Thursday, July 29, 2010


Hey there,

I have been a bit of an emotional wreck the last few weeks. Mike will certainly back me up on this statement.

Not sure what it is about.

Could be the final steps of the book publishing have not been going smoothly and I am being constantly reminded of my ineptness when it comes to all things technological.

Could be Henry's birthday on the 23rd and Bob and my wedding anniversary coming up on the 10th (would have been #14). These milestones can still throw me into a bit of a grieving relapse, momentarily throwing me back to square one. Thank goodness that after six years square one doesn't last too long.

Could be the presentation that Mike and I are doing next week in San Diego. Putting together a power point on the unique struggles of remarriage post widowhood has my mind going in all different directions. Plus, as noted before, technology and I are not exactly friends. (do you think the group would be OK with a facilitated discussion? Maybe there will be lots of questions....)

Could be the summer and all the kids being home and the level of chaos in the house not being very conducive to any focused work getting done. Not to mention they keep needing to eat and have clean clothes and get to track meets......

Could be the angst that has been involved in planning our "family" trip this summer to Yellowstone and the Tetons. The teenage girls don't seem to find it the trip of their dreams as we and the boys do and are opting out this year.

Could be the recent email and Facebook postings from two close friends of Bob and mine from our Portland days. One family shared pictures of their trip to the Galapagos Islands and the other family is on practically the exact same vacation we are taking next month only all their children are with them and seemingly having a grand time.

Considering my emotional response to the last "could be" I am thinking this might be the straw that is breaking this camel's back. When I received the picture album from the Galapagos and saw the front picture of the three of them with their arms around each other smiling I was unable to open the rest of the album, seriously. And don't get me started on the Facebook postings from our friends in Wyoming. Throwing the computer across the room came to mind.

Regret has come running out of nowhere and kicked me in the stomach. Ouch!

That was supposed to be us, Bob and me and our little family, happily travelling the world smiling out at cameras from exotic ports. Or headed off on camping excursions to wild and wooded places with our children wide eyed and communicative in the back seat. I never imagined having a child who didn't like to hike or camp or worse yet, not travel at all.

I never imagined so much of what has come to pass.

Now, would any of these imagined joyous trips happened if Bob were still alive? Some most likely, but not all. I am sure behind the smiles toward the camera we would of had our share of grumbling and slouching and arguments about electronic device use. Bob and I would have had budget troubles and gotten annoyed at each other because we were lost and didn't have enough food with us, the kids might have whined to be carried along the trail or worse, just wanted to go back to the hotel and watch TV.

Bob and I never had the chance to be disappointed by a family vacation or the fact that Arthur complains if we walk the dog for more than a block. We never had to decide on rules regarding electronics or whether or not the child has to go on the vacation because it is a family vacation gosh darn it! We never had much of a chance to find out what our family vacations would have looked like. I just know I never imagined them to be involving a six year old with ear buds connected to an iPod hanging out of their ears, or children who didn't like to camp (which I can at least wrap my head around)or travel at all (which I can't understand in the least)or me learning how to play Monopoly on an iTouch and thinking this could be a brilliant way to make it across South Dakota and still have some sanity left. (hey, it beats having one of the kids repeating "I'm Babba Wawa and I'm weally weird" all the way across the state--I really did that by the way, when I was about 10. My poor parents and brother. I am sure if an ITouch would have been available back then they would have happily had me stare at that thing for a while)

All this emotion I am feeling, this regret, it's OK. Regret is sorrow over something you can't change, it's part of life. Sometimes your kids don't turn out how you imagined or your job or your vacation or your life. It doesn't mean it is bad, just different than you imagined. It means you're still living!

As my Italian teacher once said; "You just must accept".

Easier said than done I'm afraid.

Thanks for checking in-


Monday, July 5, 2010


Hey there-

"You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine."
Wallace Stegner
Crossing to Safety

I recently reread this book. I first read Crossing to Safety about 13 years ago when Bob and I were living in Portland, OR. We were young, newly married, child and house free, and enjoying a carefree life in the green and lush Pacific Northwest. Back then I was enamored with the friendship described between the two couples. The friendship begins in the late 1930's when they are all in their 20's and beginning their careers and families. The reader is taken through 40 years of the foursome's joys and struggles as they live their lives amid the backdrop of a great depression, a world war, an economic boom, and social/societal upheaval.

I saw ourselves and our friends in these couples.I would imagine Bob and I 40 years in the future hanging out with our friends that we were close to at the time. Our kids would be grown and we could reminisce, with plenty of side splitting laughter, about child rearing. We would look back on fruitful careers, our travels, and other shared experiences.

Ah, it would be so lovely.

And even though the couples in the story have many obstacles they overcome it never occurred to me during that first read how it might feel to be living those obstacles. I just romanticised the ending, the looking back on all the accomplishments and relishing that we are still together after all these years.

I assumed we would all still be together and happy. That was the plan.

But as Stegner so aptly tells us: you can plan all you want to.

Reading the book this time around I see it through different eyes. Instead of eyes filled with beginnings and optimism, I see the story through eyes filled with new beginnings and reality. It might sound dreadful but it's not. Reality does not negate optimism, it just humbles it a bit.

On the last page Stegner writes: "If we could have foreseen the future during those good days in Madison where all this began, we might not have had the nerve to venture into it."

In my 20s if someone had told me that when I was 35 and pregnant my husband would get cancer and I would be widowed a year later with two small boys to raise I think I would have kindly said no thank you. Who would sign up for that? That sounds like an awful plan. I doubt these hardships are never part of any ones plan.

Thank goodness we don't know the future in advance. Would knowing change our choices? I could have missed out on 10 fabulous years with Bob. (OK, 9 fabulous ones and one kind of sucky one) Or I might have chosen not to have Henry and Arthur. (and what would the aunts be doing then?!)

So, would anyone like to guess what might happen in the next 13 years? I'm sure I don't know. But I am still making plans, even though I have been that slug dissolving into foam, I am still optimistic enough to plan, to venture into the unknown.

What else is there?

Thanks for checking in-