Its all over and that part of my psyche is breathing a big sigh of relief. I did not do well on my final exam at ALL. Embarassingly bad in fact. This is where my gratitude for doing all my homework, making great grades on that and getting my attendence grade comes in. I managed to squeak through still with a B in the course. Sadly, I thought I had come out with a C, which had me quite distraught. And by the fact that I could not even calculate my grade correctly, I would venture to say I don't particularly deserve the B. But I got it anyway and it makes me happy. Joe suggested last night we pick a day to take dinner to some of the caretakers up at the hospital where Joseph was and I am really looking forward to planning and executing that. Decent home cooked meals are in short supply when stuck there for extended periods. It will feel great to do that and be a wonderful way of honoring Joseph's role in this journey.
We've had a pretty cozy weekend here. Friday night Joe lit a fire for us and we all watched The Polar Express, which has become a bit of a holiday tradition for us. It makes me cry every single time. The music from it totally reminds me of last year and all we went through with Joseph. He loved that movie. A few days before he was put on the ventilator it was coming on TV at the hospital and we planned to watch it. It was right when he was starting to go dramatically downhill and sadly, he fell asleep before it started and stayed asleep and feverish through it. I have these bittersweet memories of laying on the slab they gave us for beds at the hospital in that dark room lit only by the TV set and his IV pump, listening to the music, hearing the message of the movie and tears sliding down my face as Joseph slept. It sounds like a horrible memory and in any one else's life it probably would be. But its my last memory of Joseph and I planning to do something together and it gave him a rush of happiness as we planned it out complete with having popcorn and cuddling under a blanket together. It didn't happen that way, but in our hearts, it did.
Watching the movie this year really brought Joseph to me. It felt like a whisper of wisdom, a breath of his spirit. I have struggled so much with faith in God and Christ since the last five years of tragedies hit my family, and it has definitely gotten in the way of me having any sense of peace about where Joseph is now. If there is no heaven, then Joseph is just gone, and I am really, really not okay with that. At the same time, putting my faith into a heaven that contains a God who let this happen feels like giving in to bullying to me and feels like somehow acquiescing to something that I fundamentally abhor. In other words, feels like I am letting God win. So I get my revenge by refusing to acknowledge my belief. But really, its my own self I am cutting off, from any sense of peace about my son. And in watching The Polar Express, whose whole message is to let yourself believe in the magic of Christmas, I kept hearing the same message stand out to me. You have everything you need...if you just believe. It makes sense in my head but sounds corny here. Josh Groban's "Believe" has become my new favorite holiday song. Its just infused with the strength, courage and childlike faith that was my Joseph.
My memories of last year are just so bittersweet. I had never had a Christmas that felt more full of the ever elusive Christmas spirit. I was so aware of my kids, my blessings. I knew inside me it was not going to end well. Part of me knew that Joseph would not be home for Christmas, would not be home at all. Yet there was this feeling of love and connection, not just with him but with all my family. It was as if heaven hovered so close, ready to sweep Joseph into its embrace, yet also bringing its goodness into my home, simply because my heart was open to it.
Today we are going to decorate Christmas cookies. Nick had a lock-in with the scouts last night and I need to leave in about 25 minutes to go pick him up. Its 27 degrees out. Ick. Hopefully he'll go right to bed and get in a good nap. We are going to make individual lasagnas and Mom is going to stop by.. I invited my brothers. Jeff declined due to wanting to watch the football game (which we will also have on but we'll be decorating cookies too). I was so dismayed at that. Its as if, sometimes, Joseph did not even die. Other than Mom I don't hear from my brothers at all. I recognize we were not close before he died. They hardly knew him. To expect support from that venue would be unreasonable of me. For whatever reason, we grew up emotionally cold and distant from each other. So I wanted to both bring comfort to myself by bringing my family together and having Jeff, Ryan, Mom, the kids all in one house reliving the tradition of our holiday cookies and also start bringing us back to one another. But as Joe says, its a bit like trying to turn a giant ship, one that may have already sailed. Our habit is to live close to one another but not have much to do with each other. And that makes me very sad. I am blessed that I have so many people who love me and I know its nota personal rejection. But its hard for me to understand, when everything in me is crying out to hurry, hurry, hurry while we are all still here. I filter the world so differently now. Everything feels temporary. Everything feels that at any minute, we could change.
Ryan wound up in the hospital last night with atrial fibrillation. He's fine, they kept him for observation and will get out today. Experience tells me getting out of the hospital is not as easy as it sounds, so I don't know if he will make it here today. I don't know what our family did...it feels like we have been cursed. Autism. Brain Tumor. Weird Parkinsonian disorder. Leukemia. Weird heart problem. And now another heart problem. Nobody would ever believe we have always been healthy prior to five years ago.
I am looking forward to having the fire going and decorating cookies today. It should be a good day. The house will smell like lasagna. The Cowboys game will be on and the fireplace going. The boys and I will engage in a holiday tradition that spans over 37 years in our family and I will look around and feel how lucky I am. I like days like that. And the cool thing is, when my head is in the right place, I can get that feeling of being lucky just because I want to. I got a B in algebra, a personal demon of mine, and on January 14th the plan moves into another phase of achievement as I start Statistics. I have an enviable job and a life partner who adores me and two really cute, good kids with one precious boy watching over us all from heaven. I am grateful for all I have.