Friday, September 21, 2007

Where'd you go?

My son asked me to download Fort Minor's "Where'd You Go" off of Napster to his MP3 player tonight (thank goodness they have a "cleaned up" version of this song). I was listening to it (to be sure of the cleaned upedness of it) and found myself sobbing and rocking my son. It seems I can find anything in a song to cry about these days. God, I miss him.
James (my son) and I went out tonight. We went to "Red Robin" (not my favorite-not a burger girl) because he loves it there. We then went to the mall for a birthday present for his cousin. 12 year old girls are horridly awful shop for. "What would you like for your birthday, Sweetie?" "Anything you buy me would be nice, Aunt Laura." Leonard always wanted to wow her each year. She soon figured out (by age 4, I think) that Uncle Leonard would buy her her hearts desire, as long as she told Aunt Laura first. One year it was an American Girl Doll. The next, an AG Bitty Baby. Of course he always would want to buy her something he loved as a child. Think BB gun and/or erector set here. He'd be so excited. I would hate to pop his bubble,"Honey, she's a girly girl . He always felt really close to her... seeing a lot of himself as a child in her. She is quiet, shy and sweet. My husband is much the same. He spent a lot of time just hanging out and talking with her. It hurt worse watching her sweet face in the days afterward.
After the mall, we went and played putt putt (mini golf). We had gone about 5 weeks ago. I try, and always have tried, to spend time with each of the kids on their own...with just me. Leonard would go out with one, I'd go out with the other. It was really weird to be back at the same place because 5 weeks ago my cell phone rang at just about every other hole with Daddy wondering if we were having a good time. I really wish I had invited him along because our daughter had made other plans that night. Another one for the could have, should have, would have file. It has been a really difficult two days for me. The loneliness is just now beginning to crash in. I spend time with my son, realizing that, in a few short years, he will go the way of his sister. I so don't want to mess up my children. I long so much for one more reassuring,"You're the best Mommy in the world" from my husband,with that incredible wink of his. If he were to come back, I would even forgive him for being a Lions fan.
****HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANNAH***** I wore a sparkly bracelet and earrings for you today.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Is there anything you need..."

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 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.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Tonight we went out to dinner with my mother in law. We went to Applebee's, which I am not a big fan of...and apparently neither is my son. I spent about 20 minutes asking them where they wanted to go. You know how it goes,"I don't care. Anywhere is fine. I'm just hungry." My daughter suggested Applebees. This was a good suggestion as it was not a place that Leonard and I went to and I am having a hard time doing the things we used to do. At that moment my son popped up with,"I hate Applebees...!" I don't know how this is possible since he has never been there. My seasoned parental response? "Too bad. Too late. Done deal..." I know, I'm really good at building character. He spent most of the day (it was a half day) with my mother in law and was kind of beat so I gave his restaurant mini tantrums (i.e. just loud enough to make everyone at the table lose their appetite, but not loud enough to cause him any embarrassment from other diners) a break. This is usually followed by an "I miss daddy, remember when..." session. So far it hasn't happened, but I am girding myself.

It is difficult to see my mother in law because little bits and pieces of less than flattering things she has said about me have come back to me. Ummmm....people....I don't really need to know everything she thinks of me. We did manage to have an okay time. And I do care about her. There are do I put it...issues there.

It is now 8:25 and all is calm in the house.

I have decided to write little bits and pieces of just who Leonard was on this blog, due to some feedback I have received...and I'm sure you all know I could talk about him forever. I think it might be helpful to me because my main worry is that time will pass, and people will forget. I'm going to attempt to write little thumbnail sketches of our life together.

I know I had mentioned elsewhere in this blog that Leonard and I first met when we were 12. He sat behind me in 7th grade. Another interesting factoid is that we actually dated and broke up, at age 18, before actually falling in love (ha! he said it first even) at 22. We dated for a year at the age of 18. I broke up with him because...don't laugh...he was too nice. Seriously. He opened doors for me, escorted me to the bathroom (how embarrassing) called me "Love" and, worst of all, enjoyed spending time with my parents. My father adored him even then. He would pick up fast food, ice cream, you name it for them on his way to pick me up (usually a half hour early when I wasn't even done with my hair). It used to irritate the heck out of me. Remember, this was 1988 and I wanted a "bad boy". Think Motley Crue/Poison/GunsNRoses here. So I did what any idiot would do. I broke up with him. For 4 years my father would, every once in a while ask, "What ever happened to that Leonard? I really liked him." I never admitted it to my family but I started missing him the day after we broke up.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Just one night at a time...

Tonight is the first night, since that night, that it will be just the kids and I in the house. I am frightened by that. I find myself forgetting to breathe, getting chills and just wanting to collapse again. It is almost "okay" when there are people around. The less people, the more his absence grows.

I have been recalling the last moments that I saw him. He was standing at the kitchen sink, drinking a glass of water after having mowed the lawn. A normal Sunday. How I wish I could go back in time and not take that shower, force myself upon him, go with him on that ride to the store. I keep trying to figure out a way to go back and change things...which is normal, I suppose.

I just put my son to bed, after he and his sister and I had a gut wrenching cry... and all I could say is how sorry I was. They start Sandcastles next week and I hope that will help them.

Aunt Diane (not really a blood aunt, but a person who has been so close to the family that my husband grew up calling her aunt, and her family is closer to me than a lot of my real family-she's his mother's best friend) had a bracelet made out of swarovski (sp) crystals with his name spelled out for me. It is beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time. Leonard loved a song by Waylon Jennings entitled "It's Not Supposed to Be that Way..." and I played it over and over again in the car yesterday. I think of decades stretching out empty without him, after the children are grown and I cannot bear it. But I have to. and it hurts.

To those of you who have been so thoughtful with your replies, I appreciate it. Your words, your kindness and caring are amazing. I have about 20 or so blogs I visit on a regular basis. I've been trying to get back into commenting. To those of you who let my sometimes disjointed posts stand, you are wonderful. Sometimes I run across a place where a comment of mine has been deleted and it is hurtful, (my husband existed... my husband was 10 x any other man I have ever come across in my life. Of course I am biased, but if you had only had the chance to meet him... ) but then I tell myself that these things are really difficult to understand until one goes through them themselves. Which I hope never happens to another family. Memorializing a loved one,and speaking about them, is a way of working through the heart hurting grief. I hope everyone who reads this feel safe and loved tonight.