Friday, October 12, 2007

Butt Warmer Weather

Every day I drive my son to school. The bus picks up right outside our house, and he does take it home, but he likes for me to drive him in the morning. I also admit to feeling better, having those last few cozy minutes with him. And watching him run from the car to the school. It eases my mind; he is safe. The car (ahem) I drive him to school in is an obnoxious vehicle. It really is. But it was cheap. Because we paid it off for my father when he got stuck with it in the divorce. reality, we were "helping out" when we bought the loaded up (Leather seats, XM, power, moon roof, you name it, it has it) Yukon XL. I know...I know...we are awful, and it guzzles gas, and practically burps it right back at you but the Pacifica lease was up....and it was so darned cheap for a 2 year old vehicle, that we knew the owner of. That's my excuse (poor as it may be) and I'm sticking to it.

My son calls the heated leather seats "butt warmers". If you have never experienced heated seats it is a little disconcerting at first (think "oh my gosh, I feel like I have peed my pants) and then soon becomes heaven. Especially if you have arthritis in your back, frequent back pain or sciatica. In the cold weather we will jump in the car and my son will shout, "Butt Warmers!!!" and everyone hits their button. Well today was the first day, this school year, that he shouted "butt warmers!" and he made me smile. Even though I dread the cold weather, am miserable when there is no sun...and wonder most days how I will make it through the winter and the holidays without Leonard. I appreciate my son, and his cheerful laughter with his friends outside this afternoon. I appreciate that my daughter's best girlfriend is here with us this weekend and that they ran out to the store for me (to replace the rotten potatoes that I was going to use in the stew...but that's another post in itself seeing as I just bought them)...and I know she will make my daughter smile and not yell at me for all of the wrongdoings I have done to her in her 17 years. And all is "normal"...whatever normal is going to be. I am savoring this brief moment of not being tormented, and I hope it lasts a little while.

And...the bracelets that I mentioned a week ago? They arrived today, in time for the benefit tomorrow night. Wow is rush shipping ever expensive. But they are beautiful. And all the neighbors wanted one. I have two on as I type this. One to wear and one to give away. To share the memory of the delightful, caring, and generous man that I was so lucky to be with.

***Additionally**** If anyone would like a bracelet please email me and I can get one to you. It's what I want to do.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


My son and I call Thursdays "Moday", as in "one mo day to the week". We got it from a local radio station and it stuck. My son absolutely is not fond of going to school so we've made up (or cribbed) names for each day. It, of course, doesn't make him any happier about school but we do it anyway.

How long can a person go without really doing anything? I mean it when I say I do basically nothing. Or so it feels. I try not to even really think anymore, because I am afraid I'll go crazy. Today I did too much thinking.

I thought about all of our dreams, as a couple. The things we wanted to do in the future, like building our dream getaway on property (which was becoming a reality, as Leonard went to the bank that Thursday to talk about an equity loan), vacations. And just growing old together and spoiling any potential grandchildren so our children would know what it's like. I also thought about the things we had given up on. A 10th anniversary Vegas vacation, the truck that my husband really wanted when he bought the '03 Dodge without bells and whistles, a 2 story house (because my RA would make laundry impossible, or even buying a house on land (that was our last year dream when we had our house on the market, and actually made a few offers on others, before the market bottomed out. Dead dreams.

What am I supposed to dream for now? My hope is that my children can grow up to be strong, healthy and self sufficient in a more peaceful world. That the loss of his beloved Daddy won't emotionally damage my son. That my daughter can finally come to terms with some of the issues that arose in the past (I would so love to pour that out, but I cannot because it wouldn't be fair to her). But...what then? There isn't anything or me to dream about after that. I cannot stand the thought of walking that path without him. I cannot even (forgive me) stand the thought of grandchildren without being able to watch him hold them... love them. I cannot stand the thought of a cold and lonely bed (which is why I sleep on the couch now) without him in it. And that space beside me was only ever meant for him. A lot of people say that time heals. I don't feel the healing. I wrapped myself so up in that man that his loss left me so devastated that each day brings a little bit more of the things that I will never get to experience with him. I am so jealous of the me I used to be. That girl, that woman that I thought was so confident, so gone. In her place this broken and lonely person. I cannot stand it.

Today the airplanes were loud and active. We live in the flight path of an ANG base. They are F-16's and they are loud. Today...they hurt for two reasons. One, the memories of an exciting trip to the airshow just two months ago (really only that long ago? I cannot believe it and other days it seems like such a short time ago) Two...a memory from long ago. When we were dating we used to take Nicole for walks. She would have been about 3 at the time and there were lovely paths behind the apartment where Leonard lived. She was also a chatter box. We were walking. Nicole was talking. Leonard lifted her up and said,"Shhhhhhh...hush. Listen to nature. What do you hear?" She looked at him, looked up and listened. For about 10 seconds. And what did she hear? "AIRPLANE!!!" she screeched. I loved it when Leonard laughed so hard he couldn't breathe. That was one of those moments. Which leads to another memory. He was her first babysitter (outside of my father, but we lived with him so I don't count it) and one Saturday he was bringing her to visit me up at work. I was a stylist for Penney's at the time. I guess she must have been chattering again (there was never a time when she hasn't chattered) and he thought up a game where she could count the arrows on signs between his apartment and my work, thinking it would keep her relatively quiet. They walked up to my station at work, and he said to me,"Do you know how many freaking arrows there are between my place and here? 89." He went on to tell me that she made up a song about arrows, and truck rides and wanted to know what the Spanish word for arrow was. He was always so patient with her, with me, with our son, his coworkers. Everything is just so very much upside down... too much. I am so afraid that it will never be put right.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Shoes

James has been needing some new shoes (for longer-er since July-than I care to think about) so I was finally able to find the time (i.e. get up off the couch, off the computer, away from my thoughts) to take him up to the local sporting goods store. I have to tell you that Dunham's, if you have them by you, is by far and away the best place on earth to buy tennis shoes for your kids...without breaking the bank. Leonard had this "thing" about putting the kids in high quality shoes, whereas I was more of the "but Payless is doing BOGO this week" kind of mother. My husband was far better at the do what's best for the kids way of thinking. Anyway, again with the being off topic, we went right after he came in the door from school. If I don't do something in that 5 minutes there is a 90% chance that we won't be going anywhere. (85% of statistics are made up on the spot by people who just want to be right) He really likes the New Balance shoes. He being James. They are regularly $49.95 but I got them or $25.99. With tax, they were $98.00. Okay, with tax and the impulse shop of 6 new pairs of socks, a Lions jersey (because he never had one and it is heartbreaking to see him wallowing in his Daddy's really big one) and a pair of Lions PJ bottoms. Luckily I got out of there before I found myself buying anything else. Retail therapy can be a real and scary thing I am finding out and I really don't want to be that way. We are home now and he is busy screaming with his friends on the trampoline.

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement about my last post. Because I have verification (in the form of the registered mail receipt) I should be okay. My issue with the Ms. is because I asked nicely, once, to be addressed by my real title, Mrs. I am still his wife. I am angry with myself for devoting so much time to anger at one person. I have always been that way. I am the woman who will call out the cashier for being rude to the person in front of me in line or the person in front of me in line for being rude to the cashier. It used to drive my husband nuts.

I did also buy myself two tops but only because I had a 25% off coupon at JC Penney's and it would be a shame to let it go to waste. Although it brought up a memory and made me feel a little guilty. I am ashamed to admit that I had gotten to be rather a "frump" during our marriage and liked to blame it on motherhood. I am just, in all honesty, more comfortable slumping around in pajamas rather than clothing all day. Ask my daughter about the time I forgot that I had to go in and sign her out for her school dance, took a shower (because I thought no one would see me in my pajamas in the car), realized that I had to go sign her out when I saw the other parents walking in...and ended up embarrassing her in front of "All my friends, Mom, thanks..."*insert eye rollie* At least the Scottie dog top matched the bottoms and there were no (discernible holes)...

---Off topic but does the sound of children screaming while jumping on trampolines drive you as batty as it does me?

I remember a time, right after James was born, that we went to Somerset Mall with my visiting brother and sister in law. I had, stupidly, read in a parenting magazine how a postpartum mom can cheer herself by wearing at least matching sweats with maybe a kicky bow in her hair. So I did. Off I went (in blueberry blue sweats) to a mall that most people go to dressed really trendy (it is a high end mall). My sister in law is one of those people who can dress up, add a hat and look like a cover girl. She has really good taste in clothing and it shows. We were walking through the mall....well I was shuffling more like...behind my sister in law and Leonard turned to me and said, "You are such a frump..." in an affectionate, teasy manner. I was thinking of that today and hurting a little bit. Hurting because it would not have taken much to put on a pair of pants (other than the sweat variety) with a nice top to welcome him home...instead of the holey shirts/shorts/jammy bottom combos. File this under the things I could have done to make him happy because that is what I lived for file. I wish for so many unobtainable things...which then creates the hurt that never goes away.

Where I once could look at photographs of him, I am finding (this week) that is really difficult for me to stare into that face that I know is gone from me. I was watching the DVD that was made for him every morning when the kids left for I find that I cannot bear it. This grieving is so very strange. One moment, I can speak of him with clarity. Another moment, just the mention of his name dissolves me for the day. It is plain. It is simple. I want/need him.

There are so many things yet to be done...and so much of me that wasn't want to do them. These little acknowledgements of his loss.

Did anyone watch Tyra Banks today? With Melissa Etheridge? For once, I cried for other reasons. It is a powerful interview and I encourage anyone who didn't see it (and has the Oxygen channel) to watch it tomorrow night. I wish I could be strong like that. And has anyone else gotten addicted to this: It is a continuous stream of images that are being posted on blogger's blogs. It is fascinating and, I will admit, some of the images have brought me to tears, while still others compel me to think WTF?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Phone home

First, thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions on my troubles with the children. All of us are in a grief support program and my children also receive counselling. I so appreciate all the opinions shared.

My phone rang this morning while I was folding laundry. I looked at the caller ID and saw that it said "XXXXXX Industries" (name blocked for privacy purposes) and said out loud,"Leonard must have forgotten his cell phone again..." and then realization snuck back in again. I don't think there will ever be a day when the phone will ring and I won't think it's him. Especially my cell phone. He was the only one who ever called me on it.

The reason his worked called was concerning our health insurance. It is tough for me because I really hate this woman, she refers to me as Ms. on any correspondence and continues to do so even when I asked her to stop and refer to me as Mrs. I will always be his wife. She is the type of woman who's face cracks with the effort when she tries to be nice. When all of this happened (gosh...I think I am getting worse with the d-word) Leonard's work told me not to worry about health insurance-they would cover us indefinitely. 2 days after his service, I got the notice that we were dropped. And could continue with COBRA (i.e $2000/month). I, therefore, had no choice but to continue with COBRA. Only MS.How-can-I-cause-you-more-pain said they didn't get it "in time". The form said it had to be postmarked by Sept 30th. It was postmarked Sept. 27th, because I don't trust her to be helpful or even concerned and had it sent registered mail. The only 'somewhat smart" thing I have done. Now, it will be another battle, because she already sent in the paperwork saying "Thanks but no thanks" on our behalf. I need this insurance due to my medical condition. It is hurtful. It is hateful. It, this small thing, threatens to bring me to my knees...wondering again what did I do so wrong in my life. It is watching the ebbing away of my strength to even deal with these things.

My father came by today. It is so good to see people...then so very hard to say goodbye to them. I want to run away without leaving my house. I want to find some stretch of space that won't remind me of him... I am finding out that that is impossible.

My son came home from school today with his recorder. I forgot how school districts do this. I so look forward to his rendition of "Go Tell Aunt Rhody". I will have to get used to those odd little toots and tweets that recorders are known for...especially in the hand of a 9 year old. He has been the sweetest boy today...and I am so grateful for him. He was (in the words of my doctor) a miracle. There should have been no way for me to carry him to term. She told me that I had "willed him into life". I look at it a little differently now, these past weeks. He was a gift to me. Not a gift to replace the loss of his Daddy, for he is just a boy, my and always will be. No "be a little man"s no "you're the head of the household now"s for him. I have already stopped that kind of talk. He is a gift in himself. And I must remember to be grateful for his existance.

Our daughter was chosed to play "Jo" in her high school's rendition of Little Woman. Her girlfriend (Marmee) was over this weeked and I practiced their lines with playing every part besides "Jo" and "Marmee". My daughter dreams of a life on stage, or in front of camera, one day. I am proud of her regardless.

On a higher note, I received a card and a book in the mail from a woman I used to moderate with on a discussion board I belong to. It was nice to get something other than bills.

Here is my PSA for this evening: Even if you think you are too young, that it won't happen to you, that there is no need for it... get life insurance. My husband and I (I confess it was his insistence 10 years ago because I didn't want to "think about it") took out insurance policies. Three years ago, when I first got really sick, we upped them. That is why these other problems are small problems, not the huge problems that they seem to me, or actually are to other people who have had to deal with the reality of losing their future.

You have all been so wonderful to me. In your comments, and visits. My husband was 3/4's of who I am/was. He was the one who took care of me. He was the one who had the answer when troubles arose. He could figure out most of our financial/household (and especially vehicular) problems in the space of an hour. Without him I am lost. But he would be so glad to know that people check in (even if it is a blog) to care about us. You are special people.

And, on the subject of forgotten cell phones, this is an email exchange I had with my husband this July. I was going through his inbox, and he had saved it. It reads from the bottom up. It is so painful that it was a premonition of my greatest fear actually being realized:

[Add to Address Book]
Re: your mail
Monday, July 02, 2007 11:21:30 AM
[View Source]
Ooops... And I didn't even try to call you yet.
Now, what am I going to do with my day?
Your mom hasn't picked up James yet, Mr. Larkin hasn't dropped the check off
yet, so I'm spending my time making sure that our house doesn't end up getting
visited by Kim and Aggie.
I love you,
I miss you,
***My greatest fear is that some night you won't come home. :(
-------------- Original message ----------------------
> laura
whats your greatest fear? i forgot my phone
Attached Message
From: [ Save Address ]
To: (laura harper)
Mon, 2 Jul 2007 11:34:30 +0000
whats your greatest fear? i forgot my phone

Monday, October 8, 2007


Tonight I played with James. We played catchand he has quite an arm on him. We then spent a few minutes on the trampoline. I basically laying on my back, staring up into the trees -like I used to with Leonard -while he jumped over me, back and forth. It's a bit unnerving, trusting a little boy not to crash into your ribcage. He managed. I jumped once or twice but RA keeps me from spending too much time on high impact exercise. And then there was the time that the impact made me pee... much to the delight and laughter of my husband (who had followed me into the house thinking that something was dreadfully wrong only to find me in the bathroom) who had no idea what it was like to have 2 children and then attempt to sneeze, cough, or, apparently, jump on a trampoline. James enjoyed himself while I swallowed the pain and grief of spending actual time in the backyard that I associate so much with my husband.

I am having so much difficulty trying to get the children to help out. I have begged, and pleaded and cried to get my daughter to clean the litter box, put a cereal bowl in the dishwasher etc. Things that would not have bothered me so much with him here to back me up are ripping me apart. Never would she have thought of leaving the litter box in the manner I found it today. And telling me that she is taking care of it. And the fights. Always the fighting and wrestling between them. I am trying to give them leeway to grieve but I cannot help but feel I am being taken advantage of. That grieving has become synonymous with sitting on the couch and watching television. I am finding out that they do so well together when they are out alone together, or over at my father's, or their aunts. I start thinking that I only make this situation worse for them. And yet, I am frightened of my illness finally catching up with me and leaving them alone. They wouldn't be totally alone, but my beloved little family that I cherished so very much would be nothing but a wisp of a memory of what could have been.

For three years Leonard and I had been planning, and buying life insurance, writing wills...all in the event that this might someday catch up to me. The last time in the hospital was enough to scare a sense of preparing into us. And now, I make/revise those plans alone. Who would replace us for James.? The other night I sat and wrote letters to my children. Revised letters to replace the ones that Leonard had helped me write to them when I first got sick, first realized that I was not immortal. Only I added one in for my father, my mother and my mother in-law... and it hurt. It hurt to realize that I cannot reassure my son that I will be around for a good long time, for decades. When all I can promise him is that, no matter what happens, is that I will live forever in his heart. That we were blessed to have 9 years (the total of his life) of almost perfection..that I will always take the best care of myself that I can. That I will do everything in my power to be with him in the physical sense as long as I can. It hurt to write to my daughter about regrets...about not having them, or any more of them. It just hurts. It hurts in so many ways that is amazing to think about. I am telling myself to just not think about it, but it pops up in all of my daily activities, in my silences, in my interactions with others. And I hate myself for not being able to be me. To be normal. To move on.

I hope the ones who try it enjoy the spinach dip. It is an ultimate comfort food. At least in my opinion. And I can con myself into thinking that it's actually good for me...if I concentrate on the vegetables and disregard the fact that I am also devouring mayo and tons of cheese.

...and it was good to see my son smile this evening. It almost made up for the evening blowout because everything was not just so in his room before bed. And that we are not taking off for Disney World next week. What was I thinking when I told him we'd do that someday soon?

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Quite a few people showed up for the tutorial/party last night. We had enough for a game with 9 of us at the table. My mind and my heart weren't in it. It felt so good to be surrounded by my family and friends, while hurting so badly that he wasn't here. It was the first "cookout" that I planned and cleaned house for. It reminded me so much of getting ready for James' birthday in early August. Only he wasn't in the living room vacuuming while I made the spinach artichoke dip. It is a really good recipe (and I usually don't care for spinach and artichokes) that I will put at the bottom of this post.

What was so difficult was a memory that kept popping up. Leonard and I had meant to go away for our 10th anniversary last year. We had gone away, alone, exactly twice before in our marriage. Our honeymoon to Niagara Falls and our 5th anniversary to Traverse City for a long weekend at the Cherry Festival. We had meant to do something BIG...but both of us are planners and savers so we went, instead to Soaring Eagle, a resort/casino in Mt. Pleasant. And we had such a beautifully wonderful time. Our room had a jacuzzi (which was amazing...and fun) and a fireplace. We had so much fun just being together. I have a lot of pictures of us standing on the grounds. The last night (we were only there two nights), Leonard signed me up for the poker tables. I was scared to death because I didn't play...he did. I was afraid I would screw up. I'm not a casino type person. I sat down and he told them to go easy on them. I ended up winning almost $400. And he was so giddy, and his eyes were sparkling and he kept calling me a hustler. Sitting at the table last night, was just another knife of reality. Realizing that we won't get a chance to take that BIG vacation. That that was our last time together...just the two of us.

I really, really need him. This can't possibly be true. I can spend an hour or two of being "normal". Whatever normal is...and then it all comes crashing in. How much I need him to make this better. How much I need him to just be me.

I walk around this house. The house we chose together, with most of the things chosen and brought in by him. The bookcases that he grew up with. The bedroom set that was his family's. His shirts. His tools. His garage. And I don't feel like I belong here without him. I just am being right now, for the sake of my children. And it is just so unfair that my son has to grow up without the big, strong Daddy that he so admired and wanted to be like. That somebody will have to stand in to give our baby girl away if she decides to get married. That I will lay in bed alone, with just the memory of his arms around me, his knees pressed up against the back of my legs, his whispers in my hair, without him.

I keep coming back to movies like Deja Vu and Superman. When superman turns back time to save Lois Lane... and I realize that I lost the person who could make this better... that I am stuck with just this.

And then I go and hit post, without putting the recipe in.

Warm Spinach Dip

13-oz can artichoke hearts, chopped
10-oz pkg. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1c. mayonnaise
1c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 1/4 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1 T. grated Romano cheese (I don't always put this in because 1. it's only a tablespoon and 2. I don't think it makes that much of a difference in taste)

Stir artichoke hearts, spinach, mayonnaise, Parmesan Cheese, 1 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese and Romano cheese together until well blended. Spoon into a 2 quart baking dish; top with remaining Monterey Jack cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 8-10 servings.

Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, or I like the bagel chips

***Sometimes I change up the cheeses, substituting Mozzarella and others for the Monterey Jack. All are good but the Monterey is the best. I kid you not, even people who think they don't like spinach and/or artichokes will like these...and perhaps even love this.