Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"I'm bigger than my body gives me credit for.."

Today, I celebrated Mark's birthday.  He would've been 56, going on 18....a kid wrapped up in a middle-aged man's body.  As the day approached, I struggled with whether to celebrate, mourn, make a big deal out of it, or keep it very low-key.  After prayers and soul searching, I took the options to his boys, my sounding boards since his death.  Both wanted to celebrate their dad.  So, celebrate we did.  But I'll get to that part later.

I began the day searching for a wayward rat trap.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I have (had?) rats in our backyard, they'd gotten so bold that they were bellying up to Maggie's food & water dishes, in plain sight of the humans in the house and the high-priced bird dog in her doghouse, not 4 feet away.  She seemed unconcerned---maybe only animals with feathers pique her interest.  A snapping plastic rat trap was purchased, the first of which was chewed up by said bird dog; the second was baited, bird dog was crated overnight while the trap lay nearby, and the first rat was caught. Clean kill, as Mark would chortle.  This dainty girl from Western Kentucky shuddered a bit, but took a long-handled shovel, popped open the trap, and deposited the carcass over our back fence into the great wide open.

Feeling pretty good about things last night, I re-crated the dog, re-baited the trap, and hoped for the best.  Before bedtime, after the Rangers handily handled the Cardinals, my mom peeked out to check the trap.  She couldn't see it.  No problem, I figured she wasn't looking in the correct location.  But it was missing!  At 11pm last evening, I had a rat, somewhere in my fenced backyard, running around with a trap stuck on its head.  Great.  Just what I needed.  Since I refused to traipse around my big backyard in my pajamas, looking for it with a flashlight, I cut my losses and went to bed.

Sunrise came early enough and I walked out on the back porch.  The trap (with rat) were located nearby, next to my fireplace, not 3 feet from the porch.  I went back inside to report the find to the boys, took my trusty gloves & shovel, and headed back out the door to dispose of the carcass.  Imagine my surprise as the rat began moving around, breathing, and shaking the trap.  Yes, for all of you out there, I did squeal like a girl, just a little.  The boys were oh so interested in seeing this development.  With a dog that needed to be un-crated so she could potty, along with two boys that needed to be transported to school in a few minutes, I struggled with my options.  What should I do?  I've never knowingly or deliberately killed anything.  I came back inside to ask Mark's boys their opinions.  Andrew didn't hesitate whenever I asked what would Daddy do?  "Dad would take the shovel and whack it, Mom!  I've seen him do it.  Just whack it and it will be dead." 

I reasoned that the poor rodent had been injured and had suffered enough.  I closed my eyes and whacked it with the shovel.  Mercifully, it quit moving.  After another few gulps, and a tiny squeal for good measure, I disengaged the trap from the rat, scooped the carcass into the shovel, and proceeded to walk to the back fence to toss it.  I heard laughter behind me.  As I turned to look, both boys were running behind me, cheering me on.  "Mom, you did it!  You faced your fears!  You whacked it just like Dad would do.  Dad is so proud, and so are we!"  I laughed out loud.  Here on Mark's birthday, before 8 am in the morning, I was accomplishing something I never thought I could do....because I never had to before.  Mission accomplished.

After writing an outdoor column on the upcoming Texas quail season, I suited up for my daily run.  This is my meditation time, my time to cry all I want while communing with God and nature.  I had alot to pray and think about, as I recalled about 20 years of birthdays with my husband.  I looked at Lake Wichita and the borrow pit nearby, knowing that neither would probably be in existence today without the input Mark gave as part of the Lake Wichita Study Committee and in his role as TPWD District Management Supervisor for this region of North Texas.  Everywhere I look, I see him.  Everytime I close my eyes, I see him.  He's always smiling that huge, goofy grin that I loved so much.  I returned home dry-eyed and happy, knowing that he is with us, even while he's running around in heaven.

After lunch, the phone rang.  It was my own personal angel, Mark's nurse that took care of him in the ICU at United Regional.  I call her my angel, but she is very modest.  She prays for me.  She shows up on my doorstep with cookies, muffins, and devotional books.  She knows my wedding anniversary.  She knows his birthday.  I don't know how she knows these things, but her faith ministers to me each and every time I see her, talk to her, or read the book she so lovingly gave me.  I feel like I've known her all my life.  She tells me that I have, because we are "sisters in Christ".  As we visit, I cry.  She cries a little, too.  I thank her again for taking such wonderful loving care of Mark for those few days.  She and the rest of the ICU staff are a special group of people, and I will be eternally grateful for what they did for him and for me.

Texts, phone calls, and facebook messages continued throughout the day, everyone checking on my little family of three.  I called his mom, because I know this day is hard for her, too.  He was her oldest, born in Germany a mere 11 months after his parents' wedding.  He was very much like her in so many ways.  She was looking forward to having him back in Kansas after his retirement, because they shared so many interests and loves.  We cry, we laugh, we reminisce. 

My mom, boys and I head to Chili's to continue the celebration.  I order the best beer on the menu (Sam Adams) and drink to an awesome daddy and husband.  He would so approve!  Afterwards we head to Hospice's Building Bridges program, where my adult friends remember this day, and tell me they have been praying for me.  Wow.  I am overwhelmed by the love and support given to my family.  By people that have known us for years, and by people we've known only a few weeks. 

As the day winds down, I breathe a sigh of relief.  We made it.  We did it.  It wasn't easy, but we celebrated the life of a great guy without mourning too much.  As I ran, I listened to my mix of music, and this song really spoke to me today.  I'm a John Mayer fan, and everytime I hear this song, "Bigger Than My Body," I think of Mark shedding his earthly body and flying.  It makes me smile, cry, and run a little faster.
 
Bigger Than My Body by John Mayer

This is a call to the color-blind
This is an IOU
I'm stranded behind a horizon line
Tied up in something true

Yes, I'm grounded
Got my wings clipped
I'm surrounded (by)
All this pavement
Guess I'll circle
While I'm waiting
For my fuse to dry

Someday I'll fly
Someday I'll soar
Someday I'll be so damn much more
Cause I'm bigger than my body gives me credit for

Why is it not my time?
What is there more to learn?
Shed this skin I've been tripping in
Never to quite return

Yes, I'm grounded
Got my wings clipped
I'm surrounded (by)
All this pavement
Guess I'll circle
While I'm waiting
For my fuse to dry

Someday I'll fly
Someday I'll soar
Someday I'll be so damn much more
Cause I'm bigger than my body gives me credit for
Cause I'm bigger than my body now

Maybe I'll tangle in the power lines
And it might be over in a second's time
But I'll gladly go down in a flame
If the flame's what it takes to remember my name

Yes, I'm grounded
Got my wings clipped
I'm surrounded (by)
All this pavement
Guess I'll circle
While I'm waiting
For my fuse to dry
For my fuse to dry

Someday I'll fly
Someday I'll soar
Someday I'll be so damn much more
Cause I'm bigger than my body
I'm bigger than my body
I'm bigger than my body now
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Christmas, 2012

Christmas, 2012