This has been a hard couple of weeks. I don’t know if it is just the usual holiday blues, or if circumstances have just stacked up to make things seem worse, but I have struggled – which is why things have been rather quiet on the blog front. A friend described life to me once as coming in waves. There is an ebb and flow. Lately I have been riding a wave of grief. The memories that have come have just made the grief swirl around me and almost pull me under.
In the midst of my routine cleaning, I decided it was time to clear off the top of Strokeman’s armoire. This area has historically been one of those places I left alone for him to take care of. Since the stroke I have mostly been just dusting around all the piles of things there, but I decided that it was just too grimy to do that any more (I know, it should not have taken me 21 months to get to this point).
I dusted the mugs: three of them, each commemorating some project that Strokeman worked on in his job. They are filled with various screws, washers, pocket knives, golf tees, bullets – all those little things that need to go somewhere, all those things that belong to another life. And the tears began to fall.
There on the corner is his metal ball pendulum gadget. You know, the thing with several balls suspended between two bars by wire, lined up so that if you lift the ball at one end and let it drop it transfers the energy through to the other end and makes the ball on that end swing out and in. He used that to unlock various truths of the universe for our kids during physics classes.
His wedding ring, taken off when there was a fear that swelling in his hand would make it cut off circulation to his finger. He has lost so much weight now that I am sure it would not stay on, except that his left hand stays curled up most of the time.
Three pictures; one of him with baby girl, one dancing with married daughter, one of three sons on a he-man ski trip to Sipapu. I catch my ragged breath, trying not to let him see my tears as he lies in the bed behind me.
A stack of CD’s containing computer data related to his former job. They should probably be thrown away, but I put them inside on a shelf of more things he has stashed over the years. I add to that the folders of projects he was working on or planning to get to soon before that fateful day, along with the notes for his blog that was statistically the top read on Townhall several months out of the year.
Three ball caps that he still wears: his NRA cap that he uses when we go to the pool, because he won’t be upset if I lose it; his griffin hat from when his son was in Delta company which he wears when we go to physical therapy, it is nicer than the NRA one but not as valuable as his War Eagle one that he wears everywhere else he goes. This is the one he is so proud of. This one that gives him opportunity to tell everyone of his son who proudly serves his country in the army.
Finally, his aftershave. It used to be on the sink in the bathroom where he would use it after showering every day. Now it is here where I can get to it easily as I dress him for church on Sundays.
The memories don’t comfort me. They taunt me. They remind me how things have changed, and that they will never be the same. And the tears fall like the rain outside my window, unrelenting. I lift my eyes to the cross-stiched verse on the wall, 1 Peter 1:24-25. “All flesh is like grass,” it says…”but the Word of the Lord endures forever.” And it is here I find my hope.