Thursday, January 28, 2010

Let me just tell you...

The week of January 18-24th was a difficult one at my house. Shall we run down the list?

On Tuesday I did some checking. Apparently, I make too much money to adequately care for my child, but yet I don't make enough to adequately care for her. Even if I weren't working right now, because of the money that we receive from Ron's Social Security income, we are over the income limit for Medicaid. For me, this isn't such a tragedy. I can take decent care of myself on my own. But for the munchkin, healthcare would be so welcome. And that's a hard pill to swallow. Once I get bills paid off I'll be able to put aside enough money that if either of us needs to go to the doctor, it won't break us. And I'm also in the process of looking for a job that offers medical benefits. So all is not lost. But, I guess, I was really hoping that we could get some help.

Wednesday we were having rotten weather around here. Bitterly cold, high winds, freezing rain, blowing snow, etc. Because my daycare is out of town I asked my parents to go pick up the munchkin. When I wasn't a single mother the weather didn't seem so much of an issue. But, things are what they are now, and so I deal with it the best way I know how. Maybe I'll move to some warmer climate.

Thursday was my wedding anniversary. The stress of the event was enough for me, but not sleeping well for several days ahead of time made me a basket case. In order to not be alone that evening, I invited all the girls over for Stitch and Bitch. I made some great dips and a chocolate cake. It wouldn't have been a day to remember Ron without chocolate cake.

But Friday was the real kicker. In the last few weeks both my parents and I had noticed that the munchkin was squinting and closing her left eye when looking at things close up. I was of a mind to believe it was just something she "did". However, Mom chose to freak me out by googling the information and finding that it could be lazy eye or any other myriad problems. Did I have the money to take her to the optometrist? HECK NO! Bless Mom and Dad, they made it happen. So, Friday Morning at 8:15 we showed up for an eye appointment for a (nearly) 4-year-old.

First they took us into a side room where they did some measurements and tests to see if she could tell which animal "popped off the page". She did OK, but was much more interested in telling us about the animals than which one looked different. Then, they pulled out the book with pictures designed to test whether or not she was color blind. The woman asked her to trace the numbers, and the munchkin is not overly familiar with the concept of tracing. She shocked us all a bit when I asked her if she could see a number in the picture and she piped right up to say, "Oh, the 7?"

In the end, the optometrist determined that she has a "significant" prescription necessary in both eyes. She wouldn't even cover her good eye with the paddle in order to test the strength of the weak eye. Don't ask me how, but they did get a good look at both eyes and determined that she not only needs glasses but should also do some work at home while wearing a patch in order to strengthen the weak eye.

The optometrist also commented that children will often greatly change their behavior greatly upon beginning to wear glasses. They feel more secure in their world once they can see better. I'm hoping that this will be true in our situation as she can be difficult to deal with at times.

However, the munchkin did love trying on glasses. After all, Mommy and Nana wear glasses all the time anyway. So now she'll be just like us. We chose an extremely cute pair of pink glasses with bright green butterflies on the ear pieces. She's been asking when she can wear her glasses. I'm hoping they'll be in today or tomorrow at the latest.

It was a week certain to make the strongest of people feel a bit overwhelmed. But, now it's over and I feel like I can again take some time to breathe.

The lesson in all of this is that I have to learn to slow down. I need to realize that everything will work out in the end. One way or another, she and I will make it through all of this and be stronger because of it. Currently, I can't say I'm feeling all that strong, but I'll get there.

Strength isn't something that you either have or don't. Certainly some people are emotionally stronger than others. Am I one? All I know is what I've told many of my friends. I'm only a woman playing the hand she's been dealt. I have no other choice. Sure, I want to throw my hands in the air and just go back to bed. But that doesn't accomplish anything. And it's not what Ron would have wanted for us either. He taught me a lot. And now, I have to teach the munchkin those same lessons.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What I keep

If you were to walk through my house you would begin to think that I'm either completely mental (which is a definite possibility) or have a strange sense of that which is sentimental.

There are so many things hiding in different spots around the house that would have meaning only to me.

In the refrigerator is one, lonely Miller Light. Ron drank Miller Light and this is the last can of the beer that was bought by my brother after the funeral. Ron made sure to drink all that he had in the house before leaving for his surgical appointment because he knew he wouldn't be allowed to drink afterwards. So this one can hangs out in my fridge. I won't drink it (although I really don't mind Miller Light), won't let anyone else drink it, and, if I needed a beer for some culinary experience, would go out and buy a new six-pack. He never touched it. But somehow, it means something to me.

In the basket by the bed is the shirt he wore to the hospital the day of his first surgery. I have not washed it. The rest of his clothes I washed and put away when I did the laundry for the first time after he died. Like he was coming back. When I switched his stuff into the spare bedroom closet I couldn't deal with giving away any of his "hanging" clothes. Anything that was in his dresser drawers I dealt with. But anything that had been hanging in the closet is still hanging there, untouched. Most of these clothes I never saw him wear. But I can't get rid of them. At least not yet.

On the fridge is a whiteboard type perpetual calendar. You fill in the dates. I've left it just as he last did. It shows an appointment with the surgeon before the actual date was set for the surgery, an appointment with my attorney to deal with car accident issues, and nothing else of any consequence. But I can't erase it. Please don't do me any favors and erase and update it. I need it there.

I've also left his pill case with the medicine in it stuck on the fridge. He'll never need it, but I can't seem to put that away.

Every day leaving and coming home I'm confronted with much that is Ron. Hanging on the wall downstairs we have a set of longhorn horns that span at least 5 feet. Those will never be given away even though they don't suit me in the slightest.

On the coffee table in the living room sits his copy of American Soldier. I'm sure I'll never read it, but it was the only actual book I ever saw him read. That's where he left it, and you can believe it's going to stay there. I just don't know for how long.

In a bathroom that I completely redid to make "my own" and removed his lighthouse stuff in the process, there are two reminders. There's a lighthouse windchime hanging from the ceiling vent. I don't know why I don't take it down. It just seems to belong there. There's also a lighthouse picture hanging on the wall. Over a year ago I purchased a picture to replace it. For whatever reason I can't hang it.

Down in the garage, if you knew what you were looking for, you'd find the box of his ashes. They're in the garage because that was his domain. That's where he found peace. You might wonder why they're in a box. Ron would have thought it silly and pretentious to buy ANYTHING to put his ashes in. So, I just leave them in their box. I haven't opened it. Can't make myself do it.

And lastly, and quite possibly the most bizarre memento, in the glove compartment of my car you will find a partial pack of his cigarettes, a pack of the gum he liked, and a lighter. I always hated that he smoked. I chewed the rest of every other pack of gum he had around. And I don't use lighters. But they're still there 16 months later.

Someday, maybe, I'll be able to get rid of these things. Maybe not. For now, they just hang around reminding me what a special part of my life he was. All of these things aren't Ron. They're just reminders of his presence. He was an amazing man that brought love back into my life and showed me what I had the capability of being. Giving these things up feels like I'm giving him up. And so I hang on to them. Am I hanging on to him as well? I suppose I am. None of these things are part of a shrine. None of them represent a daily fixation without which I would stop functioning.

I wonder what people would keep around to represent me if I were suddenly no longer around. What do I leave this world? You know what? I don't think it really matters to me, because 50 years from now when my family has to decide what to keep and what to give away, the meaning will be for them to find. Right now, I'll just keep putting bits of myself out there and hoping that someday there will be so many fond memories that they'll have a hard time choosing items to give away.