Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Strange Week

This has been a bit of a strange week, although, perhaps they are all strange now, and I have adjusted to "strange" as the "new normal."

The day after Cary's funeral, Gregg left for a (business) trip to Spain. David is mature enough now that I don't feel as if I am taking care of him, exactly; we are more like buddies, or companions, while Gregg is away (he calls himself my co-pilot). We eat different foods at different times, we watch movies that we think Gregg wouldn't want to watch with us, we talk alot, we keep crazier hours. Since Gregg has to get up every day for work at 4:00 a.m., being a "night owl" isn't much of an option for me, nor would it be very considerate, but I actually love to stay up late at night and sleep in the next morning. I'm not a "morning person." So, when it's possible (as in the summertime), I do more of this when he's away on a trip. It's harder for me to fall asleep when he is away, so I read as much as I want to, late into the night, until I fall asleep. (I recall doing this when I was single, and thinking it was such a decadent pleasure then, too).

So David and I have been shopping, out to dinner, watching the Tour de France (during dinner!), exercising, doing our own things and then re-connecting, picking a different movie every night, just "winging it," with much less structure than we usually have in our life. We have been enjoying each other's company very much. (I just realized that when David is away, Gregg and I do our own version of the same thing: we adjust down from three to two, and do things in a simpler way.)

On Thursday, as the movers were boxing and loading Maribeth and Alan's things into moving vans, I took some iced coffee and snacks over to their house. Maribeth had been cleaning each room as the movers emptied it. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and I sat down on their terrace, overlooking Puget Sound, Seattle, the Cascade Mountains and Mt. Rainier. It was too beautiful to describe, and it hurt like crazy to sit there with the four of them, where we have sat together over the years, and know that we will never do this again; they are selling the house. They are going to buy a house in Kansas; they will be visitors from now on. The kids will still be here, in college, but as a family, they will not have a house or be residents and part of our community. We sat and talked for a bit, and when I had to leave, I nearly broke down. I kissed her and hugged her tight, and told her that I love her, and that if she wants me or needs me, I will come. She is a sister, a soul-friend, and I cannot say goodbye without a feeling of being ripped apart. I know that she will come back to see her kids; I know that I will be able to visit her; I know that we have the phone, email, chat, skype, etc. But our intertwined lives, through church, friends, kids, husbands, supper club, interests, hobbies, community, are now being dismantled. We cannot grab a bite of lunch at our favorite restaurant whenever our schedules allow. We cannot have our "back to school" celebration together, as we have done for years (meeting for lunch on the very day the kids go back to school in September), celebrate birthdays together. There are many endings here. There are good beginnings for them, as well, and I celebrate that with them. I wouldn't hold her back for anything, but I am going to miss her terribly, and that is a fact. It's a hard loss, in a year already full of losses.

Yesterday, my mom and I went to Seattle. David and my dad spent the day together (they went geo-caching, played cribbage and Monopoly), and Mom & I went for a "belated birthday" shopping trip. I feel as if I have plenty already, but Mom and I used to make this trip to the city, enjoy a "girls' lunch" in a nice restaurant, and encourage each other to get something lovely that we can't buy over in our small towns, and she wanted to do it again. I haven't felt like doing this since Katie got sick, and since she passed. I know that my mom misses these "girls' days," but it feels unfair to do it without Katie, since she LOVED to do the same thing. It has felt wrong for me to do this, since Katie cannot, and since I cannot take her with us and give her these pleasures: to buy her favorite kinds of clothes, have her makeup done at the cosmetics' counter, and to have lunch in the city. But yesterday, I did it, and it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. Mom & I had fun; we windowshopped, each of us got a couple of good things, and we had a very nice, leisurely lunch. We talked about Katie alot, and we missed her, and we both wished we could do this with her/for her. This feeling is not going to go away, but we had a quiet kind of fun, ourselves. I think being able to talk about Katie freely, and to be sad without self-consciousness, is such a gift of presence from my parents. They are also terribly sad, yet it's not as if we sit around feeling sorry for ourselves and crying on each other's shoulders; they can reminisce with me, laugh at the good memories and struggle with the hard ones. The point is, it is ALL precious to them, so it feels held in sacredness, and it doesn't bring my mom down. She likes to talk about it. That is a huge help to me, sharing the good and the struggles.

Gregg is on his way home, and David and I are going to a wedding today. A funeral last Saturday; a wedding today. It has been a full week of mixed events and feelings.


HappyWifeHappyLife said...

It is so hard when close friends move away. I absolutely hate that. But it's all part of the journey, isn't it?

Granted, I've only "known" you for a very short time, but the words you write in this blog are so honest and so real, Karen. You have a well of strength within that is very apparent.... I see you growing stronger and stronger each and every day. Life changes, and it will never be the same as it was, but there will be a 'new normal', as they say.

When my son was born and spent the first 5 1/2 months of his life in intensive care (and we weren't sure what sort of permanent 'quality of life' he was going to have), someone gave me a wonderful piece called "Holland"... it's written mainly for parents of children with special needs, but I believe you might find the words comforting... I'll see if I can find a link and send it to you. ... it helped to open my eyes to the fact that, even though life may not turn out the way I wanted/expected it to, there is still much beauty, just a different kind than I anticipated.

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Here's the link.... like I said, this helped me a lot when my son was little, very sick and we weren't sure what sort of life he was going to have. It may or may not help you through these difficult days in July and August. But, anyway, here's the link:

Laurie Keller said...

Hi Karen. I so enjoyed your post this morning. So sorry that you are loosing your good friend to Kansas. I am finding after my move that some of my Houston friendships, while having changed, have actually improved. We make the effort and that makes us stronger. What fun you will have when you do get to see them. It's a great feeling.

Regarding your dad with your Mom, but without Katie ... I'm happy you were able to make that step. It's a big one. While here with Mom and Wendy's daughter, but not Wendy, it's an awkward feeling. The four of us were always together when I came for my long summer visits. Our table for four is now for three, the way we sat in the car has gone from Wendy in the front with me driving to Mom in front and Cat in the back. At the dinner table there is that empty chair. But she's there and it's the coolest feeling when I think of Wendy and feel her presence. It hurts to want to hug her and tell her to her face how much I miss her ... but now I can move forward out of the pain and into the joy of having had her in our lives.

Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and words for Mom. She is improving every day and we will soon be home. Lots of love to you everyday.

Smileygirl said...

What a whirlwind of emotions to be going through in such a short amount of time. I'm sure it's emotionally draining and can also take it's toll physically. You have such an amazing group of friends and family that surround you with their love and support and to know that is a comfort. I'm thinking of you and praying for your strength daily.

Diane Walker: said...

My heart goes out to you and Maribeth; I know yours was a very special friendship, and the ache of losing her must be intense; for her as well, especially since she'll have to start over -- again. She is one amazing lady; she'll leave a big hole in this community as well as in your heart.

Jennifer Stumpf said...

I read Joan Didion's book last year too and it tore my heart out yet it was so eloquent I could not put it down.
God bless your dear mother. I am so glad she is there for you. What a huge gift! I am off to visit family and do an art show in Pittsburgh the next eight days. I wish you a good and peaceful week, Karen!