Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thank you...so very much

You are all amazing in your comments, your desire to even want to come back here. Those of you who have told me that my little blog has given you new appreciation of your loved ones...well that means more than you know. At his funeral service I got up (sort of impromptu and mumbly and the like) because I felt a real need to say something. Something about regrets and love and enjoying each other. So many people had come up to me in the week between losing him and his service and commented on how they had meant to stop in and see us. How they regretted not doing that. How they thought about him all the time. The neighbor's son got up to speak (Leonard had been a father figure to him since his own father showed a lack of interest outside of grudgingly signing a support check each month. Leonard had guided him through some of the tough-and the fun boy stuff too- as a child and as he was reaching manhood. Leonard would help correct him, but only when asked and always with a quiet lecture...just the two of them). This little boy ( I still think of him as little and he's 17) got up, stood at the podium and began to cry. A few people had not been able to talk as they wanted to and didn't even try. But this boy stood there, calmed himself down, looked up and said,"I took Mr. Harper for granted..." and my heart broke for him. And for everyone in that room who thought he would always be there. Our neighbor's son delivered a eulogy (one of so very many) that was so eloquent, so perfect, so much a tribute to my husband that I shall never forget a word of it. He made him come alive. It was if, at moments, he spoke with his voice. Because of his courage, I gathered something (it sure wasn't courage) inside me and told everyone that Leonard, also, had meant to see each one of them. That he would be saying the same thing if the situation had reversed itself. That lives get busy, and people don't always get to the things they intend to, but that it really is the thought that counts. That the only thing I had (and still have) is no regrets about my marriage and the way things were left that day when he went to the store. That he walked out the door knowing that I loved him. That is all I have. And that is what I talked about. About loving each other...even through the arguments. How very happy I was that I had made the decision (on the day he moved in) that I would get up and make his coffee and lunch each day and see him off with a kiss...even on the days when I would have rather smacked him. That is what I have.That is all I have. A marriage savored. That isn't to say that I still don't feel like I took him for granted. I have found that there is no way around it. We do it to ourselves. The what ifs, the I should haves. And they will haunt me, in some small way, all the days of my life.

I am having trouble dealing with my mother. Our relationship is and always has been a train wreck. When one looks at their child as competition, rather than forming a motherly bond (you have my permission to smack me or at least make a comment when you find me repeating myself) a steady relationship has no chance to grow. There is no room for trust and, while love may exist, it is fragile, tenuous and even uncomfortable. Because of our history, I don't trust that this "caring" is genuine. In fact I know it probably isn't. It is, in her mind, the long suffering mother coming to the aid of her daughter, despite her own pain. Gosh, that sounds so mean and uncaring, but I can't help it. It used to be that I could deal with her because there was always Leonard to lean on when he came home....and all would be good. Now, I have to learn to deal with it myself. She brought me to tears over his truck. A friend of hers is buying it. I'm only asking for the payoff because I don't (but sometimes I do) want to see it again. She has called several times to ask if it's out of the shop. If it was out of the shop I would have told her. I tried explaining all of the things that need to be replaced and how that takes time, which forced me to think about the truck, and him inside it, and I lost it. And then she started crying and saying that she didn't know how she could go on. That part of you that splits off in traumatic times, the part that kicks in to save you from insanity started working...what the---? I asked myself. My mother, who had spent the entirety of our marriage telling anyone and everyone (and I do mean everyone...right down to the dentist who told me,"You're nothing like your mother said.") how awful and uncaring we were, how we (with the husband who had fixed her roof, mowed her lawn, painted her shed and done any number of small jobs for her) were never there for her,had turned this around to herself...and how much she had adored her son in law, how she knew exactly how it was because her divorce from my dad was the same. The whole conversation messed with my mind, and my heart. I hung up after saying goodbye and spent a half hour on the back porch sobbing. I really thought that was it. I don't know how I got through that half hour of looking at the emptiness of my life without going crazy.

So now that I sound like a completely self centered uncaring person, we will turn to my son. Poor little guy drank a glass of Apple cider. The men of my family don't....ummm...shall we say handle apple cider well. It tended to mess with my husband's tummy and also does my son's. And they both adore it. But, the price they pay is horrendous and my little guy was in and out of the bathroom tonight and I felt so bad because he loves it so much.

My daughter is watching "America's Next Top Model" reruns and I could almost pretend life is normal and he is just "out". If only.

I am thinking of picking up his ashes tomorrow. I want them so badly, but I am so afraid it will destory me. We're trying to pick an urn out. My son wants one with trees on it because his daddy so loved being "up North" and the sound of wind through the leaves. But it is hard to pick one out when you want it to be perfect and are so afraid of making that decision. I can't bear the thought of his ashes sitting there. Without us.

I appreciate you so much, you friends I have made through the reading commenting on each other's blogs. For you are friends to put up with me. You, the ones who come out of lurkdom to talk to me. It is so very important to me. It is what I look forward to. Your encouragement. Your appreciation of my memories. All of it. All of you.

20 comments:

Kathy said...

Your love for your husband is beautiful. I know you are a very loving, caring woman, in unbearable pain right now. I am sad to read how your Mom is, how she hurts you.
I ache knowing that you feel all alone and can't reach out to you.
I am a grandma and a newly wed, and I want to be like you. I want to always make sure that my husband knows every single day how much I love him.

Gina said...

Laura, what we can do for you, as little as it is, is easy compared to what you are having to go through.

I am glad that we can offer at least a bit of comfort.

Know that people care about you, about your family, and wish only the best for you on your journey of healing. For as long as it may take.

Hugs.

The girl left behind said...

There are some people who think everything is about them. Let 'em. But you don't have to cater to that. It's like some kind of bizarre grief Munchausen's!

I cannot tell you what to do about the ashes. But there is a strange sort of courage in already feeling destroyed: what else could possibly hurt worse? I'll tell you this, though. I was not there to see the urn; I was not there the day they spread the ashes. And oh, how I wanted to be. I never had the chance to have them, and I wish I did.

Haylee said...

Dear Laura:

I am so sorry that your dealings with your mother are complicating an already heart-breaking circumstance. I can offer no solution other than to advise you to consider the source and set your expectations accordingly. Even though your past history is rocky, it's not unreasonable that you expected her to step-up to the plate for you ...that her maternal instinct would engage ... it seems perhaps she is unable, for whatever reason, to do that.

I guess my point is that if you don't expect anything more of her, you may not be so distressed by her behaviors. Maybe her "revision of history" is a way for her to internalize her past short-comings. This doesn't excuse her actions but may explain them to a degree. How sad it is that your second line of defence, your mother, is not there for you in a way that is helpful & comforting.

When people share their thoughts, beit through talking or writing, the reader gets a snapshot of the inner mind of that person.

Of the many personal charactertistics your blogging shows, self-centeredness and uncaring are present nowhere ... not ever.

What comes through loud & clear is that you are a very honest, loving, caring and compassionate wife & mother who is in incredible pain.

I prayed last night that you could draw strength and personal courage from your loving relationship with Leonard ... that your heartbreak will ebb enough for you to once more feel his presence in your life ... that God soothes your fractured soul.

You have an amazing ability to get your thoughts on "paper" .. I only hope you find the same benefit from blogging them as we do from reading.

Wishing you peace & blessings this day.

Jess T said...

Laura,

I have no words. I'm just here for you.

Jess

Laurie said...

Hi Laura,
I'd like to tell you first off that you are not self-centered and uncaring, just the opposite is true.
It sounds like your mom is acting out her own regrets and mother-daughter competition is so common and I don't understand why. Maybe you could use this to do a mental check-in with the relationship you have with your daughter. We can't change the past but we can make sure we don't repeat the hurtful things to our next generation. And I think James choice in urns is a heart felt one deep inside him for his dad. It seems perfect in his male mind for the most special male in his life.
It would probably do his heart so good to make the choice, it would be perfect to James.
Your memories are so real and there is no "putting up with you" in coming here. I come here to support you and let you know how my eyes have opened even more to appreciating my husband more than I already do in our 39 years. There is always room to grow and we are.
I pray for you daily that as you write your heart here, it somehow becomes a little lighter for a moment until the next wave comes. It won't feel this bad forever, but right now in this season, let God carry you through as much as He is wanting to do. Praying for some hope and sunshine to guide your way through today.
Love, Laurie in Ca.

Anonymous said...

Your writing is beautiful and what a tremendous legacy you leave for your children to read as they get older and go through dfiferent stages of their lives...remembering how much their parents loved each other is not something many children get these days.
Your mother sounds like a difficult person, to say the least. Try not to let it get to you...easier said than done...however, you have enough to deal with, without someone adding to your burden.
Although many of us have never "met" you in person, it feels like we do know you through your writing, and that even if that's all - we're still friends. PLEASE remember that we're all out here for you...praying for you, thinking of you and wishing you ALL the best...
J

Sharpie said...

Oh Sweetie. Through all of this - you thank us. We are truly not worthy of your friendship. You are one awe-inspiring woman with a heart larger than the room I stand in.

We are here for you. Even if it feels like no one else is. Lean on us.

Much love.

Jess said...

Laura,

I have so much to say but not a lot of time this morning. I did just want to quickly say that even though that selecting the urn and picking up the ashes is going to be hard you really should just do it. I speak from experience here as someone who has waited and waited and waited- the closure would be a good thing, I think. My sister and I have not yet spread my father's ashes (and he wanted us to spread them)) 10 years later. I think it is almost a matter of us not wanting to choose the wrong place or time or something because we just sort of allow each other to put it off. Well, this isn't completely true, Rachael has spread some at various places but we have never followed through on taking the final step.

Likewise, I have some of Hannah here with me. I thinkI am paralyzed by the choice of what to do with her. Do I put her in a potted tree in the soil? Find a nice urn? Once again I am paralyzed by the decision. So, she waits for me to figure it out. And I need to do so soon.

I'm sorry you have such a struggle with your mother, especially during such a difficult time. It is too soon for you to face dealing with that relationship, I would imagine. My mother and I had struggles for a number of years and I finally had to come to the conclusion that I had to change myself and how I interacted with her because our usual way wasn't going to work. I love her more than I want to be right, which is a very challenging concept for me to handle on some days.

My hope for you today is that you try and find one beautiful thing about your life- just anyone small thing- and focus on that. I think that is what has carried Rach through thus far- finding the beauty even though inside her heart it probably seems like everything around her has dimmed since Hannah died.

I am thinking of you so often and I am sending you a cyber hug and a kiss.

Love,

Jess

Shelly said...

Oh sweetie,

These comments:
"in her mind, the long suffering mother coming to the aid of her daughter, despite her own pain."
"who had spent the entirety of our marriage telling anyone and everyone (and I do mean everyone...right down to the dentist who told me,"You're nothing like your mother said.") how awful and uncaring we were, how we (with the husband who had fixed her roof, mowed her lawn, painted her shed and done any number of small jobs for her) were never there for her"
about your mother - I could have written them about my mother. She told her co-workers who were complaining about their daughters-in-law how much more difficult I was as a daughter than their daughters-in-law. And after my daughter was born, she sadly told her friends at church that she didn't get invited to visit us much, when in reality, she was visiting 2-3 times a week. When you're a bit stronger, you might want to read a bit about antisocial personality disorder. My mother definitely has it. Yours might. It might make dealing with her a little easier. Or give you the strength to stop dealing with her altogether. It might make some of the hurts of your past make more sense (it did for me). There's a book called "The Sociopath Next Door" that talks about people with antisocial personality disorder and why they do the things they do.

And I'm so glad that our comments help you. I thought about you last night as I was talking to my husband. Like other commenters have said, you've made me a better wife to my husband. I know what I have and appreciate it. My heart broke for you last night because we were just laying in bed talking and I thought about you missing Leonard and not having times like that anymore. I'm so so so deeply sad for your loss. I wish there was more I could do to help you.

Scott said...

There are so many other friends you have here who give such great advice that I would not want to distract you away from those with any of my own. I just wanted you to know that we care, we laugh with you and cry with you, but more than anything we care and are here for you as much as we can be. I hope you continue to find comfort in your friends here.

Shannon said...

Lots more love through the internet today, and everyday.

Marsha said...

My relationship with my mother is not so hot either. I find this fact to be particularly troubling during difficult times. I also find that when I am going through a difficult time, the memories of other difficult times come to the surface and I feel the way I felt then, remember the pains and angers from years ago, it all just spirals.

I gain so much from reading your words. I have tried to be kinder to my husband and you should see his face light up. For that I am grateful to you. I am glad leaving comments helps. I am glad you have found a way to talk about how you are feeling without having to hold back.

hugs.

Michele said...

Everyone above said so much good stuff, that all I have to offer is a big, fat hug. And even more admiration for you.

rachd said...

Yes, it's those comments from complete strangers who begin to feel like friends that pulled me from one funk and then another. The thing is, we all care. We really do. I'll call Jessie and ask her if she's read your post for the day. We worry about you and pray for you and are here to support you no matter what.

And no, you didn't sound self-centered in the least. You sound like someone who is going through one of the worst things a person can experience and is trying to come to terms with how to survive and then, how to move on. You'll find your own path in your own way in your own time. Hang in there, sweetie!

HUGS!

Shari said...

That's what we are here for. Cry on our shoulders. Let it out. Pour your heart out in writing. We'll listen. I'd offer you my phone number, too, but I struggle with voices I am not familiar with. But I could IM you if you need to. And my email is on the sidebar of my blogs.

Michigan's only one state away. :)

I'm sorry that you have that kind of relationship with your mother. Sound like she likes to complain and have people feel sorry for her. You don't sound so self-centered at all.

jillie said...

I was just at Shari's and stopped over. Even though I don't know you I wish I could give you a hug and let you know that you WILL be ok. Just take one day at a time and know that your husband will always be with you as you carry him very deeply into your heart.

You and your children are in my prayers!!

((HUGS))

greatauntoftriplets said...

Laura, those of us who "know" you want to help you get through your pain -- if you ever can. Please know that we are here for you, and care.

Sheila aka greatauntoftriplets

Jess said...

Just coming back by to say that I am thinking about you tonight and hoping for you peace, at least for a short while. Thank you for helping me appreciate my husband like I should.

Love,

Jess

Woli said...

A few days ago, I was draw to your blog(via Tangential Thoughts)like a moth to a light bulb. Your blog title was light and fabulous and after all the "heavy" emotion on my cousin Rachel's page (life with Hannah and Lily), I was ready to put away the box of Kleenex and have a good laugh. Little did I know . . . thank goodness the box was still right by my side.

Please, know that I really appreciate your candid nature and raw emotion. For me, blogging is a diary of sorts. It is a place where I can let it all hang out. Never apologize to anyone for "being self centered," it could not be further from the truth. For better or for worse, these are your thoughts and emotions and you have a right to them. I can't even fathom the pain you are going through right now. I have cried for you and will continue to cry with you during your healing process.

Thank you for shining a light on me and my own relationship with my husband. Too often we take each other for granted. Often times he drives me crazy for all of his little eccentricities. Now I feel guilty because you would love for your husband to walk in right now and leave his dirty socks and underwear on the floor. Because of you, I will appreciate and love my husband just a little bit more everyday! How I would be lost without him.

Thank You!

Woli