Sunday, May 25, 2008

Decker Boulevard Chick-fil-A Rocks!

No, I have not fallen into a great abyss and disappeared from the face of the earth. The whole working full-time and being an instant single mother is a little time consuming (Who knew? Clearly these celebs who are choosing to be single mothers multiple times over have full-time nannies to do everything for them.), and I haven’t gotten into a complete routine yet. But don’t you worry your pretty little heads…I’ll get it down before long and will be back to my Johnny-on-the-spot ways. I’m very fortunate to have parents who help me out with the girls quite a bit, or else I really would be over the edge by now.

I must give yet another shout-out to the Chick-fil-A on Decker Boulevard. They did an awesome job with the Mike Starnes Night—I wasn’t expecting them to go all out like they did. Wow! Angela, the marketing director, read the blog where I posted about me and Mike going to Hawaii, so she went with a Hawaiian theme for the event. There was a tropical backdrop and leis for folks as they arrived. Blue and orange balloons (RNE colors) were abound, and stuffed cows and games were available for the kiddies…checkers and a cup stacking game—apparently we all missed the market on this one; it is an official game with cups that you stack, unstack, and time yourself doing so. There was a karaoke machine, but I didn’t see anyone brave enough to take it on. They even had a chanting contest of Mike’s signature “Chick-fil-A…Ice Cold Water.” Three girls from Northeast won as a trio—sorry, I didn’t get your names, girls! The Chick-fil-A cow even made an appearance. Ava was a little skeptical of the cow, but she had a BIG time climbing around in the indoor playground. “One more time” were her famous last words. Many thanks to all of you who came out to the event and/or purchased a t-shirt. Between the profits of the food sales and t-shirts (160 were sold!), $1093 was raised for the memorial. Not bad. Not bad at all!

At the end of the evening Ava and I did our new tradition—she gave one of the helium balloons a kiss and let go of it to send to Daddy. Savannah will partake once she’s a little older…she doesn’t have the kiss puckering thing down pat just yet, and I’m thinking letting her slobber all over latex isn’t a real good idea. And before you start thinking I’m that smart (though according to the Internet, I do have a Mensa-level IQ…and everything on the Internet is true and accurate, right?), I didn’t think of the whole balloon thing myself—someone at work told me about it. And don’t go giving me credit for thinking of the beach metaphor for eternity mentioned in my last post either. I heard about that many, many, many years ago, though I have know idea where.

Until I can get my act together and post again, here are a few pictures from Mike Starnes Night at Chick-fil-A…

Monday, May 5, 2008

But How Is She Really Doing?

That seems to be the $64,000 question. Amazingly, I’m doing pretty well considering the circumstances. I assure you that reality has set in, and I am not going to have some sort of mental breakdown in a few months when I realize Mike is gone. I am well aware that he is not going to come walking through the door of our house. Ever. If he did, you would hear me scream because it would probably scare the bejeebers out of me. I think some people seem to be a bit perplexed when they see me because I seem to be my normal self and don’t seem depressed or anything. I am not, I repeat not, in denial. I just happen to not be an overly emotional person to begin with. Just because I’m not bawling my eyes out in public on a regular basis does not mean that I have not had my moments when I’m alone. What I need now in my life is some normalcy. That is something that I haven’t had over the last few months, and Mike certainly wouldn’t want me to stop going on with life. Your prayers are certainly helping me with this. I have also had the last three and half months to prepare myself for Mike’s passing and there are some other fundamental beliefs I have that have helped me through all of this.

Everything happens for a reason.
I’m a firm believer in that God has a master plan for things even though we don’t always understand why things happen the way they do. It’s not my place to question God and why Mike passed at such a young age. Maybe this whole situation touched someone else’s life and has caused a change. I don’t know—I’m not the one in control of the universe. (And I assure you if I were in control, I don’t know that I would allow quite so much free will to occur!) Mike had been wronged by some people in his lifetime. I told him back in January that maybe this all happened so those people could think about the things they did and make some changes in their lives. Mike’s response? “Well, I don’t see how that’s fair on any level. But I sure will ask God about it when I get to heaven.” I suspect Mike now knows the answer even though we don’t. But since when has life been fair? Never. That’s when. And I don’t suspect that will ever change. From the wisdom of one of my high school girlfriend’s father: If life were fair, there wouldn’t be any cripple people.

God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.
When you’re in a difficult situation, you do what you have to do. How many times have you looked back on your life and wondered how you managed to do the things you did? Mike and I had a unique marriage. A lot of the reason I’m able to handle things as well as I am now is because of that. Perhaps it was because we were no spring chicks when we married—Mike was 37 and I was ten years his junior. We had both lived on our own and were used to doing things our own way. There was a lot of independence in our marriage, and that worked well for us. Mike always did what he wanted to do and I always did what I wanted to do, and when we wanted to do something together, we did. Mike was a very early riser, so it was rare that he was still in bed when I awoke in the mornings. Mike’s job required him to be at all home athletic events. Given that there are over 40 teams at the school, Mike often had to work late at night, so there were many evenings that I was in bed before Mike ever got home. Since January, I’ve been coming home to an empty house to sleep every night. All of these things have helped me adjust to how things are now.

I will see Mike again.
I have often wondered how people with no faith get through difficult times in life. Our time here is so miniscule compared to the grand scheme of things. If you think of eternity as all of the sand on the beach, our time here on Earth is equivalent to one of those grains of sand. I completely believe in making the most of your life while you’re here, but there’s much more time ahead once we leave.

I have been preparing myself for the inevitable since January 2, when I saw Mike’s CT scan indicated his tumor was a glioblastoma. As I mentioned in a much earlier post, my boss passed away from the same thing last summer, so I was fully aware of the likely outcome. Things happened more quickly than anticipated—I thought we would at least get a couple of quality months together. After Mike recovered from his biopsy, he and I planned on taking the girls to Disney World over spring break and having him make some videotaped messages for the girls for when they got older. Had we known things could have gone south as quickly as they did, we would have been videotaping the day he was released from the hospital. I can rest well at night knowing I did everything within my power for Mike these last few months from contacting Duke at the earliest time I could to being at the hospital every day and making sure he got everything he needed. I can’t think of anything I could have done differently. Though Mike was mad at me in January for making him stay at the hospital between the time they got his brain swelling under control and his biopsy, I am especially glad I did that because so many of you were able to come by and visit with Mike when he was pretty much his regular self.

So, don’t you see? I’m really the lucky one out of all of you reading this. I’m the one who got to be married to Mike. Everyone thought he would be a bachelor forever, but he chose me. (Okay, so none of you guys reading could have ever been an option, but you know what I’m driving at here.) I’m the one whom he took to Jamaica. Twice. I’m the one who got to travel all over Europe with him. I’m the one who got to spend two weeks in Hawaii with him—one week in Waikiki and another on a cruise to the other islands. I’m the one who got to cruise to Mexico with him. I’m the one who gave birth to his children and get the joy of raising them. Do I wish Mike were still here so we could spend even more time together and raise our girls? Absolutely. If I could, would I give up the last nine years of my life just so I wouldn’t have to go through what I’m dealing with now? Absolutely not. Mike was an amazing man, and I am a better person for having been married to him.