Monday, May 30, 2011

The Day We Lost Henry, a dream 2/3/08 Patty Roberts


We lived in Finland, in a small village, safe from harm. Nothing marred our happiness, except that scattered about the town were signs that read, “Bomb the Americans.” The anti-American sentiment made us a little uneasy, but it didn’t seem to have much to do with us personally.

It was a warm spring day. I walked home from town where I had been on some fun errand, shopping or something. I was dressed in what I thought was a wonderful outfit: a white eyelet skirt and a turquoise blouse. These items were borrowed from Meg. Growing up, all my best outfits were borrowed from Meg. I wore what I thought were red shoes. (Later I was to discover I was wrong about the shoes.)

As I approached our house, the kids ran out to join me. We walked along the cobblestone street together. (Their ages were about the time of 1985, so Pack was about 2, Henry 5, Saul 9 or 10, Myra 10 or 11.) There was a storm cloud growing ahead of us. I pointed to it, and told the kids, “Look! I’ll bet there’s some thunder in that cloud!” We were all excited, because the cloud was thick, black and low in the sky, and it hovered over our house. (After I woke up I realized that the cloud was only outside our door. The rest of the neighborhood was bathed in sunshine.) The cloud was black and furry, like black dryer lint, with tendrils hanging down, extremely ominous.

We rushed through the wind and the rain and made it into the house safely. I took off my shoes, and was surprised to see that I was wearing white shoes, not red. Then I noticed that the family’s shoes were outside on the doorstep: Jim’s tall brown boots, and each child’s shoes were lined up in a row. I didn’t want them to get wet or blow away, so I opened the door to bring them inside. Henry squeezed past me and ran out into the storm.

“Where’s he going?” I cried out. Saul told me, “He forgot something in the shed.”
I looked out to see Henry struggling to walk in the strong wind. He was wearing his ET shirt and no pants, no shoes. He looked so small and vulnerable.

“Henry!” I screamed. “Come back! Come back!” He didn’t turn around, just called something over his shoulder that I couldn’t hear. He made it to the shed and disappeared inside.

I told the family that I had to go after Henry. He was not safe in the shed; it could blow over any minute. I ran out the door. The wind was so strong I could barely stand up, but I made it to the shed. I grabbed Henry and we fought our way back to the house. It seemed to take forever.

Once inside I hugged Henry so hard, and I cried and cried. “Henry, why did you do that? Don’t you understand, you could have been hurt or even killed? The wind is blowing things around so fast, you could have been hit!”

I took his face in my hands. He had terror in his eyes and he was crying uncontrollably. I held him and rocked him in my arms.

Then he disappeared. Instead of Henry, my arms held a thick, battered old paperback book with a torn cover. It looked like it had been left out in the rain.

I woke up.

I immediately recognized the book I was holding. It was The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart. It is the story of King Arthur, and was a favorite of my mother’s.

For several days the dream haunted me. I couldn’t figure it out. I told my family about it, but kept feeling puzzled and uneasy. Finally, one evening I got up from my chair and went to the bookshelf to find that book. I knew right where it was, my hand went right to it, which is no small thing because we display hundreds and hundreds of books. I thought it was a silly thing to do, as though the book would be able to shed any light on my dream.

I opened the book and read the author’s dedication:

“To the one who was dead and is alive again, who was lost and is found.”

I was not puzzled by my dream any longer. The Prodigal Son was a central theme in our last days with Henry. He had come home to us a few weeks before he died, and set about to change his life for the better, to square his debts and make things right with Courtney. He returned from the far country. Because of that, we have hung the Rembrandt painting, "The Prodigal Son" over our fireplace.

And now, God is so kind to give us this message, in the language of that wonderful story.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Letters to Henry, Part 8, 12/01/07

Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007 5:15 a.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

I got up a little early, so I have a few minutes free to write to you.

They say it will snow today, melt tomorrow, and Sunday and Monday are supposed to be 50-60 mph winds. Hope the power doesn't go out at work. All that melting ice cream!

Thursday night I dreamed of you. I saw you standing across a divide of some kind, a road or stream or something. Our eyes met. You looked sad and pale. Then you were beside me, and I was asking things like, why? what the heck? why are you here now? why did you die? You told me sadly that it was a mistake, that I was mistaken, that you didn't die. I said, oh yes, you did. You patted me and put your arm around me. That's all I remember. I woke up sad.

Tonight Isaac will be here for his monthly visit.

I'd better get my shoes on and get out the door.

Henry, I'm not mad at you. I don't blame you in any way. I'm only sad about what you endured, and I miss you and I'm sad for all of us.

I love you always, Mama

Saturday 12/1/07 7:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Isaac just lost his first tooth! He is so excited. He says it's his lucky day. Here's what he looks like:
drawing of Isaac...

We took some photos too. I'll print one out for you after a bit. He is SO excited. I think the tooth fairy might come tonight, don't you?

Later baby,
Mama

Sunday 6:15 p.m. 12/2/07

Hen Ben,

Check it out - I got a great photo of Isaac in his toothless condition. The tooth fairy did come! Isaac knows how to perform for the camera.

He didn't talk about you this time, but he did seek and find the Dire Straits record I'd told him you liked, and he put it on while I was taking a shower. He took off the Emmylou Harris Christmas album and put that on instead.

The party was good today. Pack seemed to love his keyboard. Courtney came over to pick up Isaac with her roommate Amanda, and they stayed quite a while. I think she liked the baseball pinball game we gave her.

Saul came without Rabecca; he had good news about his parenting interview. He said he talked to the guy for 2 hours, and he was able to tell his whole side of things from start to finish. He thinks when all is complete, he'll have equal time with Phin. I know you're happy for him.

I'm going to call Meg tonight. From an email she sent yesterday, sounds like she's feeling overwhelmed. No surprise there.

This week will be really busy for me. No days off, and extra rehearsal Friday night, concerts Sat. night and Sunday. The following week I'll get a couple days off, and then Sunday at Jim and Patty's starts.

We're supposed to get a lot of wind tonight. I love a good storm, but if the power goes out and we lose all that ice cream, not to mention a day's sales: aye-yi-yi-yi-yi.

Speaking of that, I-Man watched The Gods Must Be Crazy last night. He laughed himself silly.

At the party today was Pack and Jessie, Myra, Sophie, James, Saul, Courtney, Isaac, Amanda. Thomas had to work. And there was no Henry. It always seems so weird when we all get together and you are not here. Missing. Beloved.

God has drenched us with blessings. At least we had you for a while, and we loved each other. And our family still has every ounce of love intact.

Bless your heart, Henry. Your Mama super duper loves you. Precious.
Love, Lady Mama

Friday 10:45 p.m. 12/7/07

Hi Sweetheart,

I just got home from rehearsal at St. Mary's. I actually drove there in the night, found it and got parked. Now I just have to do it again tomorrow night. I have trouble reading the street signs, and the dark just makes me nervous.

Rehearsal was fun. It's a very reverberent space, and there were some magic moments. I wish you would have gone to one of our concerts. By now we would have made you - all the other kids do it, so you'd have to. I'll just have to imagine you're out there.

Business has been slow - really slow, but it seems to be coming back around. I was really starting to freak. They hate us now! They hate the new store! Aaagh!! But I don't feel so panicky now.

I put Isaac's picture in the front of my folder, so I'll open it and see his toothless grin; sure to brighten up my face.

The wind didn't turn out to be a real big deal a few days ago, but there was a lot of rain. The freeway between Portland and Seattle was closed, with 10 feet of water on it! And at the coast the wind was pretty destructive. We never lost power here, nor at the shop.

I've been worried about your dad - he's been tired and dicey, numb foot, and his blood sugar has been over 300. The doctor raised his insulin dosage and it seems to be making a difference. It scares me to see him feel so bad.

I finally wrote a letter back to our old landlord. It's well written, if I do say so myself, and it's polite. I make some good points. I didn't mail it, though. I gave it to your dad; he's going to handle it for me. It made me feel better to write it out though. What a jerk!

I'm worn out. I'd better get the aprons in the wash and then get my bod to bed.

Henry, Henry Roberts. Babe of the wild frontier. Born on a mountain top in Tennessee....Goodnight my little Hen Ben. I love you.
Lady Mama

Wednesday 8:15 a.m. 12/12/07

Sweet Hen Ben,

Something truly wild has happened. I have managed 2 days off in a row! This is the morning of day two. Yesterday I cleaned, did laundry, did payroll and set up the tree. You would not be happy - I bought an artificial one. I know. Sorry. I just don't seem to have what it takes this year. It looks ok, honest. I'll get the ornaments on it today, maybe get some balsam or pine oil. You'll see, it won't be so bad.

Our concert went well. It was a very busy weekend! All the family came, and even Sophie. Meg tried to come, but she couldn't find parking in NW PDX. Cathy (of Brian and Cathy, double espresso macchiato and double 8 oz latte) came to the one in Camas on Sunday. The only bummer is that I left my folder in Camas. Poop. I left a message at the church, but they haven't called back.

I was going to go to DEQ today, but the dang engine light came back on. DARN. The internet is full of people with 1999 Proteges with similar problems.

We lost 10 grand last month. Yikes. Between high payroll, high cost of goods and high rent combined with low sales, we are in a pickle. I've cut back on staff and sales are creeping back up, so hopefully we'll pull out of the problem. I haven't told your dad yet.

Bede has been buying me lots of Christmas presents. He is so sweet to me lately. His blood sugar numbers have been high, and he's been feeling pretty rough. Dr. increased his dosage and he's been trying hard to watch his diet, so things hopefully will be turning around.

Have you noticed I haven't been out to the cemetery for a long time? I haven't felt the need as much. But I want to bring you some Christmas flowers. I do love that little spot dedicated to you, my precious, unique, delightful Henry boy. I'm going to keep trying to work in days off for myself so I don't get burned up, so maybe I can get out there. Not having Sundays is going to be tough. My faith is pretty weak these days, at least in terms of the church, so not going every week might have a bad effect. I need to be purposeful and design a healthy world for Jim and myself.

Sometimes I look out at the sea of the future and it feels like there is nothing to look forward to. But I must push back that thought, shrink my perspective; look forward to the good moments that happen each day.

Tonight Saul and Phin and Rabecca will be here for dinner. I always enjoy that. It's something to look forward to. And Bede will be home soon. And I get to shop for Christmas today. All things to look forward to.

I love thee, Henry. Henry. Henry. I love to write your name. It's a good name. I'm sorry I failed you, Sweetheart. I want to hold you tight.
Love, Mama

Thursday 12/13/07 9:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I've been sitting here staring at the tree, drinking a hot toddy, thinking about Christmas, and missing you. It's when I'm alone and the apartment is quiet that my sadness works its way to the surface. I miss you so much. I'm so full of regret.

Here are some things about myself that fill me with shame and dismay: I realize sometimes I am seeking, or wishing for, if not actively seeking, attention and pity because of you. That is hard to admit. Sometimes I want to convince myself of the depths of my sadness so that I actually cultivate the sad feelings. Boy. Maybe it's the toddy that has loosened me up so I can admit those things.

I went to the 4th and 5h grade program that Sophie was in tonight. It was GREAT: Shakespeare On Broadway. A young boy of about 10 recited the St. Crispin's Day speech. He was magnificent. I wept. I also cried over the song "One Heart," from West Side Story. Music unblocks m emotions. I love music.

It's 9:30. I should go to bed. But I don't want to. Sometimes I feel frightened of life, of the pain of it, and the emptiness. But then I remember that is foolish, and that I am blessed. I remember your sweetness...I try to bring you near. I love you, Hen Ben,
Lady Mama


Tuesday 12/18/07 8:30 a.m.

Dear Henry,

Last night I stayed up until one, knowing I didn't have to get up early and go to work. I was writing out Christmas cards to our employees. I wish I could have written one to you. I would have told you how capable you are, how everyone likes you so much, how your smile brightens up the whole room. I would probably beg you to quit your job at CFO and come back to us full time.

Well.

It occurred to me the other day that you must appear on Myra and Thomas's wedding video, so I watched it Sunday night. There you were, right among us, your almost 17 year old self. I watched us mill around you, basically ignoring you, and I wanted to shout, wake up! Pay attention to him! He'll be gone in less that 10 years! But we just keep wandering, oblivious. Heartache. Precious, we miss you so much.

Alright. Sunday. We were open for our first Sunday on the 16th, and it went pretty well, No advertising, just a new, neon "open" sign. We were pleased. The atmosphere was festive, everyone was jolly. And the money is essential. I did a quick and dirty cash flow analysis, and I think we'll be OK for another month. I've pared down the staff a little more, except for training the new people. We have so many people leaving! Some want to come back after Christmas, but if they're gone 2-3 weeks, what can I do? I have to replace them. And Patrick and L__ keep butting heads. If she quits, it will be quite hard. I cried on the way home Friday because they were fighting, and I felt that if you had been there you could have helped. You would have soothed Patrick and helped him to get control of his manly pride, and L__ would have trusted you. Well, she hasn't quit yet, and they worked together Sunday and seemed to do OK.

I haven't seen Ken and Theresa for a while. I need to find their address and send them a card. I think Theresa is near the end. They will have to learn to survive on their memories of her.

Today I will do some minor housework, make fudge for Christmas, wrap some stocking gifts, and generally chill out. I still can't go to DEQ because Ron still didn't get my car done. Sigh.

I have so many presents from your pop under the tree.. He is wildly sweet and tender with me these days. I love him.
And you,
Mama Pajama

Thursday 12/20/07 8:15 p.m.

Hi Punkin Pie,

Oy, today was stressful. Kinda short-handed, pretty dang busy, chaos of running out of stuff, like COFFEE. I think tomorrow may be the same, but at least we'll have coffee.

I was reviewing the stocking gifts tonight, and I'm bummed that Patrick's doesn't seem very special. I need to get him something else, but when? I work every day between now and Christmas.

Pack is having a hard time because J__ broke up with him. She says she can't "afford" the relationship emotionally because of school and her mom's health. That seems silly to me. God designed us to be in relationships to support each other. It's very hard to see him go through this. I want to fix it.

Your stocking is empty. I look at it and think about filling it, but there is nothing you can use now.

After your dad goes to bed I can feel my face change to a sad expression. People are at risk when they are alone a lot, it seems to me. People like Dave. I sent him a funny email tonight. I hope he laughs.

Maybe I can go shopping after work tomorrow...
Keep safe and warm, precious. I love you,
Mama

Sunday 12/23/07 7 a.m.

Hi Sugar Biscuit,

I have 1/2 hour before I have to leave. Not much time...yesterday was stressful and I'm kind of worn out today. Pack was feeling really awful over his breakup with J___. He told me he was having dark thoughts, and maybe thought he should see a therapist. Of course, this worries me. I don't really thing he'd kill himself because he knows what that would do to our family. But then, I never thought you would for the same reason. Maybe I should call Dayspring. I want him to talk to a Christian, if he sees anyone. We could call and find out the cost, etc.

On the lighter side, Myra sent me a link to a hilarious thing on the web: a dramatic reading of a break-up letter. Pack thinks it sounds like something you'd do (the reading part, not the letter) and he thinks it might be the funniest thing he's ever seen on the web. It makes me laugh even when I'm not in a cheerful mood. I wish I could show it to you.

Well, I'd better get the aprons in the dryer and get myself dressed. I love you sweet Henry.

We saw a little red-headed boy at the shop yesterday - so much reminded us of you.
Love, Lady Mama

Thursday 12/27/07 9:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

It took me a moment to figure out what day of the week and date it is. Kind of confusing this week.

We had a nice Christmas this year - much better than last year. Our pain just filled every nook and cranny of our beings last year, but this year is was a more settled pain. It's lower down and sort of stowed away. We could put it aside and just enjoy each others company.

Your sweet dad took me to Claim Jumper for our anniversary. That was so fun! And he gave me so many presents. Pearl earrings, pajamas, a sewing machine, and Planet Earth DVD, slippers, perfume, hair brush, cards....too much. And Packy gave me a guitar!! That was a huge surprise. My fingers are so sore now. It is HARD to play a guitar. I can't see how anyone does it.

Courtney brought Isaac over for a little while. She gave me and Jim a candle holder that has family photos in a collage. It's very sweet.

When this book is full, I don't know if I'll start another one. The need to write to you is getting less strong. It makes me kind of sad to say that. But I think I want to get to the place I am with my parents: that I carry you around inside me; you are always with me, so there's no need to write to tell you what's going on. When I write to you, I'm still trying to relate to you in the old way, like you are still alive. That's why it's sad to stop. It's hopeless, like giving up. But I really do believe you are still with us in some way, so I don't have to give up hope.

I'm sleepy and beginning to ramble.

Pack was happy and feeling good today. He's staying away from drinking and it's making him feel much better.

You know I love you. I've told you a million zillion times. I love you sweet precious Henry. Please don't hide from me.

Love, Mama Pajama (new ones!)


Sunday 12/30/07 8:45 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

We celebrated Saul's birthday today. He is 32. Your dad and I, Rabecca, Phin and Pack (and Saul, of course) went to Claim Jumper. It was fun, and the food was over the top. I got to go to church (early service) and didn't have to go to work. Saul seemed happy with our gift (one year membership to OMSI.) After we got home I set up my sewing machine, got it threaded and actually did some sewing. I hemmed a pair of trousers and mended an apron. Mom would be proud.

Meg called today to say that Steve is too sick to have the party at her house. She said he can't get out of bed to go to the bathroom and he's having suicidal thoughts. I feel awful for them. We're going to have the party at Myra's.

Tomorrow we're going to Lebanon for Adam's wedding. I'll take a picture for you. Grandad is going to do the ceremony.

You know, Henry, I was thinking today about what we've gone through in losing you the way we did. I was thinking that it is a contradiction, in that it is impossible to endure, and yet somehow, we are enduring it. It truly is impossible, you know. It cannot be borne. But I'm sitting here, dry-eyed, bearing it.

And I never forget that we aren't alone, and that many have endured far worse.

So. Happy Saul's birthday.
Love, Mama


Tuesday 1/1/08 9:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Here is Adam and Amanda's invitation and a photo from the wedding. It was a sweet little ceremony with Grandad officiating. Mr. and Mrs. Adam Foss are now at home with the 3 kids, Matthew, Boyd and Abby.

The annual Family Drawing Party was canceled. Steve has become too sick for Meg to leave him; the nurse says that he is "actively dying" and that he may not last a week. Meg said yesterday morning she had trouble waking him up. Today I visited her for a while, took her a turkey pot pie that Jim made her. Steve was awake the whole time, but he was talking nonsense. Meg is in the throes of a very rough time. I need to help her all that I can.

I saw Grant and Rebecca's kids today. They are very sweet. It is good to see the children, and to see how heir parents love them and to feel hope. Casey and Adam, for all the troubles they've had, still try to be good parents. You can see that they love their children.

I'm watching Planet Earth. It is remarkably beautiful. I'd like to give a copy to Grant.

Tomorrow I have another day off. Untold riches.

Love, hugs, kisses, big big hugs, and even bigger hugs...
Love, Mama Pajama


Sunday 1/6/08 7:30 a.m.

Dear Henry,

Today is my mom's birthday. She would be 82. In 1981 she was exactly one week away from her death on this day.

I went back to see Meg day before yesterday. They were waiting for a visit from a priest. Meg looked really tired.

Jerry Rushford is speaking at church today about church history and hymns. I'm going to go to class and 2nd service.

Everyone in our family except your dad is having faith struggles. The Problem of Hell is troublesome. I think Myra and Thomas are going to quit going altogether, as Saul has for quite a while. Patrick says he's only going for our sakes. Your death has been effective in pulling our faith down. How could God send you to hell? How could he send sweet, good-hearted people to hell? If I decide he can't and wouldn't, if I decide God lets most of us into heaven whether we acknowledge him or not, what's the point of evangelism? Why try so hard? Why not just live like the guy in Ecclesiastes who can't be bothered to think about such things because he's too busy just enjoying his life?

I talked these things over with your dad. He says he has no problem believing in hell, and never doubts God's right to decide each of our fates. He says it is beyond our understanding how God will settle matters, like our brains vs a dog's. And evangelizing is for bringing meaning to peoples lives. We can only be fulfilled when we are in relationship with our creator. A life lived in harmony with God is a beautiful life that blesses everyone around. You have only to think of Aldeen.

Well, I believe all this. I feel the truth of it in my bones. I have to trust God and I need to work hard at staying on track. And I need to speak to the kids about it.

I have to tell you a funny thing. We hired a guy who is so clueless. He dresses like a clown and he has no sense. I don't know what Pack and I were thinking. Anyway, yesterday we finally had a pretty busy Saturday. Around 2:30 C__ and I were cleaning out the pastry case, and I said "it's about time we had a busy day." C__ (who had arrived at work at noon vs my 6 a.m. arrival time) replied, "well, I guess it's pretty nice for you, but it's exhausting for the rest of us." Then he got this look, like, maybe I shouldn't have said that? I know, what were we thinking hiring this guy? You can't win them all.

Pack is so lonely for you. He didn't do anything New Year's Eve. He would have spent the time with you. Without J___, without you, he is alone.

I feel like I need to fight for my family. It feels like we are drifting, eaten away by sorrow. I need to DO something.

Gary Strealy is getting married in April and selling his house. Maybe we should see about buying it. Seems far-fetched, but you never know. We could really use more space for family gatherings.

Maybe I should make it a goal to go to 1/2 time to free myself up to get things done, not just at work but family events too. I need a vision.

I have jabbered a lot. I want to tell you everything. I love you, Punkin Pie.
Lady Mama

Wednesday 1/9/08 9:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I've been reading Yancey's book "Where Is God When It Hurts?" for the umpteenth time. It's helping me a lot. Suddenly I have a vision for what your dad and I could do as an outreach: we could start a suicide support group that meets at SW. My vision is that it would not shy away from spiritual questions but would welcome them. It could lead to studies, and be a community outreach. I really want to do something worthwhile, to redeem your suffering and ours by serving others. Maybe we could actually do this.

Dad and I have been talking about our family, how fragmented it feels, and we feel our faith (or at least, mine) and the kids' getting sucked away, dragged off by the dark forces in this world. We've been talking about the business too, how discouraging it is to feel like we're not getting anywhere after working so hard for 5 years. Maybe we should sell it before it crashes and dies. I finished the reconciliation for December last night, and surprisingly, we made money, but it was mostly due to gift certificate sales. I've cut payroll a lot (over $1000 less this time than last!) and we can cut it more. So, I don't know. But we can't let the business's appetite for work drag us down. If we work as smart as we can and still the numbers don't add up, we should get out.

But I don't think we're ready to throw in the towel. There is something going on in that place which is special.

Dad just got home. Better go see to him and to the giant quantity of housework that awaits me.

I love you so much, honey, and I miss you to the bone.
Lady Mama


Thursday 1/10/08 10 p.m.

Henry,

It is nearly 10. I should be in bed. I just prayed for our family. I haven't prayed for a long time.

I love you sweetheart. I love you so much. I miss you. My heart is broken. God keep you safe til I can hold you again. I'm desperate to hold you and bring you the comfort you needed.

This world is indeed a prison. Creation is groaning. Sorrow!
-Mama

Sunday 1/13/08 9:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

As I write the date I remember that today is the 27th anniversary of Mother's death. That day was a Tuesday, sunny and cold. I remember taking you 3 kids for a walk, you in the carriage (or, no, it must have been only you and Saul, for Myra would have been in school.) I looked around at the neighborhood and the sky, and thought how odd, how empty everything seemed all of a sudden, with Mom snatched away from us. This, even though we knew her death was immanent.

I do miss her, but I've been able over the years to notice her true spirit, her self, nestled inside me. Not like a pregnancy, and not that I see some of her characteristics in myself, but her. She is my companion. I want that for you and I, but I don't know if it will ever happen. Maybe there's too much trauma, maybe that kind of companionship can't happen between a mother and her son. I don't know. I look up quickly sometimes from my book or whatever I'm doing, and I hope to see your face. You are never there.

W__ isn't coming to work today because of some cousin who's having a baby, so your dad and Pack won't be able to come to church. I'm taking him off the schedule. And, I think I'm going to fire C__ and J__. I'm tired of looking the other way and letting these guys walk all over me.

Don't be proud of me until I actually do it, Hen Ben.

I've been doing a lot of reading about faith and the old testament, looking for ways to help Myra (and myself). It is good; I feel stronger. Her questioning is a good thing, because it means she cares. The book of Job shows that God values our questioning. So, at least right now, I feel upbeat and hopeful. It's odd how quickly that can crash, though. Yesterday I woke up feeling the opposite. I longed to be obliterated into nothingness. I chafed against the fact that my suicide would cause perhaps (no, not perhaps) irreparable pain to my family. Why does it have to be that I am not free to do with my life what I will? I guess you taught me that. I am decidedly not free.

Pack says that although he often feels suicidal when he's alone, he would never kill himself. He says I can be assured of this. I am tempted to feel assured, but I used to feel that way about you. But the prozac, the prozac was the wild card. Still, I think getting help for Patrick would be wise.

Precious boy, sweet Henry. I would reach up and dry your tears. I would take that marker, that pen out of your hand, the one you used to write your suicide notes. I would crumple those papers and toss them into the sea. I would gather you into my arms and hold you tight. I would tell you NO. Your life is not hopeless. There is rest, there is forgiveness, there is love. HOPE.

I tell you that now. Is it too late? Can you hear me?
-Mama


Monday 1/14/08 4:15 a.m.

Hen Ben,

Rough day yesterday. Don't really want to talk about it. I pretty much lost it over nothing. It's ok now though.

A picture of J&P's and of your dad, plus a nice article was on the front page of the bidness section in the Oregonian yesterday. As a result, we were swamped, I'm told.

Time to gird up my loins and get to work.
I love you, Lady Mama


Friday 1/18/08 7 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

At this moment Sophie is in a play at her school (well, in 5 minutes) and I should be there. After 12 hours of work I'm just too bushed to make it. She has a matinee tomorrow at 1:00, but I'm pretty sure that won't work either. Oh well.

Honey, times are tough for me. When I'm alone I'm haunted by images of you in your last days and hours, and of your battered face and head in death. (They wouldn't let us see you, but I can imagine.) When I'm at work I'm ok, but I know those images are waiting for me. I'm just so sad. I feel hopeless.

But I'd like to shake it, at least so that I'm whole enough to be a good wife and mother. The precious ones I still have really need me. So I've been trying to beat back the sad thoughts when they show up. I need to change my habits. I've grown too comfortable being sad. It's familiar, it makes sense, it satisfies, in a way. But it is crippling me and putting me in danger. Henry, I've got to learn to live with this. Will you help me? Let's do it together. I want to substitute the sad images with the happy ones. Surely we had some??

Belle Voci is good. When I am singing with the girls, I am really happy. And your dad is the tenderest, sweetest, lovingest Bede there is. He is better to me than I deserve. There is light in my world.

I think I had a dream about that last night, about light in the world. I told someone that the world is a very dark place, but there are points of light all over that shine in the darkness, where good things are happening. Where love is.

Gosh, I'm so tired and sleepy.

Sweet Bridgie, I love you. This is Mama Pajama, signing off. :) smile

Sunday 1/20/08 8:20 p.m.

Dear Henry,

This was a nice Sunday. No freakouts, no fights, no tears. I stayed up til almost 2 a.m. (!) but still got up around 7:15. Did a lot of reading, then your dad came home and accompanied me to church. Pack was there. :) Jim did the communion talk and did a beautiful job, as he always does. Pack said to me, How does he do it every time?

After church we accomplished our UG and Costco errands, then came home and cooked hot dogs for lunch. Your dad watched the play-off game between the Packers and the Giants (Giants won in OT) while I read. So, it was a relaxing day.

Last night I dreamed of being out in a sudden thick snowfall. It felt like a blessing.

Pack said he told the story of your death today to a customer who'd been away for 3 years. He said it was very hard. I find talking about you increasingly hard because I'm reluctant to burden people with it. They don't know how to react, and I feel rude. It's isolating, lonely.

Your birthday is coming soon. You should be 28.

Bless your heart, precious son. I pray blessings on you.
Love, Lady Mama


Wednesday 1/23/08 10 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I just got home from BV practice - an odd night because Monday was MLK holiday. Now I'm in my pj's with a brandy toddy next to me. It's cold outside. They say it'll be in the teens again tonight. Maybe we'll get a real snow yet. The winter is a-passing.

Our music this season is so yummy and rich and beauteous. I do so wish you could hear it.

At practice I am happy. It's almost hard to admit that. I resist allowing myself to ever be happy. How could I be happy? Well, I think I'm going to have to be happy. There's no point in proceeding otherwise. That feeling of hopelessness may as well take me over and destroy me if I cannot be happy even in light of what happened to you.

So, Henry, I'm telling you now that I want happiness and I'm gonna try for it. I still love you and miss you, I still ache and grieve over you, I scream with grief inside me. But then I get on and do stuff and think about something else or someone else, and eat dinner and sleep and hope for snow. You know. Life. Just a life that is more tender and broken and scraggly.

I hope to see Isaac this weekend. I'll let you know.

Goodnight, Sweetheart.
Love, Lady Mama


Sunday 1/27/08 6:30 a.m.

Dear Henry,

I do enjoy Sunday mornings. I am a lucky girl to have the day off while Pack and your dad are slaving away. Especially Jim, still slaving away 7 mornings a week.

But I have my coffee, my zucchini muffin, Billie Holiday on the turntable, and you. Pretty nice. Plus, they say, it will snow tonight.

The Phillip Yancey audio books arrived. I gave one to Pack and started listening to the other one in my car. Reaching for the Invisible God. I'm enjoying it and I think it is helping me put to rest my worries about you and hell. I believe I must trust God with my beloved Henry. Some things are unknowable, but I believe in the goodness of God. I do doubt that sometimes, but when I look within me and without me, the goodness of God slaps me in the face. It is possible to see God's goodness by what is created, by the yearnings in our hearts, in spite of the fallen world we inhabit. In a way, it's too obvious. It's like the thing you can't find because it's right next to you.

I'm also reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. It's terrific.

So, Hen Ben, I'm putting to rest some of my anxiety. I'll probably have to wrestle with it again, but for now it's tamed.

Today I'd really better do some housework, else we might drown in muck and junk mail. But such activity is oh so easy to postpone.

I began the project of typing up these letters. Talk about putting something off - I've really dragged my feet on this one. But once I got started I found it wasn't so bad. I'm not a very fast typist, only finished the first two entries. The pain is so raw and new there. It grew worse later as the shock began to wear off. I think I can see now that I actually have come a long way.

Gosh, I'm almost on the last page! I have to decide whether to keep going. I go back and forth. Maybe I should let you go, stop writing to you and simply keep a journal. I don't know. I don't have to decide right now.

Sugar Biscuit, Punkin Pie, Bridgie, Hen Ben-a-Rooney, Ben Bridge, Rah-Rah...Sweetheart. I love you. Our Sunday morning red-headed son delivered by Dr. Miracle. You are a blessing to us forever.

Kisses and hugs,
Mama Pajama


Tuesday 1/19/08 11:45 a.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

I find I am reluctant to write because I dread coming to the end of the book. Can't I even make it to your birthday? What should my last sentence be? I've been thinking again of keeping a journal of prayers. I would give you up to God's care and talk to him instead. I don't know...I think my faith has been rescued from the trash heap, but I sure have a long way to go.

Anyway, for now I still have a little room. I have to leave for my 1/2 day of work now. Your dad has just left to take Myra to Claim Jumper for lunch. She wants to talk to him about her faith crisis. Please, God, be with them.

I love you sweetheart! What big news!! :)
-Your mama with a new haircut (longer than you are used to seeing on me)


Wednesday 2/1/08 8:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

This is hard, coming to the end of my letters to you. It is like another good-bye. But something tells me I need to give it up. I need to stop trying to relate to you as though you are still alive. I will write about you, though. I will never give you up. You are always my Hen Ben, my delight, my pride, my heartache, my blessing.

I had a wacky idea: wouldn't it be fun if everyone in the family ran the shop on your birthday? It's so dang frustrating that you wouldn't be there!! It is a wacky idea, and it probably won't happen, but it would be cool.

Oh sweetheart, let this bunch of letters tell you of our love and sorrow and hope forever. I'm unable to express all the heartache, but you know. I hope you know the love too.

Love, love, Lady Mama