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A Year of Firsts

Monday, March 14, 2011
About a week after Michael's departure from my life, I was organizing a few things in kitchen with one of my sisters and my best friend from Australia.  I saw a few meaningless objects on the kitchen counter and in the pantry that stirred up a flood of memories and I suddenly began to cry.  I continue to be amazed at the grief can bubble up out of, what appears to be, nowhere. It can also settle back down almost as fast as it rose up.  Fine and focusing on the task at hand, then one little glimmer of a memory that won't be the same without him by my side, and then the tears can suddenly gush. This happened standing there in my kitchen.  It felt like we were just about to enjoy doing this when the rush came.  My sister came to me and wrapped her arms around me.  When she pulled away, she calmly, and reassuringly said, "This is going to be a year of firsts. Just know that ahead of time."  Every time something is experienced without Michael, or some object brings up his memory for the first time, I will most likely experience this flash flood of emotions.  I finished that set of tears, then we moved on to something else in the kitchen.  The next day, something happened which triggered it again and my sister looked at me, touched my arm and said, "a year of firsts" with that same reassuring look. After I experience it for the first time, I have been able to handle it without emotion the next... it is just getting over each initial hump.  Like making coffee.

Several years ago, I prayed and asked God for some specific ways that I could serve Michael  in order to help him in his daily life - to bring more physical peace.  One of the ways was to make his coffee at night with the timer set for thirty minutes before his wake up time the next day. (His wake up time fluctuated within a thirty minute time frame, depending on his day that was waiting for him.)  The aroma of the coffee helped him roll out of bed. The main reason, though, for doing this was so that his movements in the morning could seamlessly flow into his prayer time while holding a cup of coffee.  Having to come down the stairs, stop to measure coffee, and then wait for it to finish would have been an interruption to that morning flow.  I was more than happy to do it because I knew the peace that it would help add to his early morning alone time. It was always just four cups, which is really just two mugs.  I drink green tea, so I only had to make enough for him.  If he did not drink it all, Julia and Michael Anthony would share the little that was left mixed with lots of cream and sugar.  By instinct one night recently, before going up to bed, I started to make the coffee for all of my guests that would be here the next morning.  There I was, crying over the coffee pot.  For the first time in years, I was going to make a full pot... no longer the sweet little pot of four.  For the first time in years, I had to change the timer on it  to go off at a later time than the pot was accustomed to brewing.  A year of firsts.  I have not had any problems with making coffee since that night.

A friend of mine who sells CABI clothing and lives in Mobile, was passing through town yesterday.  I have held trunk showings for her about once or twice a year for the past six years.  On the days that I would host a show, Michael would sometimes come home during the day for me to do a little fashion show for him and he would help me decide what looked best.  Other times, he would come at the end of the day and we would both have a glass of wine while looking at the clothes I had picked and I would try on the questionable ones.  I needed a few things for this spring and summer, so I asked her if she could bring her clothes inside for me to have my own private show. (Shopping for clothes in stores is not something I have ever enjoyed to do.)  She brought in the whole line and we drank hot tea, with my mom, sister, and a friend joining me. With her help, I immediately made a stack of pieces that were obviously "me".  I then tried everything on and narrowed it down to the possibilites.   It was going smoothly right up to that point, then the flash flood hit.  I began to cry.  It was the first time I was picking out clothes without Michael's opinion and his eye for style and what worked for me.  I loved his opinion on my clothes because he had perfect fashion sense, which I realize is very uncommon for most husbands. He knew beauty instinctively when he saw it.  It was because he was an artist, a romantic, and he knew how clothes made us both feel.  He made me feel beautiful at all times, in all places.  I wanted to look beautiful for him.  They sat patiently with me, loved me, and listened.  Then the waters began to recede.  A year of firsts.

Two incredibly talented women from my neighborhood came over Saturday to help organize my kitchen,  which had gotten out of control from so many people working in it.  They arrived at ten in the morning and gave their whole day to me.  The organizing moved from my kitchen to my garage and they served with love and compassion in their hearts.  There are not words to describe my thankfulness to these two ladies.  While one of them worked in the kitchen, I mostly sat on a stool and she would pull items out and ask my opinion on things. It was going smoothly.  I was even a little proud of the way I was holding it all together.  Flash floods hit.  She was sitting on the floor next to an open cabinet and held up a set of brand new baby bottles used specifically for breast milk.  She asked, "What about these?"  Whoosh....it took my breath away.  Two years ago this month, we were all set for a private adoption for a local brand new baby girl.  She was due two days after my birthday.  The mother was about 15-16 years old and went to a local public high school.  We began to pray over this little blessing while she was still in the womb.  We prayed for her protection, safe delivery and over her life. We had hired our attorney and he had privately met with the birth mother and her father.(Her mother had been killed in a car wreck several years before.) Everything looked good.  I had a small baby bed up in my room and a huge stack of pink things.  The children and I had gone shopping so that they could each pick something out for our new baby girl... we had named her Sophia Grace Barranco. (Sophia means wisdom... the meaning of Grace is obvious.)  I had been seeing a breastfeeding specialist so that I could nurse this newborn baby, as I did my other three children. I had bought those bottles from the specialist.  In Mississippi, the birth mother can change her mind right up to the moment she is walking out of the hospital... and this is what she did.   They were supposed to call our attorney to let him know of her birth, then he would pick up the baby from the hospital and bring her to us.  The day came and went with no phone call.  After a week, our attorney called them only to find out that she had changed her mind and they had failed to call us.  Needless to say, we were devastated.  It was like a death in the family.  I kept all those pink blankets and clothes in a neat pile in my room for a whole year thinking the young mother would change her mind and decide she could not handle it.  Those things were finally put away in the attic last fall in a pink and white plastic bin.  A year of firsts.

My list of firsts already could go on and on.  These were several firsts that had more intimate depth to them. I just shared this intimacy with the world....a year of firsts.

2 comments:

LiNz Says:
March 14, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Thank you for sharing so openly and intimately with us... Thank you for giving us the opportunity and gift of walking along side you, grieving with you, hurting for you, and learning of 'your/our God' in a much deeper way through you! You truly are an amazing blessing! Praise His Name there are no 'firsts' for Him... I'm so thankful He will be right there holding you through each of yours! He is everything good! I love you and gotchya covered in prayer! <3

Anonymous Says:
March 14, 2011 at 12:36 PM

"Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can not heal"

You are not alone in your journey.

In His Grip

KS

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