Thursday, June 3, 2010

Letters to Henry, Part 7, 9/1/07

Saturday 9/1/07 11:15 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

I'm super groggy sleepy but since I haven't written in a few days I just needed to remind you how much I love you. You are my sunshine. You'll never know, dear, how much I love you.
Goodnight, Love Mama

Sunday 9/2/07 10:30 p.m.

Hi Punkin,
We had a pretty good day. I taught the children's worship class and did my Samson and Delilah lesson. It was a large group and we didn't get to finish. But the good part is that Myra and Sophie helped me. Then we drove to Lebanon and had a good visit with Grandma and Grandad. Jim showed Grandma your art scrapbook, explaining things page by page. We didn't see Julie - they said she was in a lot of pain, and besides, they were quarreling with her about something.

But it was a good visit because your dad took care to bring up lots of good memories and to tell them how much he loves and appreciates them. I'm proud of him for that.

On the way home I confided to Jim how I have this feeling that I "own" your sadness, that I feel like I'm doomed to bear it for you. Of course, I know it's not really so. Jim reassured me that nothing I could have done could have protected you from that sadness that took you away. I confess to you, though, my Henry, that I struggle with that. I must protect you. I have to protect you. But I did not.

But bearing your sorrow will not help anyone now.

However, the Bible says that Jesus bears your sorrow and mine, and it does help. I gotta think about this.

I promised Steve I'd go to workout next Friday. I'm starting to get fat.

I've been reading a lot, books that Myra's loaning me. I wish I could haul off and write one myself.

Wish, wish, wish. My life is a string of yearnings.

Sweet boy, I see you, so lanky, so precious, so clear. I love you.
Mama Pajama

Tuesday 9/4/07 9 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

I'm about at the close of an unprecedented 3- days -off -in- a- row experience. It wasn't bad at all. Monday we went to Ikea and out for lunch at Newport Grill. We cleaned up the house before we left, so it was relaxing to come home. Last night I tuned the auto harp and played around learning some hymns. I sang "You Are My Sunshine." That was for you. Did you hear?

This morning I had to go in to bring the store some change. After that unexpected interruption I decided to get the DMV license renewal over with. Yuck. The rest of the day was just goofing around: learning some new knitting methods, eating Swedish meatballs, reading. I massaged your dad's feet with lotion. I like to do that for him because he seems to enjoy it so much, and I think it's good for his circulation.

We were going to go to Salishan next weekend, but now I'm getting a root canal and all the rest, so I'm not sure we can afford it. Darn. The store is really short on cash too. We've paid out almost 15 grand in new store expenses, and it hurts. At least now we don't have to pay rent for a couple of months.

Remember when you bought the Protege? Well, I'm making the last payment on it this month. It's been a long 6 years, huh?

Maybe now, for you, time is different.

Here is the poem your dad wrote so many years ago - he was not much older than you - that we now dedicate to you. It holds our hopes for you, Hen Ben.

The Newcomer

In the beautiful, old country
I awake Sunday
after a dark week
into a bedroom watery with sun;

from great distance the sound of rain
breaking over mountains;
beneath my window the lawns
descend evenly to the river
where steadily as clocks
carp swirl red fins
beneath flies

and further out, a man
poling a skiff
into the southern part of the landscape
rapidly, as at morning
a dream is driven off the captured mind.

The night is draining
from the new land
down canyons cracking every ridge.

I go to the door and stand,
the newcomer,
my arms breaking with joy
fill with flowers.

Love, Mama Pajama

Friday 9/7/07 9:15 p.m.

Dear Sweet Hen-Ben,

Today we got a nice letter from Liz. She said she thinks about us every day. She said that your memorial was a very moving worship experience.

Another thing happened that I forgot to tell you about: Julie P's brother committed suicide. I think it must have been Tuesday, Aug. 28th. Julie and her family were gathering in Florida for her mom's birthday. Her brother was having financial troubles, and they were all worried about him. Julie spent time on the plane looking up scriptures for him. But when she arrived, they told her he'd checked into a motel the night before and slit his wrists.

I would say that all this has brought back hard memories for us, but the memories have never left. I still relive them every quiet moment.

Paula wants me and Meg to go to Brazil with her in March. I'm thinking about it. Impossible dream? Maybe.

I went to circuit training class today. It was indeed hard, but I liked it. We'll see if I can keep it up.

Myra is stressed and discouraged and overwhelmed with her baking job. Makes me sorry.

Guess I'd better head for bed. My eyes are tired. I love you. I miss you, Hen Ben. Come back.

Sunday 9/9/07 9:45 p.m.


I'm doing a lot of wallowing this weekend. I'm depressed, stupid, dark, dank and miserable. I've begun re-reading A Grief Observed. I'm disgusting. Forgive me honey. Who knows the depths of my despair? Sad to say, many people do. I'm one of millions. No significance. No meaning. Trash.

But maybe not entirely. I bet if a giant foot appeared out of the sky and threatened to squish me, I'd try to dodge it. Unless I had time to think about it.

Sorry babe. I'm a complete mess.

Tuesday 9/11/07 8:15 a.m.

Hello Son,
Perhaps I should have known that after such a long period of numbness I was going to crash and burn. This sorrow is deep, fathoms deep, and debilitating. It helped to get back to work yesterday, though.

C.S.Lewis said that it feels like there is a gray blanket or curtain between him and everyone else. That is exactly my experience.

Your dad and I hurt each other sometimes, and it's the last thing on earth we want to do. And yet we do it in a devastating fashion.

Today my plan is to have a root canal. See? That is a hopeful thing to do. I could have just had the tooth pulled, but I wanted to avoid a gap in my grin.

Precious Henry, are you ok? Why is there such a silence from heaven on this? I reckon it's my fault - not enough heart-felt prayer. I'm not being sarcastic.

Don't slip away, Hen Ben. Stay in my head and my heart. Stay vivid. Keep your voice in my ear. "Cool beans, Mama Pajama." I can still hear you. Don't go. Come back.

How could you ignore my cries? Not answer my calls? You saw the caller ID, didn't you? You knew I was calling.

What an eternal emptiness the future seems to be. Yet now, I must fold laundry, dust and drink coffee.

Thursday 9/13/07 10:30 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

In case you didn't see me I will tell you that I visited your bones tonight. It was dark and misty-raining. I brought you a fall color bouquet. Your primroses are blooming again - everything looked nice in spite of the dry spell we've had. I had a flashlight so I could see to write in your book.

Today a customer asked me how I was and I said, pretty well. He said, what, not fabulous? That gave me pause. I realized I could not describe myself honestly as feeling fabulous since you died. Maybe some day. Hard to imagine, though. But I suppose we're only in it a little over a year....given enough time fabulous may return.

Even if it does, there is and will ever be a hole that will never be filled in my heart.

I live on Broken Heart Mountain.

Ha ha.

Julie called last night. We talked for a long time. I feel bad for her hard life. She said she found your Bible with your baptism certificate inside.

Things are coming along fast at the new shop. Wish you could see it, love.
Wish you were here.

Late! Workout tomorrow!
Goodnight precious kiddo, Lady Mama

Monday 9/17/07 7:45 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

I'm emerging from a pretty scary bout of depression. Sundays: why are they so hard? Pardon the description, but it feels like I'm slipping over the edge of a cliff, desperately scratching and clawing to keep from falling off. Part of me really wanting badly to fall off.

That said, here I am today, feeling better. And, yes, it is my birthday. Your dad took me out for dinner at the Italian Denney's, and we had a lot of fun, dang it. Yesterday he took me out for breakfast and to a performance of Brahms' Requiem. I was miserable and I made him miserable, so it was not good.

Saul left a prize for me that I found when we came home: an Eagles Greatest Hit vinyl record. Myra called, Paula sent me an email and Pack patted me on the back. Jim gave me flowers, a new copy of Mozart Requiem and a funny Bad to the Bone card. And I'm one year older than my mom. I have a lot to be thankful for.

Hen Ben, you're a sweetheart and I miss you. I'm not handling things so well right now, but I'll keep trying. I know you want me to keep trying. So I will. For you, for Jim, for God, for Saul, Pack, Myra, the little-uns, and for what is right. Keep trying.

Love, Ma

Thursday 9/20/07 7:30 p.m.

Dear Sweet Henry,

Today Pack was acting silly (what's new??) and he teased me in a voice that sounded so much like you, it startled me. Poor Pack, he's like a resource, a reference book: when I want to hear your voice he can reproduce it for me. For that matter, Saul's voice reminds me of you too. I guess you're a biological part of our family. And always will be. That's good.

I've been feeling more and more secure this week. I ordered several books on the subject of suicide and suicide bereavement, as well as just some regular fun books. I feel better having some books in the pipeline - makes me antsy to be without several good reads waiting.

I'm nervous about one book: "Night Falls Fast." I really want to read it, but it scares me. I can get so dark in my head, so hopeless, and I'm a little worried the book might intensify that. So I'll put it at the bottom of the pile.

Your dad saw "Sixth Sense" again and found it relevant. He says he has had a strong feeling that sometimes people who have died are unaware of their new state, and he's thought that might be true of you. He wants me to watch it again.

Dave sent me a sweet birthday email. I want to send him some flowers for his birthday. How many times has Dave received flowers for his birthday? Maybe never. Tomorrow, help me remember.

Sometimes I think about typing up these letters with the idea of submitting them for publication. When I look at the books for suicide bereavement, I see nothing of journals or letters. It could be helpful to people. But then I think, how embarrassing - who would want to read my letters to Henry, my ramblings and ravings and blah life stuff?

Maybe I'll type them up just for my family. Someday. Meanwhile, it's just me and you, kid.

Brahms' Requiem really makes me and your dad cry.

We miss you so much, Bridgie. We scream inside with pain sometimes. We groan out loud with pain often. It's because we love you and we are so sorry. And so helpless to fix anything now.

Brahms' Requiem is intensely beautiful.

I got a picture light for the Rembrandt. It is also intensely beautiful (the painting, not the light.)

When I was so freaked out miserable on Sunday your dad gave a strong hint that I should stop sleeping with your t-shirt. I put it in your canvas bag with your other clothes - your Pepperdine t-shirt, gym pants and hat, etc. It doesn't smell like you anymore. Hugging it at night just made me miss you more. So, maybe it's best this way.

Goodnight, sweet Hen Ben. Love, Lady Mama

Sunday 9/23/07 7:30 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

As usual I've had a hard Sunday. The darkness descends on me from nowhere. All at once I feel worthless, hopeless, aimless. I can't get motivated to do anything. It is scary. It seems I am Depressed. It is hard not to feel ashamed and embarrassed.

Last night I read in one sitting "My Son My Son" by Iris Bolton. After finishing it, I told myself that it's time for me to "get off the cliff." I've been up there with you, trying to share your pain, trying to bear your burden, trying to protect you, to save you. Like a mother does. But I decided it's time to give that up, to move on. Sounds good. Then Sunday comes and I crash. Whatever.

Are Sundays hard because those were the times our family would get together after church? It didn't happen every Sunday, but at least once a month. Of course, you haven't spent a Sunday with us for about 62 weeks. And in all that time, we have seldom spent a Sunday with the rest of the family. Sundays are dry and empty.

Ya think that's why Sundays depress me? Duh. Tomorrow I will be at work and I will feel better.

I confess: to die, to do myself in somehow, has a strong attraction for me sometimes. It is a whisper in my ear that I try to ignore. It is madness. I know. To know I caused my family that much pain is more than I can bear. So I won't.

But, honey, I think I understand. I forgive you. I understand.

Sweetheart. My sweet Henry.

I want to grow from this to love so that I can be of some use. Right now I'm withdrawn, inactive. Work is all I can manage. But maybe someday I'll be able to be tender and outgoing with others, and not be a sodden lump of self pity.

Tomorrow night Belle Voci starts again. I'll bet that will help me.

Am I foolish to keep writing to you? I think it was good to put your t-shirt away. Clutching it at night, I couldn't help but join you on that cliff. But, honey, I don't want to stop writing to you. I can't let go yet.

I love you, I miss you. Mama Pajama

Tuesday 9/25/10

Hi Sweetheart,

Today I didn't even get dressed. It might be the last day off I get for a while (except for the Belle Voci retreat a week from Saturday) because we'll be so busy getting the shop moved and operational. I have new people to hire and train and schedules to plan. It's mind boggling. So today I had no appointments, just read in bed until 9 or so and then cleaned house, paid know how I get. I wanted to clear out clutter today, so I stashed away various knick- knacks. I also put away your memory book and card scrapbooks. I left your art book out with your photo album. Maybe this is a STEP. Am I trying to MOVE ON?

I finished a great book, a memoir by Josh Swiller about being a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia.

With so much disease and poverty and just piles of shit in Africa, why do we in America get depressed while they can find joy in the middle of all that? Why? Do we know too much? Have too much?

Singing is good. Practice was last night. Pack and Jessie came to observe for a while. It was fun having them there. I think Jessie would like to audition sometime.

I'm not sleepy but I should turn in. Instead, I'll start a new book. Might as well face it, I'm addicted to reading.

Hugs and kisses, head scratches, ear flaps and flips, love, Mama Pajama

Sunday 9/30/07 9 a.m.

Hi Sweetie,

I'm trying to pretend it isn't Sunday.

Isaac is on the floor setting up a battle scene with the David and Goliath soldiers. He's been a pleasure this weekend. I felt so rotten the past few days with a cold, and Friday night I slept not at all. So yesterday was a weary blur which left me completely exhausted. But Isaac didn't test me at all.

We had a record day yesterday! I was so miserable that I wasn't even really aware that we were extra busy.

This will be the last week in our shop.

Phew - I slept well last night, but I'm still tired. I finished "No Time to Say Goodbye." It was good - mostly reading about other people's stories. One thing I read stuck with me: it takes a while to get over the suicide before you can grieve the loss. I'm still locked into grieving your suicide. Well, that's not exactly true. I mourn your absence at the same time. But the over-riding feeling is still consternation and disbelief and shock.

My brain is fuzzy. I feel like I'm writing gibberish.

Love, Mama

Tuesday 10/2/07 9:45 a.m.

Dear Henry,

Here I am, enjoying a day off after all. Since I'm taking Saturday off for the retreat, perhaps this is too much rest. Whatever. I did accomplish a lot over the past few days. And the coming weeks will be overwhelming in their busyness and chaos.

The weather has turned to autumn suddenly, and the past few days I've used Darcy's quilt to keep my legs warm. Her scripture suggestions stitched all over it do not tempt me. When I do look one up and it says something like: the LORD will be with me and keep me safe, I think, oh yeah? Africa, Haiti, (just finished "Brother, I'm Dying") you - safety is an illusion in this world. Maybe the Bible means some other kind of safety. I don't know. I do know that all people seem to be capable of an alien-feeling kind of brutality. We inflict suffering on one another. We are good at it.

Thank God there is another side to things, just as real. There is love. And there is joy, but that last is more elusive to me. I'm catching glimpses, though, Hen Ben. I'm catching glimpses of joy and I'm determined to find it. I know you want me to. Sunday with Isaac here and Myra and the kids coming over for lunch, I was relieved of my customary duty to fall into a dark and selfish depression.

I've been thinking about the retreat this weekend and the point where I will make small talk, introduce myself to new people. What do I say about myself? It seems insincere to leave out what happened to you. But what a downer. Thanks a lot, people will think. How depressing. Please, let's change the subject. And I don't want my whole life to be defined and shaped by your death. Want it or not, it is. If I don't talk about it, I increase the loneliness and isolation I already feel.

Oh well. What's new. The world is filled with misery.

I'm so glad I sent Dave some flowers for his birthday. I got to thinking, I'll bet he's never received flowers in his life. We sent gerbera daisies because they last a long time. He wrote this note and sent us photos of the bouquet: Your uncle Dave is a sweetheart. And he is also a victim of a tragedy.

Your pop bought a Swiffer. A guilty pleasure, an indulgence. So wasteful, being locked into buying those Swiffer things. But, my next task is putting it together and getting this little home of ours cleaned up.

The mundane tasks always take over. Unless one literally goes insane. Maybe even then. Maybe more so. The mundane tasks are what we cling to.

You are freed from the mundane now, yes? My precious boy, I love you so much. My heart aches for you and my spirit groans.

Yet I am about to put down my pen and pick up a Swiffer.

Love, Mama Pajama

Friday, 10/5/07 11:15 p.m.!

Dear Hen Ben,

Yes, it's really late and I'm still awake. I'm at Menucha, for the Belle Voci retreat. Henry, tomorrow is the last day @ 5015 NE Fremont, and I won't be there. I feel guilty about that. Today was SO CRAZY - we had 1500 by 11 a.m. And we didn't have a dishwasher - it was removed this morning and installed in the new space. I ache to think about how much you'd love to help out with organizing and setting up the new shop. You would be right in the thick of things. Today your pop bought some beautiful fiesta ware plates to display the pastries. They are yellow, turquoise and periwinkle (?) no, salmon. They look spectacular. When we leave 5015, it will be a little sad, saying good-bye to a part of our life that you shared with us.

But then, you are always with me. You never really go away.

I have been feeling so much better the past week or so. I have recovered from the dark black spot that trapped me.

We had a few bonding exercises tonight, and I didn't do too badly. At least I was able to get a partner. This year I feel more comfy in BV.

Saul and Rabecca and Phin were over Wednesday night. There was some drama - Rabecca wouldn't come in for a while, and Saul had to go talk with her. He got a new car, by the way, a Nissan Altima. I know you want to keep up with the family cars.

I was thinking about Saul and the time he threatened to throw himself in front of a truck on the Sunset freeway. Remember? I was thinking that I was very calm that night, not seriously worried, because I did not believe that he would really do it. With you, I knew. I knew as soon as I found out that you didn't go to work. But I asked Saul Wednesday night if he was OK, because I began to worry: he was suicidal once, and what if he's been depressed and not letting anyone know? He assured me that he is OK, that he has no intention of committing suicide because he knows how badly it would hurt all of us, and that he was only trying to freak out Denice that night. I hope, and I think, he's telling the truth.

I'm sitting in a roomful of laughing women. I actually prefer a mixed group. I miss the menfolk. But this is nice. It's definitely a luxurious break.

I'm sorry, everyone at work tomorrow!!

Please, please take good care of yourself, sweetheart. I love you,
Mama Pajama (now it's 11:40!)

Sunday, 10/7/07 9:15 p.m.

Dear Ben Bridge,

Well, we did it. We got most of the stuff moved to the new shop. I'm pooped - just got home 45 minutes ago. I so so much wish you could see the new store. You would really be proud of it. We're going to set up your little memorial area on the concrete post between the two registers. We have to have you with us at least in that way.

We had so much help today! Doug and Pack worked all day, as did Pam. Darcy made soup and worked for a few hours. Saul and Rabecca stayed a long time - Myra, Rabecca and Sophie cleaned the kitchen. Gross. Steve helped too. Also Karen Downs and two helpers worked all day doing the pictures and setting up furniture and stuff. Tomorrow will be another long day. We'll see if we can be ready for Tuesday.

Phew. I'm tarred. Kisses and hogs,
P.S. Pack's friend Brian helped too, and some girl I don't know. I don't want to forget anyone.

Tuesday 10/9/07 7:15 p.m.

Hen Ben,

Your pop was in tears yesterday, so sad that you are not here to share the excitement of setting up the new Jim and Patty's.

Since it's after 7 and I'm still home, clearly we are not open today. There's still a lot to do. Stumptown was there till after 8 last night getting the machines set up and I was the only other person still there. When I went to lock up I couldn't get one of the locks to fully engage. I worked on it for 45 minutes. Finally I gave up and decided I'd have to spend the night. When I called your dad he was upset. Oh Bede, no! That door has given him trouble too. I went to the car and got my spare blanket and pillow out of the trunk. Then he called back with the idea of turning off the hood fan. It worked! Who knew? Anyway, home at 9:45, bed at midnight. Weary, sore Mama.

Rrrrrggghhhh!!!! If only you were here to help!
Love, Mommy

Saturday, 10/13/07 8:30 p.m.

Sweet Darling,

Dude, you are so bummed to be missing the excitement of our new store!! Darn it, dang it. SHIT. You would be so stoked, Henry. Can you see the place from where you are? It's - well, it's a whole new level.

And your dad and I are exhausted. We worked Sun-Wed to get the place set up, long long days. Opened Thursday, did 2100. Friday was 2400 and today - 2900. Your dad and Myra are overwhelmed with work and I've been down there 12-14 hours every day. We have two serious problems with the space: the many GFI circuits keep tripping, and the HVAC is unequal to the task.

My eyes are super heavy. Falling asleep while writing.

Dad and I held each other and cried last night: stress relief and sorrow over you.

Asleep. Love, Mom

Tuesday 10/16/07 8:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Seems like it's been a long time since I've been to your grave. An era. The past 8 or so days alone have felt like an era. My brain is full of chaos. The slightest mention of you, and your voice sounds in my ears, your face is a picture echo in my brain, and my heart breaks. I cry. I am really tired. So short on sleep. My brain won't shut off even when my body is exhausted. Tonight I took 1/2 of an ambien, so I expect to sleep well.

I really should stop complaining. I forget how lucky I really am. I am drenched in blessings. And you are one of them.

Another is this: today Kara made coffee cakes and tonight Myra is baking them! This means your dad doesn't have to go in early to bake!! Yessss. And I have a few GOOD employees, including Maile, who will help Myra bake 3 days a week. We are about 30% up in sales already. Staffing is WAY up, so I'm trying to get a grip on that. Today was the first day in a long time that your pop had no chest pains. That is my chief goal: to relieve his stress.

Saul is going to handle cleaning out the old space for us. I'll let him have a sale and keep the money. That will be a big help.

I listen carefully when Pack and Saul talk, and I can hear your voice in there. I miss you so much. I hope you can see the new J&P's. I think you must be happy about it, and proud. I hope so.

Goodnight, precious son. I love you.
Mama Pajama

Friday 10/19/07 10 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Here's a picture of the monster we created:
Looks innocent enough, I suppose. But it has been whipping our asses big time. Tonight Pack was in a severe bad mood. He said he hated everything, he hated the store, he hated our customers and himself too. I guess he's a little tired. But I believe it's going to come together ok. I worked on a schedule tonight that actually gives me a day off on Tuesday. We'll see.

Your pop still has to be there at 3:30 to bake scones and stuff, so we're not where we want to be yet. Just have to keep at it.

The good news is sales continue to be up, like maybe 100-300 dollars a day.

I saw Meg at Safeway tonight. She looked almost as tired as I believe I must look. Haven't seen her in a while.

It's funny, no one who works for us now knew you. Amanda hasn't worked since September, and Michelle and Shana are long gone.

I'd better turn in, Henry-Man. It's after 10 and I am due in at 5.

God bless you, precious one. I'm very proud of you. Did you know that?
Kisses and hugs, Mama Pajama

Sunday 10/21/07 9 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

I have just consumed a brandy hot toddy, hoping to induce a good night's sleep. Forgive me if it makes me write sloppy, silly things.

Here is something that is not silly: Jesus said, "In this world you will have troubles. But take heart! For I have overcome the world."

Your troubles are over, I fervently hope, and you are in the loving arms of Jesus. Mine are still bearing down on me. But I don't want to submit to them. I want to be faithful and find new hope.

Here is news: we broke the $3000 barrier on Saturday! Man, I've never seen the like. The drink cups were lined up across 2 bars, past 3 grinders and onto the register counter. That was some hard work. But tonight your dad was talking with me, Saul and Rabecca and emphasizing that we have to get open on Sundays asap if we are going to survive, and we have to sell a lot more shakes. Expenses are way up, in rent, payroll, and lease payments, so we have to ACT. I feel overwhelmed with responsibility, so I need to start assigning and delegating. Otherwise I might crack up.

This morning the service was about missions. John Goodyear in Baker City said in a video clip that they'd like a coffee shop at their church. Maybe we can set a goal to help them with that. Your dad and I need to find a way to be more involved at church. Our faith, or rather MY faith, is at a low point. Jim is discouraged because none of our kids are committed to the church anymore. Maybe this project would help us re-focus. My mind jumps ahead, thinking how nice it would be retire in Baker City. Well, I must pray about this.

Saul and Rabecca are organizing a garage sale for next Saturday at the old shop. That is a big help for us; otherwise we'd have to be down there on our day off getting the place cleaned out. They took our settee that we had in Texas to Myra's house and the loveseat from the shop to Pack's place. The rest of the furniture fits in at the new shop, except for the tables and chairs.

Saturday Pack was acting really silly in a way that so reminded me of you. This kind of memory floods me with a strange mixture of joy and pain. I'm delighted to feel your memory so alive - and I cringe with the pain of missing you.

I finished a book tonight called Aftershock. I realize now that your situation was very typical. I appreciate that you had a long struggle, honey, and I understand that you fought hard, really hard, not to fall off the cliff. I understand, at least a little.

Your pop and I had another rough weekend. We hurt each other. We forgave each other. It was exhausting.

On the up side, though, I got the laundry done.

I love you, sweet Henry boy! You are my punkin pie. Please be nice!
Love, Mama Pajama

Tuesday 10/23/07 9:45 a.m. (!)

Dear Henry,

Yup, I am at home. It is 9:45 a.m. and I am in my pj's. It feels good. Your pop is in bed sleeping off the Ambien he took last night. Those make him groggy for hours, so as soon as he got home around 8:30 he hit the sack.

I'm getting near the end of this book. Should I start a new one? I like writing to you. But maybe I should "move on." Those words scare me. On the other hand, I can't see a down side to starting a new book. As time passes, perhaps I won't write as often.

It sure would help if you were here to work the bar on Sunday. i don't have enough people who are good on the bar. We NEED to open Sundays asap because we need the $'s, but it's hard to come up with the staff.

I wish I had some new photos of you. Ha ha. I wish you were alive. I wish you would visit me in my dreams and tell me you are happy and well.

I wish. Love, Mama

Tuesday 10/30/07 8:50 p.m.

Dear Bridgie,

Gosh, look at this - it's been a whole week since I've written to you. It's been a helluva week. Extremely stressful. My head spins just thinking about it. When I look back I can't say why it has been so hard. It's true Michael gave notice, which means I lose my day off for a while; we had another record day Saturday but that was kinda fun, if wearying; I had some very long days repairing bakery disasters, etc., and your dad and I had a painful fight last night. On the up side, we had a nice time with Isaac. He seemed to want to snuggle a lot, read books, etc. When I dropped him off at his house, he wanted to show me everything: "These are our spoons, here's our candy, this is our closet.." He didn't want me to go. On the way home I stopped by your grave. I brought you my rock collection. Unlike flowers, they'll always be pretty, and they remind me of our happy family trips to Bandon, Forks, Texas.

Last night I was desperately sad. I didn't want to go to BV practice. Even though your dad and I made up I was really broken. Practice did make me feel better.

I'm reading "Night Falls Fast." It describes that terrible pain that suicidal people endure. I can't bear that you felt that way and I was oblivious. I wonder if you did go through a long period of that kind of suffering, or if it was Prozac-induced and therefore a shorter period of time. You definitely had some physical signs of depression, like weight loss and those panic or anxiety attacks. But you didn't seem to withdraw completely or act psychotic like some described in that book. I don't know. I'm trying to understand, to what end I don't know.

Tonight I had 3 glasses of wine and got completely smashed. I'm tired out. Boo hoo. Pity party.

Did you see me at the cemetery? Do you ever see me? I wish I knew. Duh.

I'm so tired.

Thursday 11/01/07 10:15 p.m.

Oh Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise. You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, oh God.

You hem me in, behind and before. You have placed your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me. Your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you. The night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent. Your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O God? Do I not abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them. I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

I had to check the text in the very last paragraph. Funny, I have more trouble with that than any other part. And I think I switched a couple of lines in the beginning. The pacing is so different when you write it out than when you repeat it in your head.

Henry, sometimes I have trouble sleeping. Too many thoughts.

I love you,
Mama Pajama

Sunday 11/4/07 8:45 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

I've been reading a biography of Charles Shultz. It's an immense book, too much detail. I find it interesting, but even I can see it needs editing. And I can't imagine anyone else I know actually slogging through it. But, I see a lot of myself in Charles Shultz. And I see a lot of you. Some kind of deep connection is there....

Pack's girl friend J__ is really in a spot. Her mom left a suicide note Friday night and was missing for a few hours. She was located at a "respite house" of some kind, but she is in bad shape, incoherent and paranoid. It is very upsetting.

We had another record day Saturday, and we hit on a refinement of our system that worked well: 3 people on the bar. We never got behind. I was so excited about that I wanted to jump up and down.

Today was "fall back" day. I love that extra hour. For some reason it really makes the day seem long. I didn't do that much work, but I did the laundry, as well as reading, practicing music, and even napping.

Pack told J__ he is sad that you never visit me in my dreams. You hang out with him a lot. J__ said, of course you don't visit me - could you face your mom if you had done that? I know we've talked about this before, or rather, I've written to you about this. I am not mad at you. Maybe I'm deceiving myself in this, but I really don't think so. Shocked, wrenched, horrified, grieved. But not mad. So, come on.

Sometimes just laying down, letting my mind go blank in sleep is all I really want to do.

Precious one, I love you. Goodnight Sweetheart.
Mama Pajama

Wednesday 11/7/07 5:30 a.m.

Hi Hen Ben,

I should be at Strada right now (the class switched to Mon/Wed) but I just couldn't bear to give up my free morning.

My head hurts - no coffee since Monday. On the way home Monday my heart started beating really hard, like it does sometimes, only this time it lasted 45 minutes. Made me cough because it was pounding in my throat. Then, after I got home and was sipping on a glass of red, it suddenly stopped. Scared me some. I didn't say anything to your dad, which I feel a little guilty about, but I hate to worry him. So, I thought I'd try no coffee.

Patrick did the schedule last week. He wants to learn more about running the business so he can manage it someday. I'm going to ask him to do it again. I'm going to start delegating things to him. He has it tough because the kids don't really respect his abilities or authority. But if we are patient, I know he can work into it. He works hard and I'm proud of him.

Our chapter 13 is all done. We're getting closing letters and congrats from our attorneys. That feels good. I have a small, hopefully irrational worry that we won't make a go of it at the new space because our costs are so high. And now we can't declare bankruptcy.

But this time I think we could work it out. Our lenders are not credit card companies. And I'm pretty sure our shortfalls can be fixed by being open on Sundays, or maybe late in the day. In other words, harder work/smarter work.

I just get so overwhelmed. Wah wah wah. I want to lay around, read, goof off. Yesterday I forced myself to clean the office so that my day off would not be completely unproductive. Good thing, too: I found a liquified bag of potatoes. No wonder there were so many little flies.... I also practiced my music for an hour.

My hope is that for a couple of hours on Tuesday I'll go to Myra's and work on writing with her. This week I didn't. Maybe next week.

Wilda called yesterday and told us that Brandon is in the hospital at OHSU with Crohn's Disease. He's a sweet kid; hard to think of him going through all that. I'll send him a card, maybe a copy of the praying mantis poem I promised long ago but never delivered.

I found another photo of you yesterday as I cleaned the office, a snap of you standing in the kitchen of your house in Beaverton. You look sad in a lot of photos. Not always, but often. Big sigh. Funny, sighs are listed as a "symptom of grief." Duh. I suffer from sighing.

Six a.m. I still have an hour before I even have to shower!
Love and hugs, Mama

Saturday 11/10/07 9:15 p.m.

Hello Love Bug,

That's what your dad calls you. He calls all of us, his loved ones, Love Bug. He cried for you today. And yesterday. I did not. I am in a dry, calm period. I have the pain of losing you packed away in a trunk, waiting for when I'm ready to open it again.

Today we had a pretty excellent day of business, although it's the first Saturday in 3 weeks we didn't break our record.

It was especially nice today because Amanda worked for Liz 7-3. It was so nice having her back; it's been a couple of months since she's worked, at least. She's so good, so smart and so competent. She's a gem. Come March she'll be a real registered nurse.

Remember the mealy worms? Were you really afraid of them or just stubborn? We're sad today remembering how we made you pick them up. There are some things, many things, I wish I could do over.

I'm going to have a hot toddy and call it a night.
I miss you, Love Bug. Love, Mama Pajama

P.S. My hair's getting long. I have a ponytail. Gross. No gumption to get a haircut.

Wednesday 11/14/07 7:50 a.m.

Hi Love Bug,

I haven't written for a while, and I only have enough time to say good morning and to remind you that I love you. Don't forget - I love you, and I miss you. YOU, Henry, Abram Roberts, my special sweet boy. Please, please don't forget that I love you.

Lady Mama

Friday 11/16/07 7:15 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

The past days have felt significant somehow. Lots to tell you...

First, I wanted to do our family Christmas name drawing as soon as possible, but I didn't know whether I should include Courtney. That's a tough question to ask. I emailed her; I told her that we know she'll always love you, but we understand if she needs to move on, etc; so if she wanted out of the drawing we understand. Or if she wants to stay in, we're happy about that. After a few days she sent a nice note back, saying she wants out. She said it makes her sad in a way to be over here for our family celebrations. She says she feels like a well loved family friend instead of a family member, and that's ok. So, I guess we'll have Isaac Christmas afternoon or something like that. Also, he might go with us to Lebanon for Thanksgiving.

Another thing that happened: R__'s uncle shot himself right in front of her aunt. Take THAT. What a horror. They live in Hillsboro; he'd had a stroke and was frustrated with his recovery. Her poor aunt, I can't imagine. Well, sort of I can. There are no words. This is a sad world.

Yesterday I had a tooth pulled. We dropped our dental coverage, so I decided not to spend 2k on a specialist to do the root canal on it. It was tough to get it out: seems it had a little hook at the tip of the root. I was worried that the gap would show when I smile, but it doesn't seem to.

Tonight we decided we have to start opening on Sundays. We are getting by, but money is tight, and I keep putting off figuring out how to make it happen. So we're just going to do it, starting a week from Sunday. We'll make it up as we go along, which is our modus operendi.

A friend of Don Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz) said today they'd like to use J&P's for a private reading from his latest book. Cool, huh?

I'm tired, sweetie. Haven't been sleeping well. How I wish you were sitting here with me. We'd talk over everything, and you'd pat me on the head and say, "Cool beans, Lady Mama." And I would be so proud of you and I would tell you that I love you. And you would believe me.

I think tonight I will take half an Ambien. Tomorrow night we go to Salishan!
Love and hugs, Mama Pajama

Sunday 11/18/07 6:15 p.m.

Hello Sweet Hen Ben,

We're back home from Salishan, and your dad is snuggled up in bed already. We had a really nice time, even better than usual. It is terribly sad to be there, too, to see the cliffs above the surf. But, even so, we relaxed, slept, ate good food. This is the first time since you died that I didn't bring this book with me.

We saw a story on the news that horrified us: a teenage girl hung herself in her closet after a "friend" on myspace changed his tone from loving to hateful. Her dad did CPR on her, and her mom said her daughter was crying the whole time. She died the next day. The parents are separated now because of the stress (1 1/2 years later). The clinker is this: the letters were from the daughter's friend's mom, who lived in the neighborhood and wanted to find out why the girls were feuding, or something. Can you believe that? Those poor parents. They looked a mess. Oh Henry, you took us right into the sad world. Reality. We are on the other side.

Dan left us a message last night that he's been invited to apply for the SW preacher position. That would be good, eh? You would have enjoyed that.

I bought a neat navy blue hoodie @ Local Ocean Seafood today. It was $49, but it is super cozy. Just right for rainy November days.

The weather people say we will have lots of snow this winter. Snow, Henry! We love snow!

Dad's computer was toast when we got home. Don't know why, if it's the monitor or what. Sigh. I hate computers sometimes.

What should we get Packah for his birthday? Maybe you could give me some ideas in my dream. I was thinking of a Chevron gas card, for one thing. Gas is $3.20 a gallon now! But I need a better idea. Come on, Henry, help me out. You know Packah best.

I love you Hen Ben. And I miss you. You are precious forever to me. Moochus goochus,
Mama Pajama

Wednesday 11/21/07 7:15 a.m.

Dear Henry,

Here I am, home on Wednesday morning. Strange how it keeps working out that way. Gives me a sad, eerie feeling.

Yesterday I only had to work 1/2 day, so I went to Costco with your dad. I found a great birthday present for Pack: a keyboard! Am I right? I hope so. Now poor Bede has to think of one more perfect present for Christmas.

We bought some fun stuff. You should see these chocolate santas we found for the kids' stockings. We are blessed to be able to shop for Christmas like this.

Dad didn't buy a new computer yet. I think he's going to get a laptop.

Isaac is spending the night tonight. I fixed his bed up this morning, all washed clean and nice. I'm going to bring my auto harp to Lebanon; maybe we can do some singing. I'll let you know how that goes.

Packy left us a message on the phone yesterday, and his voice sounded so much like yours. It's comforting, in a way. We still have you wrapped up in our other children. And I remember your voice exactly, I remember in just what way it is different from Pack's and Saul's.

I worked on schedules last night, and I found I can't figure out how to to be open on Sundays in the next couple of weeks without being there 7 days a week. I'm tempted to wait for 2-3 weeks until we hire a couple more people, and Liz can work more during Christmas break. Amanda could work some too. I think we can afford to wait.

Precious Henry. I love you. Please come back. I'm lonesome for you.

Friday 11/23/07 7:15 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

Well, another Thanksgiving is past. Your grandpa didn't look well - kind of a pasty color. It might be his last Thanksgiving with us. Your cousins are pro-creating like crazy: Adam was there with Amanda and the 3 kids, Matthew, Boyd and Abigail, and Casey's newest child Willa was there. The boys have put on weight, which might be a good sign. Saul, Becca and Phin were there, as well as Myra and Thomas and the kids. Pack and Isaac rode with us. On the way home Isaac asked Pack if he had any children at home or a wife. Then he asked if Pack would play blocks with him when we got to our house. It was sweet and poignant. I feel sure Isaac saw some of you in his Uncle Patrick.

Also Patrick met Courtney's boyfriend Jason when they came to pick up Isaac. That was tough.

I brought our memory book and your art book to show Julie.

I've been in a little bit of a grumpy mood today. Not sure why. Tonight I brought work home but I'm too tired to tackle it. My eyes are weary and I have a muscle twitch in my shoulder.

Blah blah. Henry, I'm just missing you so much and I'm filled with consternation at your absence.

What Not to Wear is on. I think I'll escape into it.
I love you sweet Hen Ben. I love you I love you I love you.

Sunday 11/15/07 8 p.m.


Last night I dreamed of you. I was cradling you in my arms; you were your full-grown self, wrapped - swaddled - in white blankets, resting in my lap. I was comforting you. You asked me if I thought you could get married again, if you could have more children. I felt so tender towards you, so protective. Yes, I said, yes, but first you must get well, don't you think?

It didn't feel like a "visitor" dream. But your dad says, you never know. He said it was like the Pieta. I didn't think of that, because you were alive.

Today I did a little bookkeeping work before church, then taught children's worship. After lunch we went to Costco and your pop got his laptop. It has Vista, which does not have a good rep, and the dang thing has acted up this afternoon. $800. Oh well. What are you gonna do?

We decided December 16 will be the beginning of Sunday bidness at J&P's. Next week I must find 2-3 good new people.

Now I'm sleepy, and little sad, thinking about having a toddy before bed. I'm always a little sad at night. When I'm alone I think about you. Even when I'm not directly thinking about you, I'm sad about you.

But that's not new. I don't know why I even tell you.

I know why I tell you I love you, though. Everyone needs to hear "I love you," over and over and over. I love you. I miss you. Sweet Ben Bridge.
Mama Pajama

Thursday 11/29/07 6:30 p.m.

Oh Hen Ben,

Today Bruno came into the shop. Remember him? With the cheese balls, the guy who hired you to make espresso for an event that never happened? I've actually been dreading the day he came to call, because I knew two things: 1) he had no way of knowing about your death and 2) he really likes you a lot. He was quite upset, Henry. It was hard.

Your dad's cousin, Gary Miller, the congressman from So. Calif, lost his daughter last Saturday. We don't know how exactly, only that it was sudden. She was their only daughter, 33 years old. Your dad called Gary's office and left a message.

Business has really been off since Thanksgiving. I know it happens every year, but I still worry. I've staffed up for normal levels, so everyone wanders around and goofs off. I can hear you now: "send them home!" I know. I've been trying.

I was in a lousy mood yesterday because we got a creepy letter from our old landlord telling us we weren't getting our $2700 deposit back. It was such a rude, nasty letter, it kind of horrified me. I can't see why people choose to act that way. I know I shouldn't let it bother me, but $2700 is a lot of money, and we could sure use it right now.

I can't really get into the Christmas spirit yet, but maybe it'll come. My sorrow is always with me.

Isaac's coming Saturday night. And it's Packah's birthday! 25! You'll be with us in spirit, yes?
Love, Lady Mama