Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Saturday, January 28, 2012

2:14 AM

I just glanced at the clock and read the time:  2:14.  Why does everything remind me of Valentine's Day?  The upcoming one-year anniversary of Mat's passing is weighing on me like a grand piano.  It's getting hard to breathe under this thing.

People in my bereavement support group agree that these days would be best taken off the calendar.

Official announcement:  There will be no February 14th this year.  The date will skip directly from the 13th to the 15th, and February will end on the 30th.  February is already such a flexible month, expanding and contracting as necessary -- why not just take advantage of that?

It seems easier -- although not easy -- to think about the fact that Mat has been gone for almost a year now than to live through this one day.

It's not as though February 14th will somehow remind me of his passing more than the empty space next to me in bed already does. And yet Mat's passing -- and the excruciating detail of the events of that day -- become more present with me every day as I approach the one-year mark.  I feel as though I am approaching a hot stove, and on the 14th I will put my hand directly on it.

The heart-shaped reminders in card displays and candy aisles are not helping.  Why is the whole world celebrating on the worst day ever?

It was then-nine-year-old Ian who said, "Why did Dad have to die on Valentine's Day, of all the days?"  Good question.

Valentine's Day is not much of a holiday -- it's a Hallmark holiday that plenty of people despise.  (Let's organize!  Down with Valentine's Day!) Heaven help the people whose loved ones died on a real holiday.  My heart hurts for them.

Now it's 2:41.  There are those numbers again.

We are coming up with a strategy for this dreaded day.  It's a bit loosely shaped right now, but it involves the boys skipping school to avoid Valentine's parties, and doing something that helps us feel connected with Mat.  I suggested handing out sugar cookies and sandwiches to homeless people near Mat's office.  He would like that, I think.  Ian liked that idea but thought we should also do something fun that Dad would have enjoyed, like going snowboarding.  Seven-year-old Colin suggested that he get presents.

Maybe we'll do all three.  I'm pretty sure we won't do my original idea, which was staying in bed with the covers over our heads.  I think we can do better than that.

I hope we can.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Lost and Found

I found the missing diamond from my wedding ring this morning.

You might remember from a previous post that I lost the diamond from my wedding ring in late August -- almost five months ago. The boys and I were on our way out of town for a camping trip when I looked down at my hand on the steering wheel and realized that my ring was ... empty. The white gold band was there, the four prongs that held (or were supposed to hold) the princess-cut diamond were there, but the diamond was gone.

I pulled the car over and started hyperventilating. Then I calmed down. I decided I didn't want to ruin our camping trip worrying about the diamond.

That was more easily said than done, but there were some encouraging developments. For instance, in my sister's dream the previous night, she lost her diamond and found it in the middle of her living room carpet. Surely this was a sign: I would find my diamond in the living room. Then during a stop on our way, I instructed Ian to search the fully packed car for the diamond. When I got back to the car, he was sitting peacefully in his seat, not looking. He reported that he had prayed about finding the diamond, and received a firm answer that it was not in the car.  Surely then God would tell me where it was.

Although that didn't stop me from searching the car later, from top to bottom, as well as all the clothes and camping equipment packed inside the car.

It wasn't there, so I got home from the camping trip fully expecting to find the diamond. I didn't. Then I scoured every carpet on my hands and knees, swept every floor, moved furniture, inspected kitchen and bathroom drains, and searched the garage, where I had been packing the car for the camping trip. Nothing.

So I quit looking. I decided that if God said I would be all right without my ring, then I would.

Then this morning I went for a walk. I was multi-tasking, of course, chatting with my friend Amy about the merits of Costco (Soviet-style grocery store or happy place? discuss amongst yourselves) on my cell phone. As I approached the house to enter through the garage at the end of the walk, I looked down and there it was.

My diamond was in the driveway for almost five months through a storm (August), snow (October), and a very thorough leaf-raking (November).

I started shouting at my friend on the phone: "AMY! I JUST FOUND MY DIAMOND!" Then I called my sister and shouted at her for a long time "YOU'LL NEVER GUESS WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO ME!" In her excitement, she shouted at her kids for a long time ("KIMBERLY FOUND HER DIAMOND IN THE DRIVEWAY!") until they asked her to stop. Then I called some of my other people, who I didn't shout at because they were at work and because I was getting hoarse.

Every time I think about my found diamond, I laugh and marvel at it. I think the sheer improbability of it qualifies this as a miracle. Discuss amongst yourselves.