Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Door Cometh!

After three years, over a dozen catalogs, innumerable websites and at least 10 visits to various showrooms, our new front door has been ordered and is due to arrive today! This is like the keystone of the arch that is the completion of this epic journey of remodeling that we began nigh these 2.5 years ago. Ah the agony and the ecstasy! Tim will put it in this week. YEA!!!!

Then comes the wood flooring in the hallway, carpet on the stairs, paint touch ups and voila!! Time for mirrors and pictures and frames and any other doodads that will make our house a home! It's hard to believe, really. Then...only the lounge is left. Only the lounge to fix up. Oh, and then the kids' rooms need to be painted and new furniture for Sarah's room and shelves in the cupboards in the girls' room and a dresser for our bedroom and...

Will it never end?

I suppose it's a good thing Tim is addicted to DIY*...


*(Do It Yourself projects.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And...

...and just a side note. Anyone who can remember the 80's will remember the bizarre (yet strangely fascinating) looks of English punk rockers. I have a sneaking suspicion that some have grown up and moved to my neighborhood. Else why would a couple of otherwise respectable-looking 40 year old mothers in the schoolyard be streaking their hair neon colors with just a hint of spike tossed in? At first I had to stop myself from staring. Now I just accept that time alone does not eradicate one's inner punk. Once a punk rocker, always a punk rocker. And why would you want it any other way? Right?

Those Wacky English

The English love to abbreviate. At Christmas-time you receive pressies not presents and you eat Christmas pud, not pudding during the hols when you're out of school. When you graduate from secondary school you attend uni, not university. If you describe something it might be fab, brill, and naf, although I'm not really sure that last one qualifies, since I haven't been able to find out from whence that word came. I think it's a fabulous, brilliant word though.

This practice extends into daily life as well. You may eat choccies or biccies but not at brekkie because no one eats chocolates or biscuits at breakfast. (Well, except maybe the kids of some of the parents I see at the primary school.) Though you could eat sarnies for lunch, preferably a lovely chicken salad on a bagette. Mmm...

If you're a sporty dude, you may play footie with the guys, but that doesn't mean you're trying to pick up on them. It just means you're playing football. Soccer, for the American readers. And you must don a cossi if you want to be able to swim. No one is allowed to swim in public without his or her swimming costume. Swimsuit, again for the Americans.

So, a conversation may go something like this:

"Mum! Where's my cossie for uni?"
"Don't know. Eat your brekkie. Did you get that pressie Gran sent you?
"Yeah. Sends choccies and biccies every year. Fab gran, she is."
"Packed your sarnie. When's your hols?"
"Next week. Playing footie lay-tuh."
"Fab. Bye!"
"Whatevuh. Right."

I love this country!

Just read this to Tim and asked if it was okay. He said, "Yeah. It's brill!" Honestly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Kim

My friend Kim passed away peacefully on December 9, surrounded by her family, held close in the hearts and minds of her many friends worldwide. This woman lived. She influenced so many people, showed such love that several people commented on her website that they'd only met her once, but wouldn't forget her.

Her life causes me to reflect on my own and there are so many ways I want to live it more fully--and help my family to do the same. I will never forget her.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Gosh. It's been awhile. So much has happened, is happening--but that's true of everyone I know. The world is not a static place. Lives are not static. Something's always happening. And I'm not just the Queen of Zippergutting. I'm also the Queen of Obvious Statements.

I have this friend. I've known her since I was about 18 or 19. We've kept in touch off and on through the years with varying degrees of intensity and frequency. Regardless, I've always felt close to her. It didn't matter where she was, or where I was, I always felt Kim in my life.

I met her at what was then known as Ricks College in Idaho. We were both involved in the Theater Department. She was interesting to me on so many levels. She had this fascinating background: raised in Zimbabwe, parents from Scotland and Italy, cool accent, only one sister as contrasted with my multiplicity of siblings. She seemed so much more a person of the world than I ever was and yet still just pure and unjaded. And we were friends. She was accepting and loving and loyal.

I remember being out late one particular winter night wandering around the campus with our two male buddies. The night was surprisingly bright because of moonlight reflected on the snow. The sidewalks were clear but the snowbanks were so deep that we would spontaneously fall back into them and we'd say funny things to each other and laugh and giggle. Every once in awhile we'd have to hide behind trees to escape detection from campus security officers patrolling for curfew breakers, which also sent us into fits of laughter.

I remember feeling supremely happy that evening in particular and feeling that it was all serendipity--the perfect night. Best friends, lots of laughter, feeling like everything was right with the world. I didn't want the night to end. We stayed up really really late and I think we may have fallen asleep at the boys' house. I know it was one of many such nights--and days, really. Incredibly happy times.

Then there was the weekend the summer before my mission that another California-based friend and I drove up to Rexburg for one of those buddy's mission farewells. Kim was there doing summer theatre and while I don't remember exactly what we talked about, I remember us having a long and late, late conversation and thinking then how wise she was.

When she took a nannying job, we talked a few times on the phone and I remember how excited she was when she was leaving that job that her employers let her have their golden retriever. She was so attached to him that they knew he'd be happier with Kim.

One of my favorite memories of her is when she brought her fiance to meet me at my dad's veterinary clinic in Orem after she got engaged. We were both about 30 then. I have such a clear memory of them--how happy and giddy they were. Her beautiful smile--she positively beamed as they held each others' hands and they talked and looked at each other and I could tell how much they loved each other. I was so happy for her--so happy for him. She gave me hope that one could still marry at our ancient(!) age, find someone wonderful and be extremely happy.

Kim said something to me long before she ever met him, that she wanted to marry an angel with a little devil inside and when she introduced her Dean, she told me she'd finally found him! I loved that saying and it became my motto, too. I repeated it to friends often, always giving her credit, of course. And my Tim is that, too--so much an angel, but with that devilishly appealing side to him.

Over the years she's sent baby announcements and beautiful pictures of her two kids who are now about 10 and 5. We've talked on the phone, but most often our communication has been through Christmas cards, emails and other written updates. It was always a happy surprise to see her distinctive handwriting on an envelope and know I had something wonderful from Kim. I still have a Christmas music tape she sent to me a while back. I play it every year.

Without her knowing it, she has been a consistent part of my life since we were at Ricks. Even if we weren't in contact, I thought of her so often and sometimes thoughts of her and what she'd advise or do influenced some decisions. Isn't that funny?

Kim is gentle and kind. She is strong and determined. She is quietly immovable when she needs to be and so fluidly flexible when that is the right course. She always seemed to me to be able to be so very appropriate in any circumstance and to adapt to whatever came her way. Above all she is such a loving person. Genuine, beautiful, inclusive. She has influenced me for good my whole life, again, without even being physically near me.

And now, inconceivably, she is dying of colon cancer. Her husband writes poignantly about these last days with her:

"Kim is slipping away to a better place, slowly. Her mind has been traveling that path, unevenly, for two weeks; and now has all but disappeared in an underbrush of lost memories. We can hear her sorting through them: we've caught snippets of special occasions and happy times, good friends and even what sounded like lines from a theatre production or two. But mostly, she files away her everyday: she asks after the kids--we tell her, honestly, that they're o.k.; she asks about the rest of the house--we lie to her that it's just as clean and tidy as she left it; she resurrects lists of chores and honey-do's and and tells us impatiently to 'get on with it now'--we stall, or ignore her outright. These things, thankfully, haven't changed.

Her body will follow down the path, but more slowly. Her reserves of energy and wiry strength will carry her, the hospice nurses now say, for days or even weeks more.This is hard."

I knew a year and a half ago, when she sent word that a doctor's appointment made to explore a vague pain in her abdomen had led to the discovery of stage four colon cancer that things didn't look good. But she persevered and went through treatments and chemo and operations and there was always that sense of hope that she would be one of the lucky ones. I read internet stories of healing and statistics and thought that she would write her own tale of harrowing escape. But it was not to be.

I read the last entry from her husband and couldn't stop crying. I can't imagine this. It doesn't seem real. I think of Dean and their two children and I feel so sad for them. Then I think of my own husband and children going through this very thing four years ago and it all comes home. It reminds me of why this time of year is so hard for them because Christmas Day four years ago was a bit like the beginning of the end of their wife and mother's two plus years' fight with cancer. She spent half the day at home and the rest in the hospital. She was gone two months later.

This separation seems so cruel and unfair. The only thing that I can say with certainty is that God is in His heaven and that He loves each of us and watches over each of us. Somehow He helps us through. Somehow He helped my husband and family and somehow, He will help Kim's family as well.

But for now, what I want to say to Kim is this: Thank you for your goodness and grace. Thank you for being my friend. I miss you already.