I love my family. I am so grateful for my father taking care of some of the "tougher" stuff for me. My mother is trying really hard to just love me. We have had our share of troubles. My mother looked at me as her competition, more than her daughter. But, it's okay. I deal with it and she really has been there for me. Albeit with 50 million questions, like,"Whose underwear is this?" or "Where do you store this pot..." that interrupted my trying to go through pictures for the boards at the funeral home. I finally snapped and shouted,"You can pile it all up in the back yard and set fire to it for all I care about it right now." I confess, that was a mere 2 days after my husband's very unexpected passing ( I can't bring myself to use the "D" word today and maybe someday I'll get up the nerve to tell the whole story of what happened) so they truly were the last things on my mind.
I have completely digressed, and am now babbling... So back on track. In the three and a half weeks since then I will receive phone calls. Sometimes 20 in one day with 2 always coming at the same time. Sometimes an entire day goes by without a phone call. Those are really sad days. But always, the wonderful ( and I say wonderful in all seriousness, because they are) person on the other end will inevitably ask,"Is there anything you need...?" Today I was talking to his cousin and I said,"Yes, I need to hold the edge of his t-shirt in my hand and feel his warm skin brush my knuckles so that I can fall asleep. I need to be able to get him up for work and make him coffee, I need to make dinner while he sits on the computer playing poker and talking to me. I need to go back to a few of our conversations and pay more attention so he knew how important what he said was to me. I need him to cuddle with his son in Krandall (Krandall was the name that Leonard had given to the ridiculously, monstrously huge, ugly Lazy Boy that he bought a few months ago), I need his arms around me, I need to give him that haircut I promised because his messed up neckline always bothered him, I need to hug him so hard so that he would never leave me. Can you go get him for me please...?" ... and I felt so bad. She sat there in silence and then said,"You just made this so real. I have been able to pretend, but I guess this is not the time for pretend, and I'm just so sorry I can't do that for you." She is a wonderful woman and the one person I can do this with without immediately regretting it. I love her. Her name is Suzanne and she is relocating to Texas (I'm sending one down for you Tessie and you will adore her) with her family in a few months. I will miss her, her quirky ways and her just being there. I'm just soaking her up while she is still here. Now I have two reasons to take the kids to Texas. My Aunt and Uncle live in San Antonio, and my cousin will live in Houston. I do mean to do a lot of traveling with the kids. It's what Leonard and I talked about doing differently on that Saturday before.
I am really talking up a storm here today, aren't I? On the Friday evening after Leonard's funeral, his best friend invited everyone over to my house and lit up a huge bonfire for Leonard. It is what my husband loved most of all. A big fire (God, he loved playing with matches and blowtorches), some beer and the ones he loved. There were about 60 people there. Imagine a 60x120 lot filled with people. It felt so good. I could imagine him out there...somewhere in the smoke and the laughter and the beer and the kids playing. We were all talking about Leonard and the really amazing stuff he did for people. He really did have a way of just showing up and doing what needed to be done. People I didn't even really know well told me how he would visit them on his way home from work, he once went on a double date (with my neighbor's room mate) after we were married and I was on bed rest. He really wanted to introduce one of his cousins to my neighbor (they are now married so you could call my husband a matchmaker) but she did not want to go out alone. I suggested they take her room mate. So they did. They went out to a rather nice restaurant and,while they were eating, a coworker of Leonard's came up to him to say hello. This man had met me before, knew that this woman was not me and was stunned. Leonard never clarified until the following Monday. I actually assured this man at the next Christmas Party that I had known of his "date" and had actually advocated for it. Leonard said the look on his co worker's face was priceless and worth going out without me for.
I began telling a bunch of stories that Leonard was embarrassed about. The type of stories that would earn a kick under the table or a certain look that would immediately tongue tie me. But they were wonderful stories and a real look into the man I married. On of my most favorite memories is the day we got engaged. So many people have romantic stories they tell of their mate's proposal. While not exactly romantic, mine was truly a sweet glimpse at my husband. He called earlier in the day and said that we "needed to talk", which immediately struck fear into my heart. We had been together for four years and I had let myself become confident that this was the person I was going to love forever. I fretted the entire day and almost didn't come home. When he arrived, he sat down on the couch and just looked at me. He was so nervous that he had sweat right through his shirt (some people chew their nails, some shout...my husband sweat like a pro when he was worried/stressed/nervous). Another of my husband's attributes is the need to be painfully honest (you always knew what he thought even when you didn't want to). He began with,"When I called you this morning I was going to come over and break up with you. I always told myself that I would date a girl for a year and if I didn't feel like I could marry her after that I would break up with her. For us it has been four years and I really thought that I was not fair to you. But then, as I was driving around, I realized that the reason we were together is because I wanted to be with you. So, if you can sell this trailer, we'll get a house and I'll marry you..." Oh my! My knight in shining armor! Come to save me from all of this! I just sat there...kind of blinking at him. I mean, I confess, that moment was what I had dreamed of. Not necessarily presented as a business type arrangement but there it was. So I said,"Okay." To which he replied," I really f*cked that up, didn't I?" and that moment I realized he didn't mess it up because it was exactly, perfectly him... He did go on to kiss me and ask me if I would be his bride and it was sweet and romantic and led to other things. His best friend picked out my ring, he was that nervous about it and then, when he went to show it to my parents, he was so nervous that he tripped and flipped their couch over. Nothing ever came easy for my poor, sweet husband.
This is my husband and our daughter at her first Homecoming. He was so disombobulated at the thought of our baby actually *gasp* dating.