Monday, November 26, 2007

Thankful


Stand In The Rain




It's Thanksgiving. Our third one without Dave. The first Thanksgiving after Dave died was the first "major" holiday, and I remember driving to Denise's house, stuck in traffic on the freeway, crawling along at 10 mph, hearing Lonestar's "I'm Already There" and all four of us crying. Rivers of tears. Tears with no end.

There weren't any tears this year. My heart didn't simply break into a million piecese when I looked around the table and Dave wasn't there. I didn't expect to see him bounding around the corner, with that little bounce in his step, keys jingling. My eyes didn't fill when I saw Amy or Luke or Jake squeeze through the furniture and thought of Dave putting up his legs, setting up a "toll gate," the price of passage a big Dave-hug. Is that better? In some ways I think it's worse. To absolutely know he's gone. And to have become resigned to it. To have that missing him become part of the landscape. It's no longer jarring. It doesn't punch me in the gut (most of the time, anyway), it doesn't rip my heart out or make it impossible to even breathe. I've rubbed away the rough edges of this loss. Why does that feel somehow even worse?

There was much to be thankful for this year. Kenny, Zach and Kate are thriving and succeeding and meeting life's challenges. They're happy, for the most part. Denise and Darren brought Jake, Amy and Luke and the cousins were in heaven. It's been a while since we've seen Jake. He's been busy working and finishing his senior year at Kelso High and taking classes at LCC preparing to go to Michigan for college. I can't tell you how good it was to see him, to hug him. I got to spend a lot of time with Jake when he was a baby and his dad was in Iraq, and he's one of my own. I'm really proud of him. He's going to study fire science and paramedics. Growing into a hero. But I thought he was a hero, even in his days of blue mohawks and bass guitars. Always was a sucker for a rock star.

Amy and Kate did David's restaurant again. They rearranged the living room and cooked us all dinner. We ordered from handprinted menus decorated with turkeys. Even the brothers joined in which was amazing. Darren was quite the difficult customer, "Oh, miss....can I have more cornbread?" "Oh, miss...can I have more butter?" "Oh miss...can I get some mushrooms in my chili?" "Oh, miss..." But he did leave them a good tip!

I guess I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.


The boys.

The girls.

Kate and Duke...who is such a love.

Koda. Only 6 months!

Snickers...who rules the roost around here. Completely.

The whole clan.

Zach, sitting on my lap and squishing Kate.

Kate and Amy...up to no good in the kitchen.

Same story, different day.

Denise and Luke, waiting to order.

Evil Uncle Darren, the tough customer.

Jake.

Kenny. Ta da!

Me and Kenny...taking pictures of ourselves. Who better?

The aftermath.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bodega Bay


Wow. It was wonderful. Everything I thought. It was like meeting someone I'd always known. It was peaceful to be with Cheri and Cathy. The weather was cool and foggy most of the time and it was like a little cocoon surrounding us. We relaxed, drank lots of coffee and champagne and talked and talked. We stayed up way too late and ate way too much chocolate. We walked on the beach and watched the surfers on the waves. It was just like it should be.

As I was getting off the plane in Sacramento, I wondered....how am I going to recognize Cheri? I've seen some pictures of her, but wasn't sure if I'd know her. From the top of the escalator, I saw her in the lobby and just knew. We hugged and hugged, and even though I was tired, I couldn't stop smiling.

Then we embarked on a two-hour drive to the beach house. It was dark and foggy and Cheri hadn't driven there very many times. So we went in quite a few circles. "Right road, wrong way," she'd say. And of course, I had absolutely NO idea where we were. We got to the little vacation community, which goes in circles, even if you're sure where you're going. So Cheri reaches into her purse. For just a minute my niece Amy's warning about meeting people over the internet flashes in my mind...but whew! All she pulls out is the garage door opener and she starts pointing it at the houses, which really DO all look alike, especially in the dark. She says, "You thought I was kidding, didn't you?" So this is how we find our way home. What a crack up! PS. I'm really glad someone invented GPS.

Cheri is everything you would imagine. She's beautiful and incredibly smart and sweet and funny. She's the kind of friend you want in your corner when the chips are down. I thought she'd be a lot taller! She's both fierce and loveable at the same time. She has incredible insight and wisdom and she speaks the truth.

Cathy has a Chicago accent! Cheri and I were both somehow surpised by that! Duh. And she's so pretty, even prettier than her pictures. And tiny. And she talks just like she writes, which is amazing. She's caring and fun-loving, cute as a button and has a great laugh. Her eyes sparkle and when she curls up on the couch she looks as content as her kitties.

It was a relaxing, low-energy weekend. We talked about Fred and Lou and Dave. We talked about Walla Walla. We talked about Olivia and Kate and Drew and Kenny and Damon and Zach. We talked about grief and we talked about rebuilding a life.

I'm behind.

Not that it's a race or anything. It's not. And not that we don't move all at our own pace. I know all that. And I'm content where I am. But in watching those two faces...two faces I love...watching them light up with new possibilities, new plans, new excitement, I realized a few things.

I'm still alive.
Moving forward does not mean forgetting.
Opening myself to new possiblities does not lessen love.
I can't live completely for or through my children.

I'm making a start. I applied for a new job at WWCC and got it! Yay, me! It should be a good thing for me and for our family. And a step toward building a new life.

We'll see where we go from there.

Then we went home. Cathy threw up on her plane. My plane had turbulence like I've NEVER seen. People were bracing themselves on the ceiling of the plane and SCREAMING. The plane was lurching and falling more than any rollercoaster I've ever been on. It was frightening. The man next to me prayed out loud for us.

When I got home, Kate and team had won the tournament championship! WOW! They positively creamed every team in their way. I've never heard Kate so excited. And Zach was very proud of "his" girls.




And the football banquet was last night. What a night that always is. The senior players all had their picture taken sitting on Dave's rock together and pointing to the sky. They gave us a framed copy of the photo, and the caption reads:

Once a Blue Devil,
Always a Blue Devil.
Forever In Our Hearts
Coach Meyer



There really isn't any place like Walla Walla.

Except the next morning we woke up to this:

SNOW!!! I wanna go back to California!

Love you all,
Thanks Mom and Dad for running the kids.
Thanks Tami for helping out.
Thanks Wendye for the dinner out.
Thanks Dee for the chocolate.




"Who Knew"

You took my hand
You showed me how
You promised me you'd be around
Uh huh
That's right
I took your words
And I believed
In everything
You said to me
Yeah huh
That's right

If someone said three years from now
You'd be long gone
I'd stand up and punch them out
Cause they're all wrong
I know better
Cause you said forever
And ever
Who knew

Remember when we were such fools
And so convinced and just too cool
Oh no
No no
I wish I could touch you again
I wish I could still call you friend
I'd give anything

When someone said count your blessings now
'fore they're long gone
I guess I just didn't know how
I was all wrong
They knew better
Still you said forever
And ever
Who knew

Yeah yeah
I'll keep you locked in my head
Until we meet again
Until we
Until we meet again
And I won't forget you my friend
What happened

If someone said three years from now
You'd be long gone
I'd stand up and punch them out
Cause they're all wrong and
That last kiss
I'll cherish
Until we meet again
And time makes
It harder
I wish I could remember
But I keep
Your memory
You visit me in my sleep
My darling
Who knew
My darling
My darling
Who knew
My darling
I miss you
My darling
Who knew
Who knew

Friday, November 16, 2007

California-bound!

Hawk Nelson has a song called California. It goes:
I'm not falling for anymore of these tricks,
I'm so tired of everything here,
The sun is calling me to the west,
Everyone's having fun out there,
My bags are packed as I'm looking out the window,
Everything is so outdated here,
I wanna move west where the sun is shining,
I want my friends to all be there,

Let's pack up and move to California,
She's got lots of friends out there,
We'll never get bored cause we can go boardin',
Let's let the sunshine take us there!

Well, I'm going!
Mom and Dad have the kids and I'm meeting Cathy from the 58th floor in Chicago and Cheri from California. Do you remember them? We are the three C's. We saw each other through the toughest times in our lives. You can visit them here: Cathy and Cheri

I imagine the weekend will be full of chocolate, champagne and kleenex. Oh, and lots of hugs!


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Snickers

It's amazing what things a mom will do to help her child feel better.
Meet Snickers.


She's adorable.
I'm crazy.
It's all good.
We still miss TwoFace, but this one has a little divider on her face that reminds us a little bit of him.
The dogs LOVE her and are beside themselves, trying to stay calm enough not to scare her.
At first she'd get all puffy and hissy whenever they came near, but once she approached Smokey, the crabby cat, she decided the dogs weren't so bad. Now they lay down on the floor and she snuggles right up to them. Koda's still a little afraid of her, but Duke's in heaven.

Kenny is feeling a LOT better today. He's a bit puffy, but not too bad. He's been good about the ice packs and salt water rinses and taking his meds. He's well enough to go to see the COUGARS with his uncle today, so all is good here.

Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. It helped more than you know.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Day After




“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” John W. Gardner


Well, we were up until 3:00 am. That's all I'll say about that.

It first appeared that today would be a re-run of yesterday. Continued puking. Hydrocodone is hard on an empty stomach. And eating is no fun if you've got major holes in your jaw and your stomach is rolling. Besides, that "soft foods only" instruction is rather annoying to someone who only eats toast, granola, crackers, chips, french fries, apples, nachos, peanuts, popcorn and carrot sticks. Oh....he does eat corn, milk and ice cream, those kind of qualify as soft.

No blood now, so the scenes look less like an ax murder took place and more like a bile factory gone wrong. That's something to be happy about. Told my mom and sister they'd have to be witnesses if I was ever suspected of something and those cool CSI guys sprayed my house with luminol. Every room would light up and they'd put me on death row!

I should explain. Even though Kenny's 17 and in theory should be able to use a basin, well, autism comes into play and Kenny tries to get away from the feeling. When it's high in his throat and coming fast, he shakes his head and...well, you get the idea.

Finally got some ice cream in Kenny this afternoon and the meds stayed in. Insert picture of me pulling my fist in toward my waist in a victorious gesture...YES!!!

Got some antinausea meds if we have a round 12 or 13 or whatever we're up to. Kenny could tell you. He's been counting. Tried to get a different pain med, but hydrocodone is the easiest on the stomach of all those pain meds that are available in a liquid. Stupid pharmaceutical companies.

(Sidebar: for those of you that haven't known me long, I don't really think that. And I don't begrudge those companies one cent. I pink puffy heart them. I know it's unusual, but there are reasons. I feel the same way about insurance companies. See caringbridge site for history of all that.)

PS. "pink puffy heart" blatantly stolen from Kristie, author of the crap sandwich story and pink puffy heart-er of Sonic. You can visit her here. But she's way cooler than I am, so just come back, okay?
Not Quite What I Had Planned Blog by Kristie

And...being as tired as I am, I managed to burn dinner. You'll be relieved to know the pan came out unscathed. Cue sound guy to play the audio: collective sigh of relief. The turkey kielbasa....not so much. The corn and beans were okay, and I didn't chance making my own rolls...I didn't even heat up the ready-made ones in the microwave, just served them cold. And the green salad was pretty fire-proof.

So I ended up at McDonald's for the protein portion of our meal. I'm classy like that.

And my phone rings. It's Kenny. He's pretty sure he can handle some fries. If he snaps off the crunchy ends. And he did. Looks like the worst may be over.

Insert picture of me touching wood, throwing salt over my shoulder and crossing my fingers. Another one of me throwing out all ladders, mirrors, and black cats. And then one of me holding my breath, on my knees, praying.

So this evening looked more like this:




Don't read too over-much into it however. From what I've seen, when your little brother finally has time to take you up on a Madden 08 rematch, you do it, even if you're dying.

This morning, after the second puke, Kenny looked at me and sighed...."What time is my appointment for the braces?" Poor love. He thought he had to get the braced TODAY! Lucky for him, they'll let him wait a while on that. But he was game for it...he's as brave as his dad. And, Cheri, believe it or not, he doesn't even hate Dr. Caso. Always before, the first thing out of his mouth upon regaining consciousness was, "I HATE THAT DENTIST." But he still thinks Antonio is pretty cool. He talks football, and I don't think Dr. Goyer does. Never underestimate the power of the Seahawks, right, Deb?

Sitting now with a bag of frozen corn on his face, reading over my shoulder. He's really appreciated all the notes in the comments. Thanks, guys.

One more thing: this bout of sick/injured kid was somehow different, in that I didn't (internally) scream out for Dave to be here. I mean, I still wished he was. It would have made store trips and transportation a lot easier. And I really miss his puke clean-up skills. And he had an uncanny way of searching out my fears and doubts and making them be quiet, giving me confidence and calm.

But I knew he wasn't here and it was no use screaming or shaking my fist at the sky. I knew I had to just dig in and get 'er done. Is that some form of acceptance? Or simply resignation?

I'm inclined to think the latter.

''In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'' - John 16:33


''The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.'' - Psalms 34:18, 19


''The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.'' - Psalm 34:18

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Less Wise Kenny




If you already checked this entry, scroll down...there are updates.

For accompanying music, scroll down, click the arrow to play the song and then come back up and read.


Today Kenny had all four wisdom teeth removed. Plus one more tooth. All in preparation for braces. Poor kid. Poor, poor kid.

But I was so proud of him. We gave him an oral valium before the appointment, then they let him breathe some gas and voila! He let them place and IV so they could sedate him. Dr. Caso is a wiz!

We weren't sure this was going to work. Any time Kenny has needed sedation before, we would give him a shot of ketamine, which is an animal tranquilizer, and that would drop him like a stone in about 30 seconds. But the last time they came at him with the shot, he said, "Are you gonna take me down?" And the doc said, "Well, yeah, I guess you could say that." Kenny said, "Not if I get you first." Then he threatened to burn down the dental clinic.

So, for some unknown reason, they were reluctant to try that again this time. Bunch of chickens.

I had my doubts this would work, but it did. Kenny is now miserable. Threw up three times. Cried and cried when he woke up...sometimes the meds can make the patient really emotional. It was awful.

We're now preparing for a few days of misery. Notes to Kenny in the comments section are welcome. (Hint, hint.) He likes to read them.

Thanks to my friend, Dee, for picking up the prescriptions and for running my kids. Whatever would I do without you? I am truly blessed. Thanks to everyone who prayed for him. Please continue to pray his recovery will be uneventful and he'll be well enough to go see the COUGS with Uncle Bob on Saturday.

***UPDATE at 5:00 pm*** We're still dealing with puking blood. It's awful. Kenny asked me if he could just die and get it over with. Sigh. I got some pain med in him and it stayed for about an hour and a half, so that's good, at least he'll get some benefit from that. Gatorade stayed down for about 20 minutes. Keep praying, you warriors. I'll KOKO...keep on keepin' on.

***UPDATE at 7:00 pm***I think Kenny is intent on hitting every room in the house. My laundry has gone into overdrive and I've already made one trip to the store for carpet cleaner. Kirsten...thinking of you, and thanking you again for that front loader! Gonna send someone to the store for 7-up. The discharge instructions said it would help. Gatorade's not working. Kenny just said...."Oh, when will this ever end???" He didn't lay the back of his hand against his forehead, but all the melodrama was there, for sure. PS. Did I ever tell you about the time Kenny hit his head on the dashboard of Dave's car? He was about 6. Dave said, "Oh, no, your forehead!" And Kenny gazed up at him with this puzzled look and said, "I only have ONE head." Thanks for all the comments, and Patti...I guess you've got a point there!

***UPDATE at 9:00 pm***More puke. Kenny did the exorcist in the bathroom. Luckily we have two. I just shut the door. Less blood, though. Deb went to the store for 7up for us, thank you, thank you, Deb. You're always just what we need. And it seems to be working. He sat up and talked NFL and Seahawks with Deb for an hour and so far, so good. Whew. Let's hope we can get some sleep.

***UPDATE at midnight*** Sleep looks unlikely. The good news is, the 7up seems to be working. Kenny has't thrown up in 2 hours. Thank you, God and Deb. Now, however, Kenny is WIDE awake and playing Madden 08 on the X-box. After dozing most of the day, he's not really tired. After being on hyperalert all day, I'm absolutely tired. Oh well. It's worth it to see him feeling better. PS. The chipmunk cheeks are starting. We're doing ice, but I can see it coming on.

And, for Kirsten, I'll bring you up to speed on the Kenny/Kate breakthrough. Especially since it's dental-related.

So, on Kenny's birthday, we had a happy time, cake and presents and all that jazz. But when evening gave way to night, Kenny came to my room, feeling sad, wishing Dad was here for his birthday, feeling like no birthday would ever be "all the way happy" again. We cried some, hugged some. Kenny went to do....something, can't remember what...probably go to the bathroom. And Kate came in. She was teary, too, having just returned from Natural Helpers camp where they talk a lot about feelings and do a lot of "getting to know you" exercises that brought up feelings about Dad. So I loved on her a little. Then Kenny came back. And they both immediately launched into their little song and dance routine. "What's she doing in here?" "I have as much right to be in here as you!" "Why is she crying?" "None of your business." "Blah." "Blah." "Blah."

So, I kinda lost it. Kenny was quite the sharp one in the interchange (he isn't always, she can wield her share) and Kate began to cry even more. So I said in a very calm nice voice (read: YELLED), "Why do you always have to do that?" "Why must you say mean things to her?" (Not my finest parenting moment, by the way.)

And Kenny looked at me, quiet. His eyes filled with tears. And he said, "She doesn't love me." And Kate said, "I do, too." And Kenny said, "No you don't." I asked, "Why do you think that?" And Kenny said, "It's been that way since 2001." I said, "What?? You've been mad at your sister for 6 years?" Kenny: "Well, yeah." Me: "Why on earth?" Kenny: "Because she hit me with that doll!"

Lord in Heaven!

Kate didn't even REMEMBER it, but, the story goes like this...

In 1998, Kenny was in 2nd grade. While he and Zach were waiting for the bus, Zach got mad and pushed Kenny. Kenny went face first into the asphalt, breaking both (permanent) front teeth. Took him to the dentist, he was busy, so the partner saw him. Shout out to my cool lady dentist, Dr. Goyer. She was fabulous and we've been with her ever since. So, Kenny's teeth got fixed, under sedation. Miserable experience.

In 2001, Kate was swinging a cabbage patch doll and the shoes of the doll hit Kenny in the mouth, re-breaking those teeth. More dentist, more sedation, more puking, more misery.

Six years later, he's still mad.

And I thought I held a grudge! I concede the championship to the master.

So...Kate apologized, qualifying the apology with "even though I don't remember" and Kenny cried and hugged her.

It was one of those moments.

Wish I could tell you they never fought again. But it is less.

One last thing.

Tami, you rock.
She left this on my doorstep. WOW! If you don't know why that's so cool, go read the Ghostbusters post and have a laugh at my expense.



Wait, one more thing, that CAUTION thing. It says: Do not boil dry. Okay. Got it.

Okay, this is truly the LAST thing, judging by comments and e-mails, I'm not the only one to forget a pan. I got seven responses from folks who had done the same thing. At least I'm in good, if not very bright, company!