Sep 29, 2009

She was better than me

Two weeks ago, as noted in an earlier post, my roof began leaking in two different rather large areas. I called my insurance company and got the ball rolling. Since then everything has come to a screeching halt. The insurance company sent out their “preferred vendor” the day I made the claim yet I still do not have a written estimate from them. I called five other roofing companies for estimates. Only one company has made it out so far and given me an estimate. I’m sitting here making phone calls, getting the run around, and worrying about the rain that is in the forecast for later this week.

The insurance company hasn’t received any estimates from me or the vendor yet, and is already telling me what they won’t cover….great! I’m trying really hard to be patient because I have a feeling that this is going to be a several week long up hill battle with them, but I really wish Mindy was here to help with all of this. She was so good at cutting through all the crap on things like this and getting stuff done. Partly because she was a stay at home mom and had a little more flexible schedule to work with these people, but mostly because she just didn’t take crap from anyone.

As I was writing this I was interrupted by a phone call from my insurance company. They wanted to know if I was happy with the repairs. WHAT REPAIRS!! Nothing has been done! So I channeled my “Mindy like” assertion towards the poor sap on the other end of the phone. In the end all he could do was “note my account”, so I’ll be placing another call to my agent.

Mindy and I both worked in a call center when we first met. We were both painfully familiar with the customer service side of things. I caught a few good breaks and moved into IT where my real passion lied. She worked various forms of customer service for several different companies over the years before becoming a stay at home mom. I guess the additional years arguing with people over bills, collection letters, service agreements, etc. just made her more rigid when it comes to these things. She was just flat out better than me at getting people to do what she wanted, how she wanted. She was unwavering and tenacious, and as much as I try; as much as I say I’ll do the same thing…I’m just not her. I’m not that good at it. I wear down more easily and become frustrated. I can nearly hear her now, lecturing on the strength of a woman needed to get the job done. She wouldn’t actually do the work mind you; just tell you the womanly strength needed to do it (read: delegation and supervision). In marriage you get used to leaning on your spouse to fill gaps; to do well what you don’t. I just got comfortable with her being the assertive, tenacious project manger when it came to things like this. I do a lot of things well and I’ve improved on quite a bit now that I’m the only one calling the shots (or so I like to think), but it’s just another reminder that I’m just half of a couple.

Sep 21, 2009

Conversations in the car

We had another group night at the WARM Place last Thursday night and for the most part everything went normally. On the way across the parking lot to the car my little Princess said she missed “…Momma’s driving.”. Really? How do you miss someone’s driving, I thought. Then quickly as we drove away all three of them started chatting over one another and they all honed in on the same story…coincidence maybe. They all started to tell me about her taking them to church the Sunday before she died. That morning I was at a motorcycle safety course and we had debated about whether she would take the kids to church or not. She didn’t want to go…I felt that they should. When I left for my class that morning I understood that they weren’t going.

At some point after I left she decided that they would go to church and thus spawns the story my children talked over each other to tell me. It seems (and this is so very much like Mindy) that she missed her exit off the highway, twice, and then got lost going to church…where she had been many, many times before. With her lack of direction she reportedly ran over a curb, twice, and almost took out a traffic sign. But since Mindy always left early for everything even after getting lost and driving around for a while they still ended up at the church on time.

I wish I had some way of recording these conversations when the kids spontaneously remember things that happened about their mother. The best I have is to jot it down after the fact, or some times to put it here as a post. But the joy that came across their faces as they took turns adding to the story, reminding each other how the morning drive played out, was priceless. Mindy and I were not big on taking home videos, we have the birth of the kids and a few scattered videos here and there, but we aren’t in many of them. It’s mostly the kids in the videos. I wish I had more video with her voice, her smile, her personality to show to them as they get older but there are only a few. It was nice to hear them tell such vivid details about that drive to church as if it were on a video they had just watched. They remembered it so clearly.

These drives home from the WARM Place seem to make for more of these conversations than most any other time, but they spring up all the time. I hurts to miss her. It really hurts to know that the kids miss her, but it’s relieving to know that they still find joy in our ‘life of before’. It makes the heartbreak tolerable, if only for a moment, to know that she had a profound impact on the lives of each of my little kiddos in the short time they spent with her. My Princess had recently turned 5 years old when we lost Mindy, but she can still tell me little details about how she looked, things she said, faces she would make. The Teen remembers more than she tells, but I see her mother in her more and more each day. She is growing into such a thoughtful young woman (sometimes, then she’s still a selfish teenager too!) and surprises me more and more lately with how mature she can be. We could’ve been so happy together for so much longer, all five of us. I just imagine that Mindy is eavesdropping and smiling…not at the content, but of the context. She certainly wouldn’t find this little story funny, but we sure did.

Sep 16, 2009

In good times and bad

It’s been a long string of days running together since I last had the time or the energy to post anything. Some times I think the most appropriate post would just be me screaming until my lungs give out. Life has been so frustrating the last two weeks. It is maddening to find the frustration at both ends of the spectrum…intertwined in my life at every turn. It just reinforces that grief is not a phase that you work through. It’s a journey that changes your life forever.

I was invited to go out with some friends and make a big night of it a couple of weeks back, and I had a great time. We had a relaxing dinner and then we headed off to Pete’s; a place I hadn’t been before. The hours we spent there flew by like minutes. I ran into a couple of old friends and that always makes my day better, but when I finally got back home it all sank. I had such a wonderful time and I wanted to share it with her. I laid in bed waiting for the sun to come up thinking of all the reasons why I didn’t do more with the time we had together. Why did we let such trivial things become so important. We believed in each other so much, we always found a way to see the good in each other; past what everyone else saw (or so I’d like to think), and I always thought that someone with such fervor for life would live more of it.

Fast forward to the next weekend and it seems nearly a polar opposite. Drenching rain storms covered the area for days on end, a rarity this time of year in TX. The kids’ allergies were acting up. I felt like I was getting sick. The roof is now leaking in a couple of places. I had car trouble Monday morning with three vehicles in tandem. It was just one tedious, frustrating issue after another and I just wanted someone to help. I wanted her to help. I wanted to be able to lean on her and she lean on me and we just knock out these problems one after another. But it was just me…standing in the rain down the street from my house (‘cause I tried to pop the clutch on my truck to get it to start and it didn’t) feeling pathetic and beat down. My procrastination cause some of my Monday morning crap storm and I was angry at myself for getting in this position and at Mindy for not being there.

The car had a flat so I aired up the tire and drove the mile down the street to get it fixed. It was already flat again when I arrived. I just asked them to fix the flat and rotate the tires. The guy behind the counter picked the wrong person to be smart with that morning and became pretty agreeable after I released a little tension at his expense. He made some comment about why I shouldn’t rotate my tires the way I wanted and normally I would’ve just shrugged it off. This time I decided I should remind him that they are my tires on my car and he would do well to keep to his opinions to himself, except not in so many words.

While I waited for the tire to be fixed I called the insurance company to take care of my leaky roof and tow my van to the shop. I was making good progress, but I just needed someone to help me. Not because I couldn’t do it, although at the time it sure felt that way, but because I just needed to know I wasn’t on my own; so I called in the reinforcements. My grandfather came over and we hung out in the rain trying to work on my flaky, undependable, old truck. Well, he worked; I stood in the rain handing him tools. All the while we waited for the tow service which showed up almost 3hrs late. In retrospect I wish I had done a few things differently, and that is really my point in all of this. Grief becomes so disruptive that I find myself overwhelmed with things that can typically be remedied fairly quickly. Really, I forget that God is bigger than my problems…bigger than my grief.

Whether it’s after a great time out with friends or in the middle of a emotional avalanche there just seems to be no escape. In good times and bad she was truly my other half, and it feels like only half of a life with out her here.

Sep 4, 2009

The Mask I Wear

Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
For I wear a mask. I wear a thousand masks-
masks that I'm afraid to take off
and none of them are me.
Pretending is an art that's second nature with me
But don't be fooled, for God's sake, don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure
That all is sunny and unruffled with me
within as well as without,
that confidence is my name
and coolness my game,
that the water's calm
and I'm in command,
and that I need no one.
But don't believe me. Please!

My surface may be smooth but my surface is my mask,
My ever-varying and ever-concealing mask.
Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence.
Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, in aloneness.
But I hide this.
I don't want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weaknesses
and fear exposing them.
That's why I frantically create my masks to hide behind.

But I don't tell you this.
I don't dare.
I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me, that you'll laugh
and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing, that I'm just no good
and you will see this
and reject me.

I idly chatter to you in suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that's nothing
and nothing of what's everything, of what's crying within me.
So when I'm going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I'm saying
Please listen carefully and try to hear
what I'm not saying
Hear what I'd like to say
but what I can not say.

It will not be easy for you,
long felt inadequacies make my defenses strong.
The nearer you approach me
the blinder I may strike back.
Despite what books say of men, I am irrational;
I fight against the very thing that I cry out for.
you wonder who I am
you shouldn't
for I am everyman
and everywoman
who wears a mask.
Don't be fooled by me.
At least not by the face I wear.
--Author unknown

Sep 1, 2009

The important and the eternal

Some things are important and temporal, others important and eternal...

I want to take a brief break from my usual posts to inform you of something I think is very important. I usually don't use this platform for things outside of my family and our travels through grief, but this time I feel I need to make an exception. Please take a moment to watch the video if you are not familiar with Scott Wilder or the Bible League and the efforts to send bibles around the world.

($4 sends one Bible…$100 sends 25 Bibles…more sends more!) For a very limited time, we have a dollar for dollar match, so whatever you do will be doubled (which means we want to do even more!).

When you call 1-800-YES-WORD, it is very important that you mention ‘Scott Wilder’ so we can include you as part of our total and so that you can be sure any local matching amount is applied to your donation. When you call 1-800-YES-WORD make sure you mention ‘Scott Wilder’ or use this donation link to do so online.

I would ask that if you can not help out with a donation to please take a moment and pray for those that will be delivering these bibles; it can be a dangerous task. A founding member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, Bible League International is a 501 (c)(3).

Thank you, and now back to your regularly scheduled bemoaning and grieving.