Friday, September 25, 2009

The Henry Stare

"You can't leave me Bob. I can't do this without you. What am I going to do? I don't want to lose you," I pleaded with him, choking and gasping for breath.

Bob stayed right there in front of me as if he was trying to keep me from falling apart, limb by limb, right there in the living room. He didn't say a word, just remained there with me, hands firmly on me thighs, a solid presence.

I don't know how long I carried on. It might have been quite a while or maybe just a moment. Slowly unfolding from the fetal position, coming back to my surroundings, my breathing slowing down, I looked around the room. My eyes landed on Henry on the other side of coffee table, quietly standing there in the dark corner absorbing the entire scene, giving us the wide eyed Henry Stare. That look he had in his eye that made you think he could see more than just what was in the room.

"Hey, Bud, do you want to watch Blues Clues?" I asked stupidly, attempting to distract him from this ugly scene. He was not a child who was easy to distract. He had straight forward questions that we answered as honestly as we could.

He knew daddy was sick and the doctors were trying to make him better. He knew the "straw" in daddy's arm was how the medicine got in. He knew that because of that straw Daddy was unable to go swimming with him this summer. He knew that the blood cancer Daddy had was so bad that the medicine they had to give him made him feel even sicker and made his hair fall out. He knew he was staying with his aunts more often so that Mommy and Daddy could go to doctor appointments. He knew Mommy was having a baby.

He knew a lot, he knew way more than any three year old should have to know. And now he knew that his mommy was terrified and that Daddy could get lost. How much more would he have to know before this was all done I wondered?

Friday, September 18, 2009


Hey there-

It happened again.

Henry and I were in line at Noodles and we began chatting with an older gentlemen in front of us about one thing and another. The man asked Henry if he was a Packer fan. Henry stared at him blankly and shook his head slowly. I quickly explained that we weren't against the Packers or anything (I didn't want things to get ugly right there at the neighborhood Noodles), but that we just weren't a football family.

The man nodded and smiled like you would to a crazy person on the street singing show tunes at the top of their lungs and dragging on the stub of a cigarette.

"My step-dad is a Packer fan, he watches football," Henry chimed in, noticing the uncomfortable silence.

And that was when it happened. I got the look, the "Oh, I see" look.

Real or imagined, I can't be sure, but it is distinctly different from the "Oh, I understand" look.

After Bob died it took me about one week to discover that there was much more sympathy for a widowed person than a divorced person in our society. Divorce implies choice. And I will admit I was not above playing the widow card from time to time if it meant a little more assistance in a time of need.

Why do I bristle at the word step-dad? My boys don't. I find myself wanting people to know why they have one. As if to say; "This wasn't what I wanted, this wasn't my plan, this wasn't my fault."

I doubt anyone who has children goes into it wanting them to have a step-dad. I don't believe prospective parents sit around planning this outcome.

"OK, here is the plan. I have always wanted my kids to have a step-dad, so we should have a few kids and then we will get divorced and then you can get remarried so our kids can have a step-dad. Or this, we can have a few kids and I can get sick and die and then you can get remarried and they can have a step-dad. That would be great!"

I don't think so.

For whatever reason many children end up with a step-parent, it is not shameful. I never planned on it, I never wanted it. This was not my dream for my children.

But I am extremely grateful they do have a step-dad, especially one that likes my boys and likes Bob's family and honors Bob's memory and his continued importance in our life. The next time the subject comes up I will use the word with pride, just as Henry and Arthur do. No explanation needed.

Thanks for checking in-


Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Hey there-

Bob and I never texted each other.

We never spoke to each other from our cell phones. We never emailed each other from work, we never emailed each other period, or Facebooked. There was no Twittering......OK, maybe there was some twittering.......

Bob never even heard of a blog.

What DID we do?

We walked together and rode bikes. We planned trips. Bob cooked while I put flowers on the table. We played Scrabble and read books in the living room with steaming cups of tea between us. We debated the existence of God. Bob wrote in a journal (actually putting pen to paper) and I concocted different recipes with my essential oils. We spooned on the couch and watched "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". He read a book while I folded clothes. He took Henry grocery shopping. We gave each other massages.

I am glad there was no Internet or cell phones or Facebook when we courted. A few days after our first date I went to the laundry mat. I had told Bob the night before that I was thinking of doing my laundry that day. As I was pulling out of the parking lot onto the street with my clean clothes balanced precariously on the seat next to me Bob flew past my car on his bike. He made a quick U-turn and approached me with a big smile on his face.

"You weren't at home when I called so I thought I would ride by and see if you needed company," he said, my heart skipped a beat.

A few days later I was at work and he appeared during my lunch hour to take me on a motorcycle ride to the lake. We hopped on the bike and I wrapped my arms around his chest and lay my cheek on his back (to protect myself from the brisk Oct. air...)

What if he could of just texted me while I did my laundry? I would have missed how his face looked that day when I saw him do that U-turn on the street, bright with anticipation. What if he had called me on my cell phone at work and asked if I wanted to go for a ride on his motorcycle? Would I have said yes or would I have been cautious and said there probably wasn't enough time. And I would have missed the exhilaration of being on that bike with him on that clear fall day, even if it was just a few minutes.

What if Bob had blogged instead of writing in a journal? I wouldn't have had the peaceful comfort of him sitting next to me in contemplation, pen in hand, notebook open on his lap, music on in the background. I wouldn't have his penmanship to look at today. The way he slanted his "S" and put a big curve at the bottom of his "g". Seeing the unique way he wrote on the page seems to bring the story to life somehow.

What would our relationship be like today if he were still alive, what would our communication be like? Granted, we were not people on the cutting edge of technology but so much has changed with technology in such a short time.

Would we email each other from work about what to have for dinner or who was going to pick up the boys or what we should do for the weekend? Would he text me from some biking trip he was on to tell me about the sunset? Would he forward me silly political cartoons? If we were out to dinner and his phone rang would he answer it? Would he have a Facebook page? Would he spend the evening on Google finding out answers to the boys never ending questions? Would he be fighting with the boys for computer time? Would he be a follower on any blogs?

I honestly can't imagine Bob doing any of these things. I can't imagine him choosing the computer over a bike ride in the evening. I can't imagine him going to the computer for a recipe and not thumbing threw one of his cookbooks. I can't imagine his phone ringing during dinner. Sometimes I think he got out of here just in time. Sometimes I wish I did. (like when I have to place an egg timer at the computer to limit the amount of time the children are on it, or when I watch a group of kids walking down my street and they all have there heads down, looking at their phone, not interacting at all with the people right next to them)

I will never know the answer to my questions, of course. I can only try to imagine, and remember how it was, and be grateful we had each other when we did, and that our relationship was the way it was.

I must move forward in the world today, technology and all.

But all of this musing begs the question, if Bob were alive today would he read my blog?

If Bob were alive today what would I be blogging about?

Thanks for checking in-