Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lights in the Dark

January 29, 2009. I'm not sure those numbers will ever be just numbers. Six years ago today my whole world shifted on its axis and flipped upside down. All that was important suddenly became of no importance at all. For months, time seemed to have come to a screeching halt.

I remember very little of the weeks following that day but I clearly remember lying on the sofa that morning, in my living room and feeling disconnected and as if I had been transported to an alien world where I didn't know how to even sit up. Looking back I know I was in a very serious state of shock. I remember saying, "Please come home" over and over, for hours, for days.

You hear about shock in the movies and how it can actually kill people. Jerry had a violent heart attack. It was not a peaceful death. That morning, I wouldn't have cared if it had killed me. As it was, I felt crushed by the mountain that fell on me and I couldn't breath. I clearly remember not being able to breath.

Today things are clearer, well, not the weather. It is windy and a day that began sunny is now overcast. The gloom of my life has lessened but not the hurt. The hurt never goes away. The disappointment is always there. The 'things not done' will never be done. The lost memories are still lost. And I still sit in this house at times terribly and depressingly alone. The plans we made for our life melted away more quickly than the snow that buried them that night.

If you live long enough, you will live through the death of a parent, a spouse, or a child. I will tell you the death of a parent does not compare with the death of a spouse and I suspect neither compare with the death of your child. It would appear that each one is worse than the last if they occur in that order. Or maybe I was just more traumatized than most.

I do not see the world through the same eyes. I often wish I did. The eyes I had then saw farther and the road ahead was sunnier and filled with exciting things for the two of us. Now,  I do not see beyond today. I don't look for silver linings or sunny days or exciting things. I look for my glasses. I look for something I put away but now can't remember where I put it. Tomorrow very well might not come. I don't look for it. I don't have any plans for the future. I don't really have any interest in making any. It is why sometimes, the day slips by virtually unnoticed by me.

If all that sounds horrible and sad and mentally disturbed, good. You need to know that is what happens to people who live through real nightmares. They get lost. Maybe some of them find their way out. I haven't. I've had to learn to live in this land of haunting images and sounds. The sound of Jerry's wedding ring as it ran across those headboard railings during his attack is one I will never forget. The sound of the silence when he stopped struggling forever echos. I will never forget the look of eyes that no longer smiled at me.

Fortunately, I've been blessed with some wonderful friends. Today is not a good day, will never really be a good day but I spent it in the best possible way - with friends, talking about writing, computers, and life. Sometimes, no matter how dark the road, a little light... or two can can push back the gloom.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Novel Life....

It is Tuesday already? What happened to the weekend? I was so busy working on my book that I didn't even notice it until it was over. And yesterday was a holiday? The only way I knew was because Sarah was home most of the day. Fortunately, my sister came and took her out for the afternoon and I could finish up the first edit of my novel.

Today I've worked most of the day on making the changes that I noted in the read through over the last week. This is a bit tedious. Some pages only have one thing noted on it. But I've finding myself reading the screen and making changes to the text. I had intended to do that but not until I made the corrections noted in the hard copy. Ah well.

I'm fairly exhausted at the moment. I spent a couple of hours this morning getting my self sorted out and cleaning Sarah's room. I changed the sheets on both our beds and sorted and put away some of the laundry that has been lying around a week. I'm telling you, nothing got done in the last week because I spent it in a chair editing this story! The house is no horrible but only because I was cleaning a room at a time here and there. I actually used the vacuum Sunday night and did the rugs. I dusted the den and cleaned it and I think I mentioned it somewhere in one of the blogs. You can go hunt it if you're really driven.

I've got dishes to wash and I need to finish the laundry. I've been at my desk working since around ten a.m. and I stopped around 3 p.m. I think I need to take a break. I've got 18 pages of edits done. There are 140 more to go, some with extensive revision. I have to write the ending, although I have a basic outline of what happened. Why am I dreading writing the ending? Huh?

I have been reading a book as well. I have had to take stretch breaks and mental breaks. That's the best way I've found to distance myself. Reading someone else's stuff helps me forget mine for a bit.

I'm going to take one of those  breaks now. May not get back to the blogs for days at this rate. I want to get this run through done.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bacon, Bacon

Sarah and I decided last week that Thursday night would be game night and we've been playing Uno Attack. We forgot supper and decided after the second game to forage. 

Sarah recently acquired a love for bacon. She'd never had it before last night. She loves pork chops, too, and would eat them every night if I would make them. Until this last few months she's always been a very picky eater.

We wandered around the kitchen trying to decide what we'd each eat. I was going for soup. Then she gave me a gap-toothed grin and said, "Is there any bacon?"


"I'll have bacon."

So, I take it out and there's six slices. Enough for me a sandwich and her three slices. While it is cooking in the microwave, Sarah breaks into song in an operatic voice and flowing hand motions. I share this masterpiece with you now.

"My little piggy has di------ed, but I don't ca----re! I'll eat him!"

Sunday, January 11, 2015

January 11, 1974

Today is my anniversary. Forty-one years ago I married the sweetest man I've ever know. We were together 35 years and although all of those were not good years, the good out number the bad. I've struggled all day to remind myself of that. Even at his sickest, I was his main concern.

January 29, 2009 the King was called Home and left his Queen. There was no order of succession in this kingdom. I'm not a Queen any more. But I still love the King.
Reception at home, January 11, 1974

Return from Honeymoon, January 13, 1974

Daddy, Me, & Jerry, January 11, 1974

Wedding Party, January 11,  1974

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Most Valuable Commodity You Possess

And talk like no one is listening, because they aren't. No, they aren't. They're on their phones.

Did you look around your house over the holiday? I did and it shocked me. Fortunately, the whole week wasn't like that and we had a really good time. But it got me thinking.

I remembered holidays when my family was living at home. We talked, watched parades, football, played games, cooked and ate together amid conversations. We might even go see the Christmas lights together and actually look at them.

We didn't sit around with an electronic device in our hands, hunched over trying to see what the latest gossip was with our friends and extended family. If we were lucky, much of the extended family was with us and carrying on live conversations, playing with the children, or each other.

On November 2nd I downloaded something called Rescue Time. It is a computer app that tracks how much time I spend doing things on my computer. I tell it what is productive and what is distracting. My results are disturbing. Of 333 hours logged since I started using it, 74.30 have been considered productive and 200 have been distracting. That is horrendous to me. That is time I can't ever put to use.

That is more than two weeks of my life spent doing nothing constructive. I've got my settings very strict so there may be a few things in there that you'd consider productive. It wasn't. I like reading blogs but there should be limits to the time spent doing that. I like Facebook but even I can see I'm wasting time.

Since December 28th I've spent 9 hrs watching shows or movies online. I've spent 13 on social networking of some sort. I've spent 8 on writing related items, mostly blogging. That's 30 hours, the equivalent of some jobs, in less than a week.

Because I live alone and have very few local contacts outside of my writing group, I spend a lot of time on the computer. But computers are opportunity thieves, as my results show. Time is a commodity that you control more than anything else in your life. Really. You can't stop it but you can direct it. We live in an age where there are amazing things that allow us to be creative and productive. And yet, we're spending unlimited time on our phones? Why? So we can send meaningless messages? Think about what you're texting and how long it is. Seriously.

I find text so impersonal and pointless that I don't bother to read them most of the time. They're either demands for something or instructions. I rarely text. If you get a text from me it will be to ask a question or answer one and sometimes, I will call rather than answer a question via text. Ask my family.

I also don't always answer text messages right away. More than once family have gotten annoyed and called me to ask, "Didn't you read my text message?" No, I didn't. One of my most recent text messages said, "Are you awake?" Another one asked for a ride. Isn't that so warm and comforting? So, what's my point?

Look around the room where you are and actually think about what is going on there. Are you reading this from a phone? From your computer? Right. Are there people in the room? What are they doing? Did you text them to ask them?

Most people are letting a wealth of time slip through their fingers, literally. Once gone, that time will  never come again. You can't recover it and you can't replace it. It is gone. And sometimes, unexpectedly, the person you could have shared that time with disappears forever.

My house is empty today. There is no one to talk to, have lunch with, play games with, read a book with, or watch a movie. I'm sitting here wishing Jerry was taking a nap in his chair. If he were here, we wouldn't be on our phones, I can promise you that.

Most of the time I have no one to share my time with, particularly at this time of year. I've started getting more involved with my writer friends, doing lunch or just meeting up to chat. However, I decided when I saw the Rescue Time reports that something more should change. Life is not confined to a 3x5 or 15 in. screen. 

Starting today I'll be scheduling Facebook time rather than just getting on and mindlessly staring at the screen. I'm considering removing the app from my phone but will wait until I see how my scheduling goes. It is not because I don't like checking on friends. It is also the only way I  hear from some of my family. But while I'm staring at the screen, life is happening in front of me. 

Sometimes, when I'm out I just sit and watch what is going on around me, like I did during Christmas. When was the last time you sat and just watched what was happening right in front of you, without looking at your phone for half an hour. When did you visit a restaurant with someone and not use your phone? When have you attended church and not looked at your phone for some or most of the service? When have you attended any function, a party, a wedding, a hospital room, a funeral and not played on your phone?

Think about this seriously. You spend priceless time reading a palm-sized screen and missed something important. You baby just made a face you will never see again. Your child just learned to do something and you missed the first time. I remember being in a night class when my oldest son was still crawling. My husband took care of him for me and when I got home that night Mike had started walking. It was both exciting and so disappointing. I had missed it. What did you miss today? How many days have you missed something important?

What a waste of life. I don't have many years left. In fact, none us us may have many years left. But I want those that remain to count for something more than a digital footprint.

Life is filled with unlimited and extremely valuable opportunities. You can't bank time and you can't have too much of it. Time is priceless. You'll never possess a single thing that is as valuable as time. Stop wasting the most valuable item you own. Stop missing life. When it stops, it is forever.