Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"The 3-Month-Thing..."

I’m not sure why, but somewhere in my mind I had heard or had decided that 3 months would make a difference.  A difference in what?  Nothing will change the fact that Steve is gone or that I am living without him.  We knew this to be a fact when we first learned that Steve had Stage 4 Glioblastoma.  We knew that his life would be cut short and I would be living alone, that Steve would be gone.  So why did I think 3 months was some kind of “turn-the-page” marker?  That somehow this blanket of grief would be lifted, just a bit.  This cloud of fuzzy cobwebs would be not swept clean, but dusted off, clearing my head.  That I would have some understanding of this void that now fills every molecule of my being and I would begin to again feel, really feel with all my senses.  Oh I know,  you are saying...no, that happens after a year.  I know the whole “year -makes-a-difference-thing” but I still thought there was a 3-month-thing.  Well, I don’t think I’ve got the 3-month-thing.

Here’s why:  I think my mind is deteriorating.  First, the little vendor bender with my car (see past blog), my fault.  Then there are days I will be driving and I simply drive right past my destination.  No thought of turning or stopping until I’m well past the spot and my brain kicks in and I have to turn around and backtrack.  I know, you say, oh, I’ve done that a thousand times...but how about this?  

I bought a mesh bag of lemons the other morning.  I went to the refrigerator that night and opened the drawer to do some dinner cruising and found a pair of scissors in the hydrator drawer.  Huh?  The next morning I began looking for the lemons, not in the drawer, not in the frig, went to the utility frig, no lemons.  I knew I had bought those lemons, where in the world were they?  Went out to the car thinking maybe they fell out of the bag, but no I remember bringing them in, putting them in the refrigerator.  You know where this story is going don’t you?  A couple of hours later I needed a pen out of the kitchen drawer (where I usually keep the scissors)...there were my lemons...I’m talking a huge mesh bag of lemons stuffed in a pencil drawer.  The cobwebs are definitely still in place.

The borders of my inability to concentrate expand.  My love of reading, the words float on and off the page, my brain will not absorb their meaning.  Television, for the most part, is background noise, I lose interest within minutes of turning it on and will get up and begin wandering aimlessly around the house until I find a project.  Returning phone calls, answering e-mails...sorry to all of you.  Please don’t take it personally, there simply is no energy within me to do what is acceptable. 

Then there are these Steve moments and I’m gathering them more now than ever before.  These are moments when I so want Steve here to see the joy on his face or hear his voice say, “Oh my word!”  

“Breaking Bad”... Oh how we waited for that final series to return.  We loved that television show.  One day, during the first part of the summer, a commercial for the final season’s return came on and I heard Steve make the comment (really to himself), “They better hurry or I won’t find out what happens to Walt and Jessie.”  Watching that final episode, oh man did I need Steve to be hunkered in with me.  We knew those characters, we had invested time with them, we cared about their lives.  I had to sit and watch Walt and Jessie... and I won’t ruin the end in case you ever want to watch but, there was...No Steve.

Baylor football, it’s just all wrong.  Steve loved his Bears.  He watched Baylor when no one else could.  Now after four games so far this season, when they have scored an average of 70 points per game...come on, he would be beside himself, calling Joe Kruger and Bill Cottle every 5 minutes.  No Steve.

Seeing his oldest grandson, Dylan all dressed up in white shirt and tie for his first high school debate tournament and winning.  Watching Elena make more points than any other player on her 5th grade volleyball team and doing so with such grace and poise.  These are magical grandparent moments.  No Steve.

These moments are cascading into my lap faster than Fall leaves drop from their trees.  I have so many tender moments, moments that I am unable translate into words. They are before me, so vivid, with such a necessity to share them with Steve.  If anything, it seems like “the-3-month-thing” is worse than the first two months after his death.

I looked back through my daily personal journals to see where I was emotionally after the first month.  Here are some of my words on August 8, “Father, I am so thankful you gave me a mind to hear and a heart to follow your instruction these past years and especially these past months.  I have heard your quiet voice and I obeyed, I took heed.  The storm came with Steve’s illness and death but my house didn’t fall.  I am remaining steadfast in my strength and in your comfort and peace.”

The second month, September 8,  I wrote,  “In this process of learning how to live my new life, I must continue to find real quality time to be still--really still and focus on God.  For when I do, I hear his quiet messages, so clear, so direct--such a blessing.”

Nope “the-3-month-thing” a misnomer, a myth, untrue.   I think, if anything, reality is setting and I’m missing Steve’s presence more than ever.  I’m realizing that all those moments of life that we once shared, I must now find a way to find a way to store that joy someplace within myself.   All I can do, all I must do, is be thankful for those Steve moments.  The fact that we ever experienced them, that I can forever cling to the memories of how precious they will always be and still smile when I say, “Oh how Steve would be, or maybe he still is, smiling now!”

Oh and by the way, not to end this entry on such a Debbie Downer, today October 8, I journaled, “I’m finding the more I live life, the easier it is to believe without seeing, because God has made himself so real to me in countless ways.  I praise you Father for allowing my eyes and my heart to be open to all that you have done and are doing in my life and in the lives of those around me.”

Life goes on and so will I.

Psalm 30:5 “...Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”


  1. I do miss those calls during and after the Baylor games. If it was a night game I would watch the whole thing and want to call him at night, but I knew he would be asleep. The next morning I would have one eye open and still be working on my first latte when he would call... I would hear... "Joe"... Steve's hello was always my name. He said it in a low and long drawn out fashion. It always made me smile.

    I remember a golf outing at Pecan Valley and Steve jumped into the driver seat of the golf cart and headed off... really off. He was going down a bumpy hill and was headed right for the railing on a bridge. I was envisioning the cart and him flipping over the railing into the ravine and into the water. But at the last second he slammed on the brakes and slid sideways to a stop... inches from the rail. I will never forget him turning around and looking at me with wide eyes and a big smile... "I guess you won't let me drive anymore?" I was laughing out loud and saying "Never stop flying the airplane".

    When the ride gets bumpy and you are lost and confused, never stop flying the airplane...

    When it is dark and all the familiar things that keep you flying straight and true aren't working... there is something still working... little things...you just have look around and find them... it's hard to do... it takes all of your concentration at times. It seems to take forever. Hang on tight. You will pop out of the bottom of the dark clouds with rain running down your windshield. There will be tall dark mountains towering off your left and right wing. There will be a long wide runway ahead of you just waiting for you. The tower will be flashing a green light at you and you are cleared to land.

  2. I'm thankful my Pilot is such a mighty one, I know he will never fail me. I'm also thankful my pilot friend is always here to help when needed. Wise words my friend, I will take your wisdom to heart.
    As Steve says, "I love ya Joe!"
    As do I...

  3. I read this post a few days ago. What a wonderful blessing Joe is and what a wonderful friend to Steve. I have been thinking about the bag of lemons and what a HUGE batch of "lemonade" you will make with those lemons! We have all heard the expression many times about making lemonade from lemons, but through all of your journaling, you have given step by step instruction on how one might really do that!
    I love you, sweet friend, Donna

  4. Great analogy Donna, hoping I can live up to making that lemonade as good as it should be.
    Love you too,

  5. Sweet Janet. You capture grief and it's process so well. I, too, have left groceries at the store, driven past my destinations, and even found half gallons of milk in my pantry. Most of this year will be foggy, and soon you will see clouds lift. I won't lie, even after the "3 month thing" and the "1 year thing" I am realizing this "thing" is here to stay. It will change, and we will grow with it, but it will remain. Because the "thing" is death was never part of God's plan.

    Just yesterday my boys were splashing through rain puddles outside of a museum and I wanted my dad to be there so badly. It is those moments, just as you mention with Steve, that makes the heartache travel all the way down to one's gut. I soon had tears mingling with the rain running down my face, missing my dad so badly and wishing he was here to see his grandsons.

    Like you quoted, however, "weeping remains for a night but joy comes in the morning." On the drive home a huge rainbow appeared in the sky. "MOMMY!" exclaimed Liam, "Remember what rainbows mean? They are reminders of God's promises!" "Yes, Bug, they are," I replied, smiling. Oh how I long for Heaven-to be reunited with my dad, Steve, and all those who have gone before us-where there is no place for weeping but joy abounds, and rainbows replace the rain.

    Praying for you, Janet.

    Much love from YaYa's mini-Ha-Ha

  6. Dear Lisa,

    Out of the mouths of babes! What wise little souls we have to love and learn from. Your dad will always remain in my mind's eye, alive and smiling, laughing and giving his all to every person that crosses his path. There is not a time that goes by that I don't enter the doors of Chris Madrid's and feel his presence and miss him all the more.

    He left you all too soon. He would have loved nothing more than to teach your children how to love large. I understand your tender heart and though we may not understand the whys now all we can do is know that God has purpose and will make good come from all that we bring to him.

    So we can have our moments, but your are right...they are smiling and so must we.

    All my love,