wasn't ready to do that again.

And so, I called my friend, Amy, and we arranged a play date for Monday (MLK Day) at a pottery painting place. Maybe we will have a little cake but it should be fun and something different for Julia.

I also bought a balloon bouquet and stuff to decorate the house. Julia loved the balloons! And I hope that even without an official party we can have a fun weekend. We will celebrate all weekend along with small special things.

I just could not do what I had tried to do last year. I had to mix it up some. I am getting better at taking care of myself.

I went back to last years writing to figure out when David went into the hospital and started reading some entries. I was startled to see how much Julia has changed! I wrote about tantrums, difficulties in school, worrying about the principal calling. At that point we had not found the right mix of meds for her and looking at it now, I see her reacting to how stressed we were at home. She has had a growing year.
I struggle with what to write about first today knowing that sometimes a single topic will take off and I will not get to the others. So, being a good law student (moot court et al.), I will do a road map.

1. I ask Julia about adoption
2. Julia's birthday plans
3. Steve's bread
4. Project thoughts and presentations

Yesterday, I was feeling the thud of waiting for an adoption decision. I have been meditating MORE and it helps but waiting is just not my strong suit. I go between distracting myself by doing other things (and this is good for my research work) and doing something towards the adoption (which I am aware could be a complete waste of my time). But the waiting and dealing with it is that extra awareness in my consciousness that pushes lots of buttons and casts a theatrical gel over the light of my day.

In light of that, last night, I asked Julia directly about adoption. I asked her if she wanted a sister. It was bed time and we were snuggling into my bed. She first asked if Cheshire was coming home to stay, and she asked in a very excited way. This is good. Julia has had some lingering anxiousness about Cheshire. I am not sure whether it was sibling rivalry for my attention or some fear or something else. She was much more open to Cheshire our last visit over Christmas and this response seemed to reinforce that feeling.

I told her, no, unfortunately for us (not for Cheshire), Brooklyn is her home right now.

I asked, about "another sister." One who was closer to her own age. Julia got excited and asked if we could adopt MiaoMiao -- using her orphanage sister's Chinese nickname instead of her American name, Abby, which Julia usually uses. I told her we couldn't do that because Abby already had parents, but I marveled at my girl's immediate reaction to give this dear friend a home, her home. I was not sure of this reaction. For a long time, I assumed that Julia would not want to share her home with any other child. She understands my attention and she loves it. She demands it. It would be understandable for her to be selfish about me, but not for her MiaoMiao.

Gotta' love that kid.

Then I asked her about Xiang, the child I would like to adopt. Julia has seen Xiang's picture on my computer and had commented that she looked like a nice girl. Julia thought a moment and then said, in a very clear way, "That would be fine." I asked if she would share her room, and Julia immediately said, "No." I think I flinched. Julia said quickly, "She would share your bed with me." Julia was very proud of herself for using "your" and "me" which are still pretty elusive words for her.

Umm, that was not my plan. LOL! Three in this lovely king sized bed? My plan would be to get those girls in their own beds and room. Not surprising, however, that Julia has her own plans.

I have no idea whether I will be able to adopt this child, but I am pleased that Julia is developing a bigger heart. She will make such a JieJie, big sister, when we start our transition house in China. I just wonder if she will expect all of the girls we take into our Ready, Set, Go House to sleep in my bed.

As I thought I did not get through my road map, but I am figgity to be more active. Maybe later.

13 January 2011

Digging into sympathy cards and messages to make sure my address list for my card is complete. No question at all why I waited all this time. Each wish is sacred, each card a treasure, each prayer and sentiment bring a tear. I know there are many who would have taken on this task sooner, and some who might feel slighted by my lack of thanks for their generosity. But how? How could I have done it sooner when even now, from a spirit much strengthened by caring friends and the almighty healer, time, it is painful. I am sure I will find a few card unopened, and more that were opened and put in the basket without really reading. This is not my indifference but how much it hurt at the time of receiving. I still hurt, but the hurt is not debilitating. It is the pain of healing.

A lazy Julia report

One of Julia's teacher's wrote:

Ms. F. also wanted me to let you know that yesterday Julia was saying some things that were not happening and she wasn't sure if she also said them at home. 1. Ms. F. was teaching the whole class some cursive writing and Julia said she was talking too loud (I think she is used to having Ms. F. working with her 1 on 1.
2. When Ms. F. was helping her pack up, Julia's plastic folder bumped her and Julia said Ms. F.r hit her. Ms. F. explained that is was an accident.
3. Something about Ms. C. being mad at Ms. W. (art teacher) because she stole a folder?

Also, for math, I am starting to have Julia make short books about math, because she has been so interested in that. We started with coins. It may be a way for her to be engaged more consistently in the math and work that into the other things that we are doing.

My reply and of course, thoughts:

First, the behavior you describe is old behavior. (I expect that it has been a bit more of a challenge to keep Julia on task these days also.) I think, and this is only a mother's thoughts, that Julia is cycling back to old behavior because we are doing some good work dealing with Julia's life in China. It is trauma and attachment work. Julia is remembering and talking about how she was treated at the orphanage, and I see her getting more prickly day to day. Talking loudly in appropriately and saying that everything (like accidents) is hurting her is behavior from two years ago. At home, she does realize that she is behaving inappropriately when I call her attention to the behavior. But I can't scold which seems to escalate the behavior. And although she is telling me more of what she does at school, she has not complained about hitting or stealing, so I am imaging that she knows this is her projection on events, not what is really happening. My thought is that doing this work makes Julia uncomfortable on many levels -- physically sometimes -- and that she is looking for ways to explain this uncomfortability. One thing that seems to usually help is a big hug if she will let you do it. It "gets her angries out" and seems to reset her (like a computer re-boot).

And Julia loves Ms. F.

I really hope this is a phase!

The Bloomfield House

I was very sharp and grumpy with my oil tank remediator yesterday on the phone. Not angry at him at all. Both the insurance company and the remediation company have been helpful, kind and generous. However, once again, the big dig is being put off because the neighbors will not sign the latest release. They now want two things: indemnification for any damage to their house due to the dig although they would not allow the remediators inside the house to make a record of the current status of their house, and another kind of supervisor and inspector. This is nothing that could not have been debated last month, six months ago, last year.

This is more frustrating than any other challenge of my life. I have no idea what to do. In March, I pay another quarters worth of taxes for the house which although I don't want to put any amounts up here is more than what I pay a year in Madison. In July, I will have to pay more house insurance if, and right now it is a big if, High Point will sell it to me. That, plus the heat, the electricity, the lawn, etc. And I am supporting an empty house.

Oh, the frustration. Being powerless is huge. And talking to my remediator yesterday, I felt like Julia tantruming because no one understood Chinese in her first days home. Or being 2. Or being held hostage by some nasty neighbors!

12 January 2011

Spent a few hours on Monday working with a kitchen designer. I don't have a design yet but I've posted on my House blog some pictures of what I am thinking of. Comment (and not about ending a sentence with a preposition) please.

Today, I have been working on that holiday/catch up/memorial thank you card that I've been doing for more than a month. I've given myself until the end of Chinese New Year to get it out, but I hope sooner. I have been so ambivalent about working on it, but I am healing and getting stronger.

I was also able to get a few emails out to friends that I have wanted to catch up with. (Oy, another preposition) Finally, it is feeling good.

Time, time, time. Healing takes such bites of time.

11 January 2011

Most recent email from the person who is advocating for my adoption of a 9 year old in China:

"I am waiting for the head directors to approve your case and they are on business trip this past week. I should know something by the end of this week."

What optimism! I love it. Still, there is great need to storm the heavens and as the Universe for the correct decision to be made.

You know, I had almost given up today. I don't know why today, but it all seemed so far away. We have birthdays coming up -- Julia's, mine, and this little girl's. Oh, to get such a family gift. And then maybe I can be DTC by Cheshire's birthday.

Just going to note that officials always seems to be traveling. I am sure they travel no more or less than any other officials. I remember telling a caller that my boss of some sort was out of town, and routinely, the caller would complain that their request needed to be handled before the boss got back to the office. It is the same all over the world.
Today I feel the frustration of anyone embarking on a few part of life. I want to help now! I want to be doing something to work on suffering now. I want to be working with kids or doing something for kids who've experienced trauma when truthfully, all I can do right now is to learn about it. I need to be in touch with more people doing the work and find out what path I can move along on.

I've decided that the focus of my independent project for LEND is my own learning about trauma and a very good report of trauma and children for my class. This is an incredibly small goal -- focused and very tight and I do feel a bit let down in terms of my big ideas. But at the same time, i do have so much to learn and I can use this project to work on aspects of what I need.

Julia is grumpy, has been for about a week. She still wants to go to school, but I hear she is not as much of a willing participant as she was last term. I may just be the give and take of the trauma work that she is really starting to do. Remembering China. She hates to remember but I think that somehow she knows that she must deal with it. She is a brave little girl.

Sometimes it is disheartening to be raising this child who is so different from other children -- like on Sunday at the MFCC meeting when the other two girls, also from China, who she could play with seemed so very normal. But then, it is not -- not disheartening at all. Julia is really like no one else and as much as I love her, I am also fascinated by her. I can marvel and appreciate each change -- backwards, forwards, or sideways. I don't know what will happen to her, or how she will grow up. Is it odd to find that exciting?

Ever since our talking about China the other day, Julia has been calling my Mama. She did the first days that we met but quickly moved on to Mommy. This mama is almost deliberate, and of course, that's what she would have called me in Chinese. I don't know what it means.

This last week, I've talked to two contractors about the kitchen remodel. I received a price back from one which is more than I want to spend, but not much more, and I can see room for scaling back a bit. The second price will come in next week. I talked to a kitchen designer yesterday and rather easily picked out what I wanted -- white, inset, Shaker cabinets. I am asking him for a price for soap stone and for corian for countertops. After looking at pictures and reading gardenweb.com for more than a year, I do know my own taste. And you know, I want to make the kitchen beautiful, but it is not the dream kitchen that David and I wanted. It is just mine. There is a bit of sadness in this but also a new found simplicity that I am reaching for.

09 January 2011

Today went by too quickly. We were busy -- I talked to a contractor about my renovation plans while Julia colored and traced pictures. A therapist came over and Julia did a few hours with her. Then, we headed out to a MFCC meeting -- Madison Families with Chinese Children. We had attended a few of their functions a few years ago. We usually hung out with my friend Cathy and her girls and another family we met through Cathy, but I didn't feel particularly welcomed at thee events and didn't really see an inroad to getting to know more people. Added to that Julia was not particularly pleased to be around so many Chinese people, even if they were mostly kids, and I didn't feel like Julia, with her evident challenges was particularly welcomed.

Then, a few weeks ago, I filled out a survey from the MFCC, and got an email in response, followed by a phone call. Joan, who is heading the group right now, challenged me to be part of the change that was taking place. And so, I took her up on it. I volunteered to host a club activity -- a support/play/social group for families with sn kids, and also to work on resources and activities for families in waiting and families just home. I had to refrain from volunteering for anything else, and to keep my interests concentrated.

Julia played with two girls during the meeting. The girls were 9 and 10, and at least 3 or 4 years more mature than Julia. Still, they seemed to be kind to her. I think there was a lot of parallel play on Julia's part, but it was a good think for her. She told me she enjoyed it and tonight she is quite tired.

At bedtime, we read Julia's life book. Sometimes when we read it, Julia says nothing. Tonight, she had plenty to say. She told me that she never slept in the blue bunk beds that I have a picture of (from another family who was able to visit the orphanage). She told my how loud it was when the babies cried. She always, always, points to Abby's picture as a picture of herself when we look at one of the pictures of the both of them in the orphanage. She told me that a lady took the pictures with the camera we sent to China before we met Julia. She said the lady pinched her cheeks and pulled her ears. And that she was scared of that lady because the lady always hurt her. She told me that she ran away from the lady and yelled and hollered. None of the last bit is in any way surprising. She cried a little and said she would never let that lady in our house. She told me that she was little then, a baby, and didn't know better. (This is something we say about the cat all the time when he misbehaves.)

Julia was fascinated by the fact that a man found her in a box. I have read that every time we read the book, but this is the first time, she noticed it. She wanted to know how big the box was, wanted to know who brought the box to her finding place, and who wrote the note that we have a copy of.

She told me of peeing in her pants on her way to meet us (something she has said before). She told me that she had tripped and falling in the big room where we met her and that she was very scared that day.

Julia also said that she was not going back to "her" China. When I asked her about the Great Wall, she wanted to see that.

Some of great wall of resistance and self-protection and hurt is shifting. I think we will be able to go back to China. I hope that Julia can claim more of China as hers than the pink walls of that awful place she lived for five years.

07 January 2011

Julia had no therapy after school today and we had a really normal family afternoon and evening. What bliss! I appreciate our therapists and the work that they do with Julia but how nice it is to have my girl at home to myself.

Julia was having some transitioning anxiety when she arrived home. Her answers were all no's and she wanted to be alone. I had plans! I took her onto my lap and instead of resisting or complaining, she melted into my lap, curling up her legs and getting very comfortable. In this position, we talked and fooled around. We did some tapping about her angries and fears. By the time we had been sitting for 20 minutes or so, she was ready to do the three things I had planned -- snack, clean up, and play with our Wii.

We had a sit down snack -- celery, oranges, and dinosaur milk for the girl, and something for me. I took out everything that Julia had in her backpack and we talked about pictures she drew and the books she took out of the library. She took out a drawing book of faces and monsters, a bit of a change from dinosaurs. She showed me a picture of a face that she drew and told me she wasn't very good at it. Well, it wasn't a perfect copy of the page, but I probably couldn't do as well if I worked all day! She need to learn about patience and practice -- oh those life long lessons. It is exciting to think that she is thinking of drawing humans -- she is losing a few scales, maybe the tail will go soon and she will stop being Julia Dinosaur.

But not too quickly.

Then we cleaned -- Julia has been incredibly inquisitive lately. She is pulling books from the book shelves, moving chairs and plastic bins to stand and reach higher than she is able alone, and pencils, pens, crayons, markets everywhere. So we went to each bookcase and straightened them, we gathered everything she had pulled down last night -- office supplies and paper mostly -- to get a hold of some new art supplies that I had put up for special times, and she gathered up all the clay that was spread around the living room. I showed her how to put books back and how to stack paper. She knows how to gather clay. Then I vacuumed and she helped me move the cord around and wind up the cord when I was finished.

And she was happy to have done it with me. We chatted the whole time -- mostly about dinosaurs and drawing and paper and books. One sweet thing: She opened one of David's books and saw his picture. "Does Daddy make books?" Yes, Julia he did.

Then we played with our Wii, the new fitness program and pad to stand on. I had connected it and tried it out before she came home so I was ready to show her how to register her Mii and then how to start playing. We took turns playing some of the balance games and a few of the aerobic games. It is funny that these are the fitness games. These are closer to the kind of games that I thought would be useful for Julia, and I wanted to fitness stuff for myself.

Later, walking the dog while Julia changed into pjs, I did a self check. I still feel good. I still feel like I am no longer carrying the burden of grief. I no longer feel that I am missing my arm or a major organ. I am whole, more whole and singular that I have been for years, maybe ever. And I am so thankful for this new found wholeness. I am still putting one foot in front of the other but it is heel-toe walking not a shuffle.
Okay, I can't stand keeping a secret! What I can't stand is not writing about what is in my mind, actually what I am obsessing over these days, especially because I try to be very honest when I write here. To hold back obsession just doesn't live well with secrecy.

I am asking for age and marital status waives from the Chinese adoption authority to adopt a specific child. My chances of a pretty close to an ice cube in hell, so another reason to write about this now is that I will need this space to moan and groan when I am rejected.

The marital status waiver is the tough one to get. Singles are not allowed to adopt from China. There have been a very few exceptions, very few. What decided this ice cube, however, was a little girl who has been on the waiting child listing for a long time, who seems possessed of an incredible spirit, who loves to dance, and who has had a very sad life. She is the same age of Julia and although twinning can be an issue, I imagine that the two girls will be in different places developmentally and I think that this girl is much shorter than Julia. This girl has been in contact with many Americans and Europeans because of a program that is involved with her orphanage, and I have been able to get a good deal of informal information about her.

Now, I wait. I don't presume to think that a group of people is pondering my request for days and days. More likely, it is sitting on a desk somewhere waiting to be picked up. This is not an urgent matter and it may take some time. Just writing what I have has given me some peace. I will wait. I will hope and I will be patient. Someone who had given me information about this child wrote that they hoped that each person who looked at my application for waivers saw this girl as part of my family. That is about as good a hope and prayer as I can think of.

And where does this fit in with my life plan? I have been thinking about that and this morning I came to the conclusion that it would fit perfectly.

06 January 2011

It is just 8 and I have almost finished a cup of coffee and have scarfed down a piece of Steve's home made bread. Steve is an old friend who I saw for the first time in more than 20 years during my NYC jaunt. He is a writer, working on a long piece right now. He caught me/ us really, up on 20 years of his life. Busy -- I missed a whole two careers of his as he missed one of mine -- but he is the kind of old friends who can slip almost seamlessly into your life again. I like having him back in my life, and I really like that he bakes such great bread!

I am entertaining tonight -- my team from LEND -- a group of marvelous women who I have had the pleasure to getting to know. Tonight is not work, not assignments or projects. Tonight is for fun. This too -- new friends this time -- is a gift that I am ready to take advantage of. Oh, ending sentences with prepositions -- whose teeth are set on edge?

Yes, my selfness, my singleness, and my good fortune at having both for another day are still in gear. Yesterday, cleaning out email, I came upon many, many emails about David. And later did a google search for his name and read a number of very sweet and kind remembrances of him written by people who knew him on the courts, during his Toll Fellowship days, and with the Forward Theater. Notes and articles that I not have looked at even a short time ago. They made me sad, and I cried again. I looked at the pictures and missed him over again. My mother-in-law regularly complains that she has lived for 95 years and what a burden it is. Would that David and I could have had the burden. However do you explain that "burden" of life together to someone who has no appreciation?

But the sadness of all that looking and reading and considering did not send me into a total tail spin. I did not sleep well last night, but I am ready to cook for my friends tonight. That is progress. I have hope.

05 January 2011

Yesterday, when Julia walked outside to get on the school bus she noticed that most of our snow was gone. "Is winter gone? Are we having spring now?" Good observation, good question. Unfortunate answer. No, and it started snowing, lightly, but snowing again today.

Julia has been petulant and grouchy today, but she ate a good supper and went to sleep easily. We will start again tomorrow.
Listening to a cover of Joni Mitchell's "All I want." It is smooth, much prettier, less grittier than the original. And I want the less pretty, the gritty. I want to hear notes and words slipping around. I want to hear the person who lived it, I guess.

"All I want my love to do is to bring out the best in me and in you."

I've cut the email list in half. Yahoo!
Julia is off to school and the morning chores are finished. I have the day to myself and today, has to be email day. I have so many to answer, so many to write, so many to compose. And then getting that holiday card ready to get out. This week's goals and both will get attention today.

I am so quiet. This seems to be a gift to me. A third day of myself. I don't forget David. Ever. It is six months today. Six months. Forever and a blink of the eye. Yes, indeed. Listening to "Another Day" - a James Taylor tune, and feeling very much sung to. Very personal. Magical thinking? Yes indeed. And I don't care. I wish that David was still here to see what we have done this last six months. I wish he was here to do today with me, with us. And tomorrow. And another day after that. But I grow more grateful for the time we had together. Every day. The gift of his life and his love. Healing, invigorating, caretaking, hard, tender, silly, and intense. I was made so much richer from all of it.

I am single with a past. And I am so very proud of that past.

"Wake up Suzie. Put your shoes one. Walk with me into this light. . . ." Thank you, James. I will.

04 January 2011

So, so, so. It is Tuesday and the house is clean (the cleaning person and I worked hard today), the clothes are washed and I made chili on Sunday so we are set for food. LOL! I bought a box of duraflame logs -- I know, the whimps way out but it is reliable and easy -- and we have very little snow. Since yesterday morning, I have felt back to myself. Tomorrow will be six months since David died, and I have a feeling of well being that I have been missing for the last six months. It feels unusual -- like a snake wiggling out of old skin, or a butterfly bursting out of a cocoon. But it is not at all exciting or magnificent. It is quiet and I find myself checking myself, inside and out, to make sure that I will not slide back into morass of grief that I have been living in. I don't expect this airy feeling to be constant and I know that I will cycle back into grief now and then, but it is so very good to feel myself. To have a sense of humor. To feel like I am doing more than putting one foot in front of the other.

So what feels like so long that is all I have been doing. Sometimes I have been so very happy to be able to climb back into bed at the end of a day that I have done so very little.

Part of this is time, just time. Time. That seemingly constant palpable ruler of life -- I'll see you later, it is getting late, I'm early, We are on time. On Time. I have been in and out of time since David has died.

Now, I am used to coming home alone with Julia. I am used to taking the dog out every night and cleaning the cat box. There are no turns. I do it all. I shop. I buy light bulbs. Why did David like to buy the light bulbs? I swear that I haven't bought one in 20 years! I bought some yesterday. I make sure we leave the house on time and get to the airport in plenty of time. I check on the dryer and figure out when to take the muffins out of the oven. I call the plumber and talk to the architect. And I am the only one to plan the future. I can check with Cheshire. Ask her advice, but it is me making the decision. I am growing in confidence -- not that I was not confident before this -- growing in . . . I am becoming uncoupled. I am becoming single.

It is strange and I don't necessarily like it. I like being partnered. I like companions, a companion for my life. But I am not uncomfortable. I am standing on my own and owning myself.

I waited a day before writing about this feeling because I did not expect it to stick around for more than a day. But it did. I await tomorrow to see what happens then.

And on a Julia note (Will I someday start writing more about Julia again than about myself?): Julia seems to be reading, or trying to read, everything! Yesterday, on the way to OT, she was trying to read a kids' book in the back seat of the car. She asked about a word she did not know and I told her to spell it. She didn't know what I meant, so I explained that she should tell me each letter in the word. She spelled out "something" and when I told her the word, she said, "Oh, that is 'something'" Again, such an exciting moment to be a part of. What a gift this child is. What a mind is being unlocked.

And on another front: Maybe there will be a surprise soon.

02 January 2011

On the way to church this morning, Julia told me in no uncertain terms that she liked NYC snow better than Madison snow because the NYC snow is warmer. I tried to explain that all snow is the same temperature (an assumption on my part) and that it was the air that was different. The upshot of that ill-fated remark is that Julia likes the air in NYC better than Wisconsin air. It is a blessing to know when to be quiet.

One of our ministers wished me a happy new year and also that 2010 be the worst year of my life. Good wish. A very good wish.