August 17, 2000
So many things have happened. No disasters.
First, Rachel is well. We had two pediatrician calls while she was at the family reunion -- she got sick, quit eating, and was in some real pain (her first ear infections, cutting teeth and a bad cold). It got scary when she was losing weight and we were afraid we would have to put her in a hospital to get more fluid in her, but it all worked out. Now she is giggling on the floor next to me, but I had some very bad days there in the mountains, 36 miles east of Park City, Utah.
If you are visiting in Park City, Utah and need a pediatrics M.D., let me recommend David M. Bergman. He was a Peace Corps volunteer and can be found at Summit Medical Center (University of Utah), 1750 W. Sun Peak, Park City, Utah 84-98 (435) 647-5740. He also gave us his home phone number, but I'm not going to give that out (on the web or otherwise). He cared for my daughter and for my nephew and everyone lived. Ok, we were all pleased with the service as well, but it was a great thing to go in for medical care and not have anyone die.
Second, Rachel is such a delight. She has gotten much too mobile, but we love her so. I'm not sure what I can say about it, except I really am enjoying her. If I can just get through August 31, I should be ok.
Which is the real sub-text to life these days. Having another baby in the house, especially one who looked so much like Robin, dredged up so many feelings and fears. From July on, this year has been much, much harder than last year. I think that as we get into September that will really change, especially if we can avoid some more frights.
Third, the rest of the family is doing well. For privacy's sake, I'll leave out the details, but Win starts her graduate program -- something we have all felt very strongly about, and Heather is so dear to us.
My class at SMU went very well. I was so pleased with my students. The program would like to give tougher grades, and I was prepared to do that, but I just had the wrong students. They all did an excellent job. Of course, if I had a larger class I might have had a much different result, but students like these really bring me joy.
We had a family reunion. It was kind of unusual in that we had house guests while we were gone (they needed the house), so the neighbors kept wondering when we were going to leave ...
My Dad talked about a friend of his from Burundi. The man left for his field one day and returned to find all of his neighbors, all of his friends, and all of his family dead in ethnic violence. Only his mother in Tanzania was alive, so he began to walk East towards the coast. He had little or nothing and eventually failed of his strength and fell down to die. As he lay there, he saw some orange peels that someone had thrown on the ground. He ate them and recovered his strength and lived. That is hardship of the type that I am grateful to God that I have not had to live through.
We also did an interview for a television/video presentation on Journey of Hope. It was hard to speak so publicly. I will have a copy of the tape when they finish it. Maybe I can cut some .avi clips from it, I don't know.
This has been a ramble. I'll do a better job in September.
October 4, 2000
A good friend is dying. I got the message tonight. Usually I would take a day or so off of work, spend time with them to say good-bye and to comfort Heather (our daughter, who knows the friend well). Unfortunately, the way things are at work I can not take the time. I need to reconsider priorities.
Been a lot of stress recently. The graduate program Win is enrolled in has extremely tough demands. She is under a lot of stress and in need of support. July and August were extremely difficult for me as I dealt with memories of Robin and having another baby in the house for the anniversary of her life and death. Heather has also really needed support. In addition, I've done a lot of peacemaking at work as there has been a lot of stress sharing.
When I started with the firm, they put a lot of emphasis of the low hourly requirements, the fact that it was an environment where people did not "share the stress" and the trade-offs that were involved in the firm. From what a normal b.v. rated attorney would have made in the last two years I've lost two or three hundred thousand dollars. But I was trading income for environment and flexibility.
But I have thoughts these days. And my friend is dying without me.
October 14, 2000
I was able to get down to see my friend, but not before she slipped into her final decent, which means I did not get a chance to talk with her while she was awake. She will not be awake again -- and to judge by how long Win is taking in returning from the hospital tonight, may not be here with the rising sun.
Robin is walking. Not at nine months like Heather, but at nine months and a couple weeks. She toddles all over now at nine months three weeks. Her first steps were to her sister. Now she walks all over with her hands in the air (sometimes with something in both hands and something else held in her mouth). Has a few words. Dada (for me), Mama (for Win -- it is funny the look she gives people who aren't her mom who try to get her to use the word), Heatha (for Heather), Cat. She understands "hot" and "no" -- and takes both seriously. She is doing well. Walks with a funny stride (guess all toddlers have their quirks), but one that is very different from Courtney's. I'm grateful for that.
Still find many things hard, but I am grateful for my children.
Other thoughts, went to see two movies with Heather. X-Men (she had seen it with Win and wanted to see it with me) and The Kid. I really enjoyed The Kid. Was a time I was becoming very much like the protagonist, and I made a very conscious decision not to be that way. Left law school much more humane than when I went in. Not sure I'm as good of an attorney as I could be if I were different, but I am a better human being. Reminds me of my favorite Bible verses, ones I work at remembering: "In the Day of Judgment, the King shall say ..."
Missed a wedding reception. Rachel did a little vomiting, so I stayed home with her. She is ok, I thought it was the flu, but it appears to be past. A friend's son is finally married (she drove me down to Dallas when Win had been flown down with Robin and I need help). I had to tell his mom that I was really pleased with him. Wish I had been there to tell him. He is getting some books for a wedding present, including one that has been out of print for over a year. I ran down a pristine (new) copy for him from the author who is a friend of mine. She has sold over seven million volumes of various books, but this particular one is my favorite. I hope he enjoys it. I'm not sure if I'll tell him just how hard it was to get him the copy.
Funny to see kids who were just kids when I meant them back in '84 or so, now all grown up and getting married. When I lost late '92 to '98 with the girls deaths, I lost the time in my late 30s to my mid 40s -- it was a real gap. I went from just entering middle age to "my parents age" to many people. In some ways I feel I lost my life.
These days as I exercise, lose weight and grow into my full mental capacity again (it has been eight years since I was able to think in some ways, and now as I grow back, it is different) it is almost as if I am a different person. My sense of continuity that used to be ironclad is gone. If you've ever read a novel where someone isn't sure they existed yesterday or if the past is complete -- I never had those feelings. I had such a rock solid sense of continuity. That's gone now, I'm not sure what I was or that I was because there are fuzzy spots and gaps. I can remember Jessica dying, but not the drive down from Wichita Falls. I remember driving down to L.A. to be with Courtney, and flashes of UCLA -- but there are gaps there. I remember going to sleep and waking up to find Robin dead, and having a police officer ask me what color my eyes were (and not being able to get the words out to answer him -- looking back I'm sure he could see my eyes better than I could, but was trying to help me focus and I just couldn't do it) and seeing the police chaplin, but things about my law practice and those days are so gone.
Still waiting on the marker for Robin. The stonesmith ordered everything, but it appears that in that market some things are slower than others. If we had used a different stone, but we wanted all the girls to have the same color of marker. They have the same art style, they all have laser cut pictures in the stone, and the same type of stone for each.
And I love and miss each of them so terribly much.
October 19, 2000
Marsha died 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. They held her funeral today and I attended, Win gave the prayer. The congregation overflowed the chapel at the Stake Center.
Heather took the entire thing very hard.
I'll write more later.
November 8, 2000
Mixed news, all in all. Our office moved (the old building was taken over by the Belo Corp and everyone lost their leases) to 1412 Main Street, 23rd Floor, Dallas, Texas 75202. I have a corner office, which is nice. For parking we have spaces with the Adolphus' valet parking (our building was originally the Adolphus Office Building and is connected to the Adolphus Hotel -- a five start hotel).
Win's car died. Until that is taken care of, I'm driving her down to her car pool in the mornings. Rachel has started running (which was a shock to see -- Win blurted out "no, that's too soon" -- our baby is just growing up too fast). More teeth too.
November 24, 2000
Well, we got through Thanksgiving. Our dear friends, the Princes, had us over and it was wonderful. Jeremy even shared his mom with us, which was delightful. I couldn't have asked for a better day.
Rachel has been giving me flashbacks to Courtney, but only a little. She isn't so blindingly blond, and while she climbs in my lap when I read the paper (only two of our children have done that), she hops right back out. Still, it stirs up emotions.
We were able to replace Win's car. The first time we've bought a new car since Robin's death and it went well. We also bought a new washing machine (the old one, about fourteen years old, is finally on its last legs, so to speak. It keeps failing to function). It gets delivered tomorrow. Seems like only yesterday that we bought it.
Sunday School last week was interesting. People talked about tithes and offerings. A few were talking about God as if he was a giant slot machine that always paid off. Others talked about what God does "to" us. Finally the discussion came around, so to speak. Most of what happens in this imperfect world isn't done "to" us, it just happens as proof (and because) of the world not being perfect. What God does is support us in dealing with it. And we don't serve God to get Mammon. Paul didn't say that if there was just the returns of this life we were of all men most miserable "unless we paid into the celestial slot machine" he instead said that without the next life this life would leave those with knowledge of the truth the most miserable (cf 1 Cor. 15:19).
I made the point that what we think of as suffering is at worst, in the United States, the normal experiences of life in a very soft and pampered environment. See Burundi above. I know people who have endured real pain and real suffering and in comparison my life's trials have been of a brief moment. I have been blessed in them and supported.
Anyway, some reflection and thought about it all.
Work continues on. Our new offices are much nicer than the old ones. I'd have liked a different color than the green we used, but having seen several floors just like ours in the tan and taupe I can understand Barry's reluctance to be "just one more." The green is very subdued and most everyone loves it. I like it, and it fits my couch and my office stuff well.
I'm still thinking of getting an advanced degree some day. Still trying to decide which Ph.D. and where, though UT Dallas has some good programs and is close to the house. I'd like something that mixes a bit with dispute resolution, but that is at least two years off (Win in school is enough right now). I think for now I'll just continue on, relearn calculus (I always liked math) and write some more articles (and perhaps some more stories for Heather).
Found my private grief journal. I'd mislaid it for a while. It goes from March 3, 1993 to July 15, 1994. It covers an area that was kind of lost to me -- especially as the journal I kept then was stolen along with a briefcase of mine and some scriptures. The thief surely did not obtain anything that I think did them much good. If it had, they would have returned the journal (it had my address in it). It has one of the Jessica hearts I saved in it.
[Jessica used to go with me to the library, and every time would donate a dollar and write her name on a friend of the library heart. After she died, they let me have the hearts. I kept finding hearts for months afterwards. My child.]
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