A Letter to My Husband

**Five years ago, I wrote the letter below to my husband for our 35th wedding anniversary. In a few short weeks, we will celebrate number 40. Wow. Where have the years gone? We’ve now been married nearly two-thirds of our lives. I still wouldn’t change a thing. I still love you, and I will love you forever.**

July 3, 2011

Dear Dave,

When I was a little girl, I dreamed–as little girls do–of one day being married. I thought it would be cool to be married to a military man; and then after the Lord saved me, I changed my focus and thought how cool it might be to be married to a preacher.

Well, thirty-five years ago on July 3, God combined both of those girlish thoughts into one person, and we stood before our pastors, families and friends and repeated our vows. I don’t really remember all that was said that day, do you? Still, it was a beautiful day, and the beginning of the best years of my life.

I’ve thought of so many things I’d like to say as we celebrate this day, but no matter what I do say, it can’t possibly ever reflect all that is in my heart. But let me try and put some of it in words.

We met on a blind date, but we both acknowledge that God arranged our meeting. Six weeks after we met, we were engaged, and five months after we were engaged, we were married. Kind of a whirlwind, but we just knew that we were supposed to be married, so why waste time?

I took my wedding dress out of the closet the other day, thinking I might just try it on. Guess what? It fit! …my leg. Seems we’ve both “grown” over the years, in more ways than one. Oh, well…Maybe for our 50th.

I’ve learned some things from you, too, over these last years:
I’ve learned to take a joke, to laugh at myself, to laugh at you—you are so funny!
I’ve learned that the best marriages don’t always have an easy road, but by holding tight to each other and trusting God, the rough road is easier to navigate.
I’ve learned that when one of us is having a bad day, the other is the strength that gets us through it.
I’ve learned that, even though you aggravate me to pieces because you take so long sometimes to make a decision, that you are carefully thinking through every angle, considering how to make the best decision for your family. And I have grown to appreciate and love you for that.
I’ve learned that life with the right person can be amazing—and fun!
I’ve learned that little girls should keep their dream alive of marrying their knight, because he does exist.

Thirty (now 34) of our married years have been in the pastoral ministry, and you have been my pastor.
I admire you because you love the Word of God and treat it with respect and are so careful with your teaching.
I’ve learned some Greek and Hebrew meanings, and have come to appreciate the richness and depth of the Word because of your teaching.
I love just sitting and discussing Bible stuff with you.

I am thankful that God brought us together. He gave us two beautiful children. We raised them in the faith and trusted God to help us be the best parents we could be. Now, we are doing our best to teach our (4) grandsons–three of whom call you dad–the same.

I’ve never wondered if you were coming home to me at the end of the day. I’ve never doubted your fidelity or your commitment.

In the words of the song:

“I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s perfectly imperfect. So crazy, but it’s worth it…. I’m truly, deeply, madly, completely devoted to you. Until my last breath, I’m yours. Something tells me even if I could, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

I love you.

Happy Anniversary.

Addendum: Now you are retired, and I will retire at the end of this year. We are moving into a whole new phase of life together, and I can’t wait! Let the adventures begin!

July Staycation – Log

Day 1 of Staycation

Began the day with a visit to my kitchen window to watch bird activity. Just missed getting a picture of the Red-Bellied Woodpecker. Squeaky window alerted him of my intent, and he flew away.  Birds are such nervous creatures.

empty suet feeder

Missed him by that much!

Had breakfast and chatted with the hubster before he headed off to the office.

My goals for the day include getting my front two rooms back in order after having them painted. I think after one month, the paint has dried sufficiently. After that, the kitchen. I mopped my kitchen floor last week, and now that I know what my kitchen floor looks like, I’m considering mopping it again and then glossing it up.

Later today, after my muscles cry, “Uncle!” I will pay some bills–or play games on my computer.

First things first, though–Tylenol.

End of Day 1. Got this done:

clean living room  kitchen

Looking good!

Day 2 of Staycation

Ouch!–when I sweat, it feels like acid on my face.

Went outside at 8:30am to clean out bird feeders. It rained yesterday, and they filled up with water. Before I had been outside one minute, the mugginess caused me to start sweating. I persevered, though. If I’m hot and thirsty, then the birds probably are, as well. Filled up the bird bath with clean water, rinsed off the feeders and put new seed in, raked and scattered old shell hulls.

Time for a break.

Today’s goal: Pay bills and clean up our dining room/paper collection room. Here’s a “Before” pic:

dining room before

I know, right? Well, let’s see what happens when I transform it.

Ta da!

dining room after

It took most of the morning to pay the bills and update my ledger. Then I stood for three good hours while going through papers and cleaning up the dining room. Back hurts. Tylenol time.

Tomorrow: mine and Dave’s bedroom and bathroom. Pray for me.

Day 3 of Staycation

Still no sighting of the elusive woodpecker. I believe he’s avoiding me.

Oh, well, on to the master bedroom!

Before:

bedroom before bathroom before

In all fairness, it’s been a crazy few months in our lives. Other than that, no excuse.

Later that same day: Progress on these two rooms is taking a bit longer than anticipated. I want to clean every drawer and closet out. I promise you, when we moved in we didn’t have as many drawers or closets as we do now! Or maybe it’s just the sheer mass of STUFF crammed in there. In any event, it’s on its way out now, but slowly.

Day 4 of Staycation

Mine and Dave’s 38th anniversary. Cleaning, but slowly. If we want to sleep on our bed tonight, I have to make some amount of progress. So, back at it! Dinner out tonight at Red, Hot and Blue. (Note: What a disappointment. It wasn’t what we remembered back when we lived in Maryland. Meat was tough on the ends, and Dave ended up with a stomach ache. Johnny Young, when will I ever learn that your barbecue ribs are the only ribs worth consumption?)

9:30pm – Okay, we didn’t get much else done on the room. Too tired. But there’s always tomorrow, right?

Day 5 of Staycation

Hubby and I spent the better part of the morning cleaning our bedroom. When I say cleaning, I mean moving all the furniture and vacuuming underneath it, wiping weeks of dust off of everything, and sorting shoes. I won’t even begin to tell you how many pairs of shoes the two of us own, but suffice it to say, they were under the bed, under the dresser, in the closet…

Anyway, here’s the after picture of the bedroom:

bedroom after 2

Tomorrow is the last day of my staycation. I got all of the downstairs projects completed. Yay!!

Believe it or not, I enjoyed this week much more than if we’d gone out of town. So much needed to be done at our house, and I feel contented at all that I accomplished. Thanks for letting me share this week with you.

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It wasn’t just housecleaning this week. I also did some reading. I read the Tilian Pandemic series by Tom Calen.  Whether or not you like apocalyptic-type books, you will love these characters. I truly didn’t want this series to end. It was nearly impossible to turn that last page and say goodbye to my new friends. According to Tom, though, some of his characters weren’t quite finished with their stories, so he’s putting their thoughts into a fourth book. I can hardly wait to read it!

Happy Independence Day, y’all! God bless America.

 

Unfulfilled Resolutions

Many years ago, I quit making New Year’s Resolutions. I never kept them, and all I did was end up angry at myself. For the year 2014, again I didn’t make any resolutions: except this one thing I was going to do—I was going to go to my mama’s house and spend as long as she needed to help her get her paperwork in order.

I had been watching my husband working to get his mother’s papers in order, and her information was pretty much straight. Reba has already planned her funeral, written her obituary, picked out her funeral clothes, has her headstone ready to go. And it still took several days for Dave to get all that paper in some sort of system so that he could grab it quickly if needed.

I had no idea where anything of my mother’s was located. As her power of attorney and executor of her estate, I found that inexcusable. I determined to fix that—to put all those papers in one spot so that I could find them quickly. I knew she and her husband didn’t have burial plots. That was something we’d have to work on in 2014. Mama’s health had been bad for many years, and her husband wasn’t doing too well, either. I paid their bills for them, so I knew they had life insurance. Other than that, I knew nothing.

It wasn’t that I intended to put it off so long. It just happened that way. Month after month of not setting aside that one day to do the one thing she’d asked me to do. So in December I told my mother that I was for sure going to come over one Saturday in January and help her go through all her papers and clean out and organize.

2014-02-01 20.08.57Now, here I sat in early February, cleaning out those drawers and files by myself. My mama was gone; diagnosed with cancer on a late Thursday evening and gone by Sunday. In truth, she’d been too sick to even have me come over for most of January. Somehow, though, that didn’t comfort me. I’d taken too long. And it was such a small thing she’d asked—one Saturday.

What resolutions did you make for 2014? Did you decide you’d read your Bible from cover to cover this year? That’s a good resolution. Did you decide to lose weight? Another good one.

How about your family? Did you resolve to spend more time, be more patient, be more available, say “I love you” more often?

Priceless.

The moral of the story is this—you may miss a day in your Bible reading, but you can catch that up (and you should). You may blow that diet for a day or two, but you can get right back to that. That other stuff—that family stuff—don’t miss a minute of that. Sure, it takes effort, and sometimes you have to shuffle your schedule all around to get it done. Yet the benefits you will experience from keeping those family resolutions—that human interaction—will reap lasting and satisfying results. And it will minimize future regret and guilt, because you don’t get those lost minutes back.

Don’t wait until you have to go through those papers alone. Don’t waste moments on inane activities that take up your days, those “important” things you feel you simply must get done. Nothing is more important than keeping the resolutions you make concerning your family. And nothing is more rewarding.

Growing Old Together

Imagine being married to the same individual for 51 years. Now, imagine your spouse has died. Your children are grown and live in other parts of the city, or in another state. You go home from the funeral, and the sense of loss is overwhelming. Oh, the kids call. They visit and spend some quality time with you. But at the end of the day, at the end of the visit, they are gone. And you are once again alone in the home you shared with your lover for 51 years.

You are older, so maybe you aren’t as able to do the things you once did. You don’t see as well; you can’t drive at night anymore; you can feel your body beginning to break down. You are lonely, and you are growing old alone.

Do we children of older parents have a responsibility to them? That’s a silly question. Of course we do. The Bible says it this way: “…if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in their own family and to make some return to their parents, for this is acceptable in the sight of God.” (1Timothy 5:4)

do_not_cast_me_off

Sometimes we live close enough we can visit them several times a week, and they are able to stay in their own home. Many times, our parents become ill and need nursing care, so we find the best facility we can for them and pray they are comfortable for their last years on earth. Often, the best option is to have them live with us. The idea, of course, is to be sure they are cared for and they aren’t lonely.

I read a book recently titled When I Married My Mother, by Jo Maeder. In so many ways, I identified with this woman and her relationship with her mother. It was interesting and a bit unnerving. I finished the book, and then I asked God, “Are you going to make me let my mother live with me?”

I have to be honest with you, the thought of my mother living in my home makes my stomach hurt. We have pretty much worked through the terrible past, and I understand fully she can no more change the way she lived her life than I can change my own past. It’s the present that is rough. We don’t get along very well, at all. I don’t do manipulation well, and she is a master at it. That’s all I’ll say about that, because who knows what the future holds, and I don’t want to make it more difficult than it may be.

Dave’s mom came to live with us a couple weeks ago. It wasn’t something we were even considering two months ago. If you’d asked us then about the possibility of her coming to live with us, we’d have said that wouldn’t happen. Reba was getting around pretty good, and she’d always said she would never live with her children.

But something happened that the doctors can’t see on MRI’s. She either had a mild stroke, or she just got really, really tired of being lonely. Whatever happened, she lost her short-term memory and was often agitated. She would call Dave and just cry because she had to ask questions about how to do the simplest thing. Since she’s moved in, she and Dave have had the same discussion about wills, money, property, etc., every single days—sometimes several times a day. She can’t remember if she’s taken her medicine, and it makes her cry because she can’t remember. We gave her a pill case to put them in, but she keeps forgetting to do that.

Just a while ago, I was making a grocery list based on a couple of dishes she wants to cook for us. She told me several ingredients, stopped and stared out the window and then asked me, “What am I giving you ingredients to make again?”

But what concerns me more than what she can’t remember, is what she vividly remembers that never actually happened. For instance, she asked me what I did with the cake in the refrigerator.

“What cake?” I asked.

“The one in the big pan.” She replied. “Somebody had taken some of the icing off of a piece, but it wasn’t me.”

After assuring her several times we have not had any cake in the refrigerator since she’s been here, she started crying. The things she’s remembering are not happening. I suppose it’s possible that past memories are recycling through, but the certainty she has about certain events—and the fact that they haven’t happened—gives me cause for concern.

My friend, George Parler recently posted on his Facebook page: Most people don’t like hearing the words, “growing old,” but for me the phrase, “growing old together,” has a nice ring to it. It defines a lifetime of love in the midst of the variable turbulence of life. No, growing old doesn’t bother me, but growing old alone scares me.

Our initial goal was to get Reba here with us to help her with her loneliness and to help her begin to thrive again, instead of sitting depressed in her apartment all day. We felt that her being with other people regularly would help her regain some of her old self. Since she’s been here, though, it’s become clear this is what needed to happen, because of this new development in her memory. She’s only been here two weeks. She may begin to thrive and regain some of her old self. Or she may be her old self now with a few glitches in her memory track. We do believe we have done the right thing.

Truthfully, it’s strange having her in the house all the time, and we are still working on getting used to this. I’m sure it’s just as strange for her, too.

An Affair by Any Other Name

A couple of years ago, I told my husband that I believed Facebook was the cause of the breakdown of many marriages. In that time span, I can tell you the names of seven couples whose relationship statuses have changed; and I may be forgetting a few. I am beyond shocked at some of the folks who have split, never believing for one second it would ever happen in their marriages.

Of course, Facebook is an inanimate object, so you understand I don’t mean the program itself. I do believe, however, that too many people are getting their opinions about their life and their marriage from their “friends” on Facebook. Way too many. Someone has a bad day and posts about it on Facebook, and all of sudden they receive all sorts of encouragement from “praying for you” to “let that scoundrel go!”

The opinions come in, and if your marriage is even a bit unstable or if you are feeling that your marriage is a bit stale, all of a sudden the suggestions to ditch the dude/dudette begin to foment. You look at your mate in a different light; you compare him/her to one of your “friends” and find them lacking. And before you know it, you have justified leaving that dirty, no-good, rotten spouse. Or maybe you have just decided they are boring, and you deserve better.

If you don’t believe me, you may want to read this article, which has some sad statistics. This seems to be occurring among both genders, by the way. Women aren’t the only ones being influenced by their circle of friends. I’ve been shocked as much by the guys stepping away from their marriages, as I have the gals.

This is concerning across the board, folks. It’s not just non-Christians who are being influenced by this trend. Christian folks are also falling prey to the trap of “the greener grass” syndrome they believe is to be found outside of their marriage. The institution of marriage is worth fighting for, and you may have to take drastic steps to preserve yours. I hold no degrees in counseling, but I do have some opinions on how to fight the Facebook kiss of death for your marriage.

Here are a few suggestions:

1) Your spouse should know everyone you talk to on Facebook—male and female. I have some friends who are male. I correspond with them on Facebook, and I tell my husband the conversations I have. If I wouldn’t say something to a man in front of my husband, I shouldn’t say it on Facebook.

2) Your spouse should feel safe, knowing that we would never make negative remarks about them to our friends—and basically the whole world—on Facebook. A momentary aggravation with a spouse can turn into brouhaha when others get involved. Marital matters should be kept off Facebook.

3) Compliment, compliment, compliment. Of course our spouses are human, but what I want the world to see about my knight is all the many positive things that he IS; not the occasional negative thing that he DOES.

4) If you feel that your marriage is more boring than those you read about on Facebook, do what is in your power to change it. Surprise is a fun element in a marriage. Surprise your spouse. And remember number three above. If a spouse is being true to their mate, you are seeing the wonderful things they do. You aren’t smelling their morning breath, picking up their socks for the millionth time, picking cups up from all over the house, etc. All marriage has its bumps. Do what you are able to smooth the bumps and create surprise.

5) Do everything you can to keep your marriage intact and moving in a positive direction, even if it means disconnecting from Facebook. Yes, seriously. If you want your marriage to be a good statistic, you will do whatever it takes, and sometimes that means getting away from the negative influences.

6) Get counseling TOGETHER, if possible. I understand; that can be expensive. Look around, call churches and find a pastor who has experience in counseling. Keeping your vows is worth whatever work you have to put into it to do so, even sharing your deepest hurts and fears with a stranger. Only not the unprofessional strangers on Facebook, and not without your spouse being involved.

I am not naive. I know that not all marriages will work out. I know that Facebook isn’t responsible for all marriage breakups. However, even 30% statistics (see article) is too many. Why would we let a group of folks—many of whom we have never met face to face—help us decide if our marriages are worth the effort or not? What are we thinking? WHERE IS OUR COMMON SENSE?

First and foremost, if you are a Christian, respond like a Christian. Take your troubled emotions to God. Search His Word for encouragement and guidance. Make the hard decisions. If your spouse is being faithful, if your spouse is not threatening your life, if your spouse has kept their vows, even if it isn’t what you want to do at the moment, DO THE RIGHT THING. You will be rewarded for that. Understand that God is interested in your obedience first; happiness comes with being obedient.

Dear non-religious friend, at the end of the day, the advice of the world will leave you alone and empty. Consider how you wish to look back on your life in your later years. If you don’t want anyone to be in control of your life and tell you how to live it—even God—will you be filled with regret because you did let others influence you, while you ignored that voice inside that screamed against their advice? Ultimately, you will be left alone to deal with your decisions while your “helpful” friends will have gone on with their own lives.

Beyond Facebook, I recently received unsolicited emails from a private company that promises to hook me up with a married man so I can have a “discreet” affair without fear of being discovered; because he has as much to lose as I do. I. LIE. NOT. Their billing says, “Married Dating has Never Been Easier. Have a discreet affair.”

affair pic

(I saved one of these emails as proof, in case you think I’m making this up. Then I made sure they removed my name from their list.)

I am disgusted. I am disgusted that the institution of marriage has become so flimsy that companies like this thrive. People have been having affairs for years—not a good thing. Now we can actually hook up with a company that will match us up with the perfect person to have an affair with? Disgusting!

I am disgusted that people so easily give up on their spouses, their vows, and sometimes even their own children for the sake of that momentary thrill. Prepare yourself; the landing is going to surprise you. Buckle your seat belt. Reality stinks. Life with regret stinks. Life without respect from those you love…it stinks. And it’s lonely. Consider this—if you have an affair because you think you are lonely now, think about how lonely you will be when your mate discovers your infidelity. Think it all the way through, dear friend. And as much as I am disgusted, I am equally disheartened by solicitations such as these. What has happened to the state of marriage and fidelity in America?

Is it ever okay to flirt with someone other than your spouse? No. Is there any good reason to have an affair? No, nope, nada, unh unh, helk no! Is it ever okay to leave your spouse for another person? No.

Ask yourself, “If he/she left their spouse FOR me, what’s to keep them from doing the same TO me?”

The Myth of the Empty Nest

empty-nest_2356878 Several years ago I wrote about the joys of empty nesting. Less than a year after I wrote that article, the empty nest was interrupted. Had to be done. People’s welfare was at stake. Nine months ago, our nest emptied out again. And just this week we once again gave birth to that baby called empty nest no longer. Because family always comes home. Because life is full of lies we tell ourselves, like someday you will have an empty nest and will be free to travel the world in a camper and have the health to do so!

Just this week, Dave and I moved his mom into our home. We fixed up the front room–formerly known as Claudette’s study–with paint, a new rug and emptied out closets, and we moved her in. She’s 84 now, but still able to motivate on her own, though wobbly at times. She gets confused and forgets what was just said and asks the same question multiple times. She was living in her own home, but because she was getting feeble, she quit driving and she just got lonely. Her loneliness is as much on her as it is on anybody. She doesn’t really like a lot of people, and doesn’t return their offers of friendship, so she didn’t have her “gang” of folks to hang out with. Except family. Her kids tried to keep up with her as much as possible; and the grand kids called and talked to her on occasion, as well.

Her confusion is what began to cause us some concern. Before she quit driving, she had a couple of bump-ups with her car. She thought the car was in reverse, and drove forward into a retaining wall (thank heavens it was there!) and another time into a fence and scratched up her bumper. She began calling her kids constantly, asking the same question again and again, and she cried a whole lot. It was concerning.

It was never Reba’s intention to move in with one of her children. She always said, “Just put me in a nursing home. I don’t want to live with my kids.” Yet, when Dave posed the question to her about coming to live with us, she took a few days to think about it and then responded with a gracious, “Yes.” So here we are. Five days into our new living arrangements. Too early to tell how it will all work out; too early to tell if she will need a sitter during the day while we work; too early to tell a lot of things. But I believe it was the right thing to do. That’s not to say that someday down the road, we won’t need to do something different. Her health will dictate a lot of that. We’re taking it one step at a time.

Many years ago, it was common practice that families lived together in multi-generational homes. That was just how things worked. Senior family members stayed with their children until their deaths. Many times, the younger kids stayed on even after getting married, so they could work and save and eventually buy a little place; or they simply added on to the family home and built themselves a little space of their own. It was what it was, and it seems to have worked. Unfortunately, because of the world in which we live, family dynamics have changed and what we “want” to do is sometimes overshadowed by what we “must” do.

The day may come when it’s not safe for Reba to be here by herself. Then we will have to examine all our options and figure out what’s best for her. Nursing homes are not bad things. People are not bad people for placing elderly family members in them. We all have to do what is best for our family dynamics. No guilt trips. Just doing what’s right for everyone involved. For now, it’s with us. In the future, who knows?

Forever Friends

We asked you to tell us about your friends, and got a few great responses. As you read, think about that special friend in your life. Perhaps take a moment to give them a call, send an email or message and remind them how special they are.

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Patsy Daniels – My husband is definitely my best friend. He supports my endeavors, encourages me to keep going, praises my successes, and comforts me when I’m down. Gene is my cheerleader in all areas of my life. He loves me despite my shortcomings and goofs. I don’t know how I would function as well as I do without him. He’s my gift from God.

best friend

Marlene Simmons– Although along life’s path I have been gifted with many dear and good friends, I have one friend that has been with me since my early teens. Her name is Dee Dee McLaughlin, and our journey together started at our church, the Titusville Christian and Missionary Alliance. We had a great youth group, and it wasn’t long before we seemed to be pulled together. There were things that would normally work against many becoming close friends at that time. One was that she is younger than me by a couple of years. When you are younger that is a barrier, whereas now at this time of our lives who would even know? But then our shared love of God, shared secrets and fun times at teen camp solidified our friendship.

We lived about 30 minutes from each other and neither one of us had the freedom of a car to travel back and forth to see each other. Also it was a “long distance” call if we wanted to speak on the phone. That was a costly thing to do then, so we never had that luxury. It sounds funny now, when people call everywhere in the world to talk to one another. Thankfully our parents knew each other and were friends so that we could go each other’s home after church. We both have a love for each other’s families.

Another item that could have worked against us was that our schools were always pitted against each other. I don’t think that ever came up between us, though. In God’s infinite wisdom He did not send us to the same colleges. He sent me south to Toccoa Falls Bible College in Georgia, and she attended Nyack College in New York. We both met and cultivated many other friendships; but nothing has dimmed ours, and it has only grown stronger.

When I married, I stayed in the south; and Dee Dee and her husband lived in New York and then Pennsylvania. We have discussed this with each other and know that had we lived near each other we would have depended on each other instead of leaning on God and trusting in his hand in our lives. I can’t even begin to say what she has meant to me over the years. She has been my cheer leader, encourager and critic to keep me growing into a more positive person and closer to our God. She is certainly a gift from God. So, after more than 42 years of friendship, I can say, “Dee Dee you are my Forever Friend”.

andre and shawn

Cori Smelker – My best friend is one I have not seen in 20 years, and have not spoken to in person in at least 10. And yet, through email–and now FB–we have remained in contact and close. She is 13 years older than I, is a scientist and has an extremely analytical and critical mind; but is able to marry that with her deep love of Jesus. We met when I was 18 and she was looking for a long-term babysitter for her son Derek, who was 10 at the time. We remained friends even after she married and became an instant mother to two little girls, and later birthed a son. Her husband was used to seeing me sitting at the kitchen table with her, catching up, laughing, and just ‘doing life together’. Our lives diverged – I moved to the USA; her husband was diagnosed with cancer and passed away; Derek, her oldest son was tragically killed in a hit and run a couple of years later. I still cry when I think of him.

Today she lives 800km (approximately 500 miles) from where we first met, and next year I will be visiting her and spending hours catching up on what cannot be spoken in emails and FB. She shaped who I became, and for better or worse, she is often the voice of reason in my head when I have to make choices.

“Meaching Our Riddle Age”

Reading in 1Kings, I came across the council of officials in the court of King Solomon. There were the usual—priests, secretaries, military leaders, head housekeeper, etc. And then, this jumped out at me: “and Zabud…was the king’s friend” (4:5).

A friend. King Solomon had a friend on his council—an individual whom he could trust; someone who would tell Solomon what he needed to hear and not just stroke his ego. This friend was likely a person with whom Solomon discussed business. Maybe they stood on the high wall of Solomon’s palace, overlooking the kingdom, and shared quiet camaraderie. Perhaps on occasion, one would raise his eyebrow in acknowledgement of an inside joke only shared by the two. Whatever they did, Solomon thought it important to have this friend on his council, to keep him close. He needed his friend.

Best friends are important. They keep you grounded, help you learn to laugh at yourself, help you cope with the ups and downs of life. Best friends are honest. They expect the best of you, and they bring out the best in you. Best friends are always there, even if you don’t live close. And the conversations—oh, my, the conversations! We all need someone like that in our lives. The introvert, the unlovely, even the extrovert who surrounds herself with different “levels” of friends needs that one special person to call her best friend.

I began the third grade at a new school. I’m not sure how far into the year I met Vicky, but we became fast friends. We spent the next couple of years hanging out together, while other friends came and went in our lives. I don’t remember us spending the night in each other’s homes at that age, and kids in the 1960’s didn’t have their own phones, so we didn’t spend a lot of time talking outside of school. But we clicked. Our home lives were similar, in that they were both fairly dysfunctional. We shared horror stories about that and knew we were safe in our sharing, because we both “got” it.

3rd grade pic

My family moved to another state right smack dab in the middle of the 5th grade. I know, right? As I cleaned out my desk, I was crying; and as I turned to leave, I caught Vicky’s eye. She was sad. I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again. One of my suitcases had all my papers, and Vicky’s address was in that suitcase. The suitcase didn’t make it to our new home. I felt like I’d lost a lot.

Less than a year later, we were back in North Carolina (middle of the 6th grade!), but now Vicky was gone! Her family had moved out of town just before we got back. I don’t know how, but I managed to get her address, and we began corresponding. Soon, I was taking bus trips to visit her, and during the summer we spent weeks at each other’s homes.

Vicky has this really great sense of humor, so we spent lots of time laughing. We talked about EVERYTHING. We spent hours sitting beside each other, reading our own books, not even speaking. Our friendship is one of the most comfortable things I ever experienced in my life.

Vicky also kept me on my toes. She was always honest with me. As I said, we discussed everything, and if she didn’t like what she was hearing, she let me know without a shadow of a doubt.

Vicky and I celebrated our high school graduations by spending a week at the beach; and that is all I will say about that week (*wink, wink*). I was a bridesmaid at her wedding. I spent many weekends in the home of her and her husband. She attended my wedding, and her family visited hubby and me in our new home.

Over the years, we either wrote, or called, or—nowadays—Facebooked each other. We still travel to visit with each other, mostly just day trips now. And our conversations just pick right up where we left off.

Vicky had a health scare a few months back. She was very ill and hospitalized for a month. I communicated with her sister and daughter while she recovered. When she was well, I spent the day with her. She was back to her old self, and I was happy to see it. So much of my life is wrapped up in our experiences that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself without her.

I could say so much more about this life-long relationship, but then I’d have to start telling on us, and, well, we aren’t going there! Just let me say, I learned something from that health scare of Vicky’s. I learned that I needed to be sure and let those I love know that I love them as often as I get the chance to say it. I learned that no matter how many other friends one has, that “special” friend cannot be replaced.

This is my tribute to you, Vicky. Thanks for the “normal” you brought to my life as a youth. Thanks for the care you’ve always been faithful to preserve in our relationship. Thanks for making me laugh. Thanks for the many memories we made; and may God allow us to make many more memories. Thanks for all of it. I love you, friend.

*”Meaching Our Riddle Age” is something Vicky said to me one day when we were in our early teens. We were talking about getting older. Vicky said, “Yeah, we’re meaching our riddle age.” We’ve laughed a lot about that over the years. Well, Vicky, I believe we are there…okay, well, maybe a little beyond there.

Since You’ve Been Gone

Since you’ve been gone, I spend my days full of uneasiness– uneasy because I don’t know if I’m taking care of things the right way; uneasy because I don’t know if I’m grieving properly; uneasy because I don’t know how to live without you. I walk through time in a daze, and the only real emotion I feel is this never-ending, dull, gray, terrible, lonely unease.

I look into their eyes, and they avert theirs. They don’t know what to say, so we sit in awkward silence. I try to talk about you, and they change the subject. As if it hurts them to mention your name. But I need to talk about you. I need to say your name. I need to hear what they remember.

I need to remember; always remember.

Maybe life will get easier with passing time. Maybe they will let me say your name and not freak out. Maybe I will stop feeling guilty because I’m still here and you aren’t. Maybe.

But right now I’m living with this uneasiness.

Standing in Through Surrogacy, Final Installment

I was extremely interested to know how Cori handled the emotional aspects of carrying someone else’s child and then giving that child away shortly after birth. Her answer, below.

I think this is the most common question I get asked, and for me the answer is easy — the baby is not genetically related to me; therefore it is easy to give the baby back to the parents when he/she is born. That is the short answer; here is the slightly more detailed one and one I use to explain the emotional process to the IPs who are sometimes concerned the surrogate might get too attached to the baby (our contracts are very clear by the way, the baby is NOT the surrogate’s, and they will NOT keep the baby, no matter what they try. Any time you have read where the surrogate keeps the baby, she used her own egg, and is essentially adopting the baby out, but changed her mind).

I tell the parents, “If you have to go out to work after the baby is born; you will find the best possible day care facility for your baby, one where he/she will be loved, nurtured, and taken care of. But at 6pm when you pick up your kid, you expect them to give you your child.” In a nutshell that is how I see being a surrogate — I am in the in-home day care!

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Of course I had to go for psychological testing to ensure that emotionally I could handle everything; and there are many women out there who cannot. One of best friends who has six kids told me once, “I could never do that. That baby is in me, it’s mine.” When I reminded her that the baby would not have her genetic material, she said, “Possession is 9/10ths of the law – it’s in me, it’s mine!” She would never make a good carrier!

Now if the baby had been created using my egg, or my husband’s sperm, that would be my baby and I could never give it up! But the babies I carried belong 100% to the parents. I admire women who can give up a baby for adoption but I am not one of them.

People have asked about blood type, etc. That is all determined by the parents’ DNA, and not mine. The placenta and the umbilical cord all develop from the embryo that was implanted, so all I do is provide nutrients through the umbilical cord.

Tell us about your agency.

In 2007 I founded my own agency, Surrogate Angels of San Antonio, because there was a need for a local agency. Clinics were sending their clients to Houston and Dallas to surrogate agencies who were then finding surrogates in San Antonio. I have kept my agency small, and work with local surrogates, but international clients. I have many clients from South America and Mexico, as well as several local couples.

cori and terryYou can find our more about me at www.surrogateangelsofsanantonio.com and also on my FB page http://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Antonio-TX/Surrogate-Angels-of-San-Antonio/80028097546.