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