Friday, October 5, 2007


Today I cleaned off the dining room table for the first time since August. It, of course, is already cluttered again but at least I did something. It looked nice for four hours. I still cannot bring myself to sit with the children at it at dinnertime. I will have to work up to that. I do feel like a wimp for letting every little thing bring up a memory. And the memories all seem to hurt this week.

I was able to talk about him to my cousin for about an hour without crying. The next half hour was all about crying on the phone with her. She is the only relative (outside of my parents) that is not through marriage that lives close by...close by being about 2 hours away.

Today it was the lawnmower. I was bringing some soda pop cans out to the garage and it caught my eye. I realized he was the last person to touch it because the last thing he did was mow the lawn. My neighbor (have I said what wonderful neighbors I have?) has been mowing for me ever since. I walked over to it and ran my hands along where his hands were. I confess I even unscrewed the gas cap to look at the gas that was put in my him. I am having trouble with not wanting to move things that he touched last, not wanting to take his name off this house, our accounts. It comes down to not wanting to remove him from this world. I still have such a hard time accepting that he is not going to come back.
Tonight I am hosting a "poker tutorial" of sorts. One of my husband's (and later my own) favorite pastimes was playing Texas Hold'em. I used to tease him for watching the program, "World Poker Tour"--I mean really, how boring is it to spend an hour (or five, if it's a marathon, watching other people play poker?) I ended up playing at first to appease him. And then it got interesting. I love trying to read people. It's the budding psychologist in me. It worked out, sometimes. But I was ever as good at it as he was. People used to say that they had a hard time reading my husband's "tells" (that, apparently, is pokereeze for signs you give about what is in your hand). There is going to be a benefit Texas Hold'em game in his honor next weekend. The problem is, most of his family/friends have no idea how to play. So I am having a cookout (beer brats and Italian sausage) and a tutorial game, so that those who know how to play can teach those who don't. I doubt I will ever play again. It's something we did together. Something I didn't think I would even like. And, looking back on it, I think I liked it so much because it was spending time with him...the two of us. I so loved watching him smile at me and get excited for me when I would win. That is what it was really about. Not so much the love of playing.
I am having some bracelets made up for the benefit. After his service I was talking to my brother (who is a comedian--no, for reals--back in Los Angeles). He told me that if he could have gotten up to speak (which he couldn't because he was too upset) he would have commented on all of the wonderful things that people had said Leonard had done for them...about how some had said he was the "go to guy" at work, how his best friend said he relied on calling him sometimes for his opinion on household jobs... and how it got him to thinking about those WWJD Bracelets (you know, the what would Jesus do bracelets?) and how they should say WWLD. So, I looked around online and found a site where they can make them up and ordered some that say WWLD...What would Leonard Do? with his birthdate and the other date on them. The bracelets will be black. Not because of mourning but because my husband was a huge fan of Johnny Cash (before it was cool even) and he had a lot of black shirts, boots, jeans. In fact, I used to call him my very own "Man In Black".
I keep waiting for the day when this will get better. And I've come to realize that it probably never will get better. I think I will always start the day with this horrible ache, this missing an appendage feeling. And I think I will just have to get used to it. Kind of like how my knees used to hurt so much that I would cry at the thought of getting out of bed in the morning...until the pain became just another part of who I am. The weekends are the worst. I used to live for them. Now (and don't hit me cube farm denizens) I long for Monday. Although it's double edged, because I hate this being alone. On the weekends I do have the children.
I realized this morning that this is the longest I have ever been apart from him. It is actually 4 times longer than the longest I had ever been apart from him. And I wish that my mind would stop realizing.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thank 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.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dear Leonard

God, how I love you. Oh how this hurts. Each day I wake up on the couch-because I cannot bear to be in our room-and it hits me fresh again. What has happened to us? I miss you so much...too much. Each day this burden, this knowing, gets even harder to handle.

I was going through your top drawer today, just wanting to touch your things...the things that were important to you... and I found a stack of cards. All of the cards I had ever given you. The ones you used to fake roll your eyes over and ask,"Do I have to read the whole thing right now?" or "Did you have to add even more writing..." The ones you used to read and then look over at me and smile and say,"That's very nice,dear and I love you too" because you didn't know what else to say. You confessed that to me once. I read through every one of those cards, picking and slicing and slashing at this wound you have left that will never heal. And I counted. I counted 37 times (how funny that matches our ages) where I wrote that I could never possibly imagine a life without you in it. A fear...realized.

I was remembering how I would tell you to drive safe and wear your seat belt every morning when you left for work and thinking of how you were found with your seatbelt on. I remembered how I would call you every morning about 25 minutes after you left and say,"I just wanted to make sure that you made it to work okay..." until you asked me to stop using that phrase and to call you "just to say hello". I remember that really rough day you were having at work when you called me to say that you just needed to hear the sound of my voice. I don't think you have any idea how much I loved the sound of your voice... how much I crave it now. I need you so much.

I keep thinking back to Friday night, laying on your chest and listening to your heartbeat...and feeling safe. Saturday morning, just the two of us, drinking coffee and talking and you opening your heart up to me. Of running your fingers through my hair as I lay in your lap-of switching places and laying your head in my lap. Noting that your hair was beginning to gray at the temples (just a touch) and how unbelievable it was that you would be even more stunning to look at. Of picking up James that night and watching "Charlotte's Web" together. Of holding a washcloth to your head later on because you had a headache and couldn't sleep. Of laying there with you that last night and just running my hands along your skin.

Of that night, a long time ago, when we were out with friends and I was telling a story. Of you leaning over as I was talking, and kissing me. Then leaning back and winking at me (with that incredibly delicious wink) and saying,"I'm sorry. What were you saying? I couldn't help myself."

I long for your arms and your hands and your eyes. I can't imagine this. I need you. I need you. I need you so badly.

The friends and family have left. The phone doesn't ring sometimes all day. A few really wonderful people call, but I am sure I am driving them away because I can't be "me" anymore, and nothing they say is remembered. And I am so incredibly alone. Your death has affected and hurt so many people that I understand that it is easier for them to avoid it. Avoid us. The few times I have gone somewhere to see our friends or family I am the third wheel. I am jealous. I am longing. and I am loving you. And it is the most painful thing to feel your heart break over and over again until you start to wonder if you really could die of a broken heart.

I took our son out to dinner tonight at a restaurant you hated...because I cannot handle going to our family places and he is being such a good boy. He is surviving and you would be proud, but he misses you. And a lot of the time when we talk about you and he starts to cry all I can do is cry with him and tell him I am sorry and wish like hell that I could change places with you. And the restaurant is surrounded by places I have been with you...Lowe's and the theater where we just took the kids to see the Simpson's movie and I said that we shouldn't have to pay to see what you can see at home for free and you laughed because that was the first scene and the first thing Homer said...and you squeezed my hand behind James' head. And your daughter isn't facing this, and she doesn't want to be around me, and I am messing this up, faltering so badly that it's time for you to come home now.

I miss you. I miss us.

Safety, Security and Self Esteem

My mother in law came to visit yesterday. Well, not to visit, but to pick up James and take him to see his cousin. I think I've said it before but they are the same age and he has been really good for my son. I am having a difficult time with my mother in law because she focuses on the past (she left my father in law and the boys when my husband was only 12) and hasn't moved forward. She will tell you she has but then bring it up again at any chance. I don't want my son to bear the burden of that (he wasn't even born then) any more than I wanted my husband to. The guilt she could put on his shoulders was incredible. This is not a rant on my mother in law. I do love her, I just wish she could see these things and deal with them. Of course, it is always easier for us to see the shortcomings of others without focusing on our own. I'm trying to remember this.
The reason I bring this up is because, at one point, she asked if I needed anything. I said," Since you can't bring him back for me there is nothing I need." To which she responded,"You know he was MY son..." Of course he was, but I don't want to compete on who loss is worse. Not when all I want to do is give up and go be with him. (note to self, stare hard at children this afternoon, when they come home)
He was my husband, he was my best friend. He was my every day. My morning, my evening and my weekends. My thoughts. My Safety. My Security. and My Self Esteem. and the words that follow will explain why...

When I was 19, I broke up with Leonard and met the biological father of our daughter (from here on out to be known as "the sperm donor", for that is all he ever was). I am not going to go too much into the details but he (the sperm donor) was physically and emotionally abusive to me. I was a virgin when I met him and intended to stay that way until marriage (oh why did this good little girl go looking for a "bad boy"?). He had other plans and so, one night, he raped me. This was before date rape became a part of the national vocabulary and there was nothing I could do. I said nothing. Told no one. And ended up pregnant. 19, with a man that frightened me, and pregnant. Something I could never tell my parents. So the sperm donor did it for me. I will never forget the pain on my father's face. I will never forgive my mother for not believing me in the years that followed about how it (the pregnancy) came about. Stupidly, I stayed with the sperm donor for 2 months after. I left him 3 days before our wedding (good girls get married when they get into trouble...or so I was told) in a flurry of fear. I moved back home with my parents.

The next 6 months were hell. Neither one of my parents could look at me. My dad, because his heart was breaking, my mom...well because I don't think she ever could look at me. I was wounded, mentally, physically and spiritually. I jumped at loud noises, couldn't stand to be touched (which is a horrible thing when one is pregnant and had never before been to an OB/Gyn) and began a rapid spiral down, spending weeks in my room, seeing no one, afraid to leave the house because the sperm donor began stalking me. Again this is before stalking laws became a national occurrence. My daughter was born, and I was afraid to touch her. I told my father that, if I did not have any feeling for her within 3 months, that the right thing to do would be to put her up for adoption. I left the hospital by the back door because the sperm donor was at the entrance. And so began my life as a single mom.
Over the next few days and weeks I fell in love with my daughter. I grew up right alongside her, lived for her smile and was able to cobble together an existence...even somewhat peaceful for us. When she turned two, things were looking up. She and I, me and her. A team. She was the only one I could touch and be touched by. She, alone, the only one who made me feel like a person. My father was worried, he missed hugs and talks and told me he thought I should see someone. And so I did...sort of.

I remember the night like it was just last Friday. It was the Friday after my 22nd birthday, June 13th (the reason why I've always considered Friday the 13th to be lucky) when I got a phone call. It was from an old friend that I hadn't seen since I was dating Leonard. They were having a party at his girlfriend's (also one of my dearest friends) and wanted me to come. I said thanks, but no thanks and hung up. My father was irritated with me, telling me that I never went out, never had fun, he would baby sit and the time was now for me to get on with my life. That I couldn't be Super Mom forever. So, I called back, and I drove over.

Knocking on the door, butterflies in my stomach...almost turning back to run to the car. And then I hear footsteps or, more correctly, bootsteps. "Is that Leonard? That has to be Leonard...", I thought to myself. The butterflies became giant Luna moths because so many times over the past few years I had thought of him (like every day) and wondered where he had gone. The door opened and it was him. Looking exactly like I remembered him. And me. My heart and my stomach did something that they did forever after whenever I laid eyes on him. My heart dropped and my stomach leaped up and they met together and bounced for 3 or 4 beats before calming down. That is the best way I can explain the feeling I got whenever I saw him for 15 years. I never was without him (with the exception of a trip he took to Arizona) for a weekend after that...for four years, until the day we married.
That night, he sat and looked at pictures of Nicole. We sat on the porch and talked about our lives a little. He asked if he could see me the next night, and I froze...but I said yes. He picked me up (and I didn't even complain this time about him being early, which is what I used to do so many times on our first go round) and took me out to dinner at a place called the Olde Town Tavern. And it was wonderful. We sat there for 5 hours (I'm sure the waitress loved us) and I spilled out everything. I don't know why and I said so that night to him. Something about him just made me want to put it all out there. I told him that I was lonely, scared, and insecure. That I didn't think I could handle a physical (kissing, hugging, touching etc) relationship but that I yearned for companionship...someone to talk to. He did an amazing thing then. He said he understood and that it would be a welcome change for him...this not rushing. This just being there. And he kept that promise to me for 6 months.
We had wonderful times. Going to movies, pubs and restaurants. Walking in the parks as fall fell. Enjoying the leaves. Walking with him was always so peaceful. He knew so much about nature. When you talked to him, you had his full attention, his devastating beautiful eyes fixed on you, his dimple popping up and then fading with the quirky grin that he had. When he talked his beautiful mouth and quiet voice molded the words so precise...he always worried about saying something wrong. He never realized his own intelligence. And... I found myself falling in love. I found myself wanting him to hug me, to hold me, to kiss me. But he was keeping a promise he made to me.
My best girlfriend was getting married in December and had asked me to stand up for her. I asked Leonard if he would be my date and he agreed. I didn't see him until at the reception as I had driven with another girl and he was going to meet me there and take me home. In a suit, my husband was about as drop dead handsome as you can get. I had never seen a man as handsome, as sexy and as boyishly good looking all in one person. We had a great time. We danced to Love Me Tender and he sang in my ear. I was letting him hold me! And it didn't hurt. and I didn't flinch. He saw my parents again for the first time in 3 years...and they were so happy to see him. I treasure the memories of that evening. It was that rush of first love, mixed in with feeling like you've known someone for ever.
He took me home that evening and we stood on the porch. I let him kiss me, and then he hugged me and held me for the longest time. And I held him back. And kissed him back. And then he said in the shakiest of voices,"God, I love you so much..." (it hurts so bad to type that today...when I know I'll never hear it again) and then he pulled back and said, "I'm sorry...did I say that out loud?" and I said, "It's okay because I love you too..." and that night, our love was born out of security and safety and his helping me to assemble a feeling of worthiness about myself.
This is the stuff that my mother in law will never understand about us. I needed him and he needed me. He knew me better than I knew myself...I knew him better than he knew himself. The Friday night before he died he told me that he was sorry for not always putting me first. That I was the only person that had ever completely trusted him, believed in him and loved him without thought. And I told him that we would have to die on the same day because I couldn't bear the thought of living without him.
And then I lost him on August 26th, and I lost my safety, my security, and my self esteem...and the years have turned back to the girl I was at 22...only I know there will never be him behind that door to save me.
I wish you all could have known him. I sometimes think that maybe I worried so much about him dying when he was alive because it always seemed to me that he was just too good for this world, that he was too good for me.
My stomach and heart haven't flippity-ed in over a month...and it's killing me.
I must remember to look really, really hard at my children when they come home from school today.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Field Trips

Today, my son and I went on a Field Trip. The first part was a boat ride and the second part was to the Science Center. That part was booo-ooo-rrr--ing. Why, you ask? Because that was his field trip in 2nd grade because he was in a 2/3 grade split and that's where the third graders go. It's a fun place to visit...but not a fun place to attempt to keep four children in line over 4 floors of exhibits. Luckily, all 4 of my charges came home. I enjoyed spending the day with my little boy...I miss them so much when they are in school...but my heart broke as we traveled by boat along the Canadian waterfront. My husband and I spent our wedding night in Windsor, before traveling by train to Niagara Falls. I remember, like yesterday, walking along the waterfront with him-seeing all the sights, the monuments...the same ones I saw without him today. God this hurts worse every day. I don't really think I do have the strength for it.

In the group picture, James is in the middle, a good friend of his is on the left and a little boy I detest with all my heart (for teasing James about his Daddy a couple of weeks ago) is on the right. I was extremely unfortunate, and this boy landed in our group. I had a hard time not being mean to him for what he had done to my son. He is easy to get angry at because he never listens, climbs on crap and is a general pain. The very sad part is that I don't feel any better for typing that.

I took my nightly shower and cry tonight. It does feel as if the heartache gets worse. I stare at the bracelet (the one with his name and crystals) and it doesn't seem possible. The service is a blur in my memory...I'm writing thank you cards to people I don't remember seeing, and feeling sorry that I didn't seem to talk to them. I am still grasping at something, anything, that will turn the clock back and bring my baby back to me. My strength, my kids' daddy...our family...back.

This last picture is a picture I took of James and Leonard in July, at the airshow. Leonard had made some of the parts for the engine you see behind them. I wish I would have listened better when he explained it to me. It is one of the many things I wish for that I won't receive. The other thing that was so very hard today was to see the other Dads on the field trip. Leonard was supposed to be there this year-he had promised James. I am a poor substitute for this Daddy's Boy's Daddy.

We went shopping today for a couch to match Krandall (see previous posts), because our sofa sleeper is getting kind of worn. I found myself in the store, not wanting to buy something that I know he'll never use...never see. It feels like the past few weeks have been one step forward and 500 steps back.

I thank all of you for your kind words, your support... I find myself wanting to post a happy memory tonight, but I can't find one. You are all wonderful people.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


I find myself doing some really crazy stuff these days. Yesterday, I was cleaning out my inbox (Leonard always made fun of the fact that I had literally thousands of emails that I never read, but always got, because I signed up for 11 million different mailing lists) and I sent him an email, asking him to come back. He didn't respond.

The reason I was going through my email was because I was looking for these pictures. They were taken by his cousin in April on another one of the best nights of my life.

His cousin, Deb, works at the bar, which is located in a bowling alley. We had gone out on one of our "Once Annual Date Nights" (which were almost up to "Twice Annual" seeing as our daughter could now baby sit. We were driving around, without an idea of what to do when we decided to stop in and see Deb. This is (in case you can't tell by the flag and the bull) a Country Western bar. Whenever we went up there, Leonard delighted in giving the guy who ran the bull $5 here and there, to pay for others to he could watch and laugh. On this night, I think he spent about $75 in bull rides for others. As the night, and the beer wore on (he had a built in designated driver in me), he started thinking of riding the bull himself. "Leonard, you're going to hurt yourself....", that was Deb's response. Mine was something like, "I really don't want to end a great night in the ER, Honey." Just when I had thought we talked him out of it, a girl got on and rode the bull. Well hell, "if she can do it...screw it, I'm trying it." Screw it, I'm trying it is a variation of a phrase my husband used often---at work, while programming and stuck in a tough spot; at home, while fixing any one of a gazillion things that always seemed to go wrong; playing Euchre (a card game that I have found out doesn't exist the whole country over) when he only had 1 trump but didn't want to give up the call. Off he went.

"Start Slow..." was his only warning. He did start slow and then steadily had them go faster and faster until it was (almost) top speed. And he stayed on. And he looked so funny that Deb took these pictures with her camera phone. And I spent the entire time worried and waiting for him to fall off and crack his neck, break an arm, bust a kneecap...but he didn't. Not Mr. "Ten Feet Tall and Bullet proof". But he did aggravate an old work injury in his wrist, that plagued him every day until the day ...well, until that day. And he did have bruises on his thighs the next morning. But, he had fun. So much fun. That's what I'm missing.

That was also the night that he paid the band (even though bands take requests for free) to play something by Johnny Cash. They ended up playing about half of "A Boy Named Sue" and then the singer couldn't remember the rest of the words and they went on to something else. Again, me upset. He, just laughing.

I miss him. I miss his face. I miss our dates. I miss his laugh. I cannot list all that I miss.

I took my children to that same bowling alley on Friday. I couldn't take sitting in the house anymore. I thought bowling and seeing Deb would be a good idea. We got up there and James had a blast. Deb's boyfriend went with him through the haunted house that they have set up where the bull usually is. I was "okay" for about 20 minutes, but my eyes kept drifting over to the place where we used to the end of the bar, and I lost it in a quiet way. I still can't believe that we won't do that again. All I can say is that Weekends Suck. In such a big way. On the one hand I am grateful to have the children home because I don't feel as lonely. On the other hand, he is not here...and weekends were us.

I talk to him out loud whenever the children are not home, telling him how much I need much I miss him...and he just never answers.