Things are so much quieter this week than last week. The extended family dispersed slowly after Saturday, Elliott returned to work in Sicily, my grandparents drove home to Missouri, the visits from friends are tapering off. The five remaining members of my family are all at home: Eric, Emily, and Daddy are taking time off work; Lena and I are here until next Monday; and my mom is savoring all of us being at home. We are muddling through, grieving the lost in the land of the living.
I wrote this email to Elliott last night after our first day alone as a family. He thought it captured well what life is like for us now and what we are feeling.
Dearest boy of mine,
Well, another day is done. It was the first without you in awhile, and I missed you…. I am so glad you are back safe and sound, but I wish we didn’t have to endure separation in this time.
We finished Anne of Green Gables tonight. So good, and such a blessed distraction. My parents were visiting Prince Edward Island when they got the news about Booie. I do want to see it with you, so we’ll see if my family is ready to part with it so that I can bring it back with me. If not then, then in October. I am sure we’ll start Anne of Avonlea tomorrow or the day after.
My mom and I took a walk with Lena this afternoon. Lena was being so fussy and grouchy and I think it was because she had been cooped up inside for so long. We walked down the street and then decided to go to the cemetery and visit Booie’s grave. It was an easy 10-minute walk; my mom showed me a new cut-through that’s safer than the one I’ve used with Sona [our dog who died in March] in the past to go visit Kim [Roe]’s grave. (Now there are two more graves to visit on that hill–Booie’s and Emily Roe’s–and no Sona to walk with.) It was a little sad to see Booie’s grave, with the dry brownish-red dirt on top of it and the faded flowers, somewhat dirty stuffed animals, and little trinkets people had left. Someone had put an orchid there, and I suggested my mom take it home and love it, as it will die in a couple of days in this sun, but she wanted to leave it there. We spent awhile sitting and talking about grief–“is there a difference between grieving and wallowing?” my mom asked–and then walked over to Kim and Emily’s graves (just about 20 feet apart) and then down the hill a little bit. Lena was soo delighted as she walked down the pavement in her little bare feet. She loved the downhill slope because she could get some speed up and was babbling delightedly to us, excitedly pointing out squirrels, and so glad to be outside and walking around. We’ll have to come back with her, of course.
I took a trip to Safeway to get some stuff for my family this evening: bananas, Mini Wheats, Diet Coke, etc. I sort of forgot that Booie worked in that Safeway. Driving up in the car she used to drive, walking past the Starbucks in the store where she used to work (where I came for her drinks last summer), and wandering down the aisles she used to walk down in her uniform… it was a little sadder than I’d expected. I got very introspective and sad on the way home, as I did last night while driving home from dropping you off at the airport. I guess I’m rarely alone now and haven’t been that quietly reflective or allowed myself to just think about her, about what we’re missing, about life without her, about what she would be doing if she were right here right now, about what she would be saying about this song on the radio, about what she would have just eaten or just sang or just done. I drove by her grave on my own on the way home (partly because Em was out on a run when I left and I wanted to comfort her there if she was there) and just sat in the car for a moment alone and stared at the grave. How could this all have happened so fast? How could my little sister be under the ground there? How could those already-wilted flowers be on Booie’s grave?
Sad thoughts for a Monday night. We have such ups and downs. Just a few minutes ago I could hear Eric laughing downstairs with my parents as he related a story; meanwhile Em and I were dangling my piece of dental floss for the cat and laughing at her antics. Life is so normal sometimes, and yet so broken and foreign and unbelievable. How will we carry on? What will we look like in 3 weeks, 9 months, 2 years? Will we still be cheerful, still be close, still be deeply and patiently and trustingly reliant upon Christ, every one of us? Will we be worse or better for this terrible, wearing trial? What will we be as a family, as individuals, as friends, as future and current spouses, as Christians? I have so many fears and hopes, all tangled together, as I pray for goodness to come out of this horrible sadness.
Please keep praying and praying. We need it more than ever. God helped us set such a good tone last week for our family, each other, the memorial service, our friends, and for Booie. Now we need to set a good tune for ourselves for the rest of our lives. “Good tune” sounds so trite, but we must go on, somehow, and we want to go on well.