Dear Mama, Just a Letter

Dear Mama,

I’ve decided to write you a letter, much like I send Daddy about once a week.  If you were still here, this would be a phone call, but today it’s just a letter.  Maybe you already know everything, but I don’t really know how these things work when it comes to spirit living.  Besides.  Maybe a grandchild will find a simple letter like this fun to read someday.  Who the heck knows?

I’m much the same as I was when you left us, 11 months 10 days ago.  Eleven months feels like eleven years.  Do you remember how slow time can be here on earth?  Especially with things that we don’t like, like missing a mama.  It’s Sunday morning, 10:00, and I’m sitting on my bed, where you will find me every day, with heat on my back (helps the fibromyalgia pain) and ice on my neck (numbs the horrible neck pain).  Our little Bentley, now three years old, has been my little buddy since he was born.  When he comes over, he has to have at least a few minutes of “Oma time” which consists of him clambering up on my bed, snuggling up against me while I ice my neck.  He watches cartoon clips on YouTube or plays games on the iPad, while I watch movies on my computer.  He has no memory of me being a normal Oma.  He only knows the broken one.  And so.  He sometimes ices his own neck, because that’s what Omas do.  Once he was playing with an “oximeter” and Grandpa asked him what he had.  He held it up (it was on his finger) and said, “oh, my neck” as he pointed to his neck.  It seems many things become something to help Oma’s neck or his own.  Here’s a little video Joseph sent to us.  Bentley is unzipping the ice compartment on a lunchbox, and you can see Kelsey’s hand enter the frame as she signs to him asking what he is doing.  He says “oh my neck.”  Then they sent a picture of him in his car seat… the ice he removed was now behind his neck as they drove home.  He is my little pal, and I do love him so….

Bentley Icing His Neck in the Car

Bentley Icing His Neck

I’m showered and dressed, and wear no make up because I have nowhere important to be today.  Except for my nails and eyelashes which are perfect, because well, I have those professionally done.  This is where you tell me I’m your most vain child, and you would roll your eyes and sigh.  And I suppose you are right.  It’s my cross to bear, what can I say?  Every day I write part of a letter to somebody, or several somebodies.  Writing is about all I can do, other than knitting or reading if I feel “good” or watching TV if don’t.  I’ve stopped watching the cooking shows that I love, and the online cooking classes that I buy, because frankly, it’s depressing to not be able to do what I love.  And those only make me want to cook and bake fun things for my perfect little family, which I can’t do even though sometimes I think I can and I buy the ingredients for a recipe, and then throw those ingredients away a week later because I was never well enough to make it… yeah I do that.

Last weekend for Memorial Day, the kiddos escaped to St. George for some fun in the Sun.  I was unable to make the trip and Dave stayed home with me.  It’s hard, this.  Not being able to participate in family things.  Here is a picture they sent us, all crammed into my little Honda Pilate if you can believe that!

Kiddos in St George

Kiddos in St George, on the way to climb the red rocks!

They had a bunch of fun, they did.  Here are a couple of videos from their adventure on St George’s famous “Red Rocks.”  The kids love the Red Rocks.  Incidentally, this is where our Joseph proposed to Kelsey!  True story!  A trip to St George without hitting the Red Rocks, well, just isn’t a real trip to St George.  Here are a couple of videos from that field trip.  Nathan is like a little mountain goat, and they could’ve taped loads of videos of him jumping around.  Notice he has broken wrist.  He actually got an X-ray and the “aye okay” from the Dr the day before the trip, to be allowed to climb and jump around the Red Rocks.  Not sure the Dr’s idea of climbing the rocks was the same as Nathan’s but hey, he didn’t get re-injured in the end, so thumbs up for that!  The first video is short and doesn’t seem such a big deal, until you watch the second one of Ashton copying Nathan.

Yesterday we enjoyed a real treat from Grandma Carol (you remember Dave’s mom).  She is house sitting not too far from here, in a super nice condo complex way up on the mountain in Draper.  She invited the whole family (Bob and Sheri and kiddos too) to the restaurant there and treated everyone to pizza and salads.  Then to her condo for birthday cake and swimming.  I was able to go!  But it means I am unable to attend my one hour of Church today.  So of course I came here, to my blog… the place in between, where you and I meet.  The place where I feel close to you and talk to you and spill all the things that I would if I could call you on the phone.  The place where I throw up my grief because I choose to let my children and grandchildren see that I am not strong always.  And it’s okay.  Because we manage to get through it all in the end.  And they need to know what you always told me when I would cry about my sorrows to you on the phone… “this too shall pass.”  That’s what you always said.

Every day I still fight the pain that seems to be winning.  This week I over did it on several days.  But my body seems to recover faster, so maybe the medication adjustments are helping at least a little.  Dave is finally healthy, recovered completely from his pneumonia, and his two summer surgeries and four hospital stays.  The battle to stay healthy has begun.  Masks are in full force for those who are sick, and best if they just stay away.  Today everyone is healthy, winter is behind us, and we are celebrating Joseph’s birthday after church.  Grandma Carol will join us, which is a treat.  Dave continues to work over 60 hours per week, and wonders every day if he’ll actually make it to retirement in ten years.  There’s no way of telling.  There are no crystal balls.  Would that it were so.  He keeps his sense of humor and has us all laughing regularly and really, laughter is the best medicine don’t you think?  He is amazingly patient with a wife who does not function, never complaining, always concerned and always serving me.  I quite don’t deserve him, so I’m extra glad I snagged him up 27 years ago.

Joseph and Kelsey have just purchased their first house.  They are building it out in Saratoga Springs, Ut by the same builder that built our first home in Ogden, Ut (Woodside Homes).  Their home is much like that house of ours too, which we loved and it served it’s purpose well.  Bentley is 3 years old, and Hudson is 11 months.  They are growing like weeds.

Bentley and Hudson

Bentley and Hudson

B is as full of personality as his daddy was, and is quite a spunky little thing.  Little Hudson is just about as happy and gentle as can be.  We discovered by accident that he loves music.  One day, they were over for dinner, and Hudson was a little fussy because of teething.  Nathan quietly picked up his guitar, and went and knelt in front of him (H was in Becca’s lap at the kitchen bar) and Nathan started playing.  Hudsy calmed down immediately and sat there mesmerized for AN HOUR.  Here’s a little video of how much he loves to listen and watch Nathan play the guitar.  It’s a little long, I couldn’t figure out how to edit it, I’m not smart that way.  But pay close attention to his little feet which you can barely see.  His little feet turn circles about as fast as little feet can, every. single. time. he watches Nathan play one of his guitars.  This is the little guy that you traded places with last summer… you must have passed each other on your way there and his way here because he is the happiest most gentle baby and it must be because you breathed some of your happy into him, and I wonder sometimes if you spoke to him or brushed his little cheek with your hand as you passed him by, like a Great Grandmother would do.  It’s a nice thought anyway.

Katie and Ash are doing well.  They are terribly baby hungry, but it turns out that babysitting kids over night is the best. birth control. ever.  They stayed the night with the kiddos so Joseph and Kelsey could enjoy a birthday break, well deserved.  Little Hudson decided to be wide awake from 3:00-5:00.  It quite did them in!  Katie’s text she sent with the last two pictures here? “I guess staying awake from 3am-5am last night made these guys preeetty sleepy.”

Becca is home from her study abroad in Ukraine.  She will leave on her mission in two very short months.  She received her mission call while she was still in Ukraine, so we had to put together a video call so we could all watch her open it.  What this meant was that I had to hold the call up to the camera on my computer, put a piece of paper over it, and slide it slowly down as she read it… all while not taking a peek, which I did very successfully, thank you very much.  Now, a little side story here… Ukraine is at war with Russia.  Becca’s study abroad placed her about 12 hours from the front lines.  And it’s not a particularly safe place to be.  We had a harried first week of her experience there as she was learning how to navigate to and from school (a one hour walk/bus/walk, by herself. really) in some “not so safe” places.  Dave joked with her that he was going to open her call and change it to “Sister Kane, you have been called to be a soldier in Ukraine” instead of where she was really going.  Now back to the real story…  She was called right back to Ukraine.  Stop laughing.  She is very excited.  Dave and I, well, we are trying to be.  Dave did ask Nathan if he would serve as Tribute (Hunger Games reference) but Nathan declined.  She will be closer to the war’s front lines on her mission, as it turns out and I’m trying to decide whether or not we should send a gas mask and a map of all bomb shelters.  But I digress.  Here are pictures of the excitement!  (the best I could do was a slideshow, the captions don’t show up very well, but in order, you’ll see us getting ready to read the call, then reading the call, and last her reaction…happy tears, yes).  I love to watch the family in these pics…Katie was with Joe and Kels at their apartment, Dave and Ashton at work.  Nathan was with me, but can’t see him because one, I was holding the call up to the camera, and two, he split right after to go play his guitar {sigh}.  You can click on any picture to scroll on your own.

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Nathan hates being the only child left at home.  He has personally struggled as each kid has flown the coop.  He is terribly lonely, but never complains and like his dad, keeps a happy disposition.  He is a sensitive boy.  He seems to know when I’m down, and will appear unsolicited, to play his guitar for me at the foot of my bed.



My Nathan

My Nathan

Do you remember a game Daddy used to play with us?  “Darling, I love You, Kiss Me!”  He would say this in a very dramatic way, and then attack us with kisses all over our faces.  Boy would we laugh!  Tammy sent us all a video this week of Dean doing this with his boys.  What a great memory!

Well, if you and I were on the phone together, this is where we would run out of things to say and you would affectionately and sternly tell me to take care of myself and not to worry about things that don’t need worrying about.  I would say I love you and would talk to you soon and we would hang up and I would expect to hear your voice again in a week.  But then one day you left and so I don’t hear the voice that I love anymore.  And so I come here.  And it helps, this.  Writing to you here in the place in between.  Feeling you here as I tell you things you probably already know because you watch over the children you left behind because there is no taking us with you to there.  Here I can spill the grief that threatens to swallow me whole, and leave with the happy you left in the wake of your sudden departure… the happy that still fills you up so much that you spill it all over us as much as you can.  And suddenly I can hear the laugh that is fading to fast, and I am happy and strong again.  Ready to live this broken life that I love, full of a husband who is crazy about me and children and grandchildren and laughter galore.  And even though life will make sure that we struggle, we will get through it together.  With you there.  And us here.  Always remembering.  Remembering you, and your life I am still writing about.  Remembering Daddy and his life that he is writing about (menu bar at top).  And my posterity, coming here, to remember me and all my grief spilling, and broken life stories, and humor that can show up about anywhere.  Remembering that hardships are best shared with one another, with laughter for medicine.  Remembering to that you don’t want us to be sad with the missing you.  So we remember the happy times, like the “darling, i love you’s” ; and the dancing like crazies as you played “The Entertainer” on the piano;  like you chasing out the goat that came in the house, scaring the poor thing so bad all four of its legs skated around underneath itself like it was on a frozen lake, going nowhere fast;  like the fading laughter that lingers even now that you’ve been gone nearly a year.  Remembering happy, and laughter, and warm sunny hugs that carry us through until one day we are all together again, and the sad and pain and broken bodies are left here behind.  And happy and laughter will be all that is left to enjoy.  Forever and ever.  I love you, my happy mama.

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