Dear Ed Sheeran

Before sunrise Hubby stumbles across the bedroom and kindly whisper mumbles, “Good morning.”

My response is internal, I don’t like mornings and I hate ALS.  I need your body to help me with this blankety blank moving sale and I know you can’t physically share the load.  I speak nothing.  To be fair, he helped in the ways he could yesterday.  I’m grumpy and tired from weeks of prep in a house with a to-do list that has gotten away from us.  ALS has stolen the feeling of team chores over the years.  The playbook has shifted.  Team means new things now.

My mind wanders to the letter I had wanted to write Ed Sheeran a while back.  I planned to say, “Wow.  You sing the most perfect lyrics for our marriage in the song “Thinking Out Loud”.  Please meet us in Pompano Beach, FL on our 25th anniversary weekend, bring a guitar, and sing that to us on the beach.  Just once please.  That would be cool.”

I pull back my inner crazy lady and did not send such correspondence.

On Saturday of our trip we figure out the mechanics of getting us both on the sand.  Once settled, YouTube plays the Ed Sheeran song.  Then we listen to the ocean waves for hours shaded by an umbrella.  That was my favorite day.

Sunday he rests and I suggest we do dinner out to officially celebrate.  Monday could be another rest day before navigating the airport with a wheelchair Tuesday.  Oh, the things I’ve learned.  For instance, there are indoor hills, PeopleIndoor hills.  Pacing ourselves is important in the approach to such phenomenon.

We arrive at public parking for the restaurant 5 minutes before our reservation.  The parking meter doesn’t work.  It’s humid.  The restaurant is across the street and upstairs.  We see there is an elevator down the road.  I clumsily pay through their online app.  I wonder if I look pretty.  We gals can fit 100 thoughts or more into such moments, can’t we?

As we roll to the crosswalk, we hear music.  The beginning chords play “Thinking Out Loud”.  Hubby says it’s a popular song so no surprise.  But in my head I’m like, The Universe got my letter!  Thanks, Ed.  Thanks, God.

The words follow us all the way to the restaurant.  The patio overlooks a boat dock.  Our table has a sunset view.  It is a lovely evening.

Peace & love,

Signature GSE

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When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks

And darling I will be loving you till we’re 70
And baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Oh me I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am

So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are

When my hair’s all gone and my memory fades
And the crowds don’t remember my name
When my hands don’t play the strings the same way
I know you will still love me the same

‘Cause honey your soul could never grow old, it’s evergreen
And baby your smile’s forever in my mind and memory
I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe it’s all part of a plan
I just keep on making the same mistakes
Hoping that you’ll understand

But baby now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
Thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are

So baby now

Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Oh darling, place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are
Oh maybe we found love right where we are
And we found love right where we are

25 years & 25 lessons

I cry at some point of almost every wedding anniversary.  I am a closet spoiled brat.  I like the feeling of celebration, of feeling special on special occasions.  I can be ridiculous with my internal thoughts while being poker face cool externally.  Meanwhile my other half is practical, kind, and loving.  He’s a good guy.  We have opposite approaches to life and opposite personalities by most measures…Myers-Briggs, DISC, Zodiac Signs, Chinese Calendar, and so forth.  On paper we should not be together.  Fortunately we have overlap on the Gary Chapman Five Love Languages test results.  And Jesus.  Jesus is our key common denominator.

This year we hit the big 2-5.  25 years married.  Wowza.

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He warned me when we dated.  We were 20 and 23 years old at the time.  He said something like, “Things go wrong for me.  I am a walking Murphy’s Law type person.”  We proceeded to argue.  I said he had the wrong attitude.  He said attitude is a result of things that happen to a person.  I pollyanna’d that attitude is what you bring to any day or situation.

I maintain that sunshine viewpoint today, but he’s right about how little things tend to go wrong in his world.  Ride in a car with him to a new location and you’ll see what he means by the number of missed turns.  The good news is he has adapted what I call Overcoming Murphy’s Law Strategies.  For example, before going on vacation he spends quality time with Google Maps to the point that when we arrive at our destination it seems like he knows exactly where he is going–because he does.

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Here are 25 things I’ve learned over 25 years of marriage:

  1.  It’s true.  Opposites attract.  Take time to respect the differences rather than to fight about them.
  2.  Less expectations can lead to sweet surprises.  Example, Hubby made sure I had my all time favorite donut on vacation:  Key Lime from Dandee Donuts.  Yum.20180929_073646
  3.  Praying for your mate is a better plan than nagging your mate.  God has a way of opening up his or her heart so you can communicate.
  4. Children can strain relationships because they create a new kind of tired…an 18 year plus kind of tired.  Recognize the tired and take time outs as needed.20180929_112724
  5. Ask for what you need.
  6. Before you ask for what you need, ask if this is a good time to talk, aka a time where you can hear one another.
  7. Listen to understand.
  8. Kiss.
  9. Our premarital counselor said to always fight naked.  I’ll leave that right there.
  10. Speaking of counseling, get some.
  11. Grow together.  Share how you are growing, maturing, learning.
  12. Grow solo too.  Counseling is good for you.  Take notes.  Untangle the knotted parts of your brain.
  13. Agree to be on the same page.
  14. Agree to discuss what the same page looks like.
  15. When you’re on different pages, acknowledge and discuss the pages.
  16. Have family meetings.  I love that Hubby has initiated family meetings with our kids several times over the years.
  17. Make each other breakfast from time to time.
  18. Acknowledge seasons that are hard for your spouse and give grace upfront.
  19. Enjoy special songs together.  I could make a song scrapbook of meaningful songs from the different stages of our life.
  20. People say hurtful things.  Don’t be that kind of people.
  21. If you do say something hurtful, then say I am sorry.  Be sincere with your apology and do better.
  22. Hug, hold hands.
  23. Do activities the other person likes to do.  I’m not good at this.  Eh, it is good to know about improvement opportunities.
  24. Love your spouse’s family.  They are your family too.
  25. Stay centered.  For us that means Jesus is at the center of our home.

“For better or worse” is in generic wedding vows for a reason.  I could not have predicted at 21 years old when we married that I would feel like we won when we figured out how to take a long weekend trip with a wheelchair for the first time.

20180929_100448On the way home I said, “I didn’t buy you a card.”  He said, “I didn’t get you one either.”  And that’s a-ok.  I didn’t cry on our anniversary this year.

We both cried leading up to the day because a painful reality hit when his mom passed away the week prior to our get away.  Also, a close family friend passed away suddenly the week before as well.  It’s been a sad time and a quiet time.  A wise friend said, “If you are feeling numb, then stay numb and watch God work.”  I have taken that advice to heart.  Thank you to the family and friends who helped with our kids and home responsibilities while we were away.

Signature GSE

*Pic of me sitting on the rock and looking back is from our 1993 honeymoon.

 

No Games

Each year I spend a fair amount of time listening to friends tell me about their heartbreak and the guys in their lives who are not fully committed to participating in a relationship.

Frequently the behavior described leads me to respond with “he may be a coward.”  A coward is timid or uncomfortable doing unpleasant things.  And guess what?  A relationship can be filled with unpleasantness.

Relationships require work to be successful.

In the spirit of love for my husband, I’d like to brag on him for a moment.   To follow are ways I knew when we dated that he is not a coward:

1.  He didn’t lose my phone number.  He called when he said he would.

2.  He didn’t flinch when a different girl flirted with him.  He knew what he wanted and ignored her.  He wasn’t waiting for someone better.  He did not play games that left me guessing.

3.  He wrote a letter to me every day I was away on a summer mission trip the first year we met.  I treasure those love letters.

4.  When I made a mistake mistakes he said, “Let’s talk about it.”  I eventually agreed.

5.  When he made a mistake mistakes I said, “Let’s talk about it.”  He eventually agreed.

Sidebar: We are both stubborn, but we knew even at a young age that we must set time aside to deal with our mistakes.  With angry lips quivering we still found a way to create safe space for discussion.

6.  He was able to apologize and to receive apologies.

7.  He loves Jesus.  We do church together.  There was zero doubt from the beginning that faith would remain an integral part of our lives.  Someone gave us a framed poem called “Marriage Takes Three”.  I agree with that poem more and more year after year.

Opposites do attract.  We are living proof.  It is not uncommon for each of us to argue our perspective on a topic.  Most of the time when we stop to listen we realize we are saying similar things.  Not one year of marriage has been easy, but I am thankful that I have never questioned his love or integrity.

8.  Humor helps.  Yesterday he shared that his arm muscles are starting to fail due to ALS.  He made a gesture with his arms that led me to call him my T-Rex.  Somehow laughter joined the conversation.  Today he sent me a cute T-Rex cartoon text.

We are finding ways to lighten a heavy load.

Ephesians 4:2-3  With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

How do you maintain unity through the ups and downs of a relationship?

When Was The Last Time

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2009 Shaw Farm

When was the last time he took my hand and we took a walk together?  When was the last time he could stand up from the couch without thinking about how to stand?  How many years ago was the last time he could golf–his all-time favorite activity?  When was the last time our home did not involve daily groans and pain?

As a mother, I vowed to cherish everything about our sons:  every flutter as they swam in the womb, first grins, first toys, first words.  My heart skipped beats when their little hands kept reaching for mine well into elementary school years.  I knew their childhood would end.  I treasured their soft skin and cuddles.  I would not squander those moments.  And while storing up sweet memories I welcomed the fact that one day our boys would move on to a greater destiny beyond their mom’s heart.

What I did miss was treasuring simple moments with my husband.  Yes, I appreciated him.  Yes, we tried to spend time together.  Yes, we overcame the fact that opposites really do attract and chose to draw closer to God, our translator, to communicate.  Yes, we did not give up on our marriage or each other.  But did I truly cherish him?  I didn’t think he was leaving.  And he hasn’t left, but sometimes it seems like he isn’t all here either.  My mind reaches for precious moments of ease that I forgot to store in my brain.

Grief arrives in many forms.  Sometimes we grieve the loss of a job or relationship.  I’ve endured the pain of people close to me passing away.  You may have too.  And now I endure the pain of watching chronic illness ALS-21 steal expectations we had for our present and future.  Our youngest child is a teenager.  I thought we had more time before hubby and I grew old together.  But symptoms of old slowly moved into our home decades too soon.  We are like the metaphoric frog in the pot of tepid water who didn’t know the heat was about to turn up.  We sat calmly in the pot not noticing that the water began to boil our circumstances.

I spend hours each week clearing “stuff” out of our house.  It feels like we are in a race against the clock to move to a more accessible place.  We had plans to remodel that will never happen while we are here.  I feel the ugly emotion of jealously toward people I haven’t met who will do projects here that I likely will not see.  Tears drizzle my checks occasionally over leaving our home of 20 years too soon.  What really got me down deep was when our oldest son was home on leave from the Air Force.  A couple nights he didn’t want to go see friends.  He shared that he just wanted to enjoy the walls of our home because he knew he might not ever again get to come home to this address.

On the flip side of the moving coin, I celebrate the thought of being in a home where my husband doesn’t have to crawl upstairs at night.  Are we old enough to require a no steps living arrangement?  Apparently yes.  This thought process requires me to clear clutter faster.  Time is not waiting for me.  I’ve quit looking at other homes online because I need to focus on the task of leaving this home first.  I trust God will provide the right place for us at the right time.

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:34

I often tell myself that our situation could be worse, that there are worse things that people deal with.  These thoughts push me along to be grateful for the good things in our lives that we do have, or things that are better because we’ve had to adapt.  For example, I’m not sure my husband has ever verbally appreciated me more than he does now.  His kind words mean a lot to me.  We are also more forgiving and appreciative these days.  It seems like we have reached a calm place where we are slow to anger and less judgmental.  I thank God for the side benefits of sticking together and pushing through tough times as a team.

Are you grieving a loss or expectation of any size?  It takes time to grapple with it.  If you have tips or favorite verses about grieving that you would like to share, please comment.  I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Fat You Can Come Back From

We all open mouth and insert foot sometimes.  To follow is an example.  It was an early morning coffee meeting and the person across the table from me talked about running into a mutual friend from our past who is obese.  They paused while looking at me with body language that said oops, waved their hand dismissively in my direction, and then said out loud, “Not like fat you can come back from.  Worse than that.”

Oh.  I see.

Now…I am strong.  I feel healthy except for my weight and feel comfortable in my own skin.  In fact, I have some great fat clothes these days.  I can pull it together so to speak, toss the hair, and be in public just fine.  I mean, I’m only 3 sizes bigger than my favorite size.  And 3 is a small number, right?!  I rationalize.

I’ve thought about their phrase for a few months.  They back pedaled a bit to offer excuses for my stressful life and then gave up trying to course correct their tongue.  I politely shuffled them on to the next meeting topic.

One of my truths is that I have a bad relationship with 20 pounds.  We are on again and off again.  Sometimes I can gain and lose the same 20 pounds twice in a year!  And it’s not just 20 pounds that is the issue.  If I could successfully keep off the first 20, then there’s practically a whole kindergartener that I need to lose additionally to reach what charts say I should weigh.

I am super blessed that my husband has never in 26 years of knowing me ever said even one negative thing about my body.  This is on the list of the things I love about him.  Meanwhile, his body is failing him/us with the diagnosis of ALS-21.  Our reality is that my body needs to step it up to be healthier in the caregiver role that we/I face.

Reality in mind, I’m officially breaking up with those pesky 20 pounds again with the goal to, like Taylor Swift says, “never ever ever get back together”.  I’m back at the gym and using the Lose It! app to track calories.

Here are a couple people on Instagram who inspire me in the journey of weight loss:

FatGirlFedUp – I marvel every time Lexi posts side by side pictures of her wedding day at 485 pounds vs. present day after losing over 300 pounds.  She shares her story and food/exercise tips.

DiscoveringDanny – Danny is Lexi’s husband and workout partner.  Their journey is worth following.  I adore a sweet love story.

1 Corinthians 6:19  Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.

I am reading Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst.  I’ve read it before, but this time I am answering the questions at the end of each chapter and being honest with myself.

I’ll let you know how the break up goes!  If you want to connect on the Lose It! app, I am GSE or glennasue34@yahoo.com.

God bless you,

Glenna

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