Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hold on.....

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 1:49 AM CST

It's the little things that sneak up on you.

Steeling myself for the 23rd.
Reading Zach's essay about his Dad.
Ready for the hard stuff.
Deep breaths,
you can do this,
I tell myself,

Then today, taking out my contacts,
I use the last of the contact solution.
It's the bottle that Dave and I both used.
And it's gone now.
I sat there staring at the bottle,
the last drops falling to the counter,
as do my tears,
missing him.

One more thing happening without him.
Life marches on,
Ready or not.

One more tangible piece of Dave,
Like his smell on the coat,
Trying to keep the bits and pieces
I still have,
the parts I can still hold,
like his damn toothbrush,
still in the bathroom,
his shirts,
still in his drawer.

The kids come in
every night,
like they always have,
open Dave's drawer,
grab one of his t-shirts to wear to bed.
We hold what we can.

Love, Shelley

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Books

Thursday, February 16, 2006 0:42 AM CST

Many have asked, so here you go:

Ya-Ya's in Bloom by Rebecca Wells
Cell by Stephen King
Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan
A LightHouse by PD James
Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice
Lirael by Garth Nix
The Kiterunner by Khaled Hosseini
The Best American Short Stories 2004 ed. Lorrie Moore
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottmann (this one I've read a zillion times, but it lives on my nightstand quite often, probably more than most, but shares space with:
Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
Real Boys by William Pollock
Smart Girls and Smart Boys by Barbara Kerr
Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Giving the Love that Heals by Harville Hendrix
Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher
Raising Cain by Michael Thompson
Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons
Protecting the Gift by Gavin deBecker

Hope you're all having a good night. Zach has a tournament in Walla Walla this weekend. Spokane the weekend after this. The weekend of March 3-5 Kenny will compete in the Special Olympics ski events in Wenatchee.

Also, remember the picture that Zach made of words in the shape of Dave's guitar? He's submitted it to a woman who is writing a book for children whose parents have brain tumors. It will be a book written for and by kids. Looks like our Zach will have his work published in that book! Nothing in writing yet, but he's pretty excited. If any of you have kids who would like to write, draw, etc...about their experience, let me know and I'll put you in touch with the author.

Love you all, Shelley

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Roses Everlasting

Saturday, February 11, 2006 10:24 PM CST

Okay, got some pictures back, and this one is worth backtracking a little bit to share. When the Warriors beat Clarkston, at the end of the third quarter, they were up by quite a few points, and the buzzer rang. They headed over to the bench, the guys on the bench got up, I expected shouting, jumping, cheering, high fives and back slaps. Instead, this....

These are amazing kids. They put their arms around each other, pulled in close, leaning their heads together, and quietly soaked up the moment, holding onto each other. These kids have supported each other and been through a lot. I have to believe that Zach wasn't the only player to take a moment to think of Dave during this big win. Dave coached them along with Mike until he no longer could. He loved these kids. You can see why. Each of them is something extraordinary.

Some of you have been waiting for an update on the poop machine, I mean Duke.

He's growing and pooping and growing and pooping, and if he weren't so impossibly cute, I'd strangle him. Speaking of such, it's a good thing my kids are cute, too. All the promises of "I'll feed him, I'll walk him, I'll clean up the messes!" Well, if you've ever had a puppy, you know who REALLY does the work. Thank heavens for my Bissell Little Green Clean Machine!

Some of you are waiting for an update on my mental health. Apparently, some of you gauge that by how my bed looks, so here you go:

Yeah, not doing so well. Although today it actually is made. The pic of Duke was taken today, and you can see the sheets. No comforter, it's in the dryer, Duke puked on it. Someone, who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are MM, cannot resist that face and stupidly shares food with the puppy sometimes. Sausage and puppies apparently do not mix well. And yes, I really am reading all those books. Well, most of them, about three or four are on deck. The rest I'm in the middle of. I'm finally able to read again, and I guess I'm going overboard.

Kenny puked today, too, up on the slopes. Please pray that we won't have a bout of the flu. I am SO not up to that. Kate's going with Uncle Bob again tomorrow. She's really excited.

Last, I re-read some of the journals, and am really struggling where to go with this. I haven't decided anything, but it's been hard for me to make the journal reflect what I want it to. And I don't know how to explain that. Some of it is that people think I'm crazy or losing my mind. I'm not. But grief is hard work, and there really isn't room for a lot else some days.

Underlying every moment, every event, every day, we miss Dave. Most of the time we make it through. Sometimes it builds to the point of being unbearable. No, often it builds to that point. Often. We do what we have to do, but it's not enough. It's hollow most of the time.

Part of that phenomenon for me is that so many times, every day, I can see Dave in my mind, not memories, but as if he were here. I can imagine just how he would sit, or stand or walk, the gestures he would make, the words he would say. It's as clear if it had actually happened.

But I don't feel him. And I really thought I would. And part of it makes me feel incredibly sad, alone, bereft, abandoned. And part of it makes me feel angry. I remember hearing this song when Dave was getting sicker.

I Can Still Feel You
Collin Raye

It's that feeling that someone
Is standing behind me
And I turn around and there's no one there
And it's the sensation
That someone just whispered
Yeah and I still hear your voice but you're not really here
Your memory is like a ghost
And my heart is it's host

I can still feel you just as close as skin
Every now and then
All by myself, in a crowded room, or my empty bed
There's a place you've touched
With your love no one gets close to
I can still feel you, I can still feel you, I can still feel you, I can still feel you

You said you'd love me forever
Then you said it's over
And left me without the missing link
I thought I'd forget you
But I guess I forgot to
And lately I've been too confused to think
When I reach for someone new
It's like I'm touching you

I can still feel you just as close as skin
Every now and then
All by myself, in a crowded room, or my empty bed
There's a place you've touched
With your love no one gets close to
I can still feel you, I can still feel you, I can still feel you, I can still feel you

In everything that moves
In everything I do

I can still feel you just as close as skin
Every now and then
All by myself, in a crowded room, or my empty bed
There's a place you've touched
With your love no one gets close to
I can still feel you, I can still feel you, I can still feel you, I can still feel you
Oh, I can still feel you

And I remember being comforted by the words of the chorus. "I can still feel you just as close as skin." I thought, that will be us. After all, we are so close, if anyone has a love that can survive death, that can remain connected across heaven, it's us, right?

The connection between us was so powerful. From the first time we were together. Do you know the story of that night? We were both working at The Old Spaghetti Factory and a bunch of us decided to go to the waterfront restaurant CI Shenanigan's in Tacoma to dance. It was restaurant employee night. We went and danced and laughed and had so much fun. Dave and I were drawn to each other. We danced. Madonna's "Crazy For You," Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire," Bryan Adams' "Heaven." Not wanting the night to end when the bar closed at 2:00, we talked friends into going to Denny's for coffee. We sat and had coffee and ice cream and talked and talked. It got later, everyone left. Dave and I decided we should go. We went to the parking lot and stood by my car (a pinto look-alike called a bobcat). The rain was pouring down. We didn't care. We stood there for hours, soaking wet. Finally, it started to get light. We sat in my car for a while. Rex Smith's "You Take My Breath Away" played. We talked and talked. Commuters came in for breakfast, the world woke up around us. The sun rose, and broke through the clouds. Watching him get into his VW bug, with his U2 button on his Members Only jacket, I knew something special had happened. And I hadn't even kissed him yet.

I believed in that connection with all my heart. I still believe it. And I believed it would survive death.

But I don't feel him. I feel this horrible, aching, gaping, burning, searing, throbbing, screaming emptiness where he should be.

I never imagined death was so final. So complete. So separate.

It wasn't so with Kyle. Perhaps because only days before his death, he had been part of my body. But I could feel him. Sense him.

A few days ago, I found this.

I opened it. And cried. Last year, in early February, we found that nothing was stopping this tumor and they told us it was a matter of time. A matter of months.

Then it was Valentine's Day. Dave has always sent flowers to wherever I was during the day. Now, if you know Dave well, you already know this, but Dave loved flowers. His favorite part was the smell. He loved the roses from our yard because they were so fragrant, he preferred them to the beautifully sculpted but bland roses from the florist. I used to find him in the yard, his face buried in the blossoms. He brought special ones into me, always saying, "Smell this one!"

So last Valentine's Day, no flowers. Hmmm...memory acting up? But later in the day, I find in my car that box. Golden box, beautiful bow. Candy? No, I opened the box to find a gold and crystal rose from the jewelers...

I thought, how beautiful. And then, how expensive! And then, how un-Dave-like! It was beautiful, but incredibly fragile, too perfect, and devoid of scent and life. Not at all reflective of the things that Dave valued or loved...

But when I found the box again this year, I finally understood. Or maybe I finally allowed myself to understand. It's a rose that will not die. It's a rose that will be here for me, when he no longer can.

It's the most beautiful rose I've ever seen. Can you smell it, Dave?

Love, Shelley

Saturday, February 04, 2006

One Year Ago

Saturday, February 4, 2006 0:56 AM CST

One year ago today.
I think about the roller coaster ride
we've all
been thrust onto...
the highest highs,
the lowest lows,
the fear,
the loss of control.

One year ago today,
Dave was recovering from surgery,
a successful surgery,
symptoms gone,
feeling great,
feeling hopeful.

Scheduling gamma knife for the tiny nodule
that remained.
Feeling confident.
"Shelley, we'll beat this thing again.
It can't beat love, you know,"
my warrior would say,
holding my hand,
reassuring me,
comforting me.

Two days later,
holding my breath while they placed the screws,
drilling into his skull,
Dave serene,
no pain meds,
"God will take care of me"
he'd say, with that famous grin.

Hugging the nurses,
whistling a tune,
filling out the crossword puzzle with my sister,
Peter and Mark with us,
always with us,
singing along to the music
always in his heart,
calming another patient's fears,
with a touch of his hand,
saying, "You're da man.
You can do this.
It's easy, I'll be right in the next room."
Dave's love,
surrounding us,
calming us,
warming everyone within reach.

Then wheeled into the MRI.
Eating brunch through the Hannibal Lector mask.
The doctors take too long to review the scans.
My heart,
slowly sinking.
Then Dr. Rock-n-Roll comes in.
And the bottom fell out of my world.

"It's grown in these two weeks.
Too big to treat with gamma knife.
We can treat the most problematic areas.
We can't stop this.
The radiation will cause symptoms,
so will the tumor.
It's your choice.
It's your last at-bat.
Do you want to go out swinging?"

Dave said,
"Fight pressure with pressure."
But he didn't say,
"Shelley, we'll beat this."
I waited for it.
It never came.
I knew.
He knew.

No surrender.
No giving up.
But a peaceful trust
in God, to handle
what was coming.

One year ago,
the darkest days.
Not the loss of hope,
but a different hope.
One we never wanted to accept.

Here we all are,
it's been a long year,
full of heartache,
fear and pain.
But also joy,
and most of all, love.
So we hang onto that love,
as the coaster careens around another corner,
dropping us into the next valley,
trusting that it will climb the hill again,
to the top,
where we can catch our breath for a moment,
where we can see clearly,
and where we will know,
we will feel
what matters most, still remains.