Don't make me come over there

This week after work and other tiring behaviors and after meeting with the Worker's Comp attorney and another DFD widow for mid-week lunch and supportive, yet depressing talk, I basically went the route of two steps forward, three steps back in my grief.  And y'all, a friend wrote a church blog post about his grief recovery and I managed to drag myself out of my crying heap to comment on it, as someone might who is traveling the same road -  though a few years later.  .... but the Gods of Facebook edited my comment.  Technically they hid my comment.... which to me is even worse because seriously, I could still see my lovely profile pic and my awesome distressed jeans, bad-ass boots combo outfit... but with the words, "this comment has been hidden" all the heck over it.  And yes, it may or may not have been a borderline sad/end of times comment about me waiting for my first class trip to Heaven once my kids are raised to responsible adulthood .... but when something like that is hidden, but something akin to hate speech but disguised as a political insult is allowed, I have to question even more than I already do - if some people got dropped on their heads as babies.      

And seeing that I need a new job anyway, I've decided to apply to Facebook  - to be the person who drives to the public offender's house and slaps them every time they say something stupid.  A forever career dream of mine, actually. 

And I actually think I long for the days when those of us going through tragedy did so in the privacy of no social media - not that I post pictures of myself being miserable, as I think that would discredit the image of poise and grace I have worked so hard to create..... says the delusional Kristi who tends to  forget that she's a messy eater and is more often than not, sweaty.  But on that note, allow me a few minutes to share with you some of the things that grieving people actually do not enjoy seeing, reading, hearing.....

1.  Pictures of dead people to prove your point - whether that be a scary point, a sad point, or just for shock value, moms who have lost children do not want to see a picture of a dead child to feel your passion for crazily not vaccinating your child.

2.  Meme after meme after meme of someone else's words trying to explain what the grief of losing a spouse feels like when you actually have your own spouse sitting next to you right now.  For the love of God.... Don't make me come over there.  Just stop it.

3.  Messages of encouragement that tell the desperate person to hang in there.  Especially with an exclamation point.  Because the reader of that message will then want to kill you.

4.  And finally, comparing your grief to mine - like they're both on sale at the store  - and thinking that telling me you understand how I feel because you were sad after your divorce.  Or, y'all, hold my purse, because this one's gonna make me dive right in - that you understand my grief because your dog died.  And don't get me wrong.  I adore my dog.  She's sweet and adorable and a good friend who acts like she's listening but is really thinking about the next time she can go outside and eat poop.  They are not the same. 

And might I suggest  - rather than trying to put into words something you don't, thank the Lord, quite yet understand - just send the grieving family a pizza.  Or offer your yard service for a weekend visit.  Something that seems so normal and insignificant to you just might be huge to the ones dealing with the weight of the world.  

And though I totally understand the idea that life goes on.  Though it feels for the widow that the rest of the world is on one of those fast moving conveyor belts at the airport on their way back to normal, and I'm the one walking alongside, slowly carrying about 10 tons of luggage and wishing for a ride to the other side.  Literally and otherwise.  One time I saw Oprah's boyfriend, Steadman, and his elderly mother on one of those airport carts and I wondered how he got to ride it since he's really only famous for being Oprah's fella.  One of life's questions to be pondered. Along with this one.... 

I spend a lot of time these days considering death.  And how that truly is the other side of the rainbow for us all, and how I think I've never been more comfortable with the idea than I am now.  

And considering so much about death makes me flip that same coin and question all that I thought I knew about living.  And though I had previously been convinced of my grand creation for the glory and good of my maker, I find myself now wondering - not so much if that little beginning detail is so much true, as it is useful.  Because knowing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of my God makes me wonder if God's microwave oven just broke last night, too.  Plus another old car that he owns and hopes will last for 4 years of college.  And I find that when people tell me that little bumps in the road are just part of life - it's not so much that I disagree with them - as I have an ongoing list of life's little bumps of varying sizes that I have had to hurdle or dig under or through all by myself in the last 8 months.  It's that I now want to know why.  

I was, at one point, content with the general answer of glorifying God.  I'm sure you've heard the confident Kristi say it on the blog at one point or another.... But the Kristi of today, now sees that reasoning looking a whole lot like God having playtime at the Toys R Us. And y'all, we're the toys.  I want to be Barbie, if I get to choose, please.  Townhouse Barbie with the circular fireplace and modern lifestyle and well dressed Ken at her service.  

And I sit here today and question what it's all about.  A deeper answer than glory, please if you have one.  I thought after several decades I had finally understood my purpose here on Earth, that being to have and raise  a family altogether different than the one that raised me - where we all smelled like cigarettes and Budweiser and didn't really know it till all of a sudden we didn't anymore.  So I'm sort of stuck in the middle of thinking I knew a thing or two, understanding a middle aged person's age worth of life -   and not having a $#$% clue.  I'm also putting into practice some, but not all, of the profanity that was born in me as a child of crazy people.  But mostly silently, yet I worry that one day if my mind goes, that  I will spew ugliness, hate and racial slurs with the best of my ancestors.   

Which brings me to my final point today.  And I am firm in this belief, though I know it will make a few people uncomfortable.  I have always known that I did not want to live a tremendously long life.  I only wanted to live a life of fullness -  and once that quality was lacking, I have forever been positive of my decision to move it onward and upward.  Think Barbie Townhouse in the sky..... 

And because we shared that same philosophy, Fireman Dave and I drafted our Living Wills way back in our 20's - both of us confident that we had bigger and better plans than a low quality existence here.  But yet, knowing that about myself, and him, the first words out of my mouth on the evening of November 23, 2018 were, "Call 911."   But now I know that even something as widely accepted as CPR is simply a life prolonging measure that I'm just not sure I believe in.  And all the heavens are applauding as Fireman Dave just led a giant cheer that I finally recognized the error of my ways. 

Deep thoughts this weekend, yes.  Maybe it's because I had plenty o' time alone in the car, listening to some country legends and thinking entirely too much on my drive back from Mississippi this week.  But I got Kid 1 all registered for school and we toured the dorm he'll be moving into in exactly one month.  And ... little trivia fact...  if you were to visit Kid 1 at Millsaps College in Jackson, and take a left immediately outside the main entrance gate, walk half a mile to the adorably preserved Fondren neighborhood, you would find the setting of the book and movie, The Help.  I loved the book and thought it tons better than the movie, because turns out my imagination is always better than film.  

And here we are: me and my date for the evening.  I think he's sort of cute.   

One day I'll take a picture that doesn't look like I cut my hair off into a man do.  

How many lawyers does it take?

Sometimes lately when I sit down to write, I start out with high hopes of all the latest news and normal, but maybe not so fun things the Walters are up to.... but I end up depressing myself and everyone else in the world about subjects like death and loneliness and fear of being alone for the rest of my life.  Which I believe probably has a diagnosed syndrome name and I just don't know it... and has been a part of me as long as I can remember.  And since Fireman Dave isn't around to confirm or deny, you'll have to take my word for it that I put off and put off again and again the actual part of saying I do... for years.  Years.  Years that we lived together, laughed together, built a life together, but many without a silly piece of paper naming us husband and wife.  Because I was so afraid that if I said yes, and announced to the world that Kristi had something good happening, that something bad would happen.  That right there is a book in its entirety dealing with dysfunctional and abusive childhoods and the marks that we as parents leave on our kids - good and bad.  

But the end of the story is that I finally signed on the dotted line and we lived happily ever after, until we didn't.  38 years of friendship, 26 years of love, 19 years of a signed contract saying we were official in the eyes of the law.  And the Baptists.  

And the fact that my wonderful husband stuck by me and my baggage for so long without a written contract saying he had to, speaks volumes about the man I loved.  Note the past tense.  Today is one of those days that I can reference the past to describe my present.  There are other days that I just don't have words of any sort to say much of anything.  Thus the silence so much now on the blog.  

And I know that this isn't the happy, beach reading, fashion filled blog post that summer people look for and can read in a 2 minute sitting, but it is a post full of lessons being lived and learned every day as I try to make a path for myself all over again.

From the time I was old enough to have reasonably mature adult thoughts.... one of my constant companions was the idea of everything I ever enjoyed, loved, or needed going away from me.  And I think, looking back decades from where it started, all of it tells a pretty good story of a young person living out of a smallish space, with a smallish bag of life's emotional necessities, always ready to run to the nearest safe place.  And for me, that safe place was more often than not, Fireman Dave - from a very early age - who saw who and where I came from, and decided to buy into the  deal anyway.  

And for that I am forever thankful.  And forever mad at him for leaving me 7 months ago today on a perfectly good Friday night.  Sort of like that time I thought he ditched me on an anniversary trip out of town and at, of all things, a bluegrass festival - and I got desperate enough to make eyes at the banjo player in the event I needed a ride home.  Turns out Fireman Dave was one step ahead of me and making his way back to my assumed point of desertion -  with the car  - so I wouldn't have to walk all the way back to the hotel in the dark.  See why I loved him?  See why I'm so mad that he isn't doing all the nice things for me anymore?  I think I'm generally mad at life on that point - and I just fill in the blanks with my sweet husband's name - for emphasis and all.

And I think it's not so much that I'm a giant scaredy cat/crybaby - just that I'm about 30 years out of practice on most of the practicalities of life.  I'll admit that I'm sort of a scaredy cat and a giant baby when it comes to certain things - but on the other hand, take me back to my emotional and physical roots, meet me in a dark alley and provoke fear, and I have full confidence that I will take you out before you get the chance to explain that you only need to borrow a quarter for a cart at Aldi, please.

Anyway, as some of you may have noted on my public parent poll about driving Kid 1 to college, far, far away - I'm hoping for a clear sinuses day, blue skies, and no major events as we make that trek.  Because I have enough experience with both planned and unplanned Walters' events to know that .... most times we break things, sometimes we desperately need a tow truck, and sometimes one of us ends up dead.  And I think that it's not the actual driving portion of the upcoming college weekend that has me all worried - it's the fact that I. AM. IT.  in the parent department now.  And should something happen to me, well, that's more than I can stand the thought of right now for my kids.

But good things are happening because of lots of hard work, persistence and a promise that I have made to myself and my loves that Fireman Dave's sacrifice and commitment to his job, this family and this community will be recognized and honored for all that it was.  And we have been invited to be special guests at the upcoming Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb on September 7, to recognize him, along with others who have given their lives in service.  So with that, a riddle:   How many lawyers does it take to get the Walters back up and running in a timely and satisfactory fashion?  Right now the answer is 2.  Soon the answer may change to 3, depending on my progress with the benefit issues with this lovely City we call home.  And I'm just gonna go ahead and plead with all I have left in me for you and all the people I love to get both your living and dead acts together - for the love of all things holy, please.  Save your surviving spouse the need for regular anti-aging treatments and a new found love of coupon shopping by just taking care of your business.  I know a few great lawyers who can get you up to speed in no time. 

And on that note.... should you need to know anything or everything about firefighter lung conditions and how those ugly words can turn into something even uglier, trust that I am your resident expert.  If you are a current medical or law student and need to miss an exam on any of these topics, I'm your gal.  You can thank me for my careful research and expertise with a gift of hair highlights to keep me as dazzling as my small talk at parties.   

And finally.... a few updates on this and that:

Y'all, this happened:

And I was totally good till Engine 55 pulled up and surprised us - in an amazing, thank you for being there for us, now I'm gonna have to go look in the mirror and check some stuff out sort of way. 

And here is a great day hanging out with Kid 3 a couple of weeks ago on a trip to Ham's Orchard and a little antique shopping on the way.  And no, I didn't cut my hair off.  This was about the time I decided to pull it all back since I kept getting barbeque sauce all up in it and mere seconds before my sandwich blew away.  Oh, the memories. 

And Kid 2 is on his magnificent journey to Europe for 10 days.  Y'all, as we speak - and I am proud of how hard he worked and saved to make this trip happen.  He, his daddy, and a little help from some friends sent this Kid on a growing up adventure of a lifetime. I wish I had a picture to show you, but turns out our phone plan is anti-Europe and I've had only sporadic contact with him these last days.  Imagine a cute blonde kid in front of a castle or two.  

And of course, for those of you who keep up with my darling friend, Loyce, yes, the answer is, I still love that girl and love on that girl.  She turned 14 in March and I loved being able to send her swimming for her very first time for her party.  She chose a green 2 piece swimming costume and had a day she will always remember.  And if you are reading this, my sweet yet secret friend who contributed to Loyce's fun - thank you for loving the Walters - the American ones and the African one.  Can't y'all see the resemblence?    

And I guess I will leave this today with a continued thank you for those of you who are still hanging with us on this new road.  When I look back over the last year and count the obstacles that life has thrown in my way, I have to question what it's all about.  And by it, I mean, IT.  Life.  In the last year I was reintroduced to my mom - with her mind totally gone and her body almost, I was given the opportunity to say some much needed things and hold her hand for the first time that I ever remember in my life.  Weeks after, I lost her again.  4 months later I lost the love of my life on what started out to be a really, really good day - and then turned into something I can't even yet accurately describe.  And in the last week I've sent a kid to Europe  - parentless, no less, and I understand he is having some digestive issues that he could use some help with from a mom stand in, please.  And hopefully the final life changing event, but I realize with no guarantees, I'm sending a kid off to college in about 6 weeks. 
So when a person asks me if I'm okay, I tell them that it really does depend on the day.  Then I think to myself how I actually prefer to spread out my tragedies a little more than what actually happened, and then move on to spend some time wondering the whole, Why me? thing.  And if you comment that it is because God has a plan and purpose for all of this, I will drive to your house and ....  Or maybe just forgive and ignore your ignorance and stay away from you and most other people even more than I normally do.  I'm as of yet undecided.  

And that's sort of where I am today.  Good, bad or in between.  Powerful, confused, weak and desperate.  Determined, discouraged, encouraged, exhausted.  But I remember on one of our first days home after Thanksgiving, telling the boys that we just have to find the tiniest little pieces of joy for now.  Tiny pieces to encourage to look for more later.  But it's in the realization that life as it is now won't change in any way other than the way I try to shape it, that gives me reason to keep up the battles that I have taken on for me and my kids.  I keep telling myself, in particular last week when the Dallas City Manager gave me the evil eye at a meeting, that for whatever reason, I got a fire lit in me for the purpose of change.  And not only for the Walters, but for that young Dallas Police officer's widow that I took with me to a recent City Council meeting.  And for all the other spouses that may not have the strength to stand up for what's right in the middle of her grief.  I'm doing it for her, too.  For now, anyway, until I find out that I'm no longer the person for the job.  But that's not today. 

she hath done what she could

I'm showing you these pics,  because you are my people.  These were taken as official photos for The Dallas Moms Blog and happened to be taken on my birthday a little bit ago.   And I felt the sting of loss on this day, especially.  Turning another double digit year older, and looking at the prospects for my future made me request beg to be the first in line at the photo shoot. Just so I could be the first to get out.   Get' er done is sort of my philosophy on most everything anymore.  And to keep it all honest, I kept the dark circles in place as they appeared on this day  - as a picture of what life is like for me now.  Aint no makeup in the world gonna cover that up.  

And on the topic of truth and confessions, today I thought I would address a few of the strangest comments or questions I've heard thus far, along the way....

Observation #1 ...thoughts about my body.  To which people feel free to comment upon and about at anytime, because - well, I'm not exactly sure why. 

My general guess is that my pre-grief body just didn't meet their hopes and expectations.  But my general answer to everyone on the topic is that no, I am not on the KETO diet.  I'm on the, I'm really sad, grief diet.  And that, obviously makes a few people giddy with delight -  and they all want to know what that particular eating plan consists of.  Then I stare blankly at them and wonder about their priorites.

So, ... BIG announcement to my critics everywhere:  I just ate a giant helping of chocolate covered almonds so I should be filling out nicely before we know it.

Observation #2, which gets me right in the heart every. single. time.....

Kristi, oh you're still going through that?   Or in other words,... I thought you were over that already.  Which leaves me without proper words, here or there.  But I do wonder if on some distant planet, where these very tough hearted and resilient people come from -  if the person they love the most dies in their arms without warning -  if they then just head on out to the all you can eat Post Death Buffet and drown their shock and horror in a big plate from the salad bar.  Then maybe go see a movie. 

Y'all, people are just crazy.  And some are just mean, whether they intend to be or not.   

And then, #3, the big one that I feel so very opinionated about.... What is it that I do all day?  What am I talking about when I say that I'm forever standing on the corner of busy and exhausted? 

So just for fun, I invite you to run my day to day marathon with me - with a few highlights and accomplishments thrown in randomly in case someone wants to applaud or take a nap in my honor.  This may be about a week's worth of energy and a whole lot of praying to get all of the following done and over so I can finally just sit down .... 

Most days I wake up between 5:30 and 6am to do house stuff like unload the dishwasher, put the wet clothes into the dryer, clean up the previous night's frat party that happened in my den as I slept;  get dressed for work, cook breakfast for me and the kids, blah blah blah, other random and assorted mom things.  Work for a crazy amount of hours doing sweaty, physical labor while being perky and nice to everyone in the world.  Come home, clean up the morning tornado that happened while I was at work and the boys were left unsupervised before school, fight crime and political corruption in the City.  Email lots of people about my plight, ask for help from friends and strangers, plead my case for change to the public.  Argue with the insurance company and City officials about all sorts of bad things, try to wrap up the Estate of my deceased mother, usually go to the  bank or email the lawyer about the Estate of Fireman Dave.  Meet with City Council reps, Mayoral candidates, news reporters and anyone else who will listen.  Promise to show up at next City Council meeting and cry in public.  Receive lots of registered mail from creditors wanting all sorts of stuff, and random people asking to buy my house.  Take a kid to urgent care for what posed as, but turned out to not be, a broken wrist from football practice.  Take a dog to the emergency doggie vet for what posed as, but turned out not to be, a broken hip.  But do this in the middle of the night.  Replace an entire shower, but not all by myself.  Replace a back door so the neighborhood ax murderer can't get in.  Buy a lot of groceries and panic at how much it cost.  Sell an old car.  Sell another old car.  Research and purchase a new car so we have one reliable vehicle in the family.  Learn to replace a battery on an old truck.  Clean up dog diarrhea and other horrible things.  Argue with a stupid person on Facebook in honor of Fireman Dave.  Work some more, apply for more survivor benefits to support my family, help a kid graduate high school and get into college, attend lots of mandatory Senior parent meetings. Hold a gigantic garage sale to raise money for a cause but then end up spending it on a new motor for our home air conditioner.  Hug a couple of sad kids, and remind them that we are still here and safe. 

So when I fall into bed at night or in the middle of the day because I just can't anymore, and I cry into the hanky that has been my constant companion for the last 5 months, it's because the world just seems like such a hard and scary place - all while trying to be brave and not having anyone to ask or share or even get an encouraging hug.  There's a reason that solitary confinement is used as punishment on top of punishment in prison.  I just think most people think I should be over all this by now.  Because they are.  

And more and more these days I find myself clearing the clutter and creating easy spaces in our home, not for me to stay, but to make it easier on others for when I'm gone.   And I do a lot of thinking and praying about purpose and energy and strength to keep up this pace all by myself.  And then I wait to hear back - trying to decide if any of this is worth it. 

Is my statement of faith worth it?  Is it even really a thing to me anymore?  God and I are in talks about just that.  Is my running around and trying to manage the every day worth the trouble?  Because y'all, I'm pretty sure I've lost the focus on what this life is all about.  But I'd like to hope that it's about more than what I'm living now.  But maybe it isn't - and it's exactly this type of living that's pointing me strongly toward the desire for a better place.  Loneliness will do that, too.  I can write a book on the business of loneliness.  Maybe I will, when I find time. 

But for now, I'll be about my business of supporting a family and raising some kids.  Oh, and changing the dirty politics of Dallas for the benefit of those who will suffer next.  I only ask for a giant statue in front of City Hall or maybe a plaque with the inscription that my sister in law showed me once on an old grave, She hath done what she could. 

* all typos are my own.  Thinking I need new glasses and an assistant. 

** note that I wrote an entire post with no curse words 

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