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Taking a Moment

Monday, July 18, 2011
Paper work piles as a result of Michael’s death seem never ending.  If I don’t stay on top of it daily, it becomes overwhelming.  When I go out of town, I try to forget about it but it is there, waiting for me when I return.  I am handling such a wide variety of business that it becomes very heavy.  I am thankful that I have people in place to help me handle all of the questions and they are also helping me by reminding me what to do and when to do it.  On Tuesday of last week, I woke up with a mission to go through the entire pile of paperwork, which was now taking up one half of my breakfast table, even though I work on it daily.  There were papers to file, piles of business with questions for certain people like attorneys, accountants, bankers, financial planners, power of attorneys, and my friend Amy T. who has been helping me learn how to do all of my book keeping.  There where piles of Michael’s business mail to open, more thank you notes to be written for donations, papers to read, personal notes to read that had arrived in the mail, papers to sign, bills to pay, and paperwork that was just awaiting a decision.  I made my three page to do list, delegated some of it that could be done by someone else to my sister, Julie, for that day, and started to work on the pile by 7:30 in the morning.

I was so focused and determined that I felt some imaginary blinders on to help me focus on each item without any thoughts or emotions.  This was “business” and God was covering me with grace to treat it that way.  I was facing the facts with a levelheaded mind in order to stay in motion.  After making much progress, I was sorting through a pile of papers that had some Michael memorabilia.  My Aunt Jerri had put together a scrapbook for me from a folder that I had kept over the years, which had all of the articles or magazine covers with stories of Michael in the news.  The articles were either about his music, his architecture, or just featuring him as the Renaissance man that he was.  I gave her the folder on February 24th, and she had it completed by the visitation the next night on the 25th.  I have kept it out in my sitting room for us to peruse through any time we feel like it.  Guests enjoy sitting down and taking a moment to look through it while they are visiting here, too.  I got up from the table and went to the sitting room to slip this piece of memorabilia into the back of the scrapbook, to be entered at a later date into a page sleeve.  I reached down and lifted up all of the pages to the back, when I caught a glimpse of one of my favorite pictures of Michael smiling back at me.  It is a cute picture…. the look he would give me when he was up to something like a surprise or when he would get tickled at himself.  It felt like he was saying, “Well, hey there!”, which is what he would say when he would come upon me in surprise in my bedroom or closet, if he thought I was looking especially good, or if I happened to pop my head into his office unexpectantly.  I simply stood there and slowed down enough to peer at his face over the edge of the pages that my hand was holding.  The tears immediately filled up my eyes and I instinctively spoke to him and said,  “I miss you” and smiled back at him through the tears.  After that moment, the tears where there, everywhere I turned but I kept pressing on through the paperwork, in spite of them.  (I received a letter from Michael Anthony this weekend from camp and he said he was, “working through this homesickness.”  I understood what he meant.  I was working through this homesickness too… homesick for our home with Michael in it.)

As I continued to work on the paper piles, I began to lose my direction and ability to see it all at face value.  I had to step away from it all and be silent.  I went up to my bedroom, closed the door, and sat on the corner of my bed staring at the wall.  I realized there was no place to get away from it.  I began to sob as everything that stared back at me were memories of him.  The black and white family photo taken in front of the Sistine Chapel in Rome was hanging on the wall.  Next to it, was a beautiful mirror that he had chosen which was made from old architectural materials.  On top of the lingerie chest, sitting underneath the mirror, was one of my favorite pictures of us with Nanette and Peter all squeezing each other in a big bear hug taken the weekend of Peter’s surprise 40th birthday weekend in Texas.  Next to the picture was a square glass vase with all of the shells that Michael and I gathered every time we walked the beach together at Rosemary, along with two huge conch shells which we also found were sitting next to the vase.  Then there was the huge glass vase that held all of the rose petals from the dozen roses he gave me with the birth of each child…. Red for Mia’s birth, pink for Julia’s, and yellow for Michael Anthony’s.  From my seat on the corner of my bed, I cried as my eyes slowly moved from one object to the next, remembering each special moment that was represented in all of these things.

I kept taking deep breaths and let the tears fall.  I turned my glance slightly and there was his cool, soft leather, satchel style briefcase sitting next to my ottoman, where it has been since February 23 after it was brought back from his car from the scene of the accident.  Sitting on the ottoman was his leather day timer case, which was not a day timer, but he used just for note taking in meetings.  He bought it while in Italy during our last visit.  He loved the smell of good leather.  On top of the leather notebook sat his glasses… his trendy, signature glasses that now were bent and missing the glass on the left side from the accident.  I thought about putting them on, but did not.  I decided to open up his leather notebook and read through any notes.  I gingerly opened it and the smell of the leather rose to my nose and made me cry even more because it smelled just like he liked it to smell.  I had to touch everything carefully because everything was still covered in glass dust from the accident.  It would have been sitting on the front seat at the time of the wreck.  I slowly read through all of his business notes that had been taken since January.  Notes from every meeting he attended.  I found notes taken on Valentine’s Day and notes taken from a meeting with his partners on February 21st and 22nd.  Folded in a side pocket was a sheet of paper with something hand written all over it.  I opened it and began to cry even harder as I realized that it was a prayer he had written for the recent grand opening of a fire station that he had designed for the city of Flowood, Mississippi.  He had been asked to say the prayer…

“Father, we stand before you today humbled by what you have done.  We’re so thankful for this day that we celebrate your handiwork once again in the city of Flowood.  In a world with so much uncertainty, we’re grateful for the vision and commitment of the city leaders and firefighters who constantly lean on Your certainty for guidance.  Let this facility remind us of their persistent dedication to the citizens of Flowood, who above all, they recognize as being Your people.  We ask you protect the lives of those that will use this facility and as they go out, that they would return safely.  We thank you that this facility was not built in vain, but to Your glory by a city that honors You. 
Now we ask You to bless this fellowship, as we honor what You have done.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen.”

That was all I could put myself through in that moment.  I folded up the prayer and slowly tucked it back into the pocket of the leather notebook.  I sat still on the corner of my bed for a while and took a moment to gather myself back together.  I let the tears and the breathing slow down, wiped my face with a tissue, and took many deep breaths.  I let my eyes scan one last time over everything that had just taken over me, then stood up, and went downstairs to return to the work that awaited me.


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