In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Trying to Pick Back Up the Proverbial Pen

Where to start?  I have many a blog post that are brewing inside.  I could write a blog that corresponds with each of these titles:

Ashes . . . Around a Campfire and in the Wind

Arkansas or Bust and Believe It or Not, We Didn't Bust Once

Father's Day = Heartache Day

Six Month Check In

The Truth About Our Marriage

Spencer, the Young Psalmist

Yet, even with all these blog posts building in my mind, I just feel like talking.

Dave, Dave, Dave.  His name (or Daddy) is spoken of more and more around here.  Not less and less.  It is good and hard all at the same time.  I am so proud of my little kiddies who speak of him so freely and unapologetically, as his death continues to pretty much be our life right now.  I mean, I wonder what my longest stretch is, that Dave has not entered my thoughts?  One minute?  Three minutes?  Maybe more if I am watching a real cliffhanger like, TLC's "I Didn't Even Know I Was Pregnant?" (I literally can't explain why I like that show.  There has to be a psychological answer).

Anyway, back to my kids and their candid manner in which they talk about Dave.  This idea of them talking about Dave so freely became very clear to me as we were standing in line at the 63rd McDonald's at which we patronized on our trip. In between collecting orders (as if I didn't know by this time what they would get) Spencer swung his stuffed animal through the air and said, "Was Daddy still alive the last time we stayed at a hotel?"  According to their expressions, the mother and daughter behind us heard what he had said.  Spencer was not trying to let everyone hear, nor was he trying to make sure nobody heard.  He was just asking a question about Daddy.  I love how they feel the freedom to just simply talk about him or ask questions about him, anywhere or anytime. I, on the other hand, usually am measuring what I should say, what is appropriate, what would make somebody else feel uncomfortable, will I regret saying too much, etc. . . . They just talk.  

Speaking of talking, I just got this little booklet in the mail this week from my church.  It said, and I quote, "Talking helps you locate your pain, bring it to the surface, and let it go.  And because your wound doesn't suddenly go away, the pain recurs, and you need to talk about it again and again and again.  That's why grieving people need to talk about the same feeling or memory over and over."  And that is why I write some of the same themes over and over.  I feel like by writing, I am trying to locate my pain and figure it out.  Often times, when I am feeling the most crummy, I just start writing.  Sometimes I post it, and sometimes I don't.  Here is another quote of a quote from the little pamphlet,  by C.S. Lewis, "In grief, nothing 'stays put.' One keeps emerging from a phase, but it always recurs.  Round and round.  Everything repeats, Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I'm on a spiral?  But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?"  So true. So true. It really is tiring and I'm only at a half a year.  Of course, maybe I'm just tired like any other mom with three young kids on summer break.

I think the theme I could write about over and over is from my post, "My Double Life."  That has not changed a bit.  I feel like our family is doing incredibly well and painfully awful all in the same moment.  We've continued to live and live well.  We've continued to laugh, make new memories, take vacations, take steps into hard situations, live closer to Jesus, grow stronger and the list goes on.  Yet, today at church, I was 100% of the time, one blink away from a flood of tears.  I still don't know how to answer, the basic question, "How are you?"  I surely don't expect people refrain from asking that question.  It's impossible not to.  I've asked the same question to others in difficult situations.  I try to say, "It is good to see you."  Or, "How are you feeling today?"  It's just so engrained to say the other.  And, I'm sure this goes without saying, but I would much rather someone ask how I am doing, than not say anything at all.  One day, I'll be able to answer a casual, "Fine," and for that to be true, but not today.  Maybe tomorrow.  One friend and I have joked about, "Maybe tomorrow."  I say that about a lot of things, knowing that it won't actually happen tomorrow.  ie: I haven't taken a shower for two days now.  Maybe tomorrow.  

Well, I know this post doesn't really have a theme , but I just kinda needed to get started writing again after being gone for a few weeks.  I clearly have a slew of topics that I'd like to write about and am anxious to get to them, but I just needed to sit and write first.  So, which topic should I start with next?  


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Missing "Summer Dave"

A few weeks ago, I was almost a little concerned that I was doing too well.  There was even a tinge of guilt involved that I was carrying on with life without all that many tears and I was even looking forward to the future with some real excitement.  But, never fear, grief still lives here.  I am definitely missing "Summer Dave."

I knew that summer was going to be hard and I thought I had prepared for it, but a first is a first and it feels just as fresh as the first day of skiing without Dave, or the first Mother's Day without Dave, or the first birthday without Dave.  However, this isn't the first DAY of something, it is the first WHOLE SUMMER that Dave is not here.  I keep picturing the tidal wave from the tsunami that wiped out parts of Indonesia and Thailand a few Christmases ago.  The wave didn't look tall, but it just kept pushing and pushing past its intended boundaries.  That is how my wave feels right now.  It just keeps pushing and pushing, but it won't release back into the sea.

Spencer is feeling it, too.  And why wouldn't he?  This is the season where Dave shined.  Dave could sometimes be a little dullsville when the winter months would get long, but come summer . . . that is when he would really come to life.  Last summer, at about 3:45 each day, I would start saying to myself, "He will be home in 90 minutes, and then the better part of our day will begin."  He would get home, the bikes would be pulled out, the flowers in the front would get watered, the dogs and brats would get packed for dinner at the pool and we'd finish up the day as a family of 5.  I remember last summer when one night he met us at the pool after work.  Instead of bringing pizza for the family, he brought 10 oversized cans of Coors Light.  I was so mad.  Now I am just so mad that I was so mad at something so ridiculous like that.  A friend had just given him the beer on his way out of work and he was just trying to get to the pool in a hurry, but I didn't even give him any benefit of any doubt.

Our maiden camping voyage sans Dave is approaching.  I think I might go, but Spencer and I are having a time of it.  I wouldn't want to miss it, and I know I can survive it, but I'm just cringing about going without him.

The first time we went camping with a bundle of joy named Spence, was one of those wretched sleepless camping nights that all first time parents probably know all too well.  We were snuggled in a tent with our faces smashed against the Pak N Play netting and we may as well have been sitting in the middle of the highway. Every time a car would drive by, sweet little baby Spencer would stand up in his camping crib and say, "Car? Truck? Vroooooom."  This went on until 4am in the morning.  We were dangerously sleep deprived and a touch grumpy in the morning and so were all of our camping neighbors, I'm sure.  I remember Dave walking by our friend Christina the next morning and saying, "Spencer said his first sentence this morning!  He said, 'I want to sleep in the Harrel's tent tonight.'"  That was the ONLY funny thing about that camping trip.  After a few more camping trips similar to that one, we finally bought a pop-up and it revolutionized our camping experiences.  I don't know the exact science behind it, but Aldridge children don't sleep in tents, but they do in pop-ups.  Sadly, I sold "Paula" the pop-up, because it was too heavy for "Svetlana" the Sienna to pull and probably a little much for Holly the "homemaker" (take that word very lightly) to handle.

I can't quite figure out how I'm going to pull off camping this summer.  I was a camper before I got married. I nearly became a non-camper after roughing it with kids. Then we became professional campers last summer and now I'm not sure what it'll look like.  At this point we are back to the tent, but that sounds like a nightmare.  Maybe a more reasonable, lighter pop-up?  Maybe one of those conversion vans that I would once run from when I was in my fear of getting kidnapped years?  I can't quite find a good option.  This past weekend, I looked at a 1988 20ft. RV for a bargain basement price.  I absolutely loved it, but the mechanic gave it two thumbs down, so I passed on it.  I think I made the right decision, but the process of making it was difficult.  You see, I come from a long line of Swedes and Finns, which means that by nature, I am practical.  Dave wasn't Swedish or Finnish, so he wasn't nearly as practical.  Needless to say, on most things risky, he was the gas and I was the brakes.  I don't have the other half that is supposed to even me out.  My Finnish roots keep me a little too planted for what Dave would want for his family, I'm afraid.  It's hard to be both the brakes and the gas and to make a decision, all at the same time.

Anyway, overall, I feel like we are making it through the first part of summer, OK.  Not emotionally maybe, but I feel like my kids are enjoying summer and we are doing it.  I never thought in a million years that I could be pulling all this off, but somehow I am.  Still with some help.  And speaking of help, thanks to the guys who came over last weekend and helped in the yard.  I can now pull into my driveway, without being super embarrassed about how how my yard looks.  I was definitely starting to feel paralyzed about what to do with the yard.  Also, thanks to all of you who have tapped into your spidey senses this week and must somehow know that it is a tough go right now.  I have had a lot of little extra notes, texts and facebook messages that have really encouraged me, so thank you so much for that.

One last thing, on a lighter note, Leah, my 4 1/2 year old dove off the diving board this week.  It is just the kind of thing that Dave would think is so cool.  She is a little daredevil and quite the little swimmer, too. Spencer gave her a little instruction, she dove off the side of the pool twice and then said, "I think I'm ready for the board," and without hesitation, she just dove in.  She's crazy - Dave loved that!  So, you guys can now be proud with me, of Leah and her athletic antics.  Speaking of swimming, I guess I better go starting rounding up the suits and pulling out the towels, which are probably starting a mold garden in a swim bag somewhere in this house.