[I wrote this as part of the last post earlier this week, and realized it was really a whole other thing. I’m wordy enough without meshing stuff together like that. So I broke it up.
For fun, here are more pictures of the fence. Chris designed everything: metal everywhere except for street side, where he has the wood running horizontal. Becky made this cool gate today! And I had completely forgotten that my brother-in-law, Jeff, worked on it too when they were in town a month ago.]
A lot of things are changing in big ways right now. There are still a lot of projects going on around our house, and lots more on the list. Mom will be moved in soon. I don’t think we’ll really be able to step back and look at it all for a little while longer. We’re building something, we have been for a long time.
Chris and I had marriage counseling a few years ago as part of the process of me becoming Catholic. We did some compatibility and personality testing, and the priest told us that what he saw on paper was a lot of hard work already put in. We’d been to counseling before 😉 and all that work, through the years, is worth it. It’s worth it to put more in now and in the future.
My mom and my brother and I (and really Chris and my sister-in-law Sarah, too) have created patterns together of support and kindness and really taking care of each other. We work through things. We like each other still. And really I could go all the way back to my mom focusing on working through our interpersonal issues with us growing up, and my parents putting hard work in on their marriage through the years. Or let’s go back to Dad and his brothers, and also their cousins, and the vows they made to not let things come before people. The intense love they still have for each other. We’re building on a pretty strong foundation that a lot of work, and a few miracles have gone into.
On Saturday I got really sad, like a heavy sadness —it felt like a weighted blanket of sadness. I started thinking about my dad, which now pulls me back to old memories, and just that feeling of being with him and who he was. I know he would approve of the decisions we’re making, I know he’d be proud of how we love each other.
I thought again of this last year carrying so much grace and so much pain in it. And I know beyond any doubt, that if my dad could have known what was happening and asked for one thing, he would have wanted the chance to repair the damage caused by the diseases, to set as many things right as possible.
And every single time he was in his right mind for that whole year, he was focused on making sure that I knew I was loved, and seen, and that he was proud of me, he was focused on making sure Mom knew these things, and also that she knew he wanted to take care of her even if he couldn’t, he was focused on connecting with Michael however he could, and doing projects, and showing love, and being his dad. There was an urgency inside of him at times, as he knew he’d be pulled away from us again. He told me to remember things as he said them to me, he told me to save certain text messages.
It may sound dramatic, but this was our truth, and I heard it a lot from him, “Whatever happens, I love you, I love you so much, remember.” It was so painful at the time, because he’d disappear. Only now am I beginning to let those moments really roll over me.
Within all this on Saturday, I realized that I’m not scared of being like my dad anymore. I’m not. I’m sobbing now, because writing this is breaking something inside of me. It’s not lost on me that I could end up in a similar situation to him. It was good in the past to realize that I’m not him no matter how similar things end up. But here now, I see that if I could guarantee one thing through whatever comes, it’s that my family would KNOW how much I love them, and appreciate them, and am proud of them, how beautiful they are to me. That this would be a tangible thing for them to hold on to. Because I’m holding onto my dad’s love for me. A saving help in trouble, and chaos. And a foundation under my feet to build on.