Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Catharctic January

It's frigid in Chicagoland. Frigid isn't a good enough word for how cold it is. It's "arctic", according to The Weather Channel. The "blizzard" we were supposed to get (according to the aforementioned experts on the topic) was actually no biggie. I'm thankful for my snowblower and my fireplace, to be sure. But it was no blizzard. But now... it's cold. The kind of cold that cuts right into you. So cold that when I walk to my car from wherever I'm leaving, I draw in one last warm breath of air before heading out into the parking lot, exhaling ever-so-slowly while I trot to my parking spot, so as not to have to breathe in again until I'm safely behind the steering wheel. And then, I let it out with a scream, which invariably is clinging on to a blast of steam from deep within my throat. Somehow, that makes me feel warmer.

I was watching the beautiful snowfall last night, sitting by the fire, TJ fast asleep upstairs, and I thought for a bit about Leslie. She hated the winter. Hate is a four-letter word that I avoid using even more religiously than other four-letter words that most other people would deem far less "religious". But hate is just a horrible word. And Leslie hated winter. (Which tells you how much she loved her family, as she could never get herself to honestly consider moving out of the Midwest.) The post-Christmas months were particularly hard on her. January's cold snow and February's gray slush would invariably bring about a cloud of depression onto our home, which she would fight until her birthday in mid-March. And last night, as I considered all of this while watching the snow and the fire, (it was all the more frustrating to her that I love the winter as much as I do), it made me oddly happy for her that she was missing all the snow and bitter cold this time around. Sure, she would have loved cuddling on the couch under a blanket with a glass of wine by the fire... But undoubtedly, if she was looking down on me last night, she was in NO way wishing she could join me. I'm sure it gave her plenty of reason to throw her head back and laugh her contageous laugh once again, just thrilled to be warm and joyful, in the presence of Jesus. If there is snow in heaven, not a single flake ever falls on our Leslie, we can rest assured.

The house is coming along, and I am eager to have our "new home" put together. With the added bathroom in the basement and the newly finished hardwoods throughout the first floor (a necessity, according to insurance, in order to match and blend the newly replaced portions with what remained from before), it will be an even grander place than the one into which we moved a year ago last August. And as I mentioned before, the floodwaters took care of many hard decisions for me I was certain to face down the road... "What do I do with THIS...? I can't throw it away... but it's just taking up space..." Well... none of that stuff is taking up space any longer. At least not in my house. Am I happy about losing all of those things? No. Am I better off without them? I believe this is what they call "catharsis". "A purging of emotional burden." It just seems so fitting this all should happen at the onset of the new year, you know?

All the churning of "stuff" around the house has drawn some interesting reactions from TJ lately. The photos that have been spread around the house to dry, so many of Leslie's old things dug out of boxes, the general disorganization and chaos of the house... all of these things have indeed been hard on him. Or perhaps, they have provided an opportunity for him to experience his own catharsis, of sorts. Prior to all the "churning" around the house, I'd been so thankful with how he'd been doing. He just seems so happy, and "at peace" with our new life. He and I talk about Mommy almost every day. We pray and thank God for her, and that she is all better. We ask God to give her a great big hug for us. We talk about what she's probably doing today... "She's prob'ly playing band," TJ usually says, and that usually gets him talking about the drumset she's preparing for him. Routinely, he asks when we can go to Heaven. He wonders how old he will be. A couple of days ago he announced, "Daddy, when I'm a little bit older, I don't want to go to high school. I just want to go to Heaven."

Last week, I was picking him up at Dana's house (again, Leslie's sister, where he spends 3 days a week playing with his cousins), and Dana, Curt (her husband) and I got into a very good, emotional discussion about "moving on", "closure", missing Leslie, and the usual "healing" stuff. There were tears-- not the messy, bitter kind... the sweet, warm kind. On the drive home, TJ asked why we were crying. I explained to him that we were talking about Mommy. And that, even though we're so happy for Mommy now-- that she is all better now and having fun in Heaven with Jesus-- we still miss her, because we're still here, and not in Heaven with her. And sometimes, that makes us sad, even though we're happy for her... and sometimes it's okay to cry when you're sad... especially when you're happy and sad and all kinds of things, all at the same time. That set off another in-depth discussion (on a 3-year-old level) of Providence, Eternity, and the Scandal of Suffering. :) Later that drive, I looked back, and he'd fallen asleep, certainly with visions in his mind of Mommy laughing and dancing in Heaven. He woke up very late from his nap that afternoon-- well after sunset. He'd wet through in his bed, and was cold, cranky, sleepy, uncomfortable and inconsolable. After struggling a little, trying to get him changed, I gave up and just decided to give him some space until he could get his senses about him, and warm up to the idea of waking up and getting on with the evening. After he'd calmed, I returned to where he was sitting, 2/3 of the way up the stairs to his room, overlooking the mess strewn across the house (the photos, things, etc... all drying out and awaiting their fate). I just asked gently, "What's wrong buddy? What can I do for you?" He just looked at me, and broke down, beginning to cry, "I want my mom!"

He's been so unbelievably resilient throughout the past 5+ months since Mommy "went to Heaven", that the little melt-down completely caught me off guard. I just went up the stairs, scooped him up, held him tightly and began kissing his head. "I know, buddy. I miss her, too. I miss her, too." There's so much that little kid holds... So much that spins through his mind. As resilient as he is, this stuff will undoubtedly continue to bubble to the surface from time to time... Forever, most likely, until he is again united with Mommy in Heaven. This time, it was seeing Dana and Daddy cry about Mommy, and then seeing her things strewn about the house, that brought about this particular "bubbling-up"... this "catharsis", I guess, to stick with the theme.

Lord, be gentle. Have mercy on this child's heart. Certainly times like these are necessary for him to go through, in order to remember and love his mother, as we learn how to live without her. But God, hold him in Your arms when mine aren't warm enough. Let him touch your face when mine is not soft enough. Whisper peace into his ears when my words fall short. I do thank you for this winter, Lord... it is truly beautiful. And it is good to abide in Your warm shelter, as we weather the icy storm outside. I will abide. But I will also ask that you don't delay in bringing the spring.

15 comments:

Mary said...

I read your blogg almost everyday and I just want to tell you how much your words touch my heart. I have tears in my eyes reading how much TJ misses his mommy. I wish I could reach out and hold him in my arms and give him the comfort he needs although I'm certain you're always ready with your arms wide open. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Anonymous said...

I cannot WAIT for you and TJ to be reunited with Leslie!!!!!

Becky said...

With tears welling in my eyes...I'm praying for T.J. especially tonight. Our God is good and he loves us so much. God Bless T.J.'s 3-year old soul!

kbeer said...

Thanks, Tyson, for keeping us in touch. My tears are rolling tonight for the loss that all of you are enduring.
Back to the last blog regarding your book, when you were asking for prayers for humility, a picture came to my mind of you sitting with Oprah discussing your book! What an opportunity! Can't wait to see what happens!
Love you, Kara

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog since last summer and was found through Jessie Rosebrook's blog. I just want you to know that I am praying for you and TJ. I also wanted to comment on the above post that I had the same vision of you discussing your book with Oprah. Thank you for all that you have shared. God bless you and TJ.

Anonymous said...

My "mother's heart" is breaking for TJ as he processes this (snif, snif). It's good but I can't imagine how hard for him. I am praying that God will continue to hold TJ in his arms even when yours are around him. Tyson, continue to allow God to guide your parenting. I truly believe that's what happened when you "let him have his space" to calm down. You may have wanted to continue on your agenda of cleaning up, but God had a different and better plan. Praise God for his wisdom and gentleness!!
C.V.

Auntie Gayle said...

Thank God, Ty, for your tenderness and understanding with little TJ. You are helping him put words to his deep feelings--a gift that some gal---some day, Lord willing, will thank you for! We miss her, too, so much. I find the thought of heaven being much sweeter to me than before her homecoming. It's frigid here in Indy too and the snow was beautiful today. I often think of how much Leslie struggled in the winter and know that she is dancing in the radiance of Jesus! That makes me smile. Keep surrendering to Him---He is shining brightly through you! Much love, Auntie Gayle

Eric said...

We still pray every night and always ask that God will protect TJ's heart. What an amazing job you are doing so that your precious son is able and willing to articulate how he feels in such a positive way. Blessings to you both and many, many prayers...
Eric & Brittany Smith

Sarah said...

I've been missing Leslie, too, and when I think of her I pray for you and TJ right then and there.

Anonymous said...

Praying TJ can feel his Mommy's hugs when he needs them most. God Bless You, precious, little boy!! You continue to do an amazing job with TJ, Tyson.

Catherine said...

My grandmother was my one and only human ballast in the storm, and I miss her horribly. That feeling you describe of being genuinely thankful for someone's eternal joy does get stronger with time. That sensibility is the one saving grace I've found. Otherwise, I just want her back too, and when I feel that way I'll remember TJ.

kim p said...

"Amen" to your prayer. Praying that God will comfort TJ's heart and give you wisdom to guide him.

ann said...

It's amazing when 'normal' is so very painful. Prayers for peace and encouragement, and for Dad - confidence! TJ will lead you through his grief. All you have to do is listen.

Anonymous said...

TJ usually sends tears streaming down my face, being a Mommy of a 3 year old little boy myself. I am praying for you and little TJ. You are a great Dad Tyson. TJ is so blessed to have you. You are great with words and I am sure your kind words and open arms are both a great comfort to your little man. I know you are making Leslie proud. I don't think she could have asked for a better father for her baby. May God wrap His arms around you both and comfort you.

Anonymous said...

Tyson, Each time I read your blog I cry (no... weep uncontrollably), pray, appreciate and stand in awe by how God is working through you. You and your story have touched me life in many ways. Thanks for being used and I'd like a signed copy of the book!! Lynne Graf Hoffmire