Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Letters to Henry, Part 6, 6/8/07









Friday, 6/8/07 5:30 a.m.

Good morning, precious child,

I am holding you in my heart. I'll always love you. I'll never forget you. It will never be too late for me to love you.

-Mama

Picture inserted, Henry playing with Isaac.


Friday, 6/8/07 9:45 p.m.

Hi Bridge,

I read your note again tonight. You really wanted Dad and I not to blame ourselves, didn't you? In capital letters you wrote "NOTHING YOU DID CAUSED THIS." It was a kind thing to say. We cannot help asking ourselves, what if...? I know you didn't want to hurt us so much. You weren't in your right mind.

Yesterday we tried to reconstruct what might have happened that night. We don't know when you drove to the coast, but Pack and Saul found a bunch of Marlboro Lights near where your car was parked. You were there a while. We think you took all your Prozac - no idea how much, but it caused your speech to slur. Then you wrote the notes to Courtney and Isaac, Ben, Amanda, Scott and Beth. Your handwriting was pretty clear in those notes. Don't know whether you were in your car or not when you wrote those; then you called Pack. Your speech was slurred, you didn't say much. "It's too late...." When you talked to Pack you were outside - Pack could hear the wind. Then you must have hung up and recorded your goodbye message. You left your phone and wrote the notes to us, Pack, Myra and Saul. (You quoted Pack, so it seems clear you wrote after hanging up.) By now your writing is almost incoherent. You put the notes in your car and go back to the edge. Then you either jump or fall, probably around 7 or so.

A couple of weeks later somebody found your phone. They called Julie. That was a shock: "Henry Roberts" on caller ID.

I had your fifth grade "Spotlight on You" framed as a surprise for your dad. It was going to be for his birthday, but I couldn't wait. He loved it. Now I have to think of something else to get him.

Marianna talked to your dad about you today. Your pop was telling her about ancestry.com, and how as far as he knows he's the only dad in 20 generations who has "failed his child" in this way. Then he began to cry. Oy.

I'm so very tired. I'm a heap, a pile, a mountain of tired.

I love you. Hope you don't get tired of hearing that because I'll never stop saying it. I love, Henry.

-Lady Mama


Sunday, 6/10/07 10:30 p.m.

Dear Bridgie,

Yes, I'm up too late. I went to Myra's right after church to help her set up for Sophie's b-day party and didn't get home until after 6. Then I was determined to clean up a little, so I took out all the trash, cleared off the table and cleaned up the office. Now I'm good and tired, so maybe I'll sleep ok.

Last night I dreamed that we hired a detective to find you. Hen-Ben, I must still be fighting the fact that this really happened. When I got home from work I felt really fed up, like - come on, this is ridiculous, how long we've been allowing this charade to go on. It can't be true.

At church I finally broke the tear barrier. You probably thought I didn't love you anymore, it's been so long since I've cried over you. They showed a video clip from the Mathew film series of Jesus hugging and tumbling around with people, having compassion on them. I cried because I want him to do that for you.

Your dad gave a magnificent communion talk. He spoke about the "cup" we are given, and the cup that Jesus had to take. It helps me to think about what's happened to you and us as the cup we are given. I'll see if he can print it out for me. Maybe I'll paste it in here so I can read it whenever I need to.

Packah didn't come to church or Sophie's party. Hope he's ok.

Karl called tonight- left a message that he loves us and is thinking about us. I called back at Meg's but he wasn't there. I appreciated that call.

I saw Isaac and Courtney today; they came early to the party because they couldn't stay. Isaac is so tall! I got to wrestle and play with him for a while. He's so sweet and mischievous. Saul and Phin were there too. It was a good time.

Almost eleven...better turn in. The alarm goes off at 4:15. Hugs and kisses, precious Henry Benry. I love you bunches, as Isaac used to say.
Love, Mama Pajama

Monday, 6/11/07 8:45 p.m.

Dear Henry,
I'm super groggy. Didn't sleep - watched the clock all night. __ called in sick again, so I had to stay til close, and it was quite a busy day. Now I'm rock bottom tired. Don't know what to think about __. Maybe she's a hypochondriac. Maybe she really is sick. Either way, I can't depend on her. Gonna have to find someone new. Meanwhile Michael wants O.T. hours, so I guess I'll let him. Don't want to use myself up completely.

I really am having trouble believing this whole Henry death thing right now.

I'm also so sleepy I'm almost incoherent. I guess there'll be no more fun for me tonight. To bed with me.

I love you, I love you, I love you my sweet boy Hen-Ben,
Lady Mama

Wednesday, 6/13/07 9:30 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

I love writing to you because it keeps you close to me. Sort of.

Janaki's grandma, MJ, came in yesterday. She had that dazed look, that look you have when you've just lost a precious someone, a precious child. Her child was 50 years old. She told me she got out Kathy's baby shoes and her baby book. She looked so lost, so stricken. I know just how she feels.

Henry, I can't believe you are gone. I'm worn out. I worked all evening on the bank reconciliation. No time to play. Saul and Phin were supposed to come tonight, but Saul had a meeting.

Bluh. Exhausted.

I love you and I really really really really miss you, Hen Ben. Do you miss us? Why did you leave us?
Love, Mama


Saturday, 6/16/07 5:15 a.m.

Hi Hen Ben,

Too much work lately, not enough time to write. My eyes are so heavy in the evening. Lots of news though. Maybe next week. There'll be more time then.

Just called to say I love you.
I love you,
Mama


Sunday, 6/17/07 9:45 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

Well, it's the close of the 2nd Father's Day since you left us. There was no truck washing today. Your pop rather suddenly decided to make a surprise visit to Lebanon. I spent the time trying to figure out how to print a sheet of photos for Theresa's collage. you'd think with a mac such things would be easy...

Myra brought your dad a bunch of coral gladiolas and a very sweet card. Pack came to church. Saul stopped by the church parking lot to find out what was up. I told him we're getting together next week for your dad's birthday, so he called today instead. Kind of an uneventful day, in a way, but not really, because of the Lebanon trip.

All days such as this seem oddly empty without you around. There's just a weird MISSINGNESS.

Looks like we may sign the lease next week, and the fella seems to think we could finance a condo too if we wanted. Wouldn't that be awesome? I hesitate to think that might really come true.

When we do leave this place, it will be hard because this was where you lived at the end of your life.

Scott Tiley Sr. died last night.

Happy Father's Day, Sweetheart.
Love, Lady Mama


Tuesday, 6/19/07 8:15 p.m.

Hi Sugar Biscuit,

Today I was remembering how you used to say "cool beans." When I remember this, it makes my heart clench.

I'm super frustrated that you are gone. I still can't believe it. Is that dumb??! I still want to scream noooo! You, our beloved, sweet, gifted, precious, cleft-chinned, cool beans Henry cannot be crushed and broken, dead and buried, lost in an instant, gone forever.

There's so much going on that I long to share with you. But I can't. These letters are just pretend. I'm not sure why I write them.

I have been avoiding the grief pit for a long time. It's like this...drawing of a stick figure facing away from a black hole...I turn my back on it. I stay away.

I'm tired.
-Mama

Wednesday, 6/20/07 9 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I'm a little less "stretched" tonight. I got to leave work about an hour earlier than usual, and that made a difference. I worked on your dad's birthday present tonight, got it wrapped up. I'll tell you later, just in case he reads this before present time.

The condo thing is going away. Turns out we'd need 30-40k for a down payment. But, your dad pointed out, we could probably start saving $100 a month, or close to it, and in a couple of years, we'd have a down payment. That is true. So I just have to be patient. No problemo.

Dr. Puterbaugh decided it's time for your dad to start doing insulin injections. Seems scary, but I guess it will do a much better job controlling his diabetes, and he will feel better, eyesight will improve, etc. So I guess we need to look on the bright side.

You know what surprises me? I'm surprised at how well I can compartmentalize my emotions regarding your death. To really think about it and take it in, is way too painful. It is too much. It makes me want to die. So, somehow, I stick it on a brain or heart shelf of some kind and walk around like nothing's wrong. How is this possible?

Horror is the word that comes to mind. June 7, 8, 9....2006. Horror. But then, perhaps you're in God's arms, all sorrows past. I pray it is so.

Now I must get to sleep. 5:00 work in the a.m.

I love you, sweet Hen Ben. Miss you. You are Cool Beans Henry Bones.
Love, Lady Mama


Friday, 6/22/07 9:15 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

It's your pop's birthday. We're going to have his party on Sunday - I think we're going to Outback. Wouldn't you love that! Today I brought home a new Tommy Bahama shirt and some sunflowers. I think he truly loves the shirt. It's a good bet - your dad loves to dress nicely, and nowadays I'm taking his shirts to the cleaners so they're neatly pressed. He's earned it.

Meg called tonight. Steve is becoming increasingly delusional due to the lack of oxygen. It won't be long before he'll be needing 24 hour care. For Meg's sake, I hope he goes soon. It will be a kindness all around.

I finished Ken and Theresa's collage tonight. I think it's pretty good. I hope they like it.

Tomorrow is BIG WORK day. I'm still plagued by the stuff I haven't gotten done....like an ad on Craig's list. But now, it's rest time.

I love you and miss you, Ben Bridge.
-Lady Mama

Sunday, 6/25/07 9 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I'd best be getting my little self to bed soon, but I hate to let Sunday go. We really had a nice day today. The only negative was that Myra couldn't come because James is sick, but at least Sophie got to come - Saul picked her up. I think your dad had a really good time. The presents were sweet and thoughtful: Myra gave him a nice bottle of chianti and one of Chandon champagne, and a sweet card signed by all; Pack gave him Firefly and a Playstation remote; Saul gave him a dvd player and Holy Grail and Ferris Beuller. I gave him the other present, a frame containing 2 photos of you on either side of an original copy of his poem, The Newcomer. I'm afraid it made him cry big-time.

Saul, Rabecca and Phin came to church. It was a great sermon about how the real work of Jesus is not done in the church but in the world. While Jeff spoke I was so overcome with a thought I almost went forward, just so I could share it. It's just this: as Christians we don't get a pass that gets us out of hard times. We have to take the good with the bad just like everyone else. What we do get is a solid foundation of a standard, a way to live, recognizing what is good and what is bad. Plus we get Jesus who shares our sorrow. He knows, and god knows just how I feel and he feels it with me. That is big. I don't think I appreciate yet how really big that is, but I want to get there.

Outback is not open for lunch, so we went to Applebee's. Oh well. Sophie got ribs, which was a High Goal.

After everyone let, your dad and I went to get the collage copied (unsuccessfully) and to get some shorts to go with his new shirt. We also found Thomas's birthday present at Tommy Bahama: a set of Mojito glasses. He and Myra love Mojitos. We'll get the ingredients to go with the glasses and that will make a dandy gift, I hope.

I'm kicking myself because I forgot to invite Courtney today. I'm sorry, Henry. At least we get to have Isaac over next weekend.

I'm still hiding from the horror. I'm afraid of it.

I wish you could visit me in my dream, and I would wake up and remember. I wish you could reassure me that you are alright. I ache with love for you. I'm helpless.
Love, Mama Pajama


Thursday, 6/28/07 8:00 p.m.

Dear Henry,

There's a nice rain falling. This is good because I've been worried that your little hemlock tree is thirsty. It's getting a sweet drink now.

Gosh, Henry, we've been so busy lately. There's so much to do, I'm there 10-12 hours every day. That's all good, but we don't get to see much of the family anymore, especially Isaac. Courtney emailed me today, and I think she's feeling as bad as I am about how little we see each other. I have to find a way to add Isaac and Courtney into our routine.

Your dad did his first insulin shots today. He thinks he already has improved eyesight. I'm really hopeful he'll keep getting better.

I'm tired Hen. My eyes keep rolling back in my head. There's lots to tell you. I'm just too zonked.

Please know how much I love you and miss you.
-Lady Mama

Monday, 7/2/07 8 a.m.

Hen Ben,

I'm at home today because Pack's working for me. He wanted to so that he will not be broke when he asks out a girl.

Yesterday your dad and I had the worst fight we've ever had. I'm still reeling. Should we break up, throw the whole Jim and Patty thing in the toilet? Wouldn't you know, it's time to decide whether to sign the new lease.

We made up yesterday, but I'm obviously not there yet.

Yesterday at church Dan preached about David, about sin and consequences, and then __ got up and confessed ____. It was a sad, sad day all around. Life is very tough. Very.

Love, Mama


Wednesday, 7/4/07 10:30 p.m.

Dear Bridgie,

Yes, it's late. I should be in bed. But I did sleep in til 8 this morning. Fireworks are going off, and it's pretty hot still.

I'm feeling better than I was last time I wrote to you. Your dad hasn't agreed to go to counseling with me, but now he supports my going. We decided to go ahead and sign the lease at the new place. A big step. We came pretty close to chucking it all, just giving up and closing her down. But we decided to keep hope alive. And, today, I'm glad we did.

Sam and Pack and I visited your grave today, along with Sam's girl friend. The grass is long around your grave, but no weeds have intruded. Next time I'll try to remember to bring hedge trimmers along.

I still feel disconnected from you, from my grief over you. I still feel disconnected from God. I just feel sort of disconnected from life.

Saul called today and told me he's dreamed of you every night lately. Makes him sad, missing you...

Well, tomorrow is coming on like a train. Better go to bed.

I love you, precious child.
Mama

Thursday, 7/6/07 5:30 a.m.

Good Morning Bridgie,

I have a few minutes before I need to leave for work - a little time to write to you.

I've been thinking about writing to God also. I have trouble getting myself to pray beyond a few words mumbled in my head before I drift off. I wonder if I'd get confused writing to both you and God? Sounds silly, but both of you are sort of "imaginary." I know you once existed and I hope you still do in heaven, and I hope you can receive my letters somehow. I know God exists in some incomprehensible way and I hope he hears my prayers. But both of you are in my head. Maybe I should write to Jesus. I'd like to be able to really love Jesus. Maybe he would save me.

When I got home yesterday your dad was sobbing. That picture I gave him with the poem is nearly too much for him to bear. He said he saw a young man in Trader Joe's yesterday who looked like you from behind, and he felt his arm reaching out. We so long to hug you and hold onto you, Hen Ben.

We signed the lease yesterday. Or, your dad did. I'm not on it.

Hugs, Ma


Friday, 7/6/07 9:00 a.m.

Bridgie,

I'm too tired and blue to write much today. At least we got our air conditioner installed today. Doug did it.

Why is there no answer when I call out in my heart for you? Because you are GONE. That's why.

I read a line tonight that seems true: "You can love someone so much, but you can never love someone as much as you can miss them."

I miss you, Bridgestone. I do miss you. Henry Abram Roberts. Henry Abram Roberts. It's a really good name. H.A.R.

Love, Sad-Faced Mama

Monday, 7-9-07 9:00 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

It was another rough Sunday. I seem to have a full-on deep dark case of the blues. Took a long walk in my flip-flops (Cook Park and back, plus an hour there reading under a tree). Sore toes today. I just wanted to get away and be sad. Your dad was sweet to me. He made me a gin and tonic in the middle of the night. Neither of us slept at all.

I miss you, and it's a brick wall. The world is a-kimbo and I can't get it righted. I'm lonely for you. I need to see your face.

Those damn pills killed my Hen Ben. picture of Henry and Isaac, and Henry and Courtney, and a drawing by Henry...

Wednesday, 7/11/07 8:15 p.m.

Hi Hen Ben,

Saul, Rabecca, Phin, Sophie and James just left. We had them over for hot dogs and root beer floats - kind of a hot-weather-summertime party. Isaac was going to come too, but Courtney remembered a prior engagement. It was a nice time. Next week hopefully Isaac can come.

Courtney talked to your pop yesterday and told him Isaac hiked over 4 miles at Silver Creek Falls. He also caught a snake all by himself with his bare hands! That boy is really fascinated by creatures and bugs.

It has been over 100 degrees the last two days. Our apartment stays pretty comfy though.

Pack did an imitation of you imitating Big Mike the other day. Remember? You'd walk stiffly to the counter, stick your finger in the air, say "soda please" and hurry like a robot to the couch. It was a precious memory, a new one to add to my bank.

Right now it seems like it would feel right to let loose a long string of super crunchy expletives. That's how I feel about you being destroyed. My mood today has been on the ragged side.

No one is sweeter than your dad to me though. Through thick and thin. We're in it together.

I love you, Baby-the-George.
Lady Mama


Sunday, 7/15/07 8:oo a.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

I've caught a cold over the last few days, and felt too tired to do anything in the evening but crash. So, I haven't written.

Your dad and I were talking about yawning - how interesting and mysterious a thing it is. One reason people yawn, apparently, is nervousness. We remember how you would yawn for that reason quite often.

I still sleep with your shirt. It is as close as I can get to actually hugging you. Sometimes I drape your shirt over my neck as I sleep. This is as close as I can get to getting hugged by you.

Our new landlord, Richard Larsen, had a best friend growing up whose brother killed himself. Then, one by one, all five children killed themselves, including his friend. How did the parents survive such a thing??

We are consumed, or at least I am, by thoughts of moving. One of the condo owners is interested in selling us his unit on a contract basis. It is so small, it truly would require a major change for us. I've been wishing for more room, not less, as the grandchildren get bigger. But it might be a good opportunity for us ex-chapter 13 folks. What to do??

How do I learn to live with this? I have to quit fighting it somehow. I have to accept what happened to you.

That's a tall order, Hen Ben.
Love, Mama Pajama


Sunday, 7/15/07 9:45 p.m.

Dear Sweet Bridgie,

I just read through all the cards we got from our customers. How precious they are! People don't know how meaningful those expressions are, especially those that talk about how wonderful you are. Words like "gentle," "kind," "happy eyes," "cheerful," "tall, lean and bright." And there's Tim's "endearing sly gentleness."

Didn't get much done today, but I did rest a lot. And I worked on new menu pricing ideas. Met Patrick's new date at church. Jessie is her name. Her father killed himself 2 years ago by jumping off the Fremont Bridge. I told her today how sorry I am about her dad, and said maybe sometime she could tell me all about him. I did that because I wish people would ask me to tell them all about you. No one ever does, though.

Jessie seems nice, and she doesn't seem to be a "hottie," if you know what I mean. I have a tiny hope this might work out well for Pack. I'll keep you posted.

Your dad and I have been getting along well. I don't feel the need to see a counselor. He says this is because he just decided to be nice to me. Well.

I need to get sleepy and hit the hay. How does one "get sleepy?" Glass of red wine, 3 aspirin for my headache. That's my toolkit. Hope it works.

Tears for you today. Love for you today. Hen Ben, please, please, please come back.
Love, Mama

Wednesday, 7/18/07 5:30 a.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

I have about 15 minutes before I need to leave for work, so here I am.

Is my voice fading? Are you fading? Don't go, Hen Ben. We need you.

I finished a great book last night: Just In Case. I wish you could have read it. A boy goes mad because he feels trapped by fate. The answer is, don't think in such broad strokes. Break it down. This piece of that piece is enjoyable. In between bad things, good things happen. And not every bad thing happens. We could have enjoyed talking about this together.

Last night Saul changed our menu pricing for us. Today should be interesting.

I couldn't sleep last night, 2 nights in a row. Your pop has been taking Ambien and it works like a charm. Maybe I should give up and try it.

Yesterday Bede went to see Mike about his "vote" on ___ future status at SW. Of course, he wants him to stay. Mike says that they've heard from a lot of people, and it's evenly divided. A lot of women are outraged, feel betrayed. So, either way, a lot of people may leave. I'd rather disappoint the unforgiving ones. If I must disappoint someone.

I haven't been working out for, let's see, a month and 1/2. Getting soft. I've lost my gumption: even on the odd days when my schedule would permit me to go, I just can't find it in me. Rather curl up in bed.

Guess I'd better get my shoes on and boogie.

I love you,
Lady Mama

Saturday, 7/21/07 10:30 p.m.

Hi Sugar Biscuit,

Look at me, I'm up late and not sleepy! What's going on, you ask? I didn't have to be at work until 8:30 today. Got up at 6, did a few chores and then put in a day's work. Somehow, I didn't get so worn out.

My cousin Debbie (Aunt Beth's daughter) surprised me by showing up at the shop today. She had her son Jason with her, who lives in Portland. It was fun to see her. She said she'll be visiting Portland often, so we'll see her again.

I got Jamie a Game Boy Advance and 2 games for his birthday: Kirby and Warrio. Pack got him Cars. I also got him a jar with pretend twinkling lightning bugs in it - this is coming in the mail. Too bad he's missing out on Uncle Henry's gift. He was always exited about your presents - they were so cool, every time. James had a special bond with you, Henry.

A man came int he other day and told me he's a member of the same awful club I belong to. He lost his 22 year old daughter 10 years ago on her birthday. She lost her balance and fell out a window after receiving an exuberant birthday hug from her friend. Good grief. Where on earth does that expression come from? Good grief? What an unearthly shock that must have been.

I went to visit Meg and Steve after your pop went to bed tonight. Steve's birthday was July 13th, so I brought him some irises and tulips and a box of donuts. I know, what a weird birthday present. But I figure donuts are always appropriate, and it's hard to know what to give him. He seemed pretty well tonight - Meg bought him a laptop, and he's been really loving it. I felt encouraged by my visit. I brought your art book and they enjoyed looking at it.

Today when I came home (or was it yesterday? Yes, it was yesterday) your sweet pop was sobbing over you again. He was watching "In America" about an Irish family in NY during the 80's, struggling to survive. Their son Franky dies.

I was so tempted to turn right out of Meg's neighborhood and visit your grave. I've never been there at night. But, home was beckoning.

I love you, punkin.

Oh yeah - I saw Courtney and Isaac and her mom today. They stopped by the shop on their way to see Whitney and her new baby girl, Hayley. I'll see Isaac and Courtney again tomorrow at Jame's party. I'll tell you all about it. This much I'll say: he's TALL and GOOD LOOKIN. Like his daddy.

Hugs,
Lady Mama

Tuesday, 7/24/07 10:00 p.m.

Hi Bridgie,

I'm up late, huh? My schedule is beginning to loosen up. I'm getting home earlier, and sometimes go in later. Like, tomorrow I don't have to get there til 6:30. And next week I've scheduled Tuesday off! I'm a little at a loss about what to do with so much free time. Part of me just wants to sleep.

We had a really nice party at Myra's on Sunday. Jamie had a good time and was his usual gracious self, so that we all felt we'd chosen exactly the right gift. Isaac gave him 3 transformers. Pack brought Jessie. We acted out Sophie's play, Baba Yoga, and Jessie played the part of Natasha. Jessie seems to be good for Pack so far. He seems to be drinking and smoking less, and he looks more relaxed and happy than I've seen him for a while.

Your dad had a vivid dream of you last night. He saw someone in the pick-up, and when he approached he saw a young man who looked a lot like you - a different sort of beard. The young man said that a friend had loaned him the truck and he was returning it. Jim asked, did you put any gas in it? The man blushed, ducked his dead and said no. Then he got out of the car and ran off into traffic, almost getting run over. By now Jim realizes it's you, and he yells, be careful, don't get run over now! He said you acted like you didn't quite know who Jim was.

He said the dream made him happy, made him feel close to God - to want to pray. And he really felt like he'd seen you.

He said he doesn't realize how much he misses you until something like that dream happens.

I don't know why I don't dream of you.

I fasted yesterday in participation with SW and the elders' decision regarding ___. I want them to reinstate him. If he wants to stay, that is.

This is a tough old world, Henry. Really really tough. I know there's good stuff going on too, but man. Well, I guess that's no surprise.

I was remembering when we sang hymns to my dad; he couldn't speak, but he cried. Those are good memories.

Henry, we love you so much. I pray that you are at peace.

Love,
Mama

Thursday, 7/26/07 11:00 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

It's your melancholy mama, up too late. I wasted a bunch of time tonight watching Pretty Woman. Can't shake the malaise enough to do anything productive. Let's see, I did the dishes, did 2 loads of laundry, cleaned the floor by the front door, and rigged a bag of vinegar water to soak the shower head. That's about it, other than the normal work day.

Now I need to get sleepy.

Myra's making cupcakes tonight. It'll be fun to sell those tomorrow.

I'm just kind of sad, Bridgie. Especially when I'm alone. I sigh a lot.

Yesterday your dad had a really good talk with Jeff. I'm so, so glad. Jeff told him many things - it seems Jeff and Sandy are more like us than we ever knew.

Saul, Rabecca and Phin were over last night. Phin slept the whole time. We had a good time talking though.

Better go to bed, honey. I miss you. I pray you are alright. I have a very large heart ache, for you.

-Mom

Saturday, 7/28/07 11:50 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Kinda late, huh? I'm still living in Dullardsville, not able to shake the blues or get motivated. Sigh.

I was given a tour of the guy's condo who wants to sell to us on contract. Sure is tiny. Can't stop pondering the challenges we'd face fitting in there. I guess it's worth talking to him to see what kind of deal he proposes.

I feel worthless tonight. Maybe God needs to pick me up by the loose skin at the back of my neck and give me a good shake. But then, I might fall apart completely.

I don't really know what to do.

Goodnight, honey. I miss you.
-Mama

Tuesday, 7/31/07 9 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

Wow! What a day I had! It was a beautiful day off, and I got so much done! I started last night: went to Safeway and bought some red and white carnations, then took them to your grave. I've never been there that late before - it was around 8 or so. It was nice, cool, breezy, quiet. I've never seen anyone else there. Then I stopped at Toys R Us and bought Isaac's birthday transformers. Today I got the apartment cleaned up, re-potted some plants and planted some new ones. Rosemary, oregano, petunias, heliotrope - it smells really nice out front.

Sunday was a nice day too. We went to the Farmer's Market, and did a little shopping at Washington Square. Your dad bought an ambient sound machine - it helps him sleep. I bought a blouse.

I've been trying hard to shake the blues and have a little fun. I know you don't want me to be sad all the time. It's hard, Henry. But I'm trying.

I'm relieved that the apartment is clean.

Did you know that if you put a piece of paper on your forehead and write your name on it, you'll write backwards? Hmm.

I wish.....you know.

Hugs,
Mama Pajama

Wednesday, 8/1/07 10:15 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

I get to stay up late because I don't have to be at work until 10 tomorrow. That's because I have a doctor's appointment in the morning. I finally gave in to your dad's pressure and scheduled a check-up. Lab tomorrow, office visit Monday. I will have to do all the gross things people must when they're over 50.

When I snuggled into our clean sheets the other night I remembered how blessed I am. So many people don't have a bed at all. People are struggling for survival. In spite of the pain our family bears, we are still very blessed. Woody Allen in Annie Hall says life is divided between the horrible and the miserable. I guess so. There are some bright spots too.

I had the photos removed from my iMac today. Cost 5 bucks. I'm relived to have those safely copied.

Today a bridge in Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour. Very scary.

Sometimes I wish I could sit by your grave all the time. I know you're not there. But your bones are.

Love,
Mama

Tuesday, 8/7/07 8:45 p.m.

Hi Honey,

It's been almost a week since I wrote to you. I think of you, I see your face, your long lanky beautiful body in my mind's eye, my heart clenches up. What a familiar pain it is.

Today I truly did have a lazy day. Did a few errands, but mostly I played games, watched Firefly and munched. A nice day off. Two in a row would really be rich. Someday I guess it'll happen.

We had a nice time with Isaac Saturday night and Sunday, although I was so wiped out after our record day Saturday that I could barely function. Isaac was very cooperative and pleasant. Sunday at church Packah took care of him while I was on the singing team. Courtney hung out with us at Isaac's party and seemed to have a good time. I'm really glad she still feels comfortable with us and wants to keep up with us.

I started my doctor check-up process. I'm healthy as a horse except for my thyroid, apparently. Mayhap I'll live a long time if I don't get hit by a truck or something.

Pack's gone 2 nights without drinking. I pray he makes it tonight too. I told the doc how worried I am about him. He said, sounds like he needs a good woman.

Think I'll go play a round of mahjong.

I love you, sweet Hen Ben Boy.
Mama

Thursday, 8/9/07 10:45 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I was busy tonight: first I reconciled the account for July, then I made a detailed closing checklist for work. You would be pleased, I bet - you liked things to be orderly at J&P's. Tomorrow we'll give the list a trial run.

July sales were down a bit from June, but I think August will be our best month yet. We're in for some lean times, maybe, with the move coming up. I hope we won't have to be closed for long.

Pack has gone 4 nights without drinking. He says he feels a lot better, but it's scary. We ordered an ambient sound machine on line yesterday - he thinks it'll help him sleep.

I've begun to pray for something specific, and I promised God I would pray every day for this: that is, for your dad and Stan and Dan to work together to spread the Good News. I think this would truly give Jim a satisfaction, give him a feeling that he is using his talenst as he should.

Of course, I pray for you, that you are happy and free. And for Saul and Pack and Mar and the little ones. And Courtney. And Jeff and Sandy. For everyone I love.

Are you happy and free? Oh heartache.

Hearts for you, my Bridgie,
Mama Pajama

Saturday, 8/11/07 midnight

Dear Sweet Hen Ben,

I don't feel like I get the juice out of Saturday night unless I stay up late.

Henry, since you left I'm sad. I guess there's no other way to put it. I can ignore it pretty well until I'm alone. Then I have to play stupid games or watch stupid TV to avoid it. When it wins, I feel empty, and like a loser. I can't seem to do anything useful or creative. I don't feel so good.

Last night I dreamed of you. You told me something, but I don't remember what. I have this theory, based on my dream of Mother, that if I can't remember, it must not have been a real vision, just a dream. It wasn't really you.

Seems like a lot of nonsense sometimes. Until I remember that dream. Mom's smile, her beautiful young self, her body through the screen door. Her comfort. Not nonsense.

Henry, I'm so so damaged. I have to figure out how to rebuild myself so that God's purpose for me can happen. It feels like trying to build a house around a dark hole.

I must be tired. Don't mean to be so dismal. Forgive me, honey.

Pack is still sober. Not smoking as much either. There is a blessing.

I love you. I really love you. (I love you too.) Yeah, but I REALLY love you.

-Mama

Tuesday, 8/14/07 9:15 p.m.

Hi Hen Ben,

Today was kind of a Big Day for me. It was rather well-rounded. I did a little housework (the kind that makes a big difference: clean sheets, clean patio doors, vacuuming). I revised some of my old stories and printed them. I did a little J&P paperwork. I worked on my Samson and Delilah lesson. And I played games on the computer. See? A good day.

Oh yes, I did one more Big Thing. I ordered a framed print of Rembrandt's Prodigal Son. This is for you.

Yesterday evening I went to the cemetery, around 8-9 p.m. I sat with your bones as the sun went down. I didn't cry. In fact, I haven't cried for a few days.

Sunday we saw a boy who looked like you in an odd way. Baseball cap, plaid shirt, hands in pockets, baggy jeans. I felt myself starting to think, "I knew it!"

Looks like Doug will be a partner in our company. We are coming up short on cash for the build-out, and he is willing to make up the difference in exchange for a share. If we're going to partner with anyone, he'd be the best choice, don't you think?

Dad made bouillabaise last tonight. Wow. You would have LOVED it. Hopefully God is serving you Perfect Food right now.

Another summer without you is winding down. I miss you, precious boy. And I love you.

-Mama Pajama
P.S. I am glad I can trust God to love every single person in the world.

Wednesday, 8/15/07 9:15 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

Troubles...Saul is having such a hard time with Denice. He did a hair follicle test that came out positive for cocaine, so now she's filed an emergency motion to keep Phin completely away from him. He swears he's never taken cocaine even once in his life, and there seem to be many reasons for a false positive. Saul's going to have to find a good lawyer. Whey is Denice being so hard on him? I can't understand. It's awful and cruel to Phin and Saul.

Things get pretty ugly down here, don't they? I hope it's better where you are.

I'd better try to get sleepy now. Not enough sleep last night....

I love you, Hen Ben.
-Mama Pajama

Thursday, 8/16/07 7:45 p.m.

Hen Ben,

We need to thank God because Saul found a lawyer he likes who will go with him to court on Friday. Even if he loses this battle, at least he'll have an advocate. I feel better.

Just wanted to let you know, because I know you love your brother. By the way, Pack is still sober! Yay!!

Love,
Lady Mama

Sunday, 8/18/07 8:30 a.m.

Dear Henry,

We've been talking about you a lot. Your dad has many very clear memories of you as a child. I don't. You slipped under the radar so much, staying out of trouble, doing ok in school. Remember how I left you behind so many times? I'm so embarrassed about that. I hope the memories will return. I'm desperate for any little scrap of Hen Ben that I can hold secure.

You called Patrick to say goodbye. To me that is more evidence that your condition was a result of the Prozac. Most people who are about to kill themselves don't do that. You were still reaching out to your family, not fully wanting to break the tie.

Hey, Saul won the battle! Denice's motion was denied. Yay! So Phin's party is "on" this afternoon.

I prayed about this. Thank you, Father.

I had my thyroid ultrasound Friday. Wonder what it takes to be an ultrasound technician? Seems like an interesting job.

It's raining this morning. Nice.

Love,
Mama

Tuesday, 8/21/07 9:45 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I keep falling into Blueness. Today my day off was less fun and productive than I'd hoped. I did get my brakes fixed (Brake Team, as you advised), got my FH card renewed and made a dentist appointment. That's about it, though. Part of the trouble is that I insist on reading a book I bought yesterday that is very badly written. It sucks, but I'm reading it anyway. Dumb.

So, I'm blue. I wasted my day. I feel fat and ugly and unproductive and weary.

I suppose tomorrow will be better. Work. Am I happier at work? That's dumb too.

I'm sorry. Why do I pick up my pen just to complain at you? Not very nice.

I do feel like a puddle of goo. And, it may be an illusion, but it seems like if you walked in the door right now, all my blueness would vanish. I'd be free.

Saul's second hair follicle test came back negative. What a relief! Phin's party was nice. Courtney and Isaac couldn't find Saul's apartment so she met everyone at Chuck E Cheese. Dad and I didn't go to that part.

I should go to bed. I love you. Big news, huh?
-Lady Mama of the Lowlands

Saturday, 8/26/07 9 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

I'm sitting in the bathroom while Isaac takes a bath. He's being so good tonight, and talking clearly about many things. He looked through your baby book. He's more interested in talking about you than he has been. "My daddy, my daddy.." It's good to have him here. The cloud of sadness has lifted a little.

He found a bunch of your check stub envelopes I'd stuck in the pocket of the book. "These are letters my daddy made for me," he told me.

I saw on TV about a company that makes pillows in the shape of a person with a photo of the parent on it who is in the military overseas. I wonder if it would be good in the case of a parent who has died?

I still sleep with your t-shirt. I don't know if it's "good for me" to do that, or even if it comforts me, but I don't want to stop.

Our Prodigal Son painting came. It's hung over the fireplace. I love it. I want to absorb it.

Tomorrow I teach my class on Samson. I have prepared myself and all my toys. Saul made me some beautiful foxes. I'll let you know how it goes.

Also tomorrow at 10:00 there will be a meeting at SW when the elders will announce their decision about __.

I keep playing out the scene at the cliff. Only I throw my arms around you and drag you back. Or there is a safety net just over the edge. Or an angel catches you partway down. I keep seeing this.

Isaac is really cute tonight. You must be bursting with love and pride. Like I am over you.

Love and hugs,
Mama Pajama

Sunday, 8/27/07 10:45 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

I'm staying up late, trying to get sleepy. I'm finally getting there.

I just wrote a card to the Lupers. In a few days it'll be the one year anniversary of their son's suicide. Also, this month is 10 years since Robbie Israel died. I found a note in a Beantalk about it that I'm going to send to Bob and Sarah.

Isaac was really well behaved until we got to church. Then Naughty I-Man was revealed. But it was ok. Myra came over for hamburgers after church. She was alone: kids in Seattle, Thomas at work. My Samson class is postponed until next week.

Well, Hen, they decided to fire ___. I was a little surprised. It's sad. This is a tough deal for his family. They're ging to face some hard times financially, maybe. __ is so talented, but I'm sure he's feeling very low right now.

Dave called today and talked to me for almost 2 hours. He is sweet. I feel less depressed tonight and I think I owe that to Dave and Isaac.

Now I'd better get some sleep. Five o'clock shift tomorrow.

I love you, Punkin.
-Mama

Wednesday, 8/29/07 9:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I wonder why I have no tears for you anymore? I'm just sad. When you died, I think your sadness needed to be borne by me. I couldn't save you, but at least I can carry your sadness. I own it now.

If only we could talk.

Someone smashed Pack's windshield and side rear window last night. Poor kid can't seem to catch a break.

We're gonna close Labor Day - Sunday we'll visit Grandma and Grandad. I'll bring your book to show them.

I'm sleepy, love. Better hit the sack.

Jim bought me flowers today!

Dentist and haircut yesterday - gettin' stuff done.

Love,
Mama Pajama

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Letters to Henry, Part 5, 3/18/07



Monday, 3/19/07, 10:15 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

Well, we're starting a new book together. I do love writing to you. There is a tiny part of my gut that thinks you might actually be reading these. That hopes you are. Maybe it's that particular spark of hope that keeps me going.

Sophie left a picture that she made for Maile's baby Ella on my desk at work, so I can pass it on when Maile comes in. It's a cute picture with many elements, stickers, etc. Up in the corner is a rainbow, and above it Sophie wrote "Hope." Hen Ben, when I saw that I melted in tears. That little girl has cried so hard over you. I've held her while she sobbed several times. It breaks my heart that she has had to go through all this. But, in spite of all that, she puts hope in a little square at the top of the page. I love that.

Tonight as I was pulling into our lot coming home from Belle Voci practice, I thought maybe I am finally beginning to accept that you are gone. Maybe I am ready to quit fighting it. Except, when I really think about it, I'm right back there, kicking against it and screaming inside.

It rained today, after a sunny day yesterday. Should be good for your flowers.

I wish I could draw you. I can SO CLEARLY see your little smile. I could reach out and touch it. Your little beard. But now, I can't remember if you had your beard when you died. I'm pretty sure you did. I'll ask Pack tomorrow.

Today ws a little wild - both Michael and Liz called in sick. We did alright though, and then Amanda came in and closed for me. She's a great girl.

Henry Abram Roberts. I love you.
:) your Mama Pajama

Wednesday, 3/21/07, 9:00 a.m.

Dear Henry,

Saul, Rabecca and Phin came over for a visit tonight. We fed them and they stayed from 6:15 until 8:15. Your dad and I had hoped to have a serious talk with Saul, but it didn't seem like the right time.

Saul's doing well at work - his branch won branch of the year nationwide and he's the top salesman (one of two) at his branch, so that makes him the best in the nation, right?

Pack has not found a place to live. He must be out at the end of the month. If only you could be his room mate.

Here's what your dad says about your death: you are real, you are alive, you're just not here right now.

You are real. You are our son Henry, forever and ever.

I'm tired. Meg called. Steve is in hospice care now.
-Mama

Sunday, 3/25/07, 10 a.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

I have to get some pictures in this book - I like to flip through and look at them as I write my way along. So....(see photo at top)

This is one of my favorites of all of you. Remember? We were attending Sam's 1st birthday party. Look how sweet and happy you all are. Sam was charming the pants off every one of you.

Dad and I were talking about our worries about Saul this morning. I feel grateful, actually, because I remember this time last year when we were so worried about you. It was very hard - scary and burdensome - but it's better than not having you around to worry about. So, we need to do our best by Saul, and I need to learn to truly trust God in this.

I finished a book last night that Myra loaned me. It was about a little girl who was victimized by some women who put on fake seances and stole people's money. But the girl was actually visited in her dreams by a dead girl. The dead girl said she couldn't visit her mother's dreams because her mother was too miserable. Is that why you haven't visited me? In fact, last night I think I dreamed that I wished I could dream about you.

If you're waiting for me to be at peace, I think the time may have come, at least for a while. Right now I think I've accepted the fact of your death. It helped me to think of you as still alive, but just in a different place, as your dad said.

So, come on! I know you are not an angel. I know you said and did things that you may have been ashamed or embarrassed to ever admit to me. I know this, but I love you anyway. You are my son. I will always love you. I will always encourage you, teach you, correct you, bless you. At least, I would if you were still here. So, if this dream thing is real (I KNOW my mom, or an angel who represented my mom perfectly, visited me in a dream) then please come.

I feel a little bit idiotic right now. Oh well. You understand.

Hugs and kisses,
Lady Mama


Tuesday, 3/27/07 10:30 p.m.

Honey, I just wish I could hold you in my arms tonight. I'd tell you how sweet you are, and how you shouldn't worry, we'd find a way to work out all your problems, and I'd tell you how much I love you. Did you ever know how much I shared your pain? Did you know it kept me awake nights, same as it did you? But sharing your pain was not enough to save you. I hope now your pain is gone. I'm still bearing it, and I think I will in some measure for the rest of my life. But for you, please God, the pain is over.

My throat is very sore tonight. I took aspirin. I drank 2 glasses of wine after LIFE group. Drink and forget. Ha ha. Dennis and Janice are sweet.

Pack was blue today. He found out that ____is into drugs and internet sexual relationships. Sigh. Find a nice girl, please. It keeps surprising me the way the ugly world intrudes into our family. I told him to re-read Proverbs.

I'd better get to bed. Another day, Lord willing, will bring another shift of duties.

I love you forever,
Mom

Thursday, 3/29/07 9:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Aaagh, my throat really hurts. Aspirin helps - just took some more.

Patrick called tonight, all excited. They decided not to move after all. Their landlord said, we'd love to have you stay, so they said ok. Saves time, money and stress. He sounded very happy.

As for me, I don't feel happy. I feel blue and hopeless right now and it's all your fault.

I guess I'll just let that last phrase sit there for now. I'm too sick and tired to take it back or explain it or whatever.
-Mama

Sunday, 4/1/07 3 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I was just looking at your hours sheet from your last few weeks at work. It was in my purse for some reason. Pack wants me to do the schedule so he's not an opener every day. He's tired of getting up early and he doesn't get along that great with Jim when it's just the two of them. So, anyway, your hours sheet was among the schedule worksheets I had with me.

You know, there isn't as much talk about you these days. Time goes on, and I guess we're expected to get over it. But I'm not.

Isaac stayed over last night, We read Zipperumpazoo and Everybody Knows What a Dragon Looks Like, played Nemo, did sticker books and dinosaur stamps, and taped videos. We didn't mention you a single time. He did say a couple of times, in passing, "I'm alive." Maybe that's a result of a Dougy Center conversation.

Your dad and I had a big fight over nothing (it seems to me) on Friday. We made up, of course, but again it left me feeling broken, hopeless.

He had chest pains Friday night and a scary dizzy spell on Saturday.

Pack showed me a great Brian Regan video yesterday. That did make me bust out laughing. I wish you could see it. I remember you liked that guy.

I feel so stuck. i don't pray, because I'm not sure what to pray for. I feel uncertain about everything. Maybe I need to get back to making that list of the things I know for sure. If Saul were to wake up from his nightmare, that would make a difference, I think. Maybe that is a clue for me. For my family's sake, I need to wake up from my own nightmare.

I love you honey. You sure are putting us through the mill, though.
-Mama


Wednesday, 4/4/07 8:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Well, today has had its ups and downs. One "up" thing is that I suddenly feel better. This morning at work I realized I was humming - that was impossible to do for the past 11 days. At practice Monday night I could hardly make a sound. I had more energy today too. So that is good.

I guess in thinking it over, there weren't so many down times today. Saul, Rabecca, Phin and I went to the park tonight and I had a chance to talk to Saul. It made me cry out of frustration because he claims not to understand why I'm upset. Why shouldn't he be allowed to have his own ideas without causing this bad feeling between us? This is his position. In other words, I guess, why should we care what he thinks and does?

But at least we talked. I can't really expect more. He's upset because he keeps trying to call Pack and Myra and they won't answer the phone.

Paula emailed me that Tyler is in trouble, blowing off school, etc. This is tough. When you've already lost one child, the rest are precious and seemingly fragile.

Yesterday I almost came to join you. I had a coughing fit and went back to the back room. My throat closed up tight. I couldn't make a sound at first, then I made these awful moaning noises, trying to get air. I clawed at my throat, trying to pull it apart. I threw myself against the desk. Finally I tried exhaling and got a little opening, but as soon as I breathed in, my throat clamped shut again. I thought, you are so silly, you're going to fall down and die here in the office, just because you don't want to make a scene. I decided I'd cause a scene when I got to the point of passing out. But 'til then, I could do it myself. Finally, I relaxed my diaphragm and my gut muscles, and somehow my windpipe responded by opening up a little. The whole thing lasted maybe 30 seconds or so, but it seemed like an eternity. Actually, as I count it out, I bet it was at least a minute. I was scared.

We are pretty fragile, aren't we, Henry?

Today I got a message that one of the ladies in Belle Voci lost her son-in-law suddenly. Her daughter has a 5 year old and is pregnant. Very sad.

Your dad made some tasty butternut squash soup today. I'm going to see about taking some over to Meg tomorrow.

I love you always, sweetheart.
Lady Mama

Monday, 4/9/07 10:30 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

I don't quite know what to say to you tonight. I've been having a rough time the past few days. Today was the toughest day I've had in a very long time. I had a hard time holding back the tears all day. They flooded out in the car on the way home, and again later while your dad and I held each other. I've had almost a panicky feeling - fear that I won't be able to cope with life, that I'll go mad or something. Your dad suffers because he feels like he should be able to make me happy. When he can't make me happy, he fights me. I react with confusion and fear, and we just escalate. It feels hopeless and desperate. Yet we know we love each other. Tonight he said someone told him your suicide was nothing to do with Jim, it was only about Henry. So why should he be upset about it? That is so asinine. Today I found a suicide bereavement group that meets on 3rd Mondays. I'm planning to go next week. Maybe one or more of the kids will go with me. Maybe it will help. I need to do something.

I miss you so much, Henry. My arms ache to hold you, my heart aches. Please come home.

We made a video of Grandad telling his WWII stories yesterday. I think it turned out well.

Courtney wrote me that Isaac won a felt rabbit at Alpenrose on Saturday. On Sunday she fixed up an egg hunt for him and cooked a big dinner.

I will always love you. I will always miss you. I will always grieve for you. My sweet Henry. We lost our boy. We lost our boy! We lost our Hen Ben.
-Mama

Thursday, 4/12/07 8:45 p.m.

Sweetheart,

I'm a little more at peace tonight. Last night I slipped into a pretty deep and desperate crazy feeling and the cloud of it was still over me this morning. But gradually I found my footing. It was a hard day physically - Michelle didn't show up and Jim had to leave early for a doctor's appointment - but we got through it. I had to be there from 5-4 though. I interviewed an applicant I really liked today. I hope to start her next week.

LIFE group was good. It was just Dennis, Janice and us. Janice was in tears over losing her brother; your dad talked about the struggle we've been having; Dennis talked about his inability to "lose control" in grief. Your dad opened up more than I've heard him do before, and I learned something new and important: he admitted that he sometimes acts mad when he isn't mad at all, as a way of distancing himself when he fears losing control. When he was young his mom had episodes they called "nervous breakdowns." She would scream, collapse, and cause a big scene. He was so scared of ever being like that. He would just walk away and try to ignore it.

For years I've been so frustrated, so freaked out, because I couldn't understand why he was mad at me, or at you kids. He would say (truthfully, I now see) that he wasn't mad, when it appeared obvious that he was. Finally, finally he admitted that he was acting mad. This is big for me. I just might be able to cope from here on out.

Tonight he also told me that he thinks he's addicted to adrenalin. He gets a rush by causing a crisis. Sheesh. I have a lot to learn about the best way to thrive in our marriage from here on out. But I've learned a lot in the past 2 days.

Pack has been dreaming about you a lot, spending time with you. I would like that. He talked about the day they found you. When you were lying on those rocks, he and Saul were not far away, above you at the top of the cliff. Pack said the air felt thick with death, oppressive and heavy, but he didn't know you were down there.

Your dad shared some of our struggles with Dr. Puterbaugh today. The doc says he has an elderly patient whose husband shot himself 10 years ago as a "favor" to her, to spare her from having to take care of him. That man did not realize how much harder her life would be because of what he did. Even after 10 years the doc says she still has a hard time. If you had known how devastating this would be, I have to believe you wouldn't have done it. I guess the lesson is that most of us have no idea how much our lives affect each other.

In our family a gigantic tragedy has plunked itself down right in the middle where our sweet Henry used to be.

By the way, your dad's check up was good. His lab results were all improved, and he lost a little weight. The dizzy spells are probably caused by dehydration.

Now I must turn in. Don't know if I'm going to work out tomorrow. I have rehearsal from 7-10 tomorrow night.

My arms feel empty, Hen Ben.
Love, Tired Lady Mama

Monday, 4/16/07 10 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Patrick and I went to the suicide survivors support group tonight. We heard some hair-raising stories. There definitely are people out there who understand what we're going through And we are not the worst off. For all our struggles, we do have a lot of support. And we get to talk about you as much as we want, to each other and to our customers. Not many people have it as good as we do. We didn't tell "our story" tonight, but I think we will next time.

Saul was going to come but he didn't show. He and Pack are not doing well together.

Here's a piece of big news: today we got a letter of condolence from ____. She asked for forgiveness for hurting our family. She seems to have found God. She's been following our family on the internet, but only found out 2 days ago about your death. She didn't leave a return address. Her letter made me cry. I wish we could write to her. I'll put her letter in your memory book. It's written beautifully, and she says a lot of nice things about you. I love to read nice things about you. My sweet, precious Henry. How could this happen? How? It was such a mistake. You did not belong on that cliff. Remember Sesame Street? Three of these things belong together...what's wrong with this picture is Henry doesn't belong on that cliff. He belongs back here, hugging us, playing with Isaac, flashing that charming smile, wooing Courtney (or not, whatever), playing games with Pack, making stellar lattes, leading the prayer at LIFE group...growing mature, learning how to budget, overcoming the regular problems everyone faces. Drawing, painting, writing. Looking spectacularly handsome.

Only 26. Come ON. Stupid prozac. Stupid me.

Gotta go to bed.

By the way, our concert went well Saturday night. We had one encore and a standing ovation. It was my favorite so far.

I love you, Sweet Hen Ben.

Friday, 4/20/07 9 p.m.

Hi honey,

I can't write long; I need to be in bed. My day was 12 hours long today, and I'm bushed. It was a trying day, hard to cope after the sorrows of the day before. Private, personal stuff, worries about Saul....

How can I carry on if I lose another boy? Your dad wrote him an email, and I called him to tell him it was coming. It was a loving letter and a no-uncertain-terms letter. We have yet to hear anything back from him.

The store is busy. Sometimes I want to scream at people to stop coming in. Right now it's too much. Hard to take.

There was a tragic shooting in Virginia this week. 33 people killed, including the shooter who took his own life. I'm grateful nothing like that happened to you.

I miss writing to you..don't have as much time as I used to. I hired two new people, though, so things should loosen up a little in a few weeks. One trouble: ____'s work is going south. She and Michael are not getting along. Going to try and have a store meeting on Tuesday.

Sweetheart, I miss you. Can't believe you're not here to put your arm around me and say something to make me feel better. You always did that for me. "Don't be sad, Lady Mama."

I love you,
-Mama

Sunday, 4/22/07 8:15 p.m.

Sweetheart,

Tonight I am feeling better. Saul came to see us today. He arrived about 5 minutes after Myra and Sophie left. (Your pop took Myra out for lunch and shopping at Whole Foods Market for her birthday while I hung out with Sophie.) I believe Saul was pretty straight with us. It was a good time, turned out better than I'd hoped.

We also decided that as a family we are going to the Neakhanie Lookout place on June 7th. We'll close the store that day. I'm not sure why I want to, but it seems like I need to do this. Your dad says he doesn't want to, but he would never stay behind if the rest of us were going.

Thank you God for bringing Saul back this far. We want to hold him close in our family circle, keep him safe, and help him trust you.

God bless you, Henry. God bless us.
Missing you,
Mama Pajama

Wednesday, 4/25/07 9:30 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

Once again I'm staying up too late. I am so tired most of the time, but I hate to go to bed early enough to get the rest I need. I just wanted to take time to tell you I love you before I turn in.

Yesterday it occurred to your dad that he was the last person in the family to see you alive. He was standing out front of the shop talking to Pete when you walked by on your way to CFO (we thought). He wanted to talk to you about some ways to make extra money at Jim and Patty's. He thought, well, I'll talk to him about it tomorrow. Watched you walk across the street to your car.

Tonight he cried as he told me about seeing a father with his little boy in Costco.

There is a sweetness to our grief, Bridgie, because it flows out of our love for you.

I want to reach into that other dimension where you are, grab your hand and pull you back. I keep thinking you must be right there, just right over there. Yes?? I love you,
Lady Mama


Monday, 4/30/07 8 p.m.

Hi Punkin,

Today I heard about a movie called "Numb." It's about a young man who suffers from a kind of anxiety that makes him feel like he's watching himself instead of being himself. I feel like that a lot. I wonder if you did? I'm sorry that I was so lame when it came to understanding your panic attacks and your anxiety. I didn't know how to help you and I just didn't "get" what you were enduring.

The last few days I have felt numb.

Saturday night both Isaac and James spent the night. I invited James at the last minute, thinking his presence would keep Isaac from getting bored. It more or less worked out. They had their moments: James was the "good" kid and Isaac was the "naughty" one. Isaac is such a little imp. They both got to make a couple of videos of their own, and we enjoyed watching them on the big TV.

Isaac ate his dinner and breakfast pretty well this time.

I showed him the photo album full of pictures of you, but he most certainly did not want to look at it. "No!"

Tonight I participated in a film Rosa Colquitt is making for Mother's Day. She interviewed me on camera. I talked a little about what it feels like to lose a sweet Henry the way we did.

My heart aches to think about Isaac growing up without you. I hope one day he will ask us to tell him all about you. We will help him understand how much you loved him, and that if you'd been able to ditch that prozac you never would have left him. How very badly you wanted to be Courtney's husband and Isaac's dad, a man of integrity and the head of the household. I promise to do what I can to help Isaac through the rough spots.

I think your sister is having a rough time. The poor kid looks so stressed and sad. I wish I could spend more time with her.

Sometimes I feel like I'm hanging in suspension, waiting for the rest of the world to collapse. Last night I dreamed I had to set off a nuclear bomb. No choice. And it was in front of our house. What was that about? I was glad to wake up.

I miss you, Henry. Don't leave us like this.
-Mama


Sunday, 5/6/07 9:30 a.m.

Hi Precious Bridgie,

Well it's Sunday morning and I finally have a few minutes to write to you. My life is so hectic right now. And, as for my grief, I sem to be on a hiatus. I "don't go there," as people say. Your dad, though...he told me he has sobbed over you every day lately. Patrick visits you in his dreams every night (or you visit him??) so he's feeling ok right now.

Last night Pack and I and Amanda and Joel went to a benefit dinner for ALS. Ann was a master of ceremonies, along with Matt Zeffino. Theresa spoke. It was good.

Yesterday was a new sales record for us (except for the Umpqua Bank day) For a while there was a line all the way back to the bookshelf and a second line at the door. Not sure how that got resolved. Your poor dad is knocking himself out trying to make enough goodies.

Yesterday I was thinking about all the bad things that happen to people, and how we all have the ability (thankfully) to shrug it off and move on. The big news story these days is global warming, and what that boils down to, it seems to me, is that we're all gonna die. That's mostly what we talk about. What's my point? I don't know...I guess I need to think about what my contribution is in between my birth and my death. Yesterday (or the day before? it runs together) a customer told me her son took his own life 1 1/2 years ago. All I know to do is to try to make connections with people that help a little. I share her sorrow.

Today there's a news story about E. Howard Hunt's death bed confession that LBJ killed JFK via the CIA. Man.

I need to work on my QB project today. But you know what else I want to do? Work on your art scrapbook. Not enough hours.

I need to focus on building hope in my soul and being grateful for all my blessings. My blessings are bounteous.

Precious one, I love you. You are one of my blessings. I pray God is holding you now, and that you are restored to joy.
Love, Mama

Tuesday, 5/8/07 8:45 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

LIFE group is all done, soup's put away, dishes are done, your pop just went to bed. Time to write to my Bridgie before I hit the sack too.

I kind of wish I didn't pick out this particular journal. The design doesn't feel right - too bright. Dare I say it? Too cheery. Not that I go around all the time with a long face. I do my share of laughing and cutting up. But just a little way under the surface the color deepens, darkens. Just under the skin is deep sorrow, and this bright cheery journal cover doesn't "go." Oh well.

I love your hands, your long fingers. I always thought they looked like fatherly, capable hands.

I re-read your dad's prayer today. Maybe I'll read it out loud next time we go to the support group.

Here's a triumph: I solved my computer problem yesterday. I called QB help and was able to get the data onto my laptop. YAY. That is a load off my mind. Now I just have a lot of back tracking to do, but I'm working on it. And the nice thing is, I can do it at home now.

I'm a-wearied tonight. Thinking of you constantly, hugging your shirt at night. Loving you.
Mama

Friday, 5/11/07 9:15 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

My eyes are drooping, but I can't go to bed without writing a few words to you first. How will you keep up with the family doin's if I don't write about them?

For starters, today is my father's birthday. He would be, wow, 89.

For another thing, your grandad dodged another bullet. We really thought he was on his way to heaven. Couldn't breathe, lungs filled with fluid. but they gave him medication that helped drain the fluid, he got better, and they sent him home today. The doc says he shouldn't be alive, that he has an aortic aneurism in addition to the torn aorta. He certainly won't be around much longer. He is a good man.

Pack has a new girl friend. She is a Christian, very cute and hyper. She says she's never been kissed. She baked him cookies. They will wait to go on their first date until she returns from a mission trip to Argentina.

My thoughts are turning constnantly to you and to your last few weeks with us. I am sad.

We sent Courtney flowers for Mother's Day. Last year I remember you were disappointed because we didn't get together that Sunday. I was too tired and I thought your dad didn't need the extra work of cooking for everyone. I remember also that you took Courtney flowers for Mother's Day, and you were not happy with the conversation you had with her at the time.

Honey, I miss you.
Love, Lady Mama

Sunday, Mother's Day, 5/13/07 11 a.m.

Dear Henry,

We're at lovely Salishan, near the end of our stay. It was short this time - we didn't get here until 6 or so, and we were so tired we both went to sleep at 9:30. I was rooked out of my traditional late night reading and writing time.

We were so tired because we had a record day yesterday. We even beat our bank day record. Amazing. We have lots of kinks to work out, and we made progress talking about things over breakfast.

When I woke up this morning it was as though someone had just asked me how many children I have. I woke up answering like this: we have 4 children, Myra Saul, Henry and Patrick. They all live in Portland except Henry. He lives in heaven.

I've had tiny glimpses of some kind of feeling of peace over the last few days. Perhaps I will be able to think about you someday without feeling such wrenching pain. Make no mistake: I will not ever get over this. I'll never ever give in to you on that. If I get over this it's like saying to you that what you did was ok because we got over it in the long run. You'll never catch me saying that. But I might give myself permission to feel some acceptance of the situation, since I can't change it.

Come back! We cried that over and over. Did you hear us? Did you want to? Oh God, there's that knife in the gut again.

How I love you, Henry. How much I love and care about you. You are infinitely precious to me forever.

Dad says hi. (Not really. I made that up. But really, he does, always.)
Love, Mama


Wednesday, 5/16/07 6:15 a.m.

Hi Bridgie,

I'm closing today because Michael wants me to teach him all my expectations for a good close. So, I am writing to you, relaxing at 6 in the morning.

I decided I want to plant forget-me-nots at your grave. Sarah gave me a cloth to cover the area and kill the weeds. Maybe that will be a good project for Sunday.

When we got up Monday morning we found a rose plant and a card by our door from Courtney and Isaac. Courtney wrote some kind things. Also Saul and Phin left cards and flowers. Saul did a homemade card that is really sweet. "I love you thiiiiiiiis much."

I want to get your art book finished, and include the cards you made for us over the years. There is so much to do, especially since the Computer Crash and Consequent Data Loss. So much to do, and yet so often I just sit here like a lump.

We are not going to close on the 7th after all. Dad got to thinking that if he doesn't come in and bake he won't be ready for the weekend. So the plan is for him to do the baking and leave around 6 a.m., and the rest of the staffing will be covered by our employees. I think we can pull it off.

Your dad is not going for any reason except to be with us. If it was up to him he'd never visit that spot. I feel conflicted about it. I don't want to honor or romanticize that place. That was just one weird blip in your life, an anomoly. A mistake you now regret, I'm sure, at least on some level. But something in me wants to experience the place, to see the view you saw, and to face the horror of it.

Did I tell you I found the letter that we wrote as a trick to get you to stop tormenting Patrick so that he'd be late for school? The one from the "Juvenile Department"? So funny. I'll never forget your reaction when we told you that was a fake. You were, like 21 or something. You were shocked, unbelieving, stupefied. Ho ho.

I need a picture of you here. Gonna go get one.

There. You and your seester at Meg's house. I think that was the summer Paula came for a visit a couple of years ago. You and Myra have a lot of love for each other.

I'd better go now and get the depahtment tidied up and myself ready for work. I love you sweet Hen Ben. Come Back.
Love, Mama Pajama (literally)


Tuesday, 5/22/09 10 p.m.

Hello Sugar Biscuit,

I've been looking forward all day to writing that. Sugar Biscuit. I've added a new nickname to your already long list.

It's been a while, huh? Usually I at least get to write on Sunday, but we were gone to Lebanon - took most all the day. We sat with Grandad and Grandma, Julie, Joe, Adam and the funeral director and planned Grandad's funeral. Not something you do every day, but it was ok.

Adam and I had a long hug and a cry.

I laid out the weed cloth and mulch over your grave, held in place by some nice rocks. It looks really nice. Your little hemlock tree is doing fine. I think I may only bring potted plants and flowers out there so that the weeds stay under control. I don't know...we'll see. Anyway, it looks much better now.

Pack and I are going to sing at Grandad's funeral. What hymn should it be?

I finished a book called "The Shack." It's about a man's encounter with God after losing his daughter to a serial killer. Quite a vivid description of God's love, and a dream/vision encounter with his daughter that rang true.

I feel resigned and disconnected right now. Why is that? It puzzles me that I could feel so detached from you, from my grief. I feel matter of fact about it. Weird.

I didn't go to the Suicide Survivors meeting last night. Pack forgot about it and made plans, and Saul was too busy I didn't want to go alone.

Myra is at the shop tonight doing baking prep jobs. Cool, huh? She's going to work 4 evenings a week so that your pop can keep up with the increased demand for his food. Poor Mar, she accidentally set off the alarm tonight. I hate that.

We bought a new cash register because the old one kept freezing. Today I gave the old one to Sophie and James. They'll have fun with that, eh?

I finished the catch-up reconciliations today! Yay!! All the lost data has been recovered. Now I can relax. We've ordered a printer for the laptop at work. Things are coming together.

Sweetheart. I love you. Don't forget us. We're still your family. We all love you.
Lady Mama

Monday, 5/28/07 9:45 p.m.

Hen Ben,

It's been quite a weekend Lots of ups and downs. I feel drained. Can't really talk to you about anything right now. Just wanted to say hi and remind you that I love you. In case you forgot.
I love you,
your Lady Mama


Wednesday, 5/30/07 9:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I keep staying up too late, either reading or playing with our family tree on ancestry.com. I'm sleepy, but I hate to go to bed.

There's so much going on..if you were here you'd be in the thick of things for sure. We're thinking strongly about moving J&P's to the new space next door. Also, the old CP location in Tigard wants us. It makes my head spin.

Your dad and I are struggling to get along these days. We are on edge or something. we both sometimes want to give up. But we can't. Too much love.

I still don't pray. What am I, stubborn?

Saul hasn't smoked for 2 weeks. He's working out too. He looks good. That is a happy thing.

I still feel numb, Henry. I must have a protective shell on. Like an M&M. I make plans to pray, I just don't follow through.

Feel like a loser tonight.
-Mama

Friday, 6/1/07 6:45 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Darcy gave me a quilt today. She made it herself. It has scriptures embroidered on it that she says God told her to give me. Here they are:

Psalm 73:23-24 / Psalm 63:8 / Psalm 1:2-3 / Psalm 42:11 / Psalm 116:7 / Galations 6:9 / Psalm 119:89-90 / Isaiah 43:1 / 2 Cor 1:3-4 / Psalm 100:2-3 / Psalm 6:6-10 / Isaiah 40:28-31 / Isaiah 41:9-10 / Isaiah 46:3-4 / Isaiah 49:16 / Psalm 114 / Jer 11:7-8 / Psalm 126:5 / Matt 11:30 / Psalm 101:28-30 / Psalm 119:10 / Isaiah 40:11 / Isaiah 63:8.


Saturday, 6/2/07 10:30 p.m.

Henry,

After I looked up all the verses I was overcome with sleep. I laid myself out on the big green couch and crashed until 11:30. Seems like days ago now.

I finally prayed for real. I think it was Thursday night. Then it was hard to fall asleep. As we get closer to the 7th I'm having all those sad images and feelings crowding my head and heart again.

We got such a lovely card today from a customer. Her name is Lynne - June capp for here, Saturday mornings, with her friend, Wally latte. Remember them? They remember you.

Remember Amanda's friend, Janaki? Her mother died suddenly last night from a heart attack. She was in her late 40's. Very sad.

Tonight I finished your art book. I still want to make a title page or something on the cover. "by Henry" or "Made by Henry" or...I'll figure it out. Doesn't matter so much - the inside is the juicy good part.

Dad is still up!! He can't stop exploring ancestry.com. He found out I'm related to lots of famous people, like JFK, Sir Isaac Newton, President Bush...Maybe I'll print the list and stick it in here sometime.

Today was not so busy but it seemed like a hard day anyway. I had a headache all day. And Pack was late - I had to run in early and didn't make it until 5:40. Forgot to bring the change bag. That kind of thing. Then we had about 60 trays of pastry leftover. Oh well. Our slow days now are still way busier than we used to be.

Sometimes I see your face in my heart and it snatches my breath away.

Not many tears though. I'm a stoic old girl. Guess this ol' heart is locked up for a while.

Sweet Ben Bridge, I love you.
-Mama Pajama


Sunday, 6/3/07 9:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Yur dad's blood sugar reading is over 500 tonight. I'm scared to even write that. I've been thinking he was doing better because he's been on a new medication and losing weight. It scares me.

We had a good day otherwise. Got the kitchen and living area cleaned up finally. Jeff's sermon was really really good today. Did more research on ancestry.com. No fighting today. I'm not sleepy - wish I was. I must pray for your dad. I love him. I love you. I miss you, HenBenaroony.
Love, Lady Mama

P.S. Dave called today.


Monday, 6/4/07 9:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

After spending time with my new addiction, ancestry.com, I worked on your art book some more. I pasted photos on the inside cover and I pasted blue-sprayed-with gold letters on the cover. It says, "by Henry..." Do you like it? I'm going to take it to work tomorrow to share with our customers.

Your pops went to the doctor and got some different, more powerful diabetes medicine. I feel less worried now.

Thursday we will close at noon; Janaki's mother's memorial is at 2 that day. This way Michael can go. And since it's a shorter day, I'm hoping I can get Pack off entirely. So that will be ok.

I'm a sleepy mom.

You are related to Norman Rockwell. Dad thinks you look like him.

Kisses and hugs sweet Hen Ben. I would flap your ears and kiss the top of your head if you were sitting here right now. A year ago you were sitting here, right in the chair where I am.
- Broken-hearted Mama Pajama


Tuesday, 6/5/07 8:30 p.m.

Henry,

I'm trying to be real honest with myself here. I think one reason I don't want this anniversary to come and go is that I don't want to get far away from what happened to you. I don't want to get used to it. After a year I'll be expected (by whom? myself?) to just put "it" meaning you behind me and carry on with life. It's a vast empty landscape rushing at me. I want to stay in this special spot of grief, love, pain because it's closer to where I last saw you and held you. Or, maybe I just like it when people feel sorry for me.

I'm sitting under the "comfort quilt" Darcy made me. It's a cool night. I'm still flabbergasted that she made this.

I brought your art book to work and lots of people enjoyed it, some you know and some you don't. Everyone is amazed at your talent and heart. Pack is especially proud. Whenever someone is looking at it, he wants to look too.

I'm tired. It's hard to sleep lately. Thoughts of you.

Come back, Hen Ben. Just come back.

Paula sent me a photo of you holding Andrew with Myra looking on. Sweet children. (Note: Paula's son Andrew died of SIDS at 3 1/2 months in 1987.)
Love, Mama


Thursday, 6/7/07 5:00 a.m.

Dear Ben Bridge,

I had arranged to have this day off, but your pop got behind in baking yesterday because Michelle didn't come to work. So I'll go in a few minutes and help him get the display done, etc. The goal is to leave for Manzanita with all of us in the truck by 9:30 or so.

Manzanita. How we teased you about that place when you were a kid! You loved it so. Naturally that's the place you were drawn to in the end. If only our thick skulls could have figured that out we might have found you in time. We have a lot of "if only's" Hen Ben.

Anne and Goat read your book today. Goat was in tears. They brought flowers and a card. Several people read it, and I mean every word. They are all amazed at your wonderfulness.

I'd better get my shoes on and head out into this sad day. I love you, Bridgie.
-Mama


Thursday, 6/7/07 8:15 p.m.

Bridgie, we did it. We went to your spot. We don't know exactly the place, but I have a hunch I know. I saw the rock, easy to get to, no one could see you from the highway, and it stuck out a bit, with brush underneath. Ah, it hurts more now, now that we're home. At the place today it was less climactic than I expected. Part of me wishes I knew every tiny detail of what you did there, but that would probably just add more what if's and if only's.

Pack just went home. We got back around 4 or so, but he seemed to want to hang out with us for a while. He and Saul got past their initial awkwardness. They haven't spoken to each other in months.

Henry, I hate for time to pass, taking me away from your last times here with us. I don't want to "put it behind me and move on." I want to live there, with you. The kids told me they feel that way too.

I do want to make things the best they can be for everyone. I want to minimize the damage. If there are any kernels of good to come from it, I want to find them.

I'm really really tired. I still feel unplugged. I didn't cry today. What am I, a cold unfeeling monster?

Packy said you told him, "It's too late," when he begged you to "come back, don't do it." Did you mean because you took all the pills and figured you were already a goner? Or that your problems were too great, now that you'd skipped work that day and spent money you didn't have - all that "failure" stuff?

Are you watching us now? Guess what? I love you, my skinny son Henry.
-Lady Mama

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Letters to Henry, Part 4, 1/22/07



Monday, 1/22/07 10 p.m.

Dear Sweet Hen-Ben,

I just got home from Belle Voci practice. What knock-out music we are doing this time! I love music so much. I've had a good time making my own eclectic mix cd's lately - weird combos of Bulgarian Ladies, Bob Dylan, Brahms, spirituals, Joni Mitchell, Pentangle, etc. It's the tip of the iceberg. I wish I could make a mix for you.

Driving home tonight the shock of your death hit me again. Not my boy, not my Henry. Not gone?!

I've started reading When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada. I like it so far. I hope it helps me deal.

I'm trying to learn to take comfort from carrying you in my heart. I do feel you in there with Mom and Dad. I find myself with my arms about my own heart sometimes, trying to hold you.
Courtney is off on the cruise now. I'll be taking Isaac out to a movie or somewhere on Thursday. I'll tell you all about it, don't worry.

Myra said he left this message on her phone the other day, "Auntie My-My, it's snowing." Click.
Your dad suggests that for your birthday each of us should talk about our unique relationship with you; what special thing about Henry did we love? I love this idea. I will write it all down for you.

There are so many things for me. I'll try not to go on and on at the party, but for now...the way you called me Lady Mama, the pats on the head, the way you always wanted to come over on Sunday, the interest you took in your ancestors, your "sly gentleness," your love of family, the beautiful cards you made for me...there was a fierce tenderness about you.

Goodnight, sweetheart. I love you.
Lady Mama

Friday, 1/26/07 8;45 p.m.

Dear Precious Henry,

How I miss you. How I love you. How I wish you were here, here tonight. It over whelmed me today.

I have new things to tell you. For starters, yesterday Myra got THE CALL from Harcourt in New York!! They accepted Charlotte Jane the Hearty. Myra is beside herself. It is good to see her so happy. We're all ecstatic about this. If only you were here to see the process unfold, especially the illustrator part. Remember you were working on drawings for Tigers in the Toilet? I'm afraid I wasn't very encouraging about your first drafts. Oh, I ache to redo that scene.

Today, guess who came to see us at the shop? Glenda! I gave her a big hug - actually, several of them. She was in tears over you She says she has boxes of Friendly House pictures, and she'll look for pictures of you, Myra, Saul and Pack.

Pack and I took Isaac to see Night at the Museum yesterday afternoon. I think he was a little scared at first (animals and exhibits come to life at night) but there was enough humor to keep him steady and interested. Then we came home for dinner, after a stop at Safeway for chocolate soy milk and granola bars. He ate a pretty good dinner with the granola bar as a carrot.

Isaac said him mom is on a big boat. Then he said something about her getting married and his daddy is still alive. I'm not sure if he thinks she went on the boat to find you and marry you - that's what it seems he was thinking. Sad. Then I took him home to Courtney's new house. It's off 185th near Baseline. Isaac showed me all around. He seems very proud of it, especially Courtney's bathroom. He REALLY loves the shower. It has 2 places to sit!

I think Saul is doing a little better. I should talk to him tomorrow, see how things are. I know he took Rabecca and Phin down to Lebanon to visit the folks on Sunday. And he's getting a good bonus at the end of this month, so things are less dire for him than they were.

I have so many things to do, but I can't get motivated. Like PRACTICE! Belle Voci is not ready for our Feb 3rd concert. Also the scrapbook of your art, and your memory book. I just keep my nose in a book until I get sleepy enough to go to bed.

I've been sleeping a little better lately. Maybe going back to circuit training is doing the trick.

I feel extra tired tonight: it was a busy Friday (thankfully!) plus it was workout day and I donated blood.

I always love spending this time with you. It helps me keep going.

Your birthday is coming up!

Kisses and hugs,
Mama

Sunday, 1/28/07 9:30 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

I had 2 big goals today: to go to the cemetery and to practice. I didn't practice at all. I did visit your grave, though, and it was a sight. Henry, the dirt has sunk way in around the head end! It was awful. I cleared leaves and junk away and tried to fill in the gap with plants and stuff. I put up 2 of the glass globes (the 3rd one came apart but I fixed it today and will take it back there soon) and I left the jar with the little notebook/guest book.

I also spent hours filling up the photo album that Meg gave me with pictures of you. Next I want to make a nice cover page for it. I gathered more material for your memory book also. In short, it was a Henry Day.

I wish I had another day off tomorrow. Don't feel like I'm ready to go back to work yet. Oh well.

Today Jeff preached so hard that lots of people came forward. He said we don't care whether people are going to hell. For me that's not exactly the case, although I guess it really is true. But more than that, I still struggle to actually believe God will send so many people to hell, based on a sort of technicality.

I guess you know it all now.

I think, in spite of me being a lazy, stubborn, undisciplined, wavering, selfish human being, God is with us. Even though he didn't save you, somehow, he is still with us. I guess none of us are gonna come out of this alive, not in the traditional sense.

I love you. Do you love me still? Do you miss me? Do you care about your brother Pack? And Courtney and Isaac, Myra and Saul? Your pops?

-Sad Hearted Mama


Wednesday, 1/31/07 9:30 p.m.

Sweetheart,

Life is eventful these days. I think you did that. Your death drenched our lives with meaning. I pray God will use it all for good.

On Monday a young man read your dad's prayer. He told me his birthday is Feb. 10th and that he struggles with thoughts of suicide. I told him I was sure you didn't really want to die, and I begged him to remember how awful it is for loved ones left behind. After he left I cried and cried. Your father was not there at the time, but we discovered later that he was overcome with grief at the same time - out of left field it hit him. We are so hooked up, he and I. I guess it's a God deal. I hope so much he comes back. I want to do something for his birthday. I'm haunted by his eyes. God, please keep him safe.

Carl the stone guy says your marker will be installed this week - he said Wed. or Thurs. Tomorrow after work I'll check on it.

I talked to Saul tonight. Haven't spoken to him for a while. He said he's "dealing with a lot right now" but that he's OK. He was out with Buck talking things over. I worry about Saul so much. God says, don't worry, but honestly, how can I help it?

I finished When God Weeps tonight. It was a meaningful read. Pack says Tessa is wrestling with the "why" of suffering - maybe I'll see if she'd like to borrow it.

Very sad, missing you. Henry, Henry, my sweet boy, please don't be gone. Please come back. I am broken hearted. My face cracks open and reveals my shattered, bloody grief. My son. I love you. Every precious hair, every precious tear. You matter to me.

-Mama Pajama

Saturday, 2/3/07 6:45 a.m.

Dear Henry,

I have a few minutes to write before I leave for the choir workshop. That's right, I don't have to go to work today! I don't think I've fully appreciated yet the magnitude of missing a Saturday. We're so unprepared for tonight's concert, though. I have not encouraged anyone to come see us.

Your marker was indeed installed on Thursday, and it is beautiful. It turned out better than I expected. Now we just need to get your place trimmed out with flowers and your tree. It already shouts to anyone who sees it, WE LOVE HENRY!

-Mama

Sunday, 2/4/07 10:30 p.m.

Dear Sweetheart,

Today was Superbowl Sunday, but we didn't really watch the game. After church we fixed pizza for lunch and then went to the Apple store and bought an iPod hi-fi. Now I'm listening to my playlist in the living room straight from the iPod - pretty sweet. I rearranged most of the pictures and put up some new ones of you, and I got the main area cleaned up. It was a good day, even though I have a strong under-current of sadness.

The workshop and concert were OK. The Wilson H.S. group sang "I'm Goin' Up a Yonder" and it made me cry big time. I love watching the kids' faces while they sing.

I didn't beg anyone to come to the concert, but Meg surprised me by showing up anyway.

We're off the "Recently Lost Loved Ones" prayer list at SW now. Graduates of Grief University.

I felt a stirring deep within me the other day. It was a yearning to give birth to you again.

Pack wasn't at church today. Myra and James weren't because they have colds, but Thomas and Sophie were there. Saul called yesterday while I was gone and your pop was asleep. Courtney and Isaac came to church late and left early because she was hosting a Superbowl party.

Saul and Pack are the ones I worry about. Especially Saul.

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. Proverbs 24:26. Isn't that great?

Tessa is leaving to live in Washington state with her aunt. This is good for Patrick.

I miss you. I'm sad.

-Mom

Friday, 2/9/07 5:30 a.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

I skipped class today - not enough sleep, too tired to face it. Not able to sleep well the last couple of nights.

The young man who shares your birthday has not been back, as far as I know. I have a card ready for him.

The drain under the espresso machine clogged up again. Roto Rooter had to come out, just like on the day you died. Only he wasn't late - I didn't have to stay and wait for him this time.

We're going to have such a magnificent dinner on Sunday for your birthday. Pack and I joked that we wouldn't be surprised if you showed up because all your favorite foods will be sur la table.

Dave might come. I hope so.

I love you sweetheart. I miss you.

-Sad Faced Mama

Friday, 2/9/07 10:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

We're all going around in tears lately. It hurts. We really, really miss you, Henry. Today Julie and Steve Pietella brought in a photo of you at the coffee shop that they found on their computer. We don't have any other pictures of you at J & P's that I can find.

Anne and Goat send their love.

-Mom

Saturday, 2/10/07 10 p.m.

Sweet Hen Ben,

Whenever I write "Feb. 10" I have to stop myself from adding "1980." 27 years ago. By this time after your arrival we were safely holed up in our home on Manchester Place, and it was beginning to dawn on me how tired I was and how you didn't yet know that night time is the right time to sleep.

This morning I remembered that Dave had backed up photos from our old computer onto a CD. I found it and put the photos on the computer at work as well as the one at home. Now we have several more nice ones of you, although the great majority of them are of the grand children. We didn't know that we should be making portraits of you. We didn't know what a short time we had left with you.

Amanda brought flowers today. Marianna (secret agent 005 drink) gave us a check for Sonrise School in your memory. The young man didn't come in for his birthday card, but I'll keep it for him. Please, please come in!

I planted the hemlock tree at your grave today. It was kind of creepy digging around at your feet. But I put in nice soil and fertilizer and watered it well, plus it was raining, so hopefully it will thrive. I also brought daffodils and crocuses, and there were tulips from Courtney and Isaac. They came to the shop today with Amanda. It was so good to get a big hug from Isaac. He is so blessed cute.

Saul and Rabecca also came in today. They are apparently back together, and Saul seems to be happier. I asked him to come to church tomorrow. We'll see.

Are you going to show up for this meal? Tell you what, you would love it. Steak, salad, new potatoes, baguettes, oreo cheesecake. Fancy wine. We should be ashamed - we put on a better spread for you now than we did when you were alive. Dave and Meg are coming.

Courtney and I both felt weird because we were not very emotional today. All the days leading up to your birthday have been rough, but today wasn't.

Here's a photo of your beautiful headstone:
I can't figure out how to insert images into the text...the photo is at the beginning of the section.


Was your birthday a happy one? I dearly hope so. I hope it was the happiest birthday you've ever had.

I love you, precious.
-Mama

Monday, 2/12/07 10:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Did you see the spread we laid out in honor of your birthday? Did you see that Dave drove all the way up here from Eugene, and Meg left Steve alone 3 hours to be with us? And did you hear the sweet words we all spoke about you at the cemetery? Your dad gave the whole occasion a kind of grace with his comments at your grave, and his prayer for you, for us. Did you see our tears? I'm dumbfounded that this has happened to you, to us.

Jim said each child is his favorite, and he told why. You are his favorite, he said, because you are like me, "and," he said, "I married Patty." Sophie began to sob while Jim spoke. That's tough.

For the meal we served two fancy wines: the Hall Cabernet Sauvignon and the Trefethen Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. At the meal we had Courtney, Isaac, Myra, Sophie, James, Dave, Patrick, Meg, Saul, Rabecca, and me and Dad. The group that came to the cemetery was me and Dad, Patrick, Myra and the kids, Dave, Saul and Rabecca. James and Sophie brought heart balloons for you. James thought about giving you the chocolate Valentine frog I gave him, but then he said, "dead people don't eat chocolate!" But he wanted you to have the heart balloon because otherwise you'd completely miss out on Valentine's Day. He's such a sweetheart.

It was the first time Myra's been back there since you were buried. She hasn't wanted to take the kids there, but now they've done it I think they'll be OK in the future.

I made a little framed thank you note for our customers with a photo of the headstone. I'll put it out at the shop tomorrow.

It means a lot to me that Dave came up for the day.

Patrick is my worry now. Please, God, put a hedge around Patrick. He is so precious to us. Please show us how best to help him.

And give Henry all the love and hugs and kisses that we long to shower on him. Please let him know we love him.

Henry, it's very hard to be separated from you. It's hard to remember those last days and hours. We're your family: we groan with the pain of it.

Love, your Lady Mama

Wednesday, 2/14/07 10:45 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I keep staying up late. Tsk, tsk.

Today was nice because I got to stay home until noon. We got the shop cleaned up quickly, so I was back home soon. Your dad fixed an extra special dinner, and we had a super nice time before he went to bed. We did a lot of reminiscing about you and the other kids. We've been trying to remember that the past is just as real as the present. We'll always have our memories of you.

The rest of the evening I messed around downloading music and revising my playlist. Fun. I even have the Banana Boat song on there. Remember that funny movie, Beetle juice? As I recall, you loved that movie. I'm looking forward to playing it for Patrick tomorrow.

Dad's scone sign was great today. It was something like: you're talented and good looking. Sure, you have a few flaws, but what the heck, you're flesh and blood. Have a scone!

Tomorrow the sausage biscuits will be called Pig Newtons. It pains me that you re missing all this fun.

Here's the note I put in a frame with a picture of your headstone. It's sitting by the clock next to the framed copy of your memorial program:

Friends, Neighbors, Church Family,

Because of your generous gifts these good things were accomplished;
*Emergency expenses covered for Henry's family
*Support for Sonrise School in Henry's name
*Education Trust Fund established for Isaac
*The beautiful gravestone pictured below

You prayed, ran the shop, sent cards and flowers, attended Henry's memorial, and gave your hard-earned money to help us cope with this awful reality. What a blessing you all are!

Thank you,
Jim, Patty, Patrick, Saul, Myra, Courtney, and Isaac


No Valentine's party this year. Maybe next year. No lack of love, though. Love grows for us, while grief keeps hanging on. Heart Ache.

Good night my dear, precious, irreplaceable Henry.

-Mama Pajama


Friday, 2/17/07 9:15 p.m.

Dear Sweet Hen Ben,

I am still rebellious about you being gone. I am kicking against the pricks. Don't want to believe it.

Here's something difficult. Something I find really hard to say to you. I came to a realization last night while in prayer. I always pray for you, that you are safe in heaven. I've been struggling with the thought that you might not be in heaven. If you weren't, could I stand to be there without you? Could I forgive God for not accepting you? I realized last night that I have to stop fighting God about this. Maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said we have to love God more than our family. I have to put him first. What he says goes. What choice do I have? He cannot do a wrong thing.

Anyway, I believe he welcomed you with open arms. And that's what I'm going with.

Yesterday I started making a list of things that are true. Not just true for me, but TRUE. It was fun. I took the list to work so people can add to it.

One true thing is, it hurts to lose someone you love. Another true thing: it feels good to stretch.

Tonight I finished Michael's review and revised my music mix for work. Did a little reading, and I'm writing to you. So, even though I did goof off and play Snood for a while, the evening hasn't been completely couch potato-istic.

Remember Steve, dbl Wally Americano? His marriage is breaking up. I haven't talked to him about it, just gotten wind of it. So sad. The end of a marriage is like a little death.

On a happier note, Patrick has been making progress. He hasn't stopped drinking, but he's drinking less and sleeping better.

Channel 2 interviewed me today to get my reaction to recent vandalism against Starbucks. I think I did OK. It'll be on sometime this weekend. You know I hate to be on camera, but Jim had already left for the day, and I couldn't turn down free publicity.

Broken. I keep feeling that word. I guess the pieces of my heart are sort of taped back together so it still works. But it's broken.

Thank God, your heart is healed now.

I love you so much, my son. You're forever my precious boy. God bless you.
-Mama Pajama


Sunday, 2/18/07 9:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I began work on a scrapbook of your drawings, cards, school things tonight. It's pretty bare at this point - maybe I'll spruce it up with photos, stickers, notes, etc. But at least I made a start! You have a lot of stuff - will probably need more than one book, especially if I include some of your school papers, poems, comic books like "Amoeba Man." Good stuff, Hen Ben.

We had a nice Sunday. Patrick and Jesse came to church. They are both reading To Hell and Back, getting the fear. That is good, I guess?

I finished Alphabet of Grace today. I love that book. Here are some neat things I read:

Buechner's little girl said she wanted to be green when she grew up.

The place where I sin is a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.

When we dream, the characters and scenes are created by us, inside our own skulls, yet they move with a curious freedom.

Neat ideas, huh? if you were here, we would talk about them. You would be interested.

One of the little Shahan boys was baptized by his father this morning. I cried, remembering all our kids' baptisms by your father.

No one can ever take away our past from us. Our time together stands forever. Not one moment can be touched. Would that I could change some of it, but at least I get to keep the good parts too. Looking at your drawings, I remember that there were lots of good times.

I got the house cleaned up today. Clean sheets! I even cleaned out behind the fridge. You approve, I know. You like a clean house.

Tomorrow I'm "on" at 5 a.m., so I should try to get to bed. I usually have trouble getting to sleep on Sunday nights.

As I write, I often notice how my handwriting is so like yours. I'm glad of that.

Saul dreamed of you Friday night. A friend introduced you to Saul. You had that little held-back smile as you watched Saul realize who you were. Saul was speechless with joy. You hugged and hugged. The dream made Saul happy.

Love, Mama


Wednesday, 2/20/07 9:30 p.m.

Hi Punkin,

I didn't have my morning off today. Your dad called at 6 for me to come in so Pack could go home. Pack has a raunchy cold. Oh well. I do really enjoy my morning off, but it was OK. Pack called tonight and says he'll be back tomorrow.

Yesterday afternoon your pop and I had a sob fest over you. Can't remember what set us off, but your dad began sobbing and then I joined him. We just sat together on the couch, crying. We are still dumbfounded. I told Jim tonight that I'm still fighting, still can't believe it. He said he feels that way too, and as far as he's concerned, he always will. Why not? It never will make sense.

I fulfilled one of your dreams and hired Gene the floor guy. We're finally going to have shiny clean floors. In Henry's honor, I told him. Remember, you used to bug me to call him? Sorry it took so long.

Darling. I'm an idiot. I find myself thinking maybe you'll come back. Somehow, there was a mistake. It makes no sense that you would do that. If you would have been hit by a truck, that might have made some kind of sense. But this. Nope. It's nonsense.

I love you. "Lost" is on. I'm suddenly very tired.

-Mama


Monday, 2/26/07 7:15 a.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

Yes, I am at home on Monday morning! This is the day Pack is making up his sick day by working for me. Not only that, he borrowed my car yesterday because his Black Monster broke down again. That car eats up money and spits it out again as trash. I guess I'm saying it barfs money. Anyway, I am stuck at home. :)

It feels like the days since I last wrote to you have been eventful. On the surface nothing much happened...Friday night your dad and I had a horrible fight. Since you died we don't fight as much, but when we do, the fight has a desperate quality. I actually beat his chest and said I hate you. I've never done that before. I really really wanted to run away and die. Like you, I have an explosive temper.

Besides the fight, our grief has been more intense lately, especially for your dad.

We had Isaac overnight and added James and Sophie yesterday afternoon for lunch after church. Isaac left about 2:30 and J&S around 4:30.

Here's what I noticed about Isaac: he does not want to talk about you. He seemed a little subdued yesterday not his usually sparkly cheery self. He played by himself much more easily than I've seen before. When I asked him who is his best friend, he said James. He went to bed with no complaint and slept fine until 6:30. Then he got up and he and Pocky made pancakes and coffee together, while I listened, pretending to be asleep.

We couldn't watch Charlie Brown this time because the dumb VCR isn't working again. No picture just sound. Frustrating. I wish you were here, I bet you could fix it. You have a way with these things.

J and E came forward yesterday to confess that they're having a baby in April and that if you do the math, it's obvious they were pregnant before they got married. In our culture, that's not even a sin anymore. But I still believe that's one of God's rules that, if obeyed, pays off in blessings. We're all sinners, though.

Last night your dad and I had a fruitful discussion. We worked out that if we trained an assistant we could save him a lot of stress by getting prep work done for him. This way he could produce more and feel more successful. Because he is a "performer" he gets freaked out when he isn't successful, as he defines it, in his job. He has to wow people by making an ever increasing variety of stuff that becomes favorites. When he hears complaints like, how come no hippie scones? how come no gingerbread today? he gets super stressed. I always wonder why he takes one remark like that so seriously, but it's because he's the performer type. I ain't.

Anyway, we're going to see if Liz would like to be trained to be his assistant.

I purchased the History of Ancient Rome lecture series as a surprise for him last night. He can download it to the iPod and listen to it at work. I hope he will like it.

I dread spring because it carries me closer to June.

Paula sent me photos of Tyler. He's Jungle Nature Boy, naked to the waist, parrot on his finger. Brazil seems to agree with him. He looks surprisingly like Patrick.

Isaac ate shrimp and spinach because he wants to be strong. That's a theme with him.

Bagel Girl broke up with her boy friend, so she and Pack are hanging out again. If this relationship helps Pack quit drinking, I'm all for it.

Rob told me in private that his wife died - he said "72 hours ago" on Saturday afternoon, so it must have happened Wednesday last week. She had cancer. So sad. Rob is the one whose mother killed herself when he was 7.

This world is FULL to the brim with pain.

I love you, precious son. You are real. You lived. You are always our own Henry.

-your Lady Mama


Wednesday, 2/28/07 9:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I'm so sad these days. I have to make up things to look forward to. Like ordering the lecture series. Like making a haircut appointment. Like buying a $20 watch today to replace my lost one. None of these things work.

Today I began writing a letter to Frederick Buechner. I haven't finished it, and I'm not sure if I will mail it. I just want to tell him about you, how I love you, how much pain I'm in worrying about you. I want to ask him about heaven and hell.

I'm just sad. Don't know what else to say. I escaped in Snood for a couple of hours, but I can't live there. I wish you could comfort me in a dream, let me know you're OK.

I need to try to forgive God and to trust him. He is the boss. If I believe he is good, then that should be all I need to know.

-Mama

Thursday, 3/1/07 5:30 a.m.

Henry,

I think I am blue because of something your dad told me the other day. Apparently there is research to show that kids brought up in the 80's have an alarming rate of unsuccess: didn't do well in school, can't get ahead at work, can't form lasting relationships. They believe this is due to the educational system's emphasis on building self esteem.

Makes me sad, and it's hard to shake. I've no choice, though. I have to shake it for our family's sake.

Off to work now. I love you, honey.

-Mama Pajama

Thursday, 8:15 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

Courtney sent us a sad poem via email today. I guess I'll past it here:

The poem is called "When Tomorrow Starts Without Me." I won't reproduce it here, and I'm leaving Courtney's comments out for the sake of her privacy....
Yeah, Courtney. March last year was a real, real sad time. Many sleepless nights, many tears, frantic worry, frantic prayers. But, bless your heart, Henry, you gave us a golden time come April, when you returned from your far country. We are so grateful for that.

This poem, for all it's typos or whatever, caused our tears to flow yet again tonight, for Courtney, for Isaac, for us, for you.

I love you, Hen Ben.
-Mama

Sunday, 3/4/07 1:30 a.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

Don't have much to tell you, but I like touching base with you anyway. Your pop has a rough cold and a fever - it was hard on him to be at work today. I've spent the last few hours goofing off: watching TV, playing Snood, reading. I worked 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. so I was kind of wiped out. Now I'm finally getting sleepy, so I guess I'll hit the sack. I'll be hugging your t-shirt while I fall asleep in a few minutes. I keep clinging to you in this way. Inside, when I think of you, I am moaning.

How did David sit in ashes 3 days and then put it behind him?

Goodnight, my treasure.

I love you, Ben Bridge.
-Lady Mama


Sunday, 3/4/07 8:45 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I worked on my letter to Buechner some more tonight. Maybe tomorrow I'll finish it and get it ready to mail

Your pop sure is sick. He felt better for a little while this morning, but worse later. It's hard to imagine how he'll be able to go to work in a few hours. I really don't want to come down with this, but I don't know how I'll avoid it.

About life after death, here's what I read by Buechner tonight: "I begin to know that I do not need to know and that I do not need to be afraid of not knowing. God knows. That is all that matters." Also, "out of each old self that dies some precious essence is preserved for the new self that is born." You have let go of all the things about yourself that you railed against - the spending, the addictions, the anger, that self you called a failure. Now the precious essence of you, of Henry, is free to go on forever without those burdens.

Is that true? I pray in my current awkward fashion that it is. I pray for me to trust, and for mercy to surround you from God.

When I am so hopeless, it is Sophie's face in my mind's eye that makes me keep trying. I have to keep it together for her. Everyone's face comes before me when I am in despair, but for some reason, hers is first.

I just can't give up. If I do, I'll drag my whole family down with me. So....

I love you, Hen-Ben-a-Rooney. Rah-Rah. Baby the George. Ben Bridge. Hon Bun. Punkin. Sweetheart. Son.
-Mama

Tuesday, 3/6/07 9:15 p.m.

Hi Henry,

It was such a pretty day today. I decided to make my vision a reality...meaning, I've been picturing a row of primroses by your headstone. I stopped by Safeway and got the flowers and some potting soil and got 'er done. I cleaned things up, also planted the pots of tulips, daffodils and crocus and watered everything really well. It looks really pretty. I want people who see it to know how much we love you. I also gave a couple of flowers to your neighbor, Shirley. No one brings her anything. She died on her birthday, Jan. 16, 1935-Jan. 16, 2004. I wonder what happened: Couldn't find anything on the internet about her.

Man, your pop is really sick. His fever won't go away. I wish he didn't have to go to work. Liz learned how to make scones today, but we're a long way from her being able to do it all. I just hope I don't get it. The cold, that is.

You are safe from all this now.

I've pulled out of that bad depression. I'm keeping my grief on a shelf somewhere. I know it's there, but I'm staying away from it.

Wish I could help Jim. He's so miserable. I will pray for him.

Love, Mama Pajama

Friday, 3/9/07 7 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Well, it's been a long week in Lake Wobegon. Your dad is still sick. He finally called the doc yesterday who phoned in a prescription for antibiotics. The worst part is his cough. It keeps him awake, and it's so severe he has a large bruise on his side from pulling a muscle. Man. I've worked extra hours to cover the early morning so he can leave at 6, but I haven't been able to take over his whole job. Aaargh.

Portland Monthly rated our coffee cake best in Portland a couple of weeks ago. Since then it's been impossible to keep up. People keep ordering 6-8-12 pieces at a time, so that we're running out by 10 or so. Not good. With your dad so sick, he's not able to push himself any harder to make more. Oh well, good problem to have, too much business.

I colored my hair and got a nice haircut yesterday. I'm light brown again. It's kind of fun to make a change.

Dan Jocoy visited us for a while yesterday. He apologized for not spending time with us after you died.

You know, I find myself wishing I could tell someone all about what happened. I don't know under what circumstances I'll ever be able to do that. Who would sit down and say to me, "tell me all about it"? No one. People think you don't want to talk about it. That's not so - the only thing that stops me is knowing how uncomfortable it makes people. I hope I can remember this for someone else's sake.

Pretty soon I'll have this book filled up. I thought about making my next book letters to God, but I don't believe I'm ready to give up writing to you.

We had a lot of laughs at the shop today. Tomorrow our scone sign says, "I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed."

Here's a cute thing: Myra and Thomas bought a new car (Honda Civic) and James was so upset to lose the Volvo. "Goodbye, Black Swede!" he cried, throwing himself across the hood. He got Black Swede from Thomas, of course.

Goodnight, Baby the George. I love you something fierce. I don't like being separated from you.

XXOO Lady Mama

P.S. Love is eternal.

Sunday, 3/11/07 8:30 p.m. Spring Forward Day! Boo hoo!!!

Henry, Pack dreamed about you last night, a happy dream. You, Pack and Myra were in heaven. You were overjoyed to see each other. Pack told you, please visit Mom. And you did. You visited me on the eve of the anniversary of your death. We cried for joy and hugged each other.

Pack said heaven was like a fun mall with lots of activities, like, you could travel back in time at will. He went back to Ellerson Terrace and brought himself a Game Boy.

Craig Benjamin preached today and he said something that struck me. He said sometimes we believe in God but we don't believe God.

I think your dad is finally feeling a little better. He slept a lot today and he seems to be sleeping well right now. This morning I told him I'd rather have him healthy and living on the street than have this business kill him. We have to come up with an alternative to his crazy schedule. Have to. Have to.

I love you, precious one. I miss you.
-your Mom


Wednesday, 3/14/07 7:40 a.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

Well, here I am, another leisurely Wednesday morning. Slept in til 7; now it's coffee, crossword puzzle and you. I have to be there by nine, so this will all end soon, but it's nice anyway.

Yesterday your dad and I had another painful fight. I don't really want to talk about it right now, but here's the upshot: Liz is quitting to go back to school, and I think I learned a little something about why I am so good at making your dad crazy mad. You know, when you grew up, especially in the last year or so, I think you understood your dad better than any of us. At any rate, I have a fresh resolve to walk in his shoes, to see his side, and try not to be defensive. I also want to tell my side of things and not lie about what I think, or bury it.

I guess with some of us it takes a lifetime, and maybe we still can't figure out how to get along.

Oops, I skipped another page! Photos inserted here.....

But I love him. All the qualities I fell in love with back in 1966 are still there. My own hang-ups and neuroses get in the way as much as his do.

I saw a film on TV last night of a polar bear with her newborn cub, and a wildabeest fighting off hyenas to rescue her calf. I thought only of you. I failed to protect you. God only knows how I go on each day, eating potatoes, working out, checking email, making coffee...

I'm sorry, baby.
-Mama

Tuesday, 3/15/07 8:45 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

Well, today was a step forward. I made 2 batches of coffee cake and the coconut oatmeal cake, all for tomorrow. The new recipe keeps in the fridge overnight just fine. So, now I just have to figure out how and/or who should get the baking done during the day. Ultimately I want to set it up so your dad doesn't have to bake at all. Of course, it won't be great for me to be fully tied down either. But this was progress. If I can learn it, so can someone else.

Tonight I went to Jamie's school program. I took a couple of pictures, but couldn't get too close. It was really cute, really crowded and mercifully short.

Now tonight I feel kind of sad. Not sure what to do about that, so I've done nothing, my usual solution. I'm kind of down on myself, huh? Well...

I love you precious. I'm seeing your sweet grin in my mind's eye.

-Mama

Sunday, 3/18/07 8 p.m.

Hi Punkin,

So, this is the last page. I just decided that, no, I'm not ready to give up writing to you. I know I need to talk to God too, but I think these letters help me. So.

Today your dad and Pack went to lunch and a movie after church, so I had some fun alone time. I shopped at Bed Bath and Beyond for some fun organizing home stuff, then came home and cleaned up the place. If you came in right now, you'd say, "Mama, it looks nice in here." You always appreciated the little organizational touches.

Here's the thing: losing you the way we did is simply too much to bear. Period. Whenever you hear about any human tragedy - acts of cruelty, etc. 0 it's too much to bear. But somehow you forget about it and go along. With you, I cant forget about it. I just have to go on anyway.

This morning Jeff told some horrific stories from his trip to India. I know that suffering is spread thick all over the world, and that, truth to tell, I am blessed.

I love you, Hen Ben. I love you so much. Thank you for your love for us.

-Mama Pajama