Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Widowed Resolution

I've found that one of the hardest questions to answer has been "How are you doing?".  At Mary Kay we're taught to always respond with "Great!" because most of the time it is asked out of politeness and they aren't really interested in the answer so why not answer in the positive.  Plus if answered this way long enough it will eventually become true.

Well, widowerdom (my new word of the day) has brought a whole new dimension to the answer.  It's not that I'm not doing great most of the time, but it can change at a moments notice.  Little things can pull at my heart and remind me of the absence of my sweetheart and leave me with bittersweet emotions that often result in silent tears.

I've evaluated these feelings often and can most closely describe it as the feeling you get while listening to a song with dissonant chords.  The harmonies are so close that they bring an uncomfortable feeling and a longing for the song to resolve into a pleasing harmony.  The only problem is that it doesn't resolve.  You are left with a longing that doesn't dissolve but lingers on.  It doesn't go away, you just become used to it so it doesn't hurt as much.

While thinking about this the following poem came to my mind.  I don't assume to be much of a poet but it describes this feeling well:

Widowed Resolution
The melody I still can hear,
Though worn and old, I shed a tear.
The harmony that once there bore,
Still faintly plays though heard no more.
The songs of two combined as one,
Did rise and grow, a pleasing tone.
O’re dissonance the two did cling,
Then resolution’s joy did bring.
Through rise and fall together bore,
Those harmonies I hear no more.
Though peaceful, calm, is the sound,
Sweet consonance cannot be found.
How long will this new song still ring,
While bittersweet the memories bring?
Yet, the refrain I leave for Him to solve,
Patiently I wait, for it to resolve.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Slip Slidin' Away

Despite having told this story to many of my friends already I feel like I need to record it so it's not forgotten.  And what better place to record it then here where I can find it whenever I need a smile.

It all happened on the morning of Christmas Eve last year.  I woke up early to do some last minute shopping for Krista's family's Christmas party.  I agreed to bring dessert and knew exactly what it would be.  One year before Jacob and Emma came along, Krista and I had Christmas at home with just the two of us.  This was our first Christmas alone, but despite being alone we still wanted to observe all the traditions as if we were with our extended family.  One of those was to have a big dinner on Christmas Eve complete with all the trimmings.  Well, that seemed like a lot of work for just the two of us so we looked for options.  And boy did we find one.  La Madeleine restaurant had a special where you could purchase a complete Christmas dinner for two.  It had everything we needed for a nice dinner including a Bûche de Noël for dessert.  We had never had one before and quickly fell in love with it and have had many since.  Anyway, back to the real story...

Before leaving the house the morning of Christmas Eve, I woke up Jake and told him I needed to run some errands and he was in charge until I returned.  I told him to make sure he and Emma had something for breakfast and I would be back as soon as I could.  Since La Madeleine didn't opened until 10 I figured I had some time to pick up a few things to add to Santa's loot for the next day.  I was amazed at how deserted the stores were.  I was expecting total chaos with all the last minute shoppers frantically trying to find a "Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time" for their son Ralphie.  I guess it was still too early for the true procrastinators to feel like it was finally time to get their Christmas shopping done.

I went to several stores and picked up a few things I wanted to get for the kids then headed to La Madeleine so I could be there as soon as they opened.  When I got there I noticed on the front door that they had been opened since 6:30.  Why in the world did I think they opened at 10?  I blamed the widower's fog - come to think of it I have blamed a lot on that lately, maybe I'm just getting old?  Nah, it was the widower's fog. :)  As soon as I realized they had been opened for 3.5 hours I started thinking... Bûche de Noël was a seasonal item for them which meant that quantities were limited and it was sooooo good that surely there was a huge demand for it and they had been selling them for almost 4 hours already today!  The panic started to rise, what if they didn't have anymore?  What could I possible bring to dinner that would be even half as scrumptious?  It was 10am on Christmas Eve and I had no dessert for tonight!  I was sure everyone in line in front of me was buying a Bûche de Noël and as soon as I reached the counter they would have just sold the last one.

Frantically I waited as I inched closer and closer to the counter doing my best to keep my smile from turning into a gorilla grin.  After what felt like hours I had finally made it. Through the best smile I could muster I nervously asked the man at the counter "do you possibly have any Bûche de Noëls left"?  He calmly smiled and said "did you see the semi trailer outside?  It's still half full".  It took me a couple of seconds to comprehend the words that came out of his mouth, then all the anxiety, worry and panic instantly melted away and was replace with pure joy.  I was ready for Christmas now, I had dessert for tonight!  The drive home was a wonderful experience, I calmly smiled as I passed hoards of procrastinators who were out in force now looking for that perfect gift or maybe even wondering what they we going to do about dessert for tonight.

I was still floating on a triumphant high when I got home and carried my precious cargo in from the car.  Somehow I didn't notice how clean the kitchen floor was or that Jake and Em weren't lounging on the couch like spineless cats unable to turn away from hypnotic glow of Phineas & Ferb on the tv.  That was until I stepped onto the kitchen floor tile. Something wasn't right, I couldn't get any traction to make it to the table to carefully deposit my hard fought loot.  I wondered what I stepped in that made it so slick.  After carefully setting the dessert on the table I checked the soles of my shoes.  They felt oily and quite slick, so I wiped them on the rug in front of the back door.  Then started back to the car to get everything else I had bought.  Once again, as I stepped onto the kitchen floor tile I slipped and almost ended up doing the splits.  I finally realized it wasn't my shoes, it was the floor.  I then realized Jake and Em were no where to be found.  Something was up and they were the cause of it.

After calling for them a few time they sheepishly sauntered  into the kitchen.  Immediately Jake and Em started blaming each other, Jake blamed Emma, Em replied that Jake helped her, Jake denied helping claiming it was all Emma's doing, she quickly countered with it was his idea in the first place.  I quickly ended the bickering and had each of them tell me what happened while the other one listened.

It turned out they really wanted to go ice skating but knew they had no way to get to the rink.  So they came up with the next best thing.  They took Emma's olive oil hairspray that we use to keep her hair and scalp from drying out, and sprayed it all over the kitchen floor.  Then, using their crocs as ice skates they were able to slide all around the kitchen.  I was quite impressed with their creativity and problem solving abilities but of course I can never tell them that.

We then had a good talk about how that wasn't a smart thing to do.  Not only was it dangerous and they could have been seriously injured, but it was Christmas Eve and it wasn't a good time to get on Santa's naughty list.  Their eyes grew to the size of silver dollars as they comprehended the possibility of missing out on Christmas.  I told them the only way to not get stuck on the naughty list was accept the natural consequences of their actions and clean it up before it was too late.  I've never seen them work harder in their lives.  It's amazing what they can do when motivated correctly.  Finally, after mopping the floor six times, I could walk across the kitchen without sliding.

After they were done I assured them they were back on the nice list.  We enjoyed the rest of the day together and had a wonderful Christmas dinner that evening with Krista's family.  The dessert was amazing!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I know that my redeemer liveth

It's no secret that Krista and I enjoyed singing together.  It started with high school choir during our senior year.  Krista sang alto, as she always did, and surprisingly, I (despite being a first tenor) sang in the bass section.  I guess that happened because I never tried out for the choir.  At the beginning of my senior year I needed to sign up for one more class.  I already had all my required classes scheduled so I needed something easy.  I asked our school's choir director, Mr. Terry Tucker, if I could join the choir, he asked me if I could sing and my reply was "I hope so".  That was good enough for him and he put me in the bass section.  Krista and I have been singing ever since.

One of the many traditions we had was to sing Handel's Messiah during the Christmas and Easter seasons.  Krista would often sing many of the alto solos and the last few years Krista and I sang the one alto and tenor duet in the work "O death, where is thy sting".  She would often joke about "throwing down the gauntlet" each time we sang it.  But Krista's favorite peace from the "Messiah" wasn't one she performed, it is the soprano solo "I know that my redeemer liveth".  The libretto used for this piece comes from two bible passages.  The first is Job 19:25-26:

"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:"
And the second is 1 Corinthians 15:20:
"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."
Krista loved the message of these two scriptures.  It's a declaration of faith in our Redeemer Jesus Christ that will overcome all.  Though we suffer and struggle in this life with pains and infirmities of all kinds we will one day stand before our Savior with perfect resurrected bodies never again to suffer the pains of mortality and thank Him for His love for us.  A love that caused Him to suffer all the pains of mortality that have ever been and will ever be so He can free us from the punishments of death and hell.

For weeks after Krista passed away I was living in a surreal, numb state of existence.  I was grieving the loss of my best friend and sweetheart.  Music was such a large part of our relationship and brought back such sharp memories that I couldn't bring myself to even turn on the radio.  After a few weeks, when the numbness started to subside and I could feel again, I returned home from visiting Krista's grave.  As I came in the house I passed the stereo in the family room and felt like I needed music back in my life.  So I turned the stereo on and pushed play on the CD player to listen to whatever was in it.  Instantly I recognized the opening notes to "I know that my redeemer liveth".  I wept as I listened to the word and felt Krista's testimony fill my soul.  He lives!  All is well because He lives.  Through this song she was sharing with me her last testimony.

Since then Job 19:25-26 has become my favorite scripture.  I know He lives and has the power to redeem us from death and hell.  And we shall all, in the flesh, see Him and kneel before Him and proclaim Him our personal Savior and Redeemer.  I'm grateful that Krista was able to share her testimony of our Savior with me. But most of all I'm grateful to know that He lives.