Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Boatman

It has been a busy couple of months. I had a wedding, moved, went on a family vacation/road trip with our new family of 10. Got started in 4 new schools, started settling into our new place. And I'm learning how to be married to a pilot. I'm learning I love being married again. And I am learning it is still hard work. So many things I should devote entire pages to. And I will. And pictures.

I love my new life, my new home, my new friends. And I love my new family. I feel… just so full up and content when we get to all be together and I see how the kids are loving each other and playing with each other and I can cook for all of them and learn what everyone likes and doesn't like. I love making 6 lunches for school. I love how love expands from the man I fell in love with to the children he is responsible for. And even when it isn't easy, it is still love. And that is a gift and a blessing.

BJay has been on my mind the past few weeks. We just passed the 4 year mark of when BJay died. I was going through some old files and I found this poem I wrote in the days after BJay died. It was all so fresh then, that hurt. But I like that I have stuff like this to remind me how I felt. I had forgotten that Jamie, my little sister made cookies for the kids the day BJay died and they saved some of the cookies for the man in the fishing boat who helped them. I never got to thank that man. He literally disappeared as soon as he came to shore. The children divided their food for him. And it made me think of him as something mythical, or some otherworldly being. I was thinking of Greek mythology here, the boatman who takes people to the other side. And you leave coins for him on the eyes of the dead. And I thought of how hard it would be to have that job. At the time I was seeing people who dealt with the grieving all the time. Funeral home directors, cemetery plot salesmen. These people see grief every day, they live in it. They hear it and see it. And I just think it takes a certain kind of strength to do that, to see it and hear it all the time.

Anyway, that is where this poem came from. Out of all those thoughts. The most important being that BJay, as a father willingly took the place of his children in death. Just as any real father would do. There is dignity and honor in that. And that was and is very important to me, that that is the message that comes across when I talk about what happened to my children's father. I think some day there will be a message that is important for me to show the world about the man who is raising these kids now. And the respect and honor he has for BJay. The men I love are the real kind of superheroes. What a lucky woman I am.  Anyway… enjoy. Or not. ;)

The Boatman

He is always there before you expect him
gliding through a cloudless fog.
Keeping time, keeping constant strait lines-- never far from shore.
The boatman's time keeps pace with tragedy.
With heartache and disembodied cries.
With pain so acute and fresh it can't be contained.
He has to hear and hear and hear, a chorus of anguish,
that is part of the chore.

It is a thankless job, for coins.
And no one ever thinks to give him anything more.
Once in a while he gets to see what is out of place.
The people who don't belong,
ones he can't bear to carry across.
And that is when he takes them back.
Wishing, just once, to reverse the order.

But he can not go back across empty handed.

He guided my children to my arms and
left us standing on the shore.
He took my lover to the great beyond,
because he had to do it.
Because order can not be undone.
Because a father willingly pays the price for that mercy.

I have met him but I did not see his face.
My children know him and they
divide their food.
"For the boatman," they say, because he helped  us.

Monday, May 26, 2014

My New Life

Today I am 37. Yesterday was my birthday. Today I am stuck in the airport in Chicago after missing my flight twice. Twice. First time was totally my fault, I didn't give myself enough time to turn in the rental car but I got on the next flight. When I got there I went right to the gate and waited… and waited. And then I noticed it was 6:20 and I hadn't heard anyone call for boarding so I went looking for someone. No one was at the counter… And the door was closed. Wow. Totally missed that flight while sitting right at the gate! Weird. And there isn't an open flight until tonight. Which would make my total travel time 24 hours if I don't get on this 11:30am flight I'm on standby for. Ugh. I miss my kids. And I miss my fiancĂ©, who, btw is an amazingly sweet man to have in your corner when you're in crisis mode. Even if its your own stupid fault. I love Bill more today than any of the other days because he hears me. He listens. And when I need compassion and gentleness, he is that soft place for me.

I have taken a long hiatus from blogging again. Life got busy. School got busy. And somewhere along the way I fell in love. Also, I'm getting married in 4 days. For those of you who want to know how I got from:

One thing I want to address because people keep bringing it up: The idea of finding love again is of no comfort to me. None. As much as I hate being alone, I hate the idea of doing the work involved in dating even more. And I can't imagine sharing my children with anyone. Dating with 5 kids is not remotely the same thing as dating as a single person. I just don't have enough faith that there exists a man who could fill BJay's shoes and love all 6 of us enough. Also, I'm just not willing to put up with the humiliation of being that single mom of 5 looking for a man. I'm sure there are other ways to think about it, but that is how I feel.
To being in love and about to get married, I will tell you.

So, 8 months ago I did not believe that there existed a man who could love me and my 5 amazing children. I did not believe that it was possible that anyone could look at us as a package deal and say, "Wow, what a privilege and a blessing you all are to me."  When I imagined how it would be to date again, I could only envision rejection and heartache. And I just felt like it was my job as a mother to protect my children from any more hurt. So When anyone would suggest that I should date or that I would find love again--it really did annoy me. I had a partner in life, the children had a dad and that was all taken away from us. So- it felt like an insult in so many ways for me to go out into the world asking for someone to love me and my kids when ultimately, such a request could only end in heartache.

But then I had a complete change of heart. And for me it was like the flipping of a switch. For three years and four months I wasn't ready to think about dating. And then one day I was. I don't know if this is how everyone experiences getting to the point where you feel completely healed and ready to open up your heart, but this is how it worked for me.

I think everything brought me to that point, but it clicked for me when I noticed how my girls would light up around male friends of mine. I saw how much they were starved for a family that included a dad. Girls need fathers, I know that. And so do boys.

So I prayed. And I went to the temple and prayed. And I fully gave to God and BJay all my fear and trepidation about what it was going to mean to find and nurture love again. Because I knew I needed a man who could love my children--but I also knew that I couldn't settle for anything less than deep, abiding real love. I had that, I knew how good it was--and I wanted it again.

Enter Bill the Pilot

Does it matter how we met? (Online dating) I have felt God's hand in my life more than ever since BJay died. I have felt since the moment I knew BJay was gone and me and my world shattered that I could trust that God would guide me to protect and take care of my children. So when I met Bill the Pilot, I recognized something in him. He wasn't anything I thought I was looking for. And I wasn't anything he thought he was looking for. But there was a recognition immediately for both of us that something important was happening.

Bill saw that I was a widow and living near Fayetteville and assumed that I was a war widow. And he had compassion for me and my children because he is a Gulf War veteran. And that compassion only grew when he learned about BJay and how he died. And he wasn't one bit intimidated by the fact that I still love BJay and that we had an amazing marriage and life together. He also didn't flinch at the fact that I had 5 children. It was crazy how easy it was to talk to Bill and share with him my thoughts and feelings. And when I eventually allowed him to meet my children--it was amazing how they immediately warmed to him. And there was a softness about Bill with them that put me at ease.

The first time we met, Bill prayed with me. The first real date Bill took me on was just as bold. He took me to the beach where BJay died. I hadn't been back there. It was an amazingly healing experience. Ever since we met, Bill has always been thoughtful and compassionate. When I look back at the past 4 months--I really can't believe it has only been 4 months. So much has happened. I finished my last semester in grad school. I got a job. And I met and fell in love with an amazing man who loves me and my children back. I got engaged. And I'm getting married in 4 days!!

When I said I miss my old life, I meant it. Eight months ago I couldn't imagine that life would ever be that good again. What I could not have imagined was how good my new life feels. This journey God gave me has been every bit as difficult as it has been amazing and wonderful. Every struggle is matched with overcoming. Every challenge ends with some kind of victory. Everything God takes, he restores again. I always trusted God. I just could never have imagined the way he put me back together. And I certainly couldn't have imagined how he could make it right to my children.

I love my new life.