Just a brief goodbye

The boys and I are getting on a plane after church this morning and flying to my SIL's house in Rhode Island. My MIL and FIL will be there as well -- yes, the people I suspect of having cashed Nick' retirement fund without telling me. This should be fun. Not.

Actually, I think the timing is remarkable. If I hadn't finally gotten around to calling the pension firm on Friday, I wouldn't have known about it before seeing them. My plan is to tell the family about what happened and be all distressed, worrying about not getting the money, and what COULD have happened? I think I will be able to read my FIL quite easily, and possibly my MIL as well.

I have decided that if it turns out that they did claim the money without telling me, I will ask them to put it into an education fund for the boys. If they decline to do that -- which would be totally in keeping with how they treated Nick and have continued to treat N&S -- I will close the door on them with no regrets or hesitations. (They do not need the money for their own retirment, or I might be a little more gracious.)

And after I've covered that little issue, I'll tell them about MB. What a fun trip this is going to be! NOT.

At any rate, I'll be back late Tuesday night. Cross your fingers and wish me luck. I really am hoping that I'm wrong about the pension fund. I really do hope I'm wrong.

The great conspiracy

Phase One

When MB was here, we went out to dinner with my good friends P&B.

P&B and Nick and I played bridge regularly for years; P was one of Nick's closest friends at work; B is one of my closest friends; our sons are the same age and have been best friends forever. They were the first people I introduced MB to, and they immediately embraced him. It was wonderful how easily MB slipped into a longstanding friendship.

Anyway, the four of us went to eat at a fondue restaurant, three hours of luxuriating in good conversation and good food. At one point, B looked at MB and said, So, Ron, when are you coming back? I laughed and immediately raised my wine glass to clink with B. Yes, dear? When ARE you coming back? MB sputtered and stammered and actually pleaded the fifth.

MB was sure that I had plotted with B to get her to ask the question. (P, by the way, very wisely said nothing and just chuckled into his wine, enjoying MB's bemusement.) For the rest of MB's visit, and even after his return to St. Louis, our one-line gag has been So, RON?

Phase Two

God bless my fellow widowblogger b (in Boston)! After MB left and I wrote about his visit on this blog, her comment was Glad you had such a nice visit. When's the next one? MB was sure there was a conspiracy!

So, RON?

Phase Three

Out of the mouths of babes: N wanted to learn how to use my cell phone yesterday, and I showed him how to call MB. (This 8YO wants his own phone. :rolleyes:) Can I call Mr. MB? Of course, anytime you want. (It occurred to me that it's probably a good idea for him to know how to reach MB, anyway.)

An hour or so later, N takes my phone and calls MB. Hi, Mr. MB. This is N calling. Thank you for the letter you wrote me. And I was wondering ... When will you be coming back to visit us? Picture mom falling on the floor and laughing hysterically. Picture MB looking at the phone in astonishment, absolutely sure I told N to ask that.

So, RON?

Phase Four

Hehehehehehe.... That remains to be seen.

So, RON?

Updated, 1:15 p.m. --

Phase Four has been revealed. I was talking to my mother this morning. The boys and I are going to Arizona in October; we'll spend a week in Tucson with my sister and mother and then I will leave the boys in Tucson and go to the Widowbago in Phoenix. Is Ron coming, too? Hmmmmm... good question!

So, RON?

I wonder what Phase Five will be!!??

(Sorry, sweetie, but you have to agree that So, RON? has a better ring to it than So, MB? Besides, you have already been revealed to my Faithful Four.)

Funny how money

We all say that we know that money doesn't really matter. We all acknowledge that life is a lot easier when you have it than when you don't. We all say that we'd give every penny of the insurance back (and then some!) if only we could have our dear loves back. But money is still a powerful force in our lives, even as a powerful trigger for grief. Two stories...

1. I had an appointment at the bank today to sign some papers. Due to recent changes in laws governing brokerage accounts, I had to switch from one type of brokerage account to another. No big deal, really. But signing those documents -- "source of money: life insurance payment" and "source of money: inheritance" -- ugh. I couldn't help it; I just started crying.

2. While I was signing those papers, I remembered (again!) a retirement account that Nick had that I'd never received the paperwork for. So I called the company to inquire about filing the claim as beneficiary. After a VERY long wait, I was told that the paperwork had already been filed.

We're going to have to research this to learn more. We'll call you or send you a letter with our findings.
Can you tell me what the problem is?
No, ma'am, I can't. The paperwork was filed, and your name is not listed on his account as someone we can discuss the account with.
How can the paperwork have been filed when I never received it?
That's what we're going to research.
Well, I'm listed as the beneficiary, right?
I can't tell you that, ma'am.

Wow. I can think of only two possibilities. The first one is no big deal and can easily be resolved: There was a major snafu at their end.

The other possibility enrages me: Nick had this account before we married, and it listed his parents as beneficiaries. Did he forget to change the beneficiary after we were married? Possibly. Which would mean that his parents received the paperwork and filed the claim, without even letting me know. Which burns my buns, because even though it would be theirs legally, they would know that his intent would have been for that money to go to his children.

And that anger triggers grief, makes me so sad about so many things on so many levels.

Sigh.... funny how money.....

My to-do list today has been all about finances: meeting the broker, calling the retirement fund, balancing two months' worth of bank and credit card statements (successfully, I might add), and dealing with customer service on two services that I've canceled but continue to be billed for.

What's left on my list is to FILE two months' worth of bills and statements. Ugh.

I'd rather go to the pool.

The return of the listmaker

So far today I have --
  • Gotten S off to school
  • Done two loads of laundry
  • Cleaned the playroom
  • Helped N build two plaster model cars (the paint is drying on #1; the plaster is drying on #2; #3 will surely follow when the mold is available)
  • Had my teeth cleaned
  • Endured my hygienist's semiannual lecture on flossing (I'm a widow, dammit! My teeth are lucky to get brushed every day.)
  • Checked the mouse traps (empty, thank goodness; I caught 4 babies yesterday.)
  • Browsed the board
Still to do today --
  • Help N finish the model cars.
  • Do one more load of laundry.
  • Fold the five loads of laundry I washed yesterday and today.
  • Enter my receipts into Quicken -- about 2 months' worth. **sigh**
  • Write a few checks -- thank goodness for online banking!
  • Go get S from daycare. (Do I have to???)
  • Explain MB's comment to B in yesterday's post.
  • Upload pictures from the weekend's Dinosaur Party.

Updated, 8:15 p.m. -- I've made good progress!
  • Help N finish the model cars. Check
  • Do one more load of laundry. Check
  • Fold the five loads of laundry I washed yesterday and today. *sigh*
  • Enter my receipts into Quicken -- about 2 months' worth. Check
  • Write a few checks -- thank goodness for online banking! Check
  • Go get S from daycare. (Do I have to???) Check
  • Explain MB's comment to B in yesterday's post. *sigh*
  • Upload pictures from the weekend's Dinosaur Party. *sigh*
And I also
  • Took N to the pool
  • Entered checks written into Quicken
  • Took the garbage and recycling to the curb

**** sigh ****

MB is back home now -- or back to his house anyway. More and more, it feel like "home" when he is here.

We so enjoyed our week together, and (needless to say) it went by far too quickly. We actually had two dates, going out to dinner without the boys. Wow.

MB also survived S's 4th birthday party, as well as meeting my BIL and SIL and enduring the eyes of all on him at church.

AND he bought fishing poles for N and S. On our second fishing expedition, N actually caught three fish -- bluegills, of course, but oh the joy of it!

I am really behind on all my household stuff, and I haven't been keeping up with my friends' blogs as well as I'd like. So all my nutshell comments appear here. Lazy Pentha, lazy.

  • Ali, I'm with you on being surprised how many people like me. I was always the outcast wallflower. What happened?
  • B, to quote another YWBBer, be gentle with yourself. See comment above about allowing people to like us, love us. Trust the moment, the movement, the spirit. And I know all about the Jekyll-Hyde syndrome of our little darlings.
  • Kyle, it's wonderful to read that you are in such a good place right now. Happy birthday!
  • Libbi, I'm bored! Post something new!
  • Shneed, I wish I could just hold you and comfort you. The tsunami is a perfect metaphor. We know that the waters will recede and we can start rebuilding our lives. And then we ask how we can possibly do that. I remember screaming at the heavens, "I don't WANT a new life, a new normal, a new future." And yet, and yet, and yet... the future has an inexorable way of becoming the present, often without our notice. For now, take a deep breath and do the only thing you can: Step gently into the next moment.
  • Suzann, I have had more angels on this journey than I can count, including my blogging friends who have offered a total stranger their love and support. Astounding, when you think about it.
  • Tamsen, I'm glad to see you posting again. The six-month mark seems to be a universally awful time for some reason. I haven't had a chance to read and respond to everything you've written, but I will; I promise.
On the one hand, I've missed my blogging. On the other hand, it is good to live life, rather than merely report on it. I think that tomorrow I need to return to my to-do list format for a while.

Love to my Faithful Four -- I hope you're still with me!

Newly widowed

That's how I felt this morning. Newly widowed.

Nearly 2 years after Nick's death, I finally retrieved his boxes of stuff from his office. Two years! My sons have continued to go to the day care/preschool by Nick's work, so I have driven by his office five or six times a week for the last 2 years. I would put blinders on as I drove by the road to his office, not able to bear looking down that road.

Today, I finally went to get his things. I started crying when I made the turn to his lab. By the time I pulled up to the front door, I was sobbing. I was sobbing when I got out of the car. His colleagues wanted to know why I was crying. I just apologized and kept sobbing. I sobbed while they loaded boxes of books into my trunk. JB showed me the one box of "personal items"; I saw the one thing I was looking for and sobbed. I hugged JB and sobbed; all she could say was I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

I was still crying as I drove to the grocery store, but by the time I called MB I had regained my equilibrium. I was in a fog as I went through the aisles at the grocery store. That numbing fog that masks raw pain, the fog that protected me in those first horrible weeks. My face felt twisted with sheer pain as I drifted along.

I was so glad to know that MB was waiting for me at home. I called when I was a few minutes away and asked him to meet me outside with a big bear hug. I buried myself in his chest and cried some more.

That terrible feeling passed, and I moved through the rest of the day, finding life and laughter with MB and my boys. But it took my breath away to realize how easy it was to feel newly widowed, to find myself in that place of unbreathable pain.

PS: I apologize for now requiring you to play the word-verification game when posting comments. I got nailed with 32 spam comments today. Ugh.

The world has come to an end

There can be no other explanation for what just happened: A Dutchie told me it's okay if my house isn't clean.

I love you, A! (And I miss your presence on the board.)

This blog has been abandoned

Not really, but that's what it feels like.

For today, my to-do list is too long to write down. Suffice it to say that I have a lot of work to do before picking MB up at the airport tomorrow.

Okay, I lied

I am under a lot of stress.

Yesterday, I'd planned on putting out all the dictionary definitions of stress -- my word-of-the-day approach to blogging, if you will. But actually, one set of definitions struck me as particularly relevant, those used in the realm of physics:
  1. An applied force or system of forces that tends to strain or deform a body.
  2. The internal resistance of a body to such an applied force or system of forces
MB and I were talking about my eczema last night, and he said something to the effect of, Because of the kids, you have to keep everything bottled up. But it has to ooze out somewhere. Pretty insightful of him, if you ask me.

I've got all these outside things pushing in on me; I've got all these inside things pushing out. I am simultaneously trying to neither implode nor explode. Jeesh, no wonder I'm a blistery mess.

External stressors:
  • With school out, I have my kids around 24/7.
  • N and S can't be in the same room for 3 minutes without one of them hitting the other.
  • S can't be left alone for 5 minutes without destroying something or making a huge mess.
  • The only time I've been away from both boys since mid-June has been (1) the two dinners out in Baltimore, (2) the 15 minutes between dropping S off at school and getting home (or the 15 minutes on my way to pick him up), and (3) my time spent in the dental chair.
  • Time spent in the dental chair: I'm in the middle of a root canal, and it hurts. I've been told that when this one is done, I need another.
  • I have ants coming into my kitchen.
  • I have a mouse (or mice) in the lower level of the house.
  • I have come to a grinding halt on cleaning up, clearing out, throwing away.
  • I haven't balanced my finances in two months. I've paid bills, but I haven't maintained the books.
Internal stressors:
  • I worry about my boys. Constantly.
  • I miss MB. I just want to be with him, and it makes me crazy that he's not here.
  • I worry about MB, who has some health issues. They aren't life-threatening, but they are quality-of-life-threatening and if they aren't resolved favorably, they could put an end to our relationship. It's likely that everything will be fine, but if not...
  • I have to tell my in-laws about MB.
  • I want to expel my in-laws from my life, but for the sake of the boys, I cannot.
  • August 8 is approaching rapidly. Part of me is going into shock again, unable to believe that Nick is gone, that he's been dead for 2 years, that the unthinkable actually happened.
  • I'm not sleeping well, which is making me tired and grumpy, which makes my handling of all the above stressors less than pleasant.
Ugh. Now what?


I was going to make a thought-provoking post about stress, but I finally decided that I am just too stressed out to do so. How pathetic is that?

The word comes to mind because I finally went to the doctor yesterday to treat the poison ivy that's been plaguing me for months. I'd get one or two new blisters on my hands every day, then a whole crop of them, then one or two a day, and so on. I finally got tired of it and decided to ask for a prednisone prescription.

Surprise! It's not poison ivy. It's stress-induced dyshidrotic eczema. Isn't that special?

The ridiculous part is that "things" are actually going pretty well for the boys and me right now. I'd hate to see what kind of mess I'd be if "things" weren't going well.

legacy -- n.

1: a gift by will, especially of money or other personal property; bequest
2: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past

I have my grandmother's build and love of language; I have my mother's passionate writing style, great skin, and gorgeous hair, as well as her lousy eyesight and rotten teeth (I had a root canal today, and another is needed soon). I have my father's eyes and keen intellect, as well as his love of card games and taste for power.

All these traits were bestowed on me by those who came before me, and I'm thinking about them because today is both my father's birthday and the fourth anniversary of his death. Before you get all sentimental and send me sympathy notes, you must understand that I started crying for my father 30 years before he died, weeping for the father I never had.

The legacy he gave me decades ago was one of rejection and anger and hurt. I have long since made peace with that part of my life, and I truly cried from sadness when he died. I was, am, and probably always will be so very sad that he was never a Daddy to me when I was a little girl and refused an adult relationship with me when I grew older.

And I wonder about N and S, what kind of legacy they will receive from Nick and me. Since they were adopted, they don't have my eyes (my father's) or Nick's laugh (his father's). Will they have Nick's deep spirituality, even though he is already gone? Will their eyes light up when they find their academic niche? Will they remember the love, even though they are living a childhood of loss and sorrow? Am I destroying them with my own anger and pain? Or will my passionate love for them cover a multitude of sins?

I was reduced to screaming at them this evening, over the destruction of a woven spread covering the sofa in the family room. Both boys recoiled from me in fear of my anger, my raised hand. Both boys were in tears, tears of remorse and tears of fear. Each tried, in his own way, to make amends, each needed to be reassured that my love outlasted my rage.

I hate myself in times like this. I hate that I am a widow entrusted with the lives of these two beautiful boys, when I am barely managing my own life. I hate that my boys fear my anger. I hate that there is no respite. I hate that I can't do it; I hate that I have to do it anyway. And in a perverse way, I hate that tomorrow I'll have a fresh start, and everything will be fine.

I have to believe that everything will be fine, that the boys will be fine.

What legacy will N and S receive from me? That question haunts me.

A grief not shared

I got some wonderful news last evening -- wonderful news that had me sobbing because Nick isn't here. N's birthmother got married; her mother wrote to share the news, at the same time renewing her condolences on Nick's death.

If Nick were alive, we would have rejoiced in E's marriage. She is a wonderful young woman who struck us with her vitality and humor, and whose words to me on February 23, 1998, will forever echo in my memory:
I love this little baby so much, more than I ever thought possible. But that's not enough. I can't give him a home, a family, a father. I want you and Nick to be his parents. I want him in your arms and under your roof as soon as possible.

Four hours later, N was in our arms. He was 3 days old.

But Nick isn't alive. So instead of being happy for E, and tenderly reflecting back to that day 8 1/2 years ago, my heart is breaking. Nobody else in the world knows what that day was like, what it felt like to hold N for the first time, how many tears were shed on the road to his adoption ... and how many more tears were shed the second time around when we were adopting S. This HUGE part of my life, these defining moments that helped make me who I am ... and the only person who shared those sacred times of utter pain and sublime joy is gone.

Tomorrow, I will be happy for E. I will send her warm congratulations and best wishes for her new life and new love. Tonight though, in these wee hours of the morning, I mourn for the life and the love I have lost.


I've finally got the motivation to clean the downstairs:

My good friend PMAS is coming tonight with her daughter. I met PMAS my freshman year in college, and we've maintained our friendship through the years and across the miles. She is the friend who was with me the week Nick was in the hospital -- a rare and precious friend, someone I will know all my life.

And, MB is coming to town on the 18th. I know that I'll have to clean the family room and guest quarters again before then, but at least I have a reason to!

Thanks to all who have offered me the TLC that I needed to get through this rough patch.

recovery -- n.

1. return to an original state
2. gradual healing (through rest) after sickness or injury
3. the act of regaining or saving something lost (or in danger of becoming lost)

I guess I'm all about "recovery" right now.

1. return to an original state

I need to return my house to its original state. It was a mess when I left for Baltimore on Thursday. It's now a full-fledged disaster area. (I wonder if I can qualify for federal funding to get it cleaned up?) I did all the laundry when we got back, but I haven't unpacked the toys or the clean clothes.

2. gradual healing (through rest) after sickness or injury

The boys and I are gradually healing from the exhaustion of the weekend. It was fabulous and wonderful, but we were totally wiped out when we got home. After a few days of doing nothing -- we even skipped the barbecue and fireworks last night -- we're getting our energy back.

There was some terrible ugliness on the board while I was in Baltimore. The injury was painful and will take some time to heal.

3. the act of regaining or saving something lost (or in danger of becoming lost)

That ugliness severely damaged things between MB and me. We're working through it all, but it's going to take time to regain the trust that was lost, to restore the contentment we had.

Recovery... sounds like it should be restful. Why then does it feel like so much work?


What a great weekend!

And yet it's good to be home again.

Everything unfolded very smoothly, and everyone had a wonderful time. All the kids had a great time playing and running around and making friends. All the adults had a great time playing and running around and making friends.

I'll post a few pictures later. In the meantime I have laundry to do.

Imagine that.

Updated with pictures, 2:30 p.m.

Sixteen people in the photo = Sixteen broken hearts
Not to mention their children's hearts
And six widoweds and their kids left before the brunch

Hearts broken in grief
Come together in laughter --
Still tinged with sadness