Monday, July 25, 2011
Raini. And me.
The sirens kept us from pulling out of the tiny little parking lot onto the road and shushed the laughter.
The lake had been a relief. A cold, long dredge from the deepest well of cool, healing water on a day you never want to do again. Washing away the tears from our faces, the sweat from our bodies and the anguish from our souls.
It was the day we sat together in a church and paid our respects to Grandpa and for a few brief moments we'd let the sadness go.
The sirens brought us back.
They kept coming. More lights. More sirens.
The dread grew in our hearts until it was as palpable as the sweat dripping down our backs. The coolness of the water we’d just played in was replaced by the steamy, sticky, humid air all around.
We prayed, silently, alone in our own hearts. But we knew.
Late the next morning we heard his name, stunned that the life that was lost that night was that of a friend.
Friday came too soon, despite the dragging hot days in between.
I stood in the barn and saw the row of policemen closing the circle and wanted to stay in the shade of the barn and pretend not to see the tears of the men in uniform.
They had circled the wagons. I’d never seen that before. So many engines and rescue trucks and police cars; enough to envelope more than 600 people in the comfort of their strength.
We stood, in the sun, because there was nowhere left to sit, and around us the people continued to gather over the next hour.
“Greater love hath no man…”, the minister said, and the words hit home in every heart listening.
The bell rang. And rang again. And again.
Three times because that’s what you do when there is a man down. A man who has heard the final alarm and answered the call.
They folded the flag and carried his helmet and while I tried to look away, there were tears on the faces of all the young men and the pain was everywhere, unavoidable, and my tears fell with theirs. Not just because of Loren, but because I know what that first taste of death feels like, what that loss of a childhood friend does as it drags the innocence from your soul.
They radioed in a roll call from all the stations, calling goodbye to a brother down the open lines. And left it open while the static said more than any words could.
We moved around after the final prayer in uncomfortable camaraderie with everyone else there. In a while there formed three distinct groups: the boys out behind the barn, throwing back beer after beer in his truck, sweat pouring from their bodies, tears from their eyes; the ems and firefighter crews hiding behind the wall of trucks, seeking privacy to mourn their brother in uniform, a brother who will never be forgotten, immortalized in the halls of their particular fraternities; and the rest of us in the middle. Attempting to comfort each other; the family; the community.
I stood in the group at the front, taking some pictures, reading the cards on the flowers, looking at the old photos of a little boy riding a horse.
And then there was no one else left in line and I stood in front of her, wondering how to do this, how to… how…
I stepped forward.
I hugged her and whispered the lamest words on the planet and stepped away, looking into her eyes, wondering whether she recognized anyone at all. There ARE no words to say, not even from a mother to a mother unless you have walked that path through hell and back.
She has walked it twice now.
She is Job.
It was hard to turn and leave. As we walked away there was this knowledge that when the hugs are finished, when the words of condolence have evaporated with the heat, when all the people are gone, those who loved him most will wake up to pain.
Pain and hopefully dim memories of this god-awful day.
The sirens wailed for us all as his brothers drove away, down the dusty road.
* Loren worked for Colby one summer a few years back. He died trying to save the life of his friend while swimming in Torch Lake on Sunday, July 17, two days before his 22nd birthday.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
As some of you may remember, I'm not on speaking terms with my thighs.
In between that post and now there has been the baking and recovering from baking a new baby, but trust me when I say the status quo has not changed.
In fact, I went another 2 years without buying a second pair of shorts for myself. Of course, it wouldn't have done me much good to have a nice new pair of shorts last year when what I needed was maternity shorts, but still. Another two years of owning just ONE pair of shorts.
Are you wondering how someone who
Especially when it has been so stinkin' hot that I can hardly think straight, let alone wear jeans all day. And no, we don't have central a/c to keep the sanity going strong around here. It's too bad, we could really use it.
I'd like to say 'I' could use it, but let's face it: it would really be more for the FAMILY. You see, when it gets humid and the thermometer climbs above 80, everything I like to believe about myself goes right out the window. I like to think I'm patient, a loving mother, a kind person, etc. etc, etc.
Not true. Any of it. The minute I start sweating while sitting still in the shade, I turn into Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll is nowhere to be found until the temperature creeps back down into the 70's.
Considering the temps have been above 85 for the last 8 days, it has been a trying week at the farm. We've spent a lot of time at the lake. It seems that even on those days I've managed to not bite any heads off or spontaneously combust, there is this witching hour starting about 5:30 that just tips me over the top for heat tolerance and we throw our stuff in the car and jet on down for a quick dip in the lake before mommy explodes.
Sounds reasonable, right? Pleasant, even?
Why yes, yes it is. I enjoy the lake so very much that sometimes I can almost convince myself that God put it there just especially for me to take advantage of and enjoy on these days of near despair. Even on those drearier days when you don't want to dive in, if you just take a drive all the way around it you can go from feeling poor and miserable to feeling like you've just gone on a tropical vacation. The water is the most exotic Caribbean blue you've ever seen this side of the... um... uh, yeah, this side of the Caribbean.
And then there comes a day when you've been to the lake several days in a row to snatch that moment of sanity in the late evening and you find yourself standing in the same place on the beach, at the same time of day, and in the very same pair of shorts you've worn, oh, at least 3 days in a row on this beach excursion. The ritual is the same every time: change into swimsuit, put on shorts and top over it, drive to beach, take off shorts and top and go swimming, wear the towel home and change into pajamas after a quick shower. You see, when you only have one pair of shorts you don't want to get that one pair WET by swimming in them or wet on the way home so the utmost care is taken to prevent this wretched inconvenience.
And somehow you forget that THIS time you were in such a hurry that you didn't want to take the time to change into your still damp swimsuit.
And before you know quite what has happened, as the kids splash and play at the edge of the water, you find yourself staring down at the shorts laying on the ground and wondering why it somehow feels... different... this time to be taking off the shorts. I mean, there's a swimsuit there and all, and going for a swim, and next thing I'm going to do is take off the tank top and.....
... and then I'll just be wearing my skivvies?!?!
Quick check - yep, no swimsuit, reefed my shorts back on where they belonged and silently thanked God over and over that we were, somehow, miraculously, the ONLY people on the beach!
Two days later I was at the store trying on shorts and brought home TWO new pairs.
Yep, true story.
You see, the way I figure it, I MUST laugh at myself (and lead y'all with me!). If you take yourself too seriously pretty soon you are the only one in that camp because everyone else just sees a pretentious, head-in-the-clouds, out-of-touch boor.
Oh yes, hearing the collective chuckles at my expense is much, much better than being a pretentious boor! ha ha ha!
Okay, not the best pic of me, but who can resist that sweet little smile of that cutie pie next to me?!
Monday, July 11, 2011
I remember it so clearly.
It was a Sabbath afternoon. We were all sitting around chatting after lunch and I was entering into the nap haze. After all, I was nearly 7 months pregnant and there were 3 other capable adults in the house! I'd already blocked off both staircase and stairwell from toddler access and my mind was at ease.
And then it happened.
The fall, the crash, the cry, the blood pouring from his mouth, the shrieking (that would be me).
At first I thought very little of the blood, thinking he had likely sunk a few teeth all the way through his little lip. It wasn't until the biggest of the sobs had faded away that there was this sudden, horrible moment of realization:
His front tooth...was MISSING!
Nothing but a gaping hole there in his smile.
Not that he was smiling. Nor was I, for that matter.
I'd like to say it was a very brief episode of maternal pregnant hormones but that would not capture the very essence of 30 minutes gut-wrenching sobs that erupted from my big 'ole pregnant self, now would it?
While I was busy comforting
"Put it back IN!", the dentist declared.
Um, okay?, I thought as I glanced back and forth between my baby's mouth and the tooth with the really long root.
I know, right?! Looking back it stands as a painful memory of a dumb-parent moment.
It went most of the way in, but short of hammering it back into place, there was no way it was going to stay in. It sat there a quarter inch lower than the other tooth for about 10 minutes before we decided perhaps we should get a second opinion.
We called another dentist.
"Pull it back OUT!" the second dentist said.
The tooth popped out into my hand like it was intending to do so anyway at some random time and get itself swallowed while we least expected it.
"It will heal over and he'll get his permanent tooth through in about 5 years or so.", explained Dentist #2. (translate: the bone will heal over and it will take the tooth an exceptionally long time to push its way through that to the gum!)
WHAT?!?! FIVE YEARS?!, I thought. Surely it won't take that long for his permanent tooth to drop down.
Maybe it will.
And so it did. Plus
Well, HELLO! Mr. Toofer. Glad to FINALLY make your acquaintance!
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
It was "expected"; he had fought his pancreatic cancer hard.
But there is never really a way to "expect" a goodbye like this, is there?
Until we meet again, when we hear the voice of Jesus calling us home, thank you Grandpa, for playing such a vital role in Colby's life, for bringing Grandma into our lives, and for enjoying your great-grandchildren SO much!
"Duane William Hershberger, 76, died Friday, July 1st, 2011 at his home in Kalkaska, Michigan, surrounded by his loving family, following a courageous fight against cancer. He was born on September 23rd, 1934, and raised in Fairview, Michigan, the son of Levi Miller and Elva Mae (Oaks) Hershberger
He is survived by his wife of 10 years, Jacqueline (Bergdoll Frey) Hershberger; his children Michael Duane Hershberger (Kim) of Kalkaska, MI.; Gail Hollee Macomber (Gary) of Cicero, IN.; Mitchell Wayne Hershberger (Nan) of Mancelona, MI; Gaye Erie Brueggeman (Lloyd) of Williamsburg, MI; Wendi Lea Hudson of Shelby Township, MI; and Jodi Lynn Crandall (Gary) of Clarkston, MI; two brothers, Lotus Dean Hershberger of Normal, IL. (Judy) and Virgil Stanwyn Hershberger (Margaret) of Fairview, MI; 16 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren, all of whom he dearly loved.
Duane was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Lyle Bernell Hershberger; a granddaughter, Crystal Hershberger; and his first wife of 47 years, Lydia (Bailey) Hershberger. He graduated from Fairview High School in 1953 and worked in farming until December, 1971, when he was employed by Northwood Transport, Inc in Kalkaska as a driver, in sales, and as a dispatcher. He retired after 26 years on January 2nd, 1998.
Duane was loved dearly by his entire family and many friends. He will be missed greatly but is resting in peace now, awaiting the coming of his Lord and Savior to take him to his final home.
A memorial service is planned for Sunday, July 17th at 3:30 pm at the Kalkaska Funeral Home, 152 S. Cedar St., Kalkaska, MI."