The last memorial service was yesterday. This one was the hardest for me, perhaps because this is where our final "home" was. Or perhaps simply because it was "the last one". It was just as powerful and beautiful and uplifting as the others. The encouragement I took from it was amazing. I was again humbled by the love and support given our family by you all. Thank you.
I'm not ready for these service to "done" yet. I could keep the "tour" going for at least another month. Every service has made me feel closer to Leslie-- has allowed us all to both mourn her loss and celebrate her victory in such a healthy, and poignantly REAL way. The last 3 Saturdays have kept me going through the last 3 weeks. I just left each one on a cloud-- not in a surreal or overly-emotional way... My feet were still on the ground, as many an artist has put to music before me... But I just left all three services feeling fully at peace with Leslie's new life... fully empowered and encouraged to walk into the coming week and take on the new life I'm left with... fully in love with her and fully letting God receive her (as if I could stop Him). And I loathe going to bed later tonight with nothing but a full week and a "normal" weekend ("whatever normal is", as we've been saying) to follow.
Speaking of bed-time... I'm hoping I don't "jinx" this by mentioning it, but TJ has been going down a bit more easily these past 3 nights... I'm hoping (Leslie always accused me of being overly optimistic, and I know she was right, in most cases) that our "Boys Day" on Labor Day-- followed by a "normal" week of Daddy going to work and coming home just like he promised-- were just what the doctor ordered to give him a little bit of an anchor to help him steady himself at night. We'll see...
Football season starts this weekend. Once a week for the last 7 seasons, Leslie and I would religiously plant ourselves in front of a TV-- at home, in a bar, wherever-- donning our Colts gear, rooting on Peyton Manning and the gang. 2 weeks before Leslie's battle ended, a virtual stranger, having heard of our devotion to the Colts, gave me an actual game-ball from the Colts-Bears Superbowl. He was a Bears fan with some sort of "insider's connection", and just couldn't bring himself to look at it anymore-- or so he said, in an effort to get me to accept the gift. (For those non-football fans in the audience... the Bears are the local team here in Chicagoland, and the Indianapolis Colts beat them for the world championship on that historical-- and truly wonderful-- day.) :) I brought it to Leslie in the hospital the next day and told her the story. It made her smile and she held it for awhile. I can't believe she's not here to watch the season opener with me tonight. Some friends took it upon themselves to "help me through it"-- they're coming over to eat some steaks, wings, and scream at the TV... in a wonderful twist of poetic irony, the Colts' opponent tonight: The Chicago Bears. Needless to say, I'll be the only one rooting on "Peyton Manning and the gang". Oh well, if the Bears win, at least my companions will go easy on me. You know... sympathy or something.
I'm just not ready to see the season change... baseball to football... summer to fall... She needs to be here with me. I forget how to do this... Moving the shorts and tank-tops to the back of the closet... moving the sweaters closer to the front... Who do I share the brilliant beauty of the changing leaves with, now? TJ's old enough to Trick-or-Treat this year... How do I do THAT?! Mommies have that kind of thing wired in their brains, or something... or at least, they know what articles to read, what friend to call, etc... in order to figure out all the how-to's. And don't even get me thinking about an even more dreadful thought: Christmas decorations...
I'm not ready to be done with the previous chapter. Not ready to turn the page. Not ready for the Memorial Services to be over. Not ready to "move on" and figure out our new "normal".
Then again... when are we ever "ready"? People have asked us in the past, "how did you know you were ready to get married?" We would answer, "We WEREN'T ready. But we were ready to try to figure it out together." Marriage, kids, etc... These are things we're truly never "ready" for... I know Leslie and I weren't really ready to be parents until right around TJ's 2nd birthday. We definitely weren't ready to be married until our 5th anniversary. And I'm guessing it will be the same with getting on with the "next chapter". I'm not ready. But what choice do I have? Might as well try to enjoy it the best I can... make the most of it... learn what I can along the way, and lean on the grace of God to get me through to the next page.