Saturday, September 3, 2016

a quilt is more than memories, it is a hug from an old friend

"Measuring a summers day
 I only find it slips away to grey
the hours they bring me pain.
Tangerine, Tangerine
 living reflections from a dream
 I was her love she was my queen
 and now a thousand years between.
Thinking how it used to be, 
does she still remember times like these
to think of us again
and I do" 
(Led Zeppelin)

  (above, Rob in some of his many awesome T-shirts.  Left, Rob and Noah in a side by side comparison in the exact same T-shirt around the same age, too.)

If you never met Rob and only know him through my words, I bet you can still get a visual of him in his Converse, Levi's, a T-shirt, and a flannel.  I knew him 24+ years and rarely saw him in anything else.  It was that (and his love for Mountain Dew) that people who knew him best vividly remember about him.  Oh, sure, he was in the Air Force for 16 years and so he wore a lot of uniforms in his day, but having his work clothes pre-decided for him just meant that his entire closet was full of flannels, his drawers full of T-shirts, and his shoes only ever black converse high-tops (well, except the time he wore purple plaid ones for our wedding).  Both his son's closets and drawers hold exactly the same wardrobe with many of the same favorite brands, bands, and (of course) Star Wars. 
     As Rob's best friend, Kraig, put it to me in a recent conversations, "Rob always did have the best shirts".  They ranged from his favorite bands (Led Zeppelin, Pixies, Aerosmith), to Itchy & Scratchy, CoCo's (where he worked in Waukesha for a long time), Independent Skateboards, Star Wars, to brands he loved, and then later to military shirts from places he was stationed or runs he completed after he discovered he was kind of great at the long distance running thing.
   After Rob passed away we saved all his wardrobe, and for a long time I couldn't think about doing anything with the clothes.  Finally, three years passed, and I was willing to give in to what Sarah had suggested in the first place.  I let my mom take all the T-shirts and flannels that we had (some had been lost over the years, and others the kids claimed to keep) and she created an awesome memory quilt.  It took her a while to complete and she is still working on the binding, but I can share the finished face and backside with you.   
 what an amazing job my mom did.   I am so grateful for her time.  I am thankful for Sarah helping me pick out all the shirts and flannels.  

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Shelf

 One of the hardest things about having to move across continents after Rob's death is how, while settling into our new home, his stuff didn't have to be unpacked.  His shoes weren't lying by the front door, his keys not hung on a hook, his coat not flung over a chair.  Those little pieces that made him still so present in our house in Germany weren't in the new home and it didn't make it any easier.  Instead, it made it feel more empty. One of the first things I wanted to do when I moved into the new house was to have some sort of area where we could display all Rob's things so that his presence was in this house, but not in a heavy, sad way. I had a shelf custom made for the foyer of our upstairs and began adding to it very slowly.  The work was painstaking and emotional, so often it would sit for months until I was ready to try and tackle the project again.  I had help from Rob's parents and my mom, help from people who used to work with Rob, and support and encouragement from my kids.  Finally, I feel the shelf is finished enough to be able to share on the blog.  The only thing still missing are pictures of Rob with his kids, but going through photographs is still something that I am not able to do very well. I plan to hang a couple frames next to the shelf on the wall.  
    Thank you for always reading my posts and sharing in my grief.  He's been gone three and a half years, but the hurt is still just as fresh and raw.  
  Monday was Rob's birthday.  He would have been 44. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

an ordinary Wednesday

There was a day in the German hospital, after all efforts had been exhausted and there was nothing more they could do, but before they moved Rob to hospice in the American hospital located on Landstuhl Army Base where the kids came out to visit their Dad. It was during this visit I had explain that Rob was not going to get any better. After I had done my best to relate his condition, I then asked the kids if they had any questions, and Micah asked me, "So, will dad get to come home soon?" and I gently answered, "No, honey, dad's not going to get to come home again."
And I always thought that all three kids understood. I always thought that they all got the connotations of that conversation.
But Micah was very young. He was just nine years old at the time. He came to me, tonight, and asked me if I remembered that conversation.
That's how these memories happen, an ordinary Wednesday and it comes back. He came to confront me to ask me if I remembered what I'd said. Of course I did.
He went on to tell me that he thought it meant that his dad was just going to have to live in the hospital from now on, and didn't understand that it meant his dad was dying. 
He doesn't remember when he really understood fully, but that there was another moment when my friend had to take him to buy a new black suit (because I was living at the hospice) and he asked his big sister why they all had to get new black clothes.
It's moments like these.
Sometimes I think it was hardest on me because I lost my best friend, or sometimes I tend to think that it was hardest on Sarah because she was the oldest and knew him the longest of any of the children, but then I am faced with my 13-year-old son and that fact that he has a memory like this and I realize that it's not easy on any of us, and none of us have escaped the grief.
This is my reality. This is my kids' reality.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

unfortunately, they did find a malignancy

got a new chain so I can wear Rob's wedding ring around my neck. 4 years ago, on this day, we found out what he was fighting and what we were up against. I miss him so much every day. All day. It's not something you get past. So on this day, when I really only truly began to understand the horror that Cancer is and what it can steal, I remember you. I remember you.