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Friday, November 4, 2005 1:24 AM CST

Wow, what a couple of weeks it's been.
Kate came down with the flu. Nothing like a sick kid to bring everything into sharp relief. Everything is put on hold. Nothing matters but the moment, no matter what else is going on, it waits. It was hard. Not just for all the usual reasons, but because I was so alone. Dave was the sick-kid-guy. Nobody is better at cleaning the carpet, rinsing the towels, bringing a cool cloth, running to 7-11 for gatorade, running to WaHi in the middle of the night to be sure there were plans for his class for the next day. As a teacher, Dave had sick leave and a substitute system to call on. At the college, for most years, I didn't have benefits, and we don't have a sub pool. If I'm gone, my supervisor covers my classes or we cancel. So, Dave has been the stay-at-home-rock-the-sick-baby Daddy for years. So, as I'm holding Kate's hair back so she can throw up at 4 am, I just cry. I cried because I was so alone. No reassuring smiles over her head. No-one to run for the washcloth. No-one to pat me on the back and tell me what a good mom I am. No-one to share the load. No-one that even knew it was happening. In the scope of it all, it's such a small thing. Kate is back to her happy, bouncy self. It wasn't really such an earth-shattering thing, just a sick kiddo. But it all came crashing down on me. That stark realization. It's just me. Lots of people can help with lots of things, but when it comes down to the wire, now it's just me. And if you know me, you know I've never been one to duck responsibility or pass the buck, but in that moment, I wanted to scream and run and hide. I didn't. I won't. But I did cry. And feel alone. And, actually, yes, feel sorry for myself.

Then I got the bug, sort of. We're pretty run down around here. By the time we get home, it's late. By the time we process any emotion that's been kind of waiting all day, it's even later. By the time we calm down to sleep, it's too late. I've been running on sheer adrenaline for months. It's bound to catch up with us. I spent Monday sleeping. Then we had the gang here for Halloween. Another first without Dave. It doesn't get any easier. He would have loved it. The big boys were chasing each other through the neighborhood and jumping out to scare their little sisters. Everyone was dressed up in crazy costumes. Good food, good people. I watched, thought about last year. Same people, all together. Except one. We've been through so much in the last year. So much has changed. Even us. Maybe especially us. But there is much that hasn't been lost. And I hang on to that.

I want to take a minute to thank a couple of people who have really come forward to support our kids. Matt Stroe, who picks up Kenny for school every day. I know that Kenny looks forward to seeing Matt every morning, that those 10 minutes have grown to be some of the most important minutes of his day, that he counts on that time, that connection. That he sees Matt as someone he can trust and talk to. And Bryan Eggart, who has started a bible study on Tuesdays with Zach and two of his friends. I know that Zach counts on Bryan and looks forward to Tuesdays as a safe place. Dave was always on the lookout for refugees...people, especially kids, who needed a place to be, and someone to be there for them, in small ways...and he would find a way to do that. Matt and Bryan, thank you for doing the same for our boys, for being men of action, not just words, for doing more than you have to do.

Onto the newsy stuff....Zach decided to play basketball this year. I was glad. He seems to feel better and do better overall when he's involved in a sport. He was worried, especially with his leg injury (seems to be healing nicely), but he made varsity. He's feeling unsure about that, feeling like there are some guys on jv that are better players than he is. I'm glad he's on varsity only because we don't have to get him to school at 6 am! We're having enough trouble with 8 am!

Kate and I talked at length. She's really feeling the need for more stability in her life, and was feeling very disjointed with all the coming and going of the Explorer program. So I met with her teachers, who are so supportive and understanding, and we decided to have her take a leave of absence until after the holidays. Kate said, "Good, that will be after Dad's birthday." She seems to be glad to be able to settle in one place for now. Although we spent the last two nights with her hounding me to make a multiplication problem big enough that she couldn't do it. HA. One week out of the program and she's driving me crazy! That inquisitive mind is simply relentless. I'll be glad when she gets back to it. I think I'll ask Karen to send her the homework anyway!

Kenny & the WaHi frosh had their last game of the season tonight. They lost to Southridge in a big way, but played with heart. Kenny didn't get to play in the regular game, but they played a 5th quarter, so that some kids who don't get much play time in the regular game can play. They engineered a play especially for Kenny, and the QB threw him the ball and he ran for a touchdown! It was awesome. He was so excited. The team just mobbed him and he spiked the ball and the kids lifted him up in the air, shouting, "Kenny! Kenny!" He was beaming. I was shouting and crying. Dave would have been so proud of him. And he would have been so proud of all those kids. They have really rallied around Kenny. All season, those coaches and those players have done so much more than they had to for Kenny. They did more than just let him on the team, more than just include him. They supported him, encouraged him, made him part of the team. They helped him find a way to feel close to his dad, to make football without Dave somehow bearable. When people say, "I don't know what this world is coming to, kids these days..." I can look on that field and know that our world will be okay. I can trust these kids with my son. They're honorable, caring young men. They say the measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable citizens...the children, the elderly, the sick and the disabled. So I know, that at least in Walla Walla, the future is bright. Get on your shades.

Love you. 'Chelle (you see, I had to change the spelling of Shell to match my two friends who we can be the 3 C's!)

Please pray for Lou, hubby of my city mouse friend on the 58th floor, Cathy. His MRI showed slight growth, they're making decisions about what to do. I remember those days of too many options, no good or clear options, and the awesome responsibility of making monumental decisions without any kind of guide under huge time pressure. Pray for Cathy, for wisdom and discernment and for peace as she tries to find answers that don't seem to exist.

Please pray for Cheri and Fred. They are losing their family pet today. When it rains, it pours. Seems like some of us go through more umbrellas than others. They have a daughter just about Kate's age, who is sad and struggling with the changes in Dad. And Cheri is trying to reassure her daughter, and care for Fred, and work with the doctors to figure out what's causing what symptoms.

Also pray for reassurance and confidence for my friend, who is the best mom.

Praise God for answered prayer for another friend.


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