Sunday Post 109: “What a Fool Believes”

It’s no longer a devastating pain.  It doesn’t burn to the soul.  It can’t physically take me to the floor in anguish like it did 3 years or even 18 months ago.  But February is my foe.  I guess I’ll battle with him every year for the rest of my life.

He’s cold.

Mid month he’s promoting love, and I don’t have that kind anymore.

From the 14th on, I can replay, day by day, the scenes from three years ago – the weeks before she died.

It starts out OK – just an extension of his cousin January.  But then “What a Fool Believes” comes on the radio, and I start singing like I’m Michael McDonald.

She’d laugh at that every single time – rolling those eyes.  “You do love that song don’t ya’ baby?,” her question would just add fuel.  I know I  have her attention now, I ham it up even more.

He came from somewhere back in her long ago

The sentimental fool don’t see

Trying hard to recreate what has yet to be created

Once in her life

I used to sing in laughter.  Now it’s through tears.

This year I made it until the 10th before I felt the hole.  No weeping at church until last week.  There is a circle of emotional instability that hangs in my core at this time of year.  It’s bigger than an egg but smaller than a baseball, right above my stomach.  I can take a deep breath, I can swallow and hold it down – most of the time.

Only one week and it’ll be over.

I hate you February.  I hate your guts.

Sunday Post 102: The Innocent

Today innocent children were shot at school.  Tonight I weep for their parents.  Tonight I hold my daughters close, a little longer snuggle time before bed.  I’m uneasy.  I can’t make sense of it. Selfishly I think, What if it happens to me?

I feel others’ pain more keenly than before.  This takes me back to a place I don’t want to go.

I wish I could describe the pain.  It is dark like the sky deep, deep in the woods.  It is vast like a canyon.  It’s a free fall with absolutely no safety net and no sense of when it might end.  It is alone.

It is the same questions endlessly consuming the mind, all centered around ‘why’ or ‘what if.’

It’s a fear of having to go back there with another loss.

I used to think nothing worse could happen than to lose your wife so young.  Today has proven that wrong.  This is worse.

This is not about me.  This is about them, their loss – their sadness – their unanswered questions.

And yet, to some extent, I guess it is about us all.

Merle Norman…

I wasn’t privy to the decisions about ear-piercing when Lisa was alive.  No, she was the one who made that decision.

Although she was Presbyterian and believed in baptism at birth, that was not her view on pierced ears.  There would not be a Tanner kid with piercings until at least a decade of their life had passed.  She thought it made them look too grown up.

When she was nine, DJ nagged her mom for a year for the lobe holes until finally, Lisa and her gaggle of women friends decided that ten was in and the countdown began.

I’m not sure how these moms came about that decision, but they unveiled their calendar as if they were the Misses Manners of preteen etiquette.  Not only did they determine the appropriate age for piercing, they also informed all involved as to the appropriate age for a Facebook page (12) and the point when a cell phone was needed (the start of middle school).  No one dared ask for an exception.  The Mother Mafia had spoken.  I believe they actually signed a treaty with one another and apparently a full on embargo would be imposed on anyone straying from the agreement.

When it was time for DJ to get her ears punctured, Lisa drove her to Crabtree Valley Mall and met another mother/daughter pair at the entrance to Merle Norman.  That is where Lisa had her ears pierced approximately 25 years prior.

DJ desperately wanted to wear earrings, but she also desperately did not want a hole punched in her ear.  She apparently sat on the piercing stool three times, chickening out as Merle approached with the lobe stapler.  Finally, Merle had had enough and kicked her out of the store.  DJ then threw the most massive temper tantrum my wife had ever seen right at the main entrance to Belk.  Lisa literally carried our ten-year old to the car and locked the doors because DJ threatened to jump out of the minivan and run back into the mall.

Stephanie’s journey toward earring mecca was very different.  She turned ten four months after Lisa died.  She reminded me that DJ got her ears pierced at age ten and asked if she could too.

I actually thought it was a law in Raleigh, and I didn’t want to break the treaty – so the two of us hit the mall quickly.  It was four months after Lisa’s death.

Sweet Stephanie was so excited!  Her father was so very, very sad.  As she patiently waited looking at her barren lobes for the last time in their handheld mirror, I fought back tears.  It was one of the first milestones I had tackled by myself.  What father takes his daughter, alone, to have her ears pierced?

I suggested the silver balls; her mother only wore silver.  She agreed.  There were tears that June night, but not from the kid.

Well today it was Michelle’s turn.  I had avoided the subject because I knew the costumer in A Christmas Carol frowned upon jewelry in the play.

“There were no piercings in 19th century England!” she announced last year as a warning to those who were bejeweled.

But when one of her best friend’s moms inquired about a joint trip to see Merle, I just couldn’t turn her down.   It’s sort of a rite of passage – one that can’t be denied.  So now my baby girl has her ears pierced.

I’m beginning to see something different in my daughters.  No longer are they 100% kid.  Now I see glimpses of young women.

I wish Lisa could see what I see – the slight changes coming month by month by month.

I will take it all in for her.

Sunday Post 88: Part of the Family

On vacation at Capon Springs two weeks ago, Uncle Matt and Aunt Sallie had reserved the exercise pool at the spa for a family swim.  They were taking my niece and nephew for a little mom and dad time.

Right before they went, Stephanie ran into our room.

“What are you up to?” I asked.

“I’m going to the spa with Uncle Matt and Aunt Sallie.  They’re going on a family swim.”

“Honey, they need some time alone with their kids.  I don’t think you should barge in.  Don’t change your clothes.”  A look of disapproval crossed her brow.

A few minutes later a knock came on the door.  It was Sallie.  “Where’s Stephanie?  We’re about to go.”

Stephanie opened the door.  “Dad won’t let me go.”

“Why can’t she go?” Sallie inquired.

“You guys need some family time away from my kids.”

“Lucy is part of our family.”  The emphasis was on the is.

What a wonderful feeling…to be part of a family.

A week before that, I was having a conversation with DJ.  I always harp on her about wearing seat belts and never riding with someone who has been drinking.  Then I play what if…

“What if you were at a party and your ride home got drunk?  What would you do?”

Without hesitation she said, “I’d call Ms. B.”

“Your old cheerleading coach?”

“Yeah.  She told me I could call her any time I needed her.  Or I’d call Jesse.  He’d come get me.”

“What about me?”

“You’d be down a little further on my list.”

Not only was I behind Uncle Jesse, but I was also behind the former cheerleading coach.  Ouch.  Sort of hurt my feelings.

Yesterday Michelle told me she had a second mom.  When I asked her who it was, she said, “Ms. Horton.”  That’s one of her best buddy’s mothers.  She loves my kid and builds her up like only a mother can do.  When Michelle told her that a boy had asked her to be his girlfriend at camp, Ms. Horton’s response was, “That doesn’t surprise me at all.  You’re beautiful inside and out.”

Sallie’s comment really struck me as did DJ’s choice of bail out options.  Ms. Horton’s effortless response, a simple yet beautiful vote of uncompromising support, reassured me that I wasn’t in this alone. 

I don’t have any doubt that my kids know that I love them, but as they often tell me, “You have to say that, you’re our dad.”  What I’m so very thankful for is that they have others who open their hearts and pour out their love on them too. 

Don’t we all need someone to love us above and beyond those who have to?

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