We have been “dealing”.
I say “dealing” because the “I” part of “we” is the one dealing. In a million years, I would never have dreamt that my husband would not have his parents any longer. It was a crazy blow to the world that I saw our family in. The landscape of our Thanksgiving dinner table changed. Who knew that at 48 and 46, hubby and I, respectively, would no longer have his parents, my in-laws.
Now you must know, the un-coddled me, the person who hides every emotion will gladly say in public, ”I’m good ya’ll, death comes in threes, so you know what…I’m good. I’ve had my three so I have nothing to worry about.”
So yeah, dealing. Past tense, DEALT.
Eddie was close to his Mom and Dad. I wasn’t. I’m not really “close to people” person. I live in the distance. It’s easier that way to me. No need to have any emotion when everyone is at a distance. If you ever get any public emotion out of me, well then dear, you have achieved MUCHO. If you have dug into the onion, and peeled away a layer that most peeps don’t see, consider yourself a different breed.
Hub’s DAD (Father-In-LAW, FIL) passed away late, 2015. Even though he had been ill, we didn’t expect it. I still call it a sudden thing. It really wasn’t something we saw coming. That was death 1 in the count. The first eulogy I would proofread for hubs. The first REAL up close and personal time to meet the in-laws Reverend.
Then we got the phone call that we never saw coming. It is still so fresh in my memory. It was Mother’s Day Sunday, 2016. My family, hubs, and our two boys had spent the day in Galveston, having brunch at Number 13, and then spent the rest of the morning shopping along the strand. It was NORMAL. Chocolate covered apples, walking, laughing, selfies and snapchatting our day. With shoes hurting, and needing a nap after a big brunch, we headed back home. Fast forward to the evening, I had just finished the day with cooking a dinner, these awesome venison filets, salad, asparagus, baked potatoes, wine. Regular Sunday night. Then the phone call came. I have to tell you, when the phone rang as we were settling into dinner, and I rolled my eyes with annoyance for a phone call disturbing diner, I can still see the eyes of my husband as he scolded my eye roll saying “It’s MH, Max thinks my Mom is dead.” What I didn’t know was this, my MIL hadn’t answered the phone all day. Hubs had tried to call her to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, she didn’t answer. He guessed she had been at church. His Aunt MH had called worried. Hubs explained to her that he had spoken to his mom on Saturday, about 4pm, and told her he would call on Sunday. When she didn’t answer his calls, and she didn’t answer his aunt’s calls, they made the decision that Max would go and check the house at 6pm. At 6pm, or thereabouts, when she didn’t answer, the check in went as planned. She died on Mother’s Day. That was a sudden one. The death certificate says hypertensive cardiovascular disease. Since that day, our lives have not been the same. That was death 2 in the count.
In the days that followed, I had to put my big girl panties on. It’s what you do. There is a lot that goes with death. Hubs left immediately. I think about how the boys and I cleared the dinner table that night, with no words. I think about the very first call I made, asking Cousin Bubba to head straight to the ranch and be there waiting for hubs, and then the family and friends that I called that night. Hubs had to put her ill-dog to sleep the next day. I had to sort out kid’s schedules, and get things arranged at home, and then travel to meet up with hubby so we could start planning. I mean, yeah, the obits, the church, the people, the food, the family, the worn out, the emotions, the pictures, the “I really didn’t expect to be doing this kind of adulting already in life.” At the time, I said it, “I wasn’t ready.” But you know what, life doesn’t allow readiness. We hadn’t even made it a week into the process, and I was exhausted.
I’m crying as I write this. I would never have said I would be tearing up right now. I just think we have been moving in such a rapid pace that I haven’t really given emotion to anything until right now as I write this.
Since that day, death 3 happened, so quickly after, our heads were still spinning. Not that it makes it any easier, but it was hubs Grandma, she had already celebrated turning 100 years old. It was a celebration of life, celebrating a good, hearty, LONG LIFE. But with that tribute and celebration of life, came pictures of hubs recently deceased parents. Pictures that were just to raw to bear, it was as if there was no end to what hubs was enduring, to what I was enduring supporting him, keeping the emotions hid so our sons were fine, so that hubs was fine, so that I WAS FINE.
Then came the work. Paperwork, clearing out the house, changing things, working on closing down affairs from 5 hours away, with our regular lives in the process, football, basketball, birthdays, holidays. I made so many trips back and forth to the ranch for meetings, left the house at 4am to beat traffic, to be ready by 9am for a meeting stacked day, to handle things for hubs, while he stayed back at home to handle his business, for normalness.
In July we started a rehab at the ranch, hubs parent’s home, to make it OURS. (Truth be known, I think hubs needed to move past any reminders, because his “dealing” with means moving fast, take no prisoners, close the box, no emotions.) After working with our contractor, John, who I adore, who somehow who knew how delicate I was amid the process, who is like family now, who kept me sane, who knew exactly how to keep my organized, crazy, non-emotional self on track, almost 16 weeks later, we celebrated Thanksgiving in that ranch house. It was important to hubs. Thanksgiving was tradition. Tradition to have THANKSGIVING at the ranch. (When I started dating hubs back in 1991, it was and has been tradition, it’s hunting season, and therefore, Thanksgiving is a ranch holiday.) He actually said “if we skipped this year, I was afraid we would lose the tradition.” I can still see him that night, he was proud, his words rang through, “We did it.” I’m crying again thinking about it. He was right, we had done it.
We worked the cards we were DEALT.
But when we left the ranch after Thanksgiving, we talked on the way home. Hubs in his car, me in mine, kids in another car. It was the first time we both had a chance to think, and we were both sad and overwhelmed. We were, we ARE now the matriarch and patriarch of our family. That hit hard. That we are now the carriers of tradition, that we are now the adults of the family…we are dealing with that realization. Like I said, never in a million years did I put 2 and 2 together and think we would be here so early in life.
Since that day, I’ve carried my emotions on my sleeve, have had a few break downs, crazy ones that I didn’t expect. I was tired. Tired of moving so fast. The house rehab had worn me down, not because it was hard, not because buying furniture was hard, not because selecting things was hard. The trips to the ranch were tiring, the driving. The decisions were tiring. The keeping it all together was tiring. The adulting was tiring.
I broke down at Christmas. It was even my first break down during the rehab process. Of all things, over the AC thermostats not being able to be controlled by an app on my IPhone (we later worked that out after my break down, after I quietly told everyone I needed a few minutes to get my head on straight, and I took a walk to the pond). After all the dealing, I couldn’t deal any longer.
You see, we had received many Christmas cards that were addressed to hub’s parents. With the mail being forwarded to our home, we were receiving warm Christmas wishes to his parents. It was mental toughness to get each one. Each one with carefully crafted notes to hub’s parents, a few that even talked to my MIL about how much they hoped she was getting along after FIL’s death. It was gut wrenching. I hated, and secretly felt guilty that I was having to write those folks and tell them of the MIL’s passing, knowing that they would be getting the news at the holidays, and how shocking it would be to expect a Christmas card, but in return and rather, getting news of someone’s death. Then the big one happened. Hubs decided he wanted to spread his parents’ ashes at the ranch over the holiday break. I melted down silently, but hoped he wouldn’t say that it would be Christmas Day. I promise, it wasn’t about me, even though my argument made it appear that it was about me. “I” just couldn’t stand to think about death on another holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I also wasn’t prepared to walk into 2017 with death on my mind. I had already said that 2016 and the year of DEALING with death was closing on December 31st. I wasn’t happy about the thought of another holiday thinking about death.
That’s when I tell you, it hit. SURE AS SHIT, Christmas Day hubs announced, “I’m going to the creek to spread the ashes.”
That’s the day I blew up, I had spent so much time DEALING with everything, that I hadn’t DEALT with anything.
I spent most of the afternoon with tears, it had built up, couldn’t explain it, but through the cooking of my famous mac ‘n cheese, the tears just fell. (Hey Alysia, that might explain the salt! See, too serious, had to take it back to a jovial tone.)
My kids watched the entire process in horror, feeling awful for their Dad, knowing that I really hadn’t meant the things I said, but also knowing that the pain in my eyes, through the tears…was just me DEALING. It is not a Christmas that I ever want to do again. Except for what I learned in the process. God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle, and with said, I know He taught me something. DEALING with doesn’t always mean the same things to everyone. My DEALING with was so different that hubs. For him, spreading those ashes was the greatest thing, he moved past it. I hadn’t DEALT until I broke down. It was that same way with my Grandpa, when he died. I didn’t deal with it during the funeral, I put on my big girl panties, and organized, and made arrangements, and kept my Grandma as safe as possible. The day that I broke down from that sadness was the day that I dealt, and yeah, it took me about 3 days to get past it, but it was done. The DEALT part was done.
Now, it’s 2017, and with the New Year, there is renewed spirit. We are on Phase 2 of the ranch rehab. It’s the outdoor space, and its hubby’s project. I am no longer DEALING, I have DEALT. For as much as I say I’m not ready to be in the ranching life, I made the comment to hubs that the ranch felt home-y. And just like my memory serves all those other sad moments, as I was at the ranch alone on a quick two-day turn around to take down the Christmas tree, and have a few meetings, the evening was coming to a close. I stood there with our contractor. With binoculars staring out the window, I could see baby deer that were walking with their mommas. I showed them to him, and we watched them for minutes that lingered. They were in a little valley. There was the one black buck that we have watched for two years, there were two young bucks around the does, and there were babies.
That’s when I thought “circle of life”. I then said it out loud,”Circle of Life”.
From the scripture Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was good. And there was evening, and then there was morning.”
And I’m dealing. Morning and Evening, I’m dealing.
Morning and Evening, I DEALT.