Happy Birthday, Margaret!

Today would have been Margaret’s 34th birthday. It is hard to believe that she’s been gone almost 4 months. It seems like just yesterday that she was there in the hospital clinging to life with all the ups and downs the illness brought with it. How easily we overlook time when we are consumed in our lives by whatever is right there in front of us.

Sometimes it is simply an annoying distraction from the things that are most important to us. How often do we deviate from those things? Sometimes it is one more thing on our plate. Then there are times like these where it is a welcome distraction. How grateful I am for the distraction right now. I’m also grateful for those really important things too because they can also offer a nice distraction from the heart ache.

I suppose the important thing is to sometimes allow those welcome distractions into our lives because it is through these that we find the strength and courage to take one more step. . . To wake up and face the world one more time. . . To resume life as we knew it before the loss – only different.

Different isn’t necessarily bad, it is just different. Once you adjust, it becomes the new “life as you know it.” The key is to allow the adjustment to occur. Once it starts, little by little, we reflect less on the pain. We dwell less with an aching heart, empty and longing for the things that are gone, and realize how blessed we were to have known the loss because without good we wouldn’t have known the pain.

This transition doesn’t happen immediately. It is important to remember that it just happens, gradually. It starts small, then one morning you wake up and realize it has been 10, 15, or 20 years. I am grateful that it does happen. It offers hope that the longing will fade and reflections will be more and more pleasant. Less and less the “want” will become the “remember when.”

I started the morning with another headache. Day 3 of the headache. Killer headache. Bad sinus headache mixed with hormone headache, turned migraine. No fun! This is especially no fun when it is day 3 of it and you’re tired because you aren’t sleeping well. Then you you throw having to be up early, out the door to take a child to school by 8:15am, and you’ve got the perfect conditions for an even worse headache.

That would not be enough today, I topped this miserable concoction off with emotional tenderness. I had tears streaming down my face before 7:30am. Not good. I had no idea how I was going to make it through dinner tonight with Margaret’s family and close friends if I was already balling. We won’t reflect on the killer headache again, but more noise with a migraine is not a good combination. I did it last night with the Cub Scout Pack Meeting. UGH!

Of course as any female knows, retail therapy is always good. Period! Alright, I’ll confess that I am not a huge retail therapy kind of girl, but sometimes you just have to shop. Truth be told, I was really on a multi-fold mission. I didn’t head out the door to go shop on a whim, although I am sure that Ben would have loved it if I had wandered out and bought a pair of 3″ high heeled boots. Didn’t happen. I didn’t need that much retail therapy. Chocolate helped make up the difference.

I was out and about on what turned out to be my “retail therapy” session for several reasons:

  • Kyle needed jeans to wear on Friday night for his choir performance that did not have holes in them (especially in the left knee).
  • We needed more milk (last gallon in the fridge would be opened today).
  • Andrew needed a gallon of juice to take to the Young Men/Young Women (church youth group) combined activity tonight.
  • Lance really needs bigger pajamas. He has grown a considerable amount.
  • I needed a flat bed sheet and/or fabric to use as a backing on the quilt I am working on for the Annual Interfaith Hospitality Network and NAM (Northwest Assistance Ministries) Quilting Bee which is on February 20th.
  • I want to find some Americana and patriotic fabrics to finish up an American quilt that I started. I stitched the large (and small) “crazy quilt” blocks already.
  • I want to work on a project.

So I called mom up on the way to drop Andrew off at the junior high school. He had to be there by 8:15am for some before school stuff (project or something). The junior high is between home and mom’s house. We wandered out yet another Wal-mart. The fact is that there are still some Wal-marts (while rare) in town that do still have a fabric department. We went to one that still had one. That was the dangerous part of the exercise all by itself.

I did managed to find Kyle a pair of jeans that fit. They were on clearance for $7. I even found Kyle and Lance each a pair of twill cargo type pants. They were on clearnce for $4 each. I also found a Phineas and Pherb long sleeve shirt for Andrew. It was on clearance for $4. I totally struck out on the pajamas for Lance, however. I did get the milk and juice.

I even got the flat sheet to use for the quilt backing. Yay! I’ve already got all the seams out of it and have run it through the washer and dryer. Tomorrow I can layer the quilt and have mom baste it so it can easily be tied either between now and the Quilting Bee or at the Quilting Bee. I’ll even be able to get the borders to go around the edges of the pieced quilt top to make it a tad larger. It is just shy of being a twin sized quilt without the borders. I’ll get the strips for the border cut in the morning and get it put on the quilt top, then I’ll head to mom’s to have her baste it together with her big, long-armed quilting machine. I am excited.

Now, let’s recall the statement that the fabric department was the dangerous part of the exercise. It was. I went to a Wal-mart with fabric intentionally. I had been collecting fabric “fat-quarters” for a while. I was going to make Margaret a quilt, but I still wasn’t happy with the extensiveness of what I had collected. There was just something missing still, although looking at it this morning I am not sure why.

Then again, I hadn’t found the right pattern/design for the quilt yet. I just knew that I wanted to do one and I wanted to do it in a particular color. Not sure why I picked the color, but I picked blue. I sat and looked through one of the new quilting magazines that mom had bought in the past week or two. There it was. There was this beautiful quilt there and it just spoke to me. Yes, it actually spoke. It hit me over the head too. It was as if all the fabrics I had picked were meant for that particular quilt design.

I pulled the tub with all the fabric in it last night after I got home. I sat there and looked at it. I was completely astounded by what I saw in there. There weren’t just a handful of pieces of fabric in there. There were 21 fat-quarters in the tub along with a rather large piece of off-white/light beige fabric in there. That is a lot as it is roughly 5.25 yards plus whatever the large piece is cut at. I was shocked. Still I felt like I needed a couple of things to add to it. I would certainly need a large piece of tonal print in a very light color to work with the design I had seen in the magazine. The collected pieces were going to work nicely with it.

So this morning I went out on a mission to find the rest of the stuff to do this quilt with. I would have made it for Margaret so it seemed like a natural thing to do on her birthday even if it was just going to be a quilt for myself now. There at Wal-mart I found a tonal piece that would work. It was marked down to $2.50 per yard. I found a couple of pieces on the clearance table that were marked down to $1 and $2 per yard. I even found a couple of other pieces to go in Jeff’s (my brother-in-law) quilt. So for a little less than $11 later I got out of the fabric department. I could have bought more. I really could have. I did practice restrain. I put the impulse pieces back. I got just what I needed for the 2 quilts I have in my head.

The trip did help. I felt that peace come back where this morning I had been an emotionally down. It is hard. I don’t care what anyone tells you. You don’t know someone that long, that closely without feeling in the dumps from time to time. Somehow though, finding the pieces to get the “Margaret Quilt” underway made me feel better.

Piano lessons were even canceled this afternoon. The boys’ piano teacher threw out/hurt her back and was still unable to sit in a chair, so she canceled their lesson. That was fine for me. It meant one less thing for me to squeeze into an already packed evening. Andrew had a ride to church. Mom would watch Kyle and Lance. I just called off karate for those two because Jonathan had class and dad was in a meeting so transportation was unavailable to get them from the karate studio back to grandma’s house as I was heading out for dinner with Margaret’s family.

Dinner was at a quaint little Mexican restaurant about 35 minutes from here – Teotihuacan. The parking lot was tiny. I ended up parking in a lot across the street. It was in a rough part of town. Little nervous, I will confess. The food was decent. The group there to remember Margaret on her birthday, large. Large group, tiny parking lot, bad combination. There were tears. There were smiles. There were sighs. There were laughs.

It was sad to see the suffering and longing in people’s faces still. It really did make my heart ache. Oh how I wish I could just take that away. I was ever more grateful for the knowledge and faith I have in Christ’s atonement and His Eternal Plan of Happiness. It doesn’t make it all go away. Death still happens. The pain is still real. It just makes it more tolerable, more bearable. I am truly grateful for hope and how important it is to cling to it right now.

I am glad I went. I was missing my grandfather tonight as well. This time of year is hard because his birthday was the end of January. Double whammy tonight. I found comfort in being with others who could share the good times and Margaret’s life with–common ground. Seeing her grandfather tonight, however, made me miss my own grandfather even more. Truth be told that it has been 14 years since Grandpa Adams passed away, but I miss him. Tender emotions can make it harder at certain times, more so than it normally would have been.

Tonight I am missing…just missing…and hoping that Margaret had a very happy birthday in her heavenly home above. Miss you, Margaret.

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