Friday, July 24, 2009

The World As I See It on Friday

I look for rivers of moving water, for words and contemplation that find and tickle my own. My voice has gone quiet, hiding, rabbit-like in stillness behind the boulder that is the weight of my life and my fear. Somehow through all this time and these places I have stopped listening inwardly to anything but the most gutteral cries - the weeping and celebrating of a hundred different kinds of every day, to the point that I no longer feel the urge to even record them in their redundancy. I grow bored at having become a reporter and not an editorialist. My motivation has always been to stroke and to paint, much the way an artist puts out impressions of his mind's eye, taking things apart until you no longer know what it is you are looking at but yet you feel it instead. I have wanted words to be my art, and they are. It does not matter how many other painters are out there. I grow small and unsure as other excellent writers find voice, readership, popularity and fame. I shall sit here and hum my soft tune and see what the morning shall bring me. This is my dirt road, my blue sky that I sit on and only I can see and paint it as Sheri would.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Heart so full

It would appear I have decided to live. This may come as a silly statement out of the blue in this way, when I have not been writing much and life itself has surrounded me so completely. I know I have given a good impression of strength and determination many times on this blog, but let me tell you, it is far from a constant feeling. I think often times the things I have said here that sound brave and strong are as much to convince myself as anyone else. Not all the time. But sometimes.

There is something about having decided to get married that puts life on a different level since Joseph's death. I have lived with it long enough now to know it goes where I go. I no longer fear leaving it, him, our memories behind. But there is a difference between letting life happen and in making conscious decisions to take giant steps forward in an optimistic direction. It seems nothing but good things have been happening to me lately, and my heart is so full I cannot give words. There is no angst in my being right now. Sorrow, yes. Gosh yes. But not debilitating. Not shameful. And I feel, for the first time in a very long time, hopeful.

The wedding plans are simple and to the point, just the way I want it to be. Warmth and intimacy are the most important things. I won't walk down the aisle. I won't even have a wedding bouquet, maybe just flowers in my hair, maybe a jeweled comb, maybe nothing. I have my dress, which comes in around September 19th. We have the week for our honeymoon reserved off from work. We are working on invitations and the menu. The guest list has been written, rewritten and revised. For a while the whole thing grew bigger and bigger and my mood darker and darker, until I realized I was just trying to make a church wedding work in my mother's home. I don't want a church wedding. I just want intimacy and gratitude and fun. Elegance. Our closest friends and family. We can have a party with all our extended circle after we get back from the honeymoon. But for this wedding, I am quite certain there will be fewer than 30 people there, though the guest list sits at 54 right now. It is the week before Christmas and just three weeks after my cousin's first wedding just after Thanksgiving. I don't expect my family will make the trek to Texas. My family is huge. Big. Catholic. German. Wonderful. I have cousins galore on both my mother and father's side. It is just impossible to do a small wedding in my family and invite everyone. We will invite my closest friends, my siblings, Joe's siblings and children, Stewart, my aunts and uncles, my Grandma. And that is pretty much it for this, my second wedding. I just want to focus on getting married. Not so much on having a wedding. I hope it turns out as tasteful, intimate and beautiful as I see it in my minds eye. And if it doesn't, I hope at the end of the day I remember...I am Mrs. Joe Sellars and that is what I wanted all along.

The boys are thrilled. They sought clarification that Joe would be their step-dad now, then sought clarification that it didn't mean that he would try to be their dad. I reassured them they already have a fantastic Dad. Joe will always and ever be a friend, a mentor if they want it, and another adult they can turn to in times of need. But no. He will never try to be your dad, Guys. They seemed relieved and gratified by that. Nick's first questino when we told them the news was wanting to know if we had told Stewart. I am so lucky. I had actually told him and he is so happy for Joe and for me. He will be at the wedding. His being at peace with it, truly at peace with it, has allowed them in turn to feel it is not a betrayal of their father to be happy for us. Thank you Stewart. We love you.

I am at peace tonight. My life is calm, secure, prosperous and good. I am loved and protected. I feel a tinge of sorrow, knowing for me this is a large step forward away from Joseph's ordeal. I feel a tinge of guilt. I have to believe Joseph would wnat this for me too. That he would want me to seize life in the way he didn't get opportunity to. That comforts me. I feel his blessing deep in my heart.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Nick looked so tall when he got into the car this evening after I picked him up from his Dad's. His shoulders are starting to broaden and he has that lanky look now of a teenaged boy who is changing rapidly. It makes me sad. It makes me proud. He continues to be a sensitive soul and I continue to wish I were more in tune with that when it really counts. Sometimes I feel as if I am eaten alive by mother-guilt. I wish I could be perfect for them. I wish I was before, I wish I were now. Neither is the case and never will be. The best I can hope for is that they will always know that they are loved. It rushes by so fast, this growing up stuff. I found a few pictures of Nick as a toddler in my drawer tonight, clutching his "Baby" and staring into space, the play area I had set up in the living room just behind him. All the toys in the picture still look familiar. I could still operate them, still name which were favorites, which were neglected. It seems like all those things still ought to be around here somewhere. Where did they go? What did we do with them? I wanted that Little Tykes picnic table for them so badly. What ever happened to it? It bothers me how much I have forgotten. It bothers me that my days of having young children are gone. It gratifies me that I still have a good relationship with my boys. It warms me that they love to hug me and tell me they love me. It gives me peace when that wicked, critical Mommy Monster takes hold of my brain. I don't know how to be less susceptible to it but I wish that I were.

Summer class is going great. I have a 100% average and am enjoying the class so much. It is just a freshman level course - Intro to Sociology, but it really gets me thinking and then requires me to write, sometimes as many as four papers each week. I love it. Such a wonderful change from all the science courses, which I can do well in, but which do not come easily or naturally the way deep thought and writing do. I love my instructor and the rapport we have. I love thinking about life and society and evaluating all the things that I pre-judge as right and wrong and what conditioned me to think the way that I do. It is a fun course and a refreshing change from the human body.

Joe and I have set a date. December 19th. The wedding will be very small and held at Mom's house, in her lovely backyard. We are in the midst of trying to decide where to go on a honeymoon and hammering out the basic details of the wedding. I am trying not to get caught up too much in all of that though. At the end of the day, I just want to be Sheri Sellars and to have good memories of our friends and family, smiling and happy with us. All the frills and froo will not be the part I remember.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Alexander is fine. More than fine. No sign of recurrence. Absolutely no sign, still, that anyone was ever digging around in his brain for 14 hours straight. He has no deficits of any sort and does not have to return to the neuro-oncologist for another year. And thus, again, I can breathe.

It is impossible though to go into that hospital, into the childhood cancer clinic and not become immersed back in the mental world that we lived in during Joseph's last 18 months of life. A girl with no hair and her head wrapped in a scarf, seeing my longing gaze and looking at me with knowing, soulful eyes. The urge to close my eyes and touch her head because it might, it just might, for one tiny moment feel like him. How lonely my hands are for him. The child in the corner with his head in his mother's lap and her exhausted, worried face staring into the world's chaotic void. The urge as Alex tromps through there like an athlete amoung handicaps to call out "I am one of you! I am one of you too!!", all the while feeling the absurdity of that. Of course I am. We would not be there otherwise. How bizarre that I can miss that club so much, and yet shy so far away from the club that is other grieving parents. I still can only share that in measured doses.

How I can see a woman at a store with a two or three year old towhead scampering all around her shopping cart, listening to her call to him, keeping him close enough for safety but giving him enough space to satisfy his lust for independent motion and feeling a shocking well of absolute, insane jealousy mingling with the bemused tenderness as his hair flopped around with his bouncy run. He kind of looked like him. He kind of moved like him. For a moment I wished that was my cart. My groceries. My boy. I picked up my sliced ham and went home.

It is probably natural for me to feel it at this time. So many changes going on with the new house, the new engagement, Alex leaving grade school, Nick starting high school. I wish Joseph were here for it all. I miss him with an inner desperation. I have not made much time for missing him of late and I have learned the hard way, it will not be put away. The more I look away from it, the more insistent it seems to get. I probably need to just take a little time this weekend, maybe go out to his grave.

Joe gave me my engagement ring a couple of nights ago. It is perfect, brilliant, beautiful and much more ring than I ever would have expected or felt right in asking for. A beautiful nearly colorless 1 ct princess cut solitaire on white gold. I thought I wanted a round stone, but this one just suits my hand beautifully. I love the weight of it there. I love the sensation. I wake in the night and feel it with my fingertips almost subconsciously. He has incredible taste and spoils me so much. I showed the ring to Nick last night, who promptly bent over my hand and kissed it, then went back to his Gameboy. I asked him why he did that, laughing. He just smiled and said "For luck!" Thank you Baby.

Alex's Yearly Review

Alex has his yearly appointment with Dr. Sacco, his neurooncologist at Children's Medical Center, this morning. I had managed to put it completely out of my mind with everything else going on in the world right now, so it hit me like a gut-snap during the day yesterday. There are just so many factors that make it unnerving, probably the largest of course is the potential to find out his tumor has returned. I have not been in a hospital for a while now, so going to Children's Medical Center, experiencing the smells and the things I see there also puts me off balance. It makes me miss Joseph, triggers feelings that I ought to be able to find him somewhere. All of those familiar things are still there - the lights, the antiseptic scents, the kids in various stages of wellness, the exhausted looking parents, the struggling kid-oriented decor meant to mask the hospital reality, the doctors, nurses, therapists, cleaning people, all with their own color of scrubs - it confuses my mind for a few moments. All of it is still there. How can Joseph not be? And that particular reality combined with why we are there - to see if Alexander's tumor is back - can bring a small part of me to my knees somewhere inside. A hand wrapped tightly, holding my still beating heart.

But Alex is six years out from his surgery now and it is unlikely we will find a thing. I hold onto that like a security blanket and ignore the internal whispers that remind me we have seen the face of Unlikely so many times that I can pick it out in a crowd. At least we have graduated from having to have these visits four times a year to having them once a year. And at least now I can approach them with the memory of how relieved I feel when it is all over and we have gotten the "all clear".