Sunday, March 27, 2011


Last Thursday morning my good friend called me first thing in the morning.  She'd had a dream she wanted to tell me about.  It was about James. 

She and I were at a rental place hanging out with some of our friends.  My friend noticed that James was there and pointed him out to me.  I told her that every year about a week before the anniversary of his death, he came back.  She asked if I told him what happens.  I told her I tell him to go to the doctor.  She said "you know, you can fix this."  My response was that he's gone again on the 6th and then I have to wait a year before I get another chance to tell him.

The scene shifted and we were in a parking lot.  I was looking for my car and taking my time because there were a lot of spiders and spiderwebs in the parking lot.  My friend was with James, who was dancing around acting like the life of the party that he was.  He was happy, had his hair short and was wearing the overalls he had used for his redneck Halloween costume in 2006.  She told him to go to the doctor.  James told her I already made him go.  She said he needed to have an angiogram; he said he didn't need that because he was healthy but agreed to an EKG.  She told him that wasn't enough; there was something wrong with his heart and he needed more tests.  She told him he was going to think she was insane but he died from a heart attack and had been coming back every year the week before the anniversary of his death but he could go and get it fixed so the cycle stopped happening.  He looked at her like she was crazy and asked "I died and I come back every year?"  She repeated he needed to go get it fixed and if he couldn't do that then he needed to do a better job of giving us signs and he needed to talk to me. 

She was talking quickly because I was coming back over to where they were.  I told them I couldn't find the car.  My friend told me that if he got it fixed everything would be gone.  I asked her what she meant by that.  She told me that the new life I have built for myself, all the things I've done, all the new friends I made would no longer exist-that it never would have.  "Huh" was all I said and she woke up.

Huh, indeed.

To the Left

In 2006, right after I turned 32 I told James I needed something to change.  He thought I was talking marriage and children, but I wasn't.  It felt like I was hearing story after story about all my friends' travel adventures and all we ever used our vacation time for was to move/settle in or to visit sick family members or attend their funerals.  I wanted us to start having real vacations too.  I wanted my own travel stories and adventures.

We did some research and decided to take a cruise in January 2007.  We decided January would be a good time to go somewhere tropical to escape the dreariness of the Northwest.  At the time, I was working for a company with a fiscal year end so there was no rush of work to prepare for the auditors like there tends to be with companies with a calendar year end so getting time off then wouldn't be a problem for me.  (I ended up changing jobs in September and going to a company that has a 12/31 year end and participates in CES, so no more early-January vacations for me.  So worth it to have to pick one of the other 11 months to no longer be miserable at the office!)  We decided on a cruise as it would allow us to see a few places instead of just one and decide if there were any of them we liked well enough to go back to for a full on vacation at a later date (kind of like on-location vacation research). 

One of the stops on our cruise was Ochoa Rios, Jamaica.  We had been doing one of the excursions offered at each stop and then exploring on our own.  We decided to swim with dolphins for our Jamaican excursion.  We were in a small group made up of passengers from a few different cruises.  Two of the others in the group were from our ship:  a woman about my age and her mother.  The daughter ended up standing/floating next to James when we all got in the water.  After we were all lined up (the best we could be given that it's really hard to form a straight line in water) we were told to move a little to the left.  At the time, Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" was still popular and being told to move to the left caused James and the daughter to both start singing "to the left, to the left"-the opening lyrics to the song.

Ocho Rios was at the beginning of the cruise.  From then on, whenever we saw the mother and daughter from the excursion on the ship, we would exclaim "Dolphin Buddies!!"  and James and/or the daughter would sing "to the left, to the left."  I heard this song the other day and was taken back to the only real vacation we ever got to have.  It's funny the lasting impression people can have on your life even if they only pass through it.  Wherever they are now, I hope our dolphin buddies are happily loving life. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meeting My Match

During my last attempt at online dating, I had a match I recognized from Meetup.  Though we have a group in common, I had never met him.  Guy Pal knows him though and thought we should meet.  The match agreed and then immediately blocked my profile.  When the subject came up again between the two of them and he said he'd meet me, Guy Pal asked why he blocked me and was told Match didn't think we'd be a good fit.  So I told Guy Pal I didn't want to meet him-that I didn't want to waste my time with someone whose actions indicated he wasn't interested when I could do something else with that time and potentially meet someone who did think I was awesome.  I told Guy Pal that if I was meant to meet the match, I would eventually run into him at a Meetup event.  What I didn't tell him was how much this had hurt.  Guy Pal really didn't do a good job of selling him to me!

A week ago Friday, there was a comedy club event for our mutual group.  I don't do much with this group-there are other groups I feel I am a better fit with-but I love stand up comedy, and I especially love it when the ticket is free.  I was in a funk, so while I didn't really want to drive downtown, I didn't want to stay home either.  So I decided to put myself on the waiting list and let fate decide my plans for the evening.  When I logged in to the site, I saw that my match had added himself to the wait list about an hour before.  "Great," I thought.  "Now it is going to look like I only added myself because he did."  So I waited a couple of hours before adding myself as well.  Around 4:00, I got the e-mail that a spot had opened up and I was in. 

When I arrived, the only other member of the group was also named Heather.  We were soon joined by a gal I will call Jane.  Others arrived and before long, the entire group was congregated in the bar area.  The match was there.  We have the same pictures for Ok Cupid and Meetup so it wasn't hard to recognize each other.  I'd glance at him and catch him glancing at me, but neither of us made an attempt to speak to the other.  I actually felt pretty awkward about the whole thing.  Here I was standing about 15 feet from someone who had agreed to meet me and rejected me in the span of an hour.  So I continued to chat with those around me.  And then I heard Jane say we were making it easy because there were two Heathers and two oh, let's just call them Joe.  She pointed out the other Heather and then me.  So I shook his hand and told him it was nice to meet him.  And then I chitchatted with the two of them for a few minutes about superficial nonsense like not being a morning person and single-handedly keeping Starbucks in business.  He laughed a couple of times, but I found the whole encounter to be anti-climatic.  I'm sure part of that was due to him having already rejected me but part of it was because as Guy Pal predicted, I really did not find him physically attractive.

After what I thought was a respectable amount of time of playing nicely, I pointed out Jane had mentioned there were two Joes and asked who the other one was.  She pointed him out and I casually nodded and said "Oh, okay."  It was nice to have a name to go with the face I'd been sneaking peeks at since he arrived.  He's pretty dang cute!  Original Joe drifted off to check his phone and I went back to the conversation I was not really a part of before deciding to be the bigger person and play nicely.
Before long, it was time to go into the theater.  Our group was large enough that we had three tables.  I was one of the first to enter the theater and after doing this twice, I have learned to sit on the side of the table facing the stage.  On the other side, you turn your chair around and it's hard to hold on to your plate to finish your dinner when you are laughing hysterically.  So I took a "smart" seat.  Cute Joe ended up sitting next to me.  (Yea!)  We talked a bit before the show started and I thought he was pretty nice.  And cute.  After the show was over, he shook my hand and said it was nice to meet me.  I found myself thinking he had "thick" hands.  I said it was nice to meet him too, and then we turned to talk to other people.

Some of the group were going out afterward.  We both had reasons we had to get up early on Saturday so we declined to go.  As I was walking toward my car, he was talking to another guy from the group.  He took a slight step forward and said again that is was nice to meet me and he'd see me at the next event.  I smiled and said "absolutely" and went on my way.  A good friend had surgery that morning and another friend had sent me a text during the show asking if I knew how it went, so I wanted to get to a spot where I could call her and let her know our friend was okay. 

When I went to rate the event on Saturday, I saw that another gal had posted a greeting for him that it was nice to meet him and that he had returned the greeting.  "Okay, whatever." I thought.  What's meant to be will happen, I decided.  I'd been thinking about e-mailing him a followup to something we'd been talking about but had decided against it.  But then on Sunday, I changed my mind and decided to send him the link after all (ironically, it was on how to receive less email from Meetup and I was sending it to him via his Meetup profile).  But before I could, a nasty storm blew through and when the power started to flicker, I decided to shut down the computer to protect it.  And when the storm was over, the computer would not come back up.  I decided to try it once more before I went to bed and this time, it decided to cooperate.  So I sent a very simple message that it was nice to meet him, the link to the discussion on how to cut back on Meetup email and said I hoped to see him again at another event.  He responded a couple of hours later that it was nice to meet me too, and that it looked like he'd be seeing me again at another event the following day (last Monday).  It was pizza and a movie and we had our choice of three movies.  He said which movie he was going to-the only one of the three he hadn't seen, which was also the only one I hadn't seen either.  He said he was going to go a bit early to grab a bite to eat and gave me his phone number in case I wanted to meet him.  He also posted the same thing to the event page, without the phone number.  I responded I would meet him and gave him my number as well.

We ended up being the only two to meet for dinner and when I saw him, I found myself thinking once again he was really cute.  I found conversation flowed easily.  He has a sense of humor, likes dogs (has a couple) and did I mention he's not hard to look at?  I was surprised when I looked down to see we were about to miss the start of the movie.  But there was something about all this that put my Spidey sense on full alert.  Nothing I can put my finger on but partway through dinner, one second everything was fine.  And then, no.  He didn't say or do anything I can recall but all of a sudden I just felt something was off.  That I needed to not walk, but run.  He was nice-he was respectful.  It was dark when the movie ended and I was parked a couple of blocks away so he walked me to my car.  He asked for a hug-he'd seen me hugging everyone else, but didn't just assume he could have one too and when he did hug me, it was just a half hug.

I saw him again on Wednesday for a night walk.  We were the first two there and ended up parking next to each other.  Again, my first thought upon seeing him was that he's really good looking.  But my guard was up.  We started the walk out talking to each other-again no problems with conversation.  We stopped to listen to a group of drummers and my taking pictures resulted in us walking with other people once we got going again.  That was fine-I have found that on these walks you end up walking with several people when all is said and done.  After the walk, we walked back to our cars and he started his while we were chitchatting.  And it died.  So I waited with him for the tow truck driver.  We sat in my car while we waited-it was cold and rainy.  He asked first to make sure I was comfortable with that and I was fine with it.  I didn't feel I was in any danger from him, so that's not it.  We passed the time looking up various things on our phones which was a lot more fun than it sounds.  When the tow truck driver arrived, I was surprised by how quickly he'd gotten there, although it was actually a little over a half hour.  I was smiling when I left, but still there was that niggle.

When I checked my e-mail on Thursday morning, I had a nice message thanking me for waiting with him.  I responded to it and got response a couple of hours later.  We exchanged a couple of emails back and forth on Thursday and Friday.  His last message contained a variation of a phrase I have only ever heard James use.  At first I thought nothing of it.  I spent 8 years hearing it, so it was normal.  And then when I re-read the message, it dawned on me that was not normal.  That was a "James thing."  That was unsettling.  Very unsettling-as in I want to grab him by the collar and ask him why, of all things, he chose that phrase.  I responded to his message (did not say anything about that) prior to leaving work on Friday.  And I have heard nothing more from him since then. 

Logically, I know this shouldn't be a big deal.  I am a big believer in Spidey sense.  I hate not knowing what sets it off but I know if it does, I need to listen.  And Spidey sense is definitely tripped.  So I should be relieved.  He and I RSVP'd for a couple of events that were posted earlier today so I know he's still alive.  (Gee, paranoid much?)  But I'm not relieved.  I'm disappointed.  I've checked my email about 15 times since I started this to see if I have a message from him (can we say "obsessive?").  I'm still bothered but there are some things I can't ignore.  He moved here on my birthday.  He's from James' hometown.  He likes dogs.  He has a great sense of humor.  He seems to like the same type of events as I do since we keep signing up for the same things.  He doesn't have baby mama drama.  He does drive a crappy company car, but that's not really his fault.  He's polite and respectful of boundaries.  And he's the right body type of the man from my glimpse-the one I didn't get to see but rather sensed, other than his hands, which were thick.  He was wearing baggy black pants the night we met, but not a light brown fishing vest jacket.

I should delete his number because I'm tempted to send him a text and ask if the car survived its "surgery."  But I made the last move; the ball is in his court and it looks like that's where it is going to stay.  Just once, I'd like for someone who turns my head to actually be interested, not just being nice.  Or at least be nice long enough so I can figure out what tripped the Spidey sense.  Just once, I want to be the one that gets to say "Um, thanks but no thanks."  Actually, what I'd really like is to just meet Mystery Husband #2 already and be done with this crap.  Because so far this trying to meet him thing is so not my idea of a good time.

Last Song

Part of why I decided to play along with the Facebook song challenge is because music was a big part of my and James' life.  He loved to sing-he lettered in choir in high school and had a great voice.  I love to sing as well.  I don't have a great voice.  I am tone deaf and have a flat voice.  But James loved me so he tolerated my occasional need to belt one out.  Charlie tolerates it as well.  Sammy usually sighs heavily and leaves the room.

When I was doing the song challenge, there were a lot of songs that reminded me of him-those I specifically chose and a few I didn't, like using "Kiss Me" for the song I want played at my wedding.  That was for the wedding I was supposed to have; not for the one I will still hopefully have some day.  And there were songs I chose that were just special to me-songs he was not a part of my life for, like my favorite song, the song from my childhood, and of course, my prom theme. 

There was one song I had a really hard time with, and that is the song I want played at my funeral.  I thought I wanted "The Dance" by Garth Brooks, but when I listened to it, I decided it didn't really fit after all.  And then I thought maybe "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack.  I think I would like this played if I die young.  It will be my way of telling those I leave behind to choose to live life to the fullest because you don't get to know how long you get to have.  Apparently, I plan to boss people around even after I'm gone.  I actually Googled popular funeral songs for assistance, though I did ultimately come up with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on my own.  It got me thinking though.  What was the last song James heard?  What was on the radio as he was crossing the bridge unknowingly taking his last breath?  Just one more question I'll never know the answer to.  I hope it was one he loved.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Song Challenge

A little over a month ago, one of my sorority sisters and former roommate when we moved to Portland after graduation tagged me in a note on Facebook.  I normally don't read notes I've been tagged in-the truth is I'm not overly Facebook savvy.  But, I read this one.  It was a month long song challenge, in which we were to post the link to a YouTube video every day for 30 days with each day being a different theme.  I like challenges, so I decided to play along.  Here are my songs and the comments I made about them:

Day 1:  My favorite song:  "Glory of Love" by Peter Cetera.  I was going to marry Ralph Macchio when I grew up.  I guess he didn't get the memo.
Day 2: My least favorite song: "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin.  I find this song so annoying I can't listen to more than about 5 seconds of it.
Day 3: A song that makes me happy:  "Chattahoochee" by Alan Jackson.  I cannot resist singing along to this one, which is really unfortunate for those who are in attendance on the rare occasions I feel brave enough to do karaoke.
Day 4:  A song that makes me sad:  "100 Years" by Five for Fighting.  It was a toss up between this and "What Might Have Been" by Little Texas.  Both make me sad, but this one makes me tear up every time I hear it.
Day 5:  A song that reminds me of someone:  "Life is a Highway" by Tom Cochrane.  For James-who loved life more than anyone I've ever known and who didn't get to experience it nearly long enough.
Day 6:  A song that reminds me of somewhere:  "Cheeseburger in Paradise" by Jimmy Buffet.  Why yes, I have had a cheeseburger in paradise.  It was at the Margaritaville in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, January 2007.
Day 7: A song that reminds me of a specific event:  "Forever Young" by Alphaville.  Because no music list is complete if it doesn't include the theme from your senior prom.
Day 8: A song you know all the words to:  "Bust a Move" by Young M.C.  "This here's a tale for all the fellows..."
Day 9:  A song I can dance to:  "Electric Slide" by Marcia Griffiths.  Thanks to the line dance class I took last summer, I can finally do the "Electric Slide," which always makes me think of my AGD sisters.  :)
Day 10: A song I can fall asleep to: "Only Time" by Enya.  This is a great background song for a lazy, rainy afternoon spent on the couch dozing off from reading a good book.  (I always fall asleep when I read).  (Side note:  This and "Life is a Highway" were the two songs played on James' memorial DVD).
Day 11:  A song by my favorite band:  "Rockstar" by Nickelback.  Who doesn't want to be a rock star?
Day 12: A song from a band I hate:  "Only Wanna Be with You" by Hootie and the Blowfish.  Hate is a strong word but I could never get into Hootie.  Interestingly, I love Darius Rucker's "History in the Making."
Day 13: A guilty pleasure:  "Oops...I did it again" by Britney Spears.  I might actually lose friends over this one.
 Day 14: A song no one would expect me to love:  "The Real Slim Shady" by Eminem.  Normally, I find him obnoxious, which I think most people would expect from me!

Day 15: A song that describes me:  "Maybe" by Sick Puppies.  I heard this song for the first time the day my friend posted the song challenge and could really relate to it.  Had I not chosen this one, I would have gone with "Ready to Love Again," by Lady Antebellum.
Day 16: A song I used to love but now I hate:  "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" by the Georgia Satellites.
Day 17: A song I hear often on the radio:  "Collide" by Howie Day.  I only listen to the radio in the car these days, but I use Rhapsody at work.  I hear this song all the time because I constantly feel the need to play it.
Day 18: A song I wish I heard more often on the radio:  "The Rose" by Bette Midler.  I always forget how much I absolutely love this song-until I listen to it.
Day 19: A song from my favorite album:  "Gotta Be Somebody" by Nickelback.  There is not a song on Nickelback's "Dark Horse" album I don't like.  Love this one! (And I can relate to it!)
Day 20: A song I listen to when I'm angry: "1-2-3-4 (Sumpin' New)" by Coolio.  I bust out the gangsta rap when I'm trying to get out of a bad mood.  A little Coolio followed by a little Snoop usually does the trick.
Day 21: A song I listen to when I am happy:  "1985" by Bowling for Soup.  I love to rock out to this one!
Day 22: A song I listen to when I am sad:  "I Know You're Out There Somewhere" by the Moody Blues.  Not long after James died, I woke up one morning with this song going through my head.
Day 23:  A song I want played at my wedding: "God Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts. I can only hope this broken road I've been forced to travel is leading to something wonderful.
Day 24: A song I want played at my funeral: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole.  I've always loved this song and especially this version of it.
Day 25:  A song that makes me laugh:  "Toast" by Heywood Banks.  I get a giggle out of this every time I hear it.
Day 26:  A song I can play:  "Heart and Soul" - Theme song from the movie "Big."  I would need a refresher lesson and a partner, but I think I can still do this one.
Day 27: A song I wish I could play:  "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by Charlie Daniels.  In my fantasy world, I totally rock this song.  In reality, I've never even touched a fiddle.
Day 28: A song that makes me feel guilty:  "Follow Me" by Uncle Kracker.  It's probably not a good thing to love a song about adultery.
Day 29: A song from my childhood:  "The Rainbow Connection" from "The Muppet Movie."  I remember learning this in grade school along with "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead." I want to say it was 2nd grade.
Day 30:  My favorite song this time last year:  "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum.

I would love to have this list analyzed to see what it says about me other than I like a wide variety of music.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cleaning out the back room

When we moved into this house, one of the bedrooms (the "back bedroom") was designated as the exercise room/library.  Yeah, it's a weird combination but it just worked out that way in terms of where the furniture would fit.  After James died, I gave my desk to a friend so now all the books are in the office, which makes a lot more sense. 

Last November when I decided to paint my bedroom, I packed up all the knick-knacks and whatnot from the bedroom and put it in the back bedroom.  This was the start of that room slowly becoming used for storage.  (Which has been great because I hate to exercise and couldn't get to the exercise equipment anymore).  But I'm starting to have more social events at my house and as a result bought a second folding table and a bunch of chairs and I need somewhere to store them.  I don't want to keep them in the garage so I decided it was time to clean out the back bedroom.  I hadn't committed myself to doing anything yesterday, so I decided that would be a good time to get it done. 

The starting point!

Some of it was pretty easy:  the magazines I've been planning to get around to reading for up to 5 years now have been put in the recycling bin.  The magazines that aren't quite that old that I'm still deluding myself I am going to read someday are now in neat stacks in the closet instead of strewn out on the floor.  The magazine rack has been dismantled; the dowels are now in the craft/guest room and the rest is in the recycle bin (you never know when you are going to need a bunch of dowels).  The stack of boxes I had accumulated because they might be the perfect size to mail something in someday are now either nicely shelved in the closet or in the recycling bin.  The "Sweet Valley High" books my brother brought over (they had been at Dad's) last summer are now on my bookshelves and the other books I enjoyed in junior high are in a stack to go to Schoolhouse Supplies for another young girl to enjoy.  Dad's trumpet is in the closet; the paperwork that was in the box is filed.  (And now the large box my brother and I keep pawning off on each other is empty and can go back to him...ha ha ha...)  The shoe cabinet that was only effective until the dogs figured out they could get into it is ready to go to Goodwill, as is the first ever laptop bag ever made and a bunch of old cassette tapes that belonged to James. The box of a bazillion keys that belonged to my father-in-law that no one will ever know what they go to, nor has anyone asked about in the 5 years since he passed away have been tossed.  A lot of the stuff was in the craft/guest room to begin with but had been relocated when I actually had guests, so a lot of cleaning out the back room translated to moving it all back into the craft/guest room.  I will not be having guests in there anytime soon!

It took a couple of hours of sorting and several trips to the recycling bin for me to get to the last of the boxes, and as I did, I found myself filled with the desire to just not finish.  So I took a break and went to get a pizza.  I think the fine folks at Papa Murphy's would appreciate it if I'd either actually order the Veggie Delight as is or stop telling them I want the Veggie Delight and then creating something that in no way resembles their idea of the Veggie Delight. 

After lunch, I still didn't want to finish but I knew I had to.  I was down to the hard part:  the box of things from James' desk that were given to me by his employer after he died and the boxes of knick-knacks that I had put in the back bedroom so I could paint.  What to do with these things?!  I started with the box of things from his desk.  Some was obvious:  the lint roller and dental floss I put away in the bathroom.  The bubbles, the Barrel of Monkeys and the Yo-Yo I put with the rest of the games.  The clock radio, fake bling, Sumi-e board and the Santa that I'm assuming sings and dances when it has batteries I put in the box for Goodwill.  The miscellaneous information about benefits I recycled.  That left his nameplate, the birthday card my mom sent him that plays "You Can't Touch This" and the Transformers I gave him for what turned out to be his last birthday.

The boxes from the bedroom were not as easy. They mostly contained memorabilia from the cruise we took in 2007, and other small gifts we had given each other over the years.  My plan had been to put a shelf up in the bedroom and put these things on it, but because I excel at procrastination, this never happened.  And now I had a decision to make.  The leftover items from his desk went into the box, except for the Transformers.  I might take those to work.  So did the vase of fake carnations he got me early on in our relationship that he would occasionally spray with his aftershave.  The stuffed dog I got him early on went into the box as well.  He wanted a dog and was having a bad day so I got him one.  The poems we wrote to each other for Valentine's Day 2000-a little over a month after we started dating are in the box.  I laughed when he handed me the poem-it actually hurt his feelings a bit, but what he didn't know was I was laughing because we had come up with the same gift for each other and I was relieved because I was afraid he'd think my writing him a poem was lame.  The blown glass paperweight we saw being made that I went back to get him is also in the box.  The paper from Sacramento that has his obituary is in the box; so is "Casino"-the stuffed rabbit I won at Circus Circus in Reno.  The Ziplock bag with his PJ top is in there-I had just done laundry a few days before he died so I didn't really have anything that smelled like him.  Most of the things we picked up on the cruise are in there too; the magnets are on the fridge and the pottery is going on a shelf in the craft/guest room.  I decided to start collecting small pieces whenever I travel so while that started with him, it isn't exclusive to him.  I added to my collection when I went to Mexico in 2009.  The doll I bought in Haiti will go in there too, as will the Phoenix Suns rally monkey he bought me because he had to go to a game to schmooze prospective clients and felt bad I didn't get to go.  The plastic cup we swiped from the ship, our Sea Passes and the little souvenir cup James got from trying the drink special the one night we ate in the formal dining room are also in the box.  On the very top of the box is the picture that was taken of us on the cruise in our formal wear the night he proposed; it's the closest thing we ever had to an engagement picture.

It felt so weird and so final to pack up all these things which seems silly.  For one thing, they were already boxed up.  For another thing, it's not like I took them to a storage facility far away.  They are in the closet in the back bedroom-I can go open the box whenever I feel like it.  I think what it boils down to is when I packed them up the first time, it was intended to be temporary, but packing them up this time was meant so I could have closure so I can continue to move forward with my life.  Life, I have decided, would be so much easier if death came with an instructional manual. 

Overall, I feel good about having the room cleaned out.  It's nice to have at least one room in this house tidy and organized!  The downside is I now have no excuse not to exercise.  I really didn't think that part through. 

 Wow!  I can take a picture from the other side of the room!

The box my brother WILL see again.  (Sammy not included).

Hope from an unlikely source

In the late 1940's, my paternal grandparents were married.  For some reason, their wedding announcement isn't in my genealogy book for that line of my family, but I want to say they married in 1948.  They remained married until my grandfather's untimely death at the age of 49 in 1967-seven years before I was born.

I have always known that my dad lost his father when he was only 16 but it wasn't something we ever really talked about.  I've also always known that while Grandma never remarried, for the longest time she had a boyfriend.  I never met him as we lived on opposite coasts, but she had a lot of stories involving him and she spoke very highly of him-which is not something I can say she did in regards to very many people!

The other night I was at a Meetup event and the subject of wedding dresses came up.  I mentioned I have my grandma's wedding dress and it was funny because she said it was well preserved but after she died, I found it balled up in a duffel bag.  My friend laughed and asked if my grandparents had remained married saying that if they had gotten divorced, she could see that as a reason to ball up the dress.  I replied that they had remained married but my grandma was widowed young.

My grandma was widowed young.  Just like me.  I never put that together until Friday night-maybe because she died before James.  Or maybe because it's hard to picture that she was ever young.  She was 46 when Grandpa died.  I wish I could have talked to her about it and how she got through it.   Because she did get through it.  She was a strong, proud, "take no prisoners," formidable woman.  And she found love again.  I like to think I'm a strong, proud woman too.  And now I have hope that just maybe I will find love again someday.  Just like her.