Today I finished the snapfish photo book that New Girl On Post was so awesome as to mention in her blog a couple days ago. (I would enclose a link here, but I have no idea how to do that; computer illiterate I am.) At first it frustrated the daylights out of me, but this morning, inspiration and ability both struck. I decided on the theme "The Story of Us!" and I was off.
It was great. I'd seen all the pictures before, many times, but combining them with the story helped me remember all over again what a fun and exciting summer it was. And how cute my husband is. I know he will love it so much; I wish I could send it to him in time for Christmas, but at least he will get it in time for his birthday.
I ordered two, because I knew I would want a copy here with me. I keep imagining our children begging to be read the book, about how Mommy and Daddy met, and how tattered and beloved it will be. (I know, because I would nag my Mom and Dad to tell me their story more times than I can remember and how enthralled I was at pictures of them before I was born; "Dad wore bell bottoms??? Mom had long hair???)
Also, one my new friends from the seminar suggested that I start a Christmas tradition, even if Keith is not here. I thought this was a great idea and now I am busy thinking about what it will be. Next year, probably, he will be with me and we will already have a tradition in place! And I will get a tree and decorate, and video tape while I do it, so Keith can watch later.
Still, before I got into that project, I could feel how heavy and exhausted I was this morning; it was as though I were moving underwater. I opened the door to the deck and my spirit lifted up, just enough to ease my breath and I left the door open while I did the dishes. By the time I left for work, I was much myself again.
How thankful I am for work! For the excuse to wander slowly around the large, empty dining room arranging napkins or silverware, or to sit at the top of the steps and watch as a group of volunteers played Sinatra on the saxophone, or to make jokes about how my job title should be "Catheter-Care-Taker-Manager!" or about how the latest new hire asked me, so seriously, how long he should go on wiping during toileting. Oh god, this makes me laugh again even now.
I knew the deployment would be hard, but I have to admit, I underestimated how hard. Thank God for the dogs, even if Abby did eat the corner off my couch recently, and for good books and free DVDs at the library and friends to call. And, it is true, as T suggested, that simply coming into the house reminds me of Keith and his love for me.
I am thankful and feel loved every time the heater comes on so quietly, every time I see how the sun falls so warmly on the wooden floors. I told Keith this and it caused him great satisfaction. He must show his love by doing such practical things, so it must have seemed to him that I was, in thanking him for the heater, suddenly speaking his personal language fluently.
I still remember the day after we met him hand washing my car and changing the oil, and then driving an hour into the city for the sole purpose of retrieving my dog Lynn so she could be with all of us for the rest of the day.
It is scary to feel the sorrow and the grief, but I've always believed that without the courage to move through those places, the joy and satisfaction that always does come would be felt a little less. And I've been through some deep places, so I know I can move through this. And there is always the knowledge that next Christmas, Keith will be here and probably annoying me to no end by inviting people over spontaneously, spending too much money and, no doubt, putting reindeer antlers on the dogs.
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