The world turns and life goes on. I often find myself feeling sad or angry because the day passes and I have not heard Justin’s name or I find that I haven’t really thought about him that day. I suppose it isn’t really that strange, after all the world itself did not quit turning and people have their own lives to live. Rationally I understand that when a person dies the living do not stop living, even I have had to keep going with the same old routines.But it still makes me a little sad to think that someone who touched more lives than he knew could so quickly be replaced by everyday tasks. I suppose that nearly a year and half is not quickly, but it sure seems that way. I still miss his voice and the feel of his hands, I still miss his laugh and his quirkiness. I miss the way he could make people turn and give that look that says “what?” I miss the way he would start an argument just so he get somebody’s real opinion. I miss my grandma’s polite english accent and her disgusting liver patte. I miss my dad calling me at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning just because he had been up since 5a.m. But as they say life goes on, even mine. So I made a few changes.
Justin had talked about redoing the bathroom not long before he died, so last summer I threw myself into the project with reckless abandon. I charged my credit card up and up and I enlisted help from a neighbor and my sister and her husband. When the store I bought my first set of tiles from ran out I thought I would crack, but Jean’s husband John helped me out. He drove to Decatur and I drove to Bloomington and we both brought back tile. It was a little scary thinking I bit off more than I could chew. As with everything I have faced in my short life, I had the people and will power that I needed when I needed it. I can proudly (and with a big sigh of relief) say “We got it done”. I am very proud of that bathroom and every time I walk into I can hear Justin laughing and shaking his head at some of the obvious mistakes that were made. He was a bit of perfectionist at times. The work though is my own. It is the first project that I completed without him (even though it was something he wanted done) and I am very proud of myself for making it through. My bathroom was perfectly fine the way it was and truth be told I didn’t really have the money to redo it, I just felt compelled to work on it and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from finishing. Hmmm…sounds a lot like my student teaching, huh. I think I just wanted to prove to myself that I could survive on my own. I finished the bathroom and it was as if I was saying “see, I can do this”. I was able to find and ask for help when I needed it, I was able to learn new things and it felt good. I can honestly say that I would rather have Justin here to do the work but at least I know now that I can do what needs done when it needs done.
You know as I sit here writing this I think maybe there was a higher force at work pushing me to redo the bathroom. Maybe it was God or maybe it was Justin, pushing me to work on something I thought I could never do just so I would have that “AHA!” moment. The truth is sometimes I need a little push and sometimes I need a giant smack upside the head. Either way I am learning that life does go on, no matter how painful it may seem at times, no matter how many times we stumble or fall down, we can get up and we can continue on down the road. I am also learning that it is okay to cry and it is okay to wish that the people we love could still be with us, it is okay to not be strong. It is okay to admit that often times we hurt and there is no real cure for that pain. I am learning that strength isn’t always about holding your I mean myself together so that I don’t trouble anyone else, sometimes its about accepting help and letting others take some of the burden from my shoulders. Sometimes it’s about sharing how much pain you really are in so that you can let go of the worst of it or get help to soothe it. I still struggle with this. For as long as I can remember I have felt that I needed to be strong (that is what my name means after all), I felt that I had to hold everything in because it wasn’t fair to burden others with my issues. The truth is everyone has moments when they need to unburden themselves. Me, I tend to do it by complaining about things that don’t really bother me. It’s easier to complain about that stuff (the garbage not being taken out, the laundry that finds its way into every nook and cranny of my house, dogs, cats, etc….). All of that is easier to say than I hate that I have to rely on other people to help me because the one person I want to be here to help me isn’t. It is easier to complain about my roommates or to them about the house work, rather than saying you have no idea how much I love you…but I wish Justin were here to help clean the house. It’s easier to say I feel used than it is to say I feel cheated because I didn’t get more time with my Justin, or make peace with my Dad or get to hear my grandma’s voice one last time. Those things are hard to say, even hard to write to myself let alone to the people i care about and who care about me. But I am learning. The bumps and mountains and other rough spots in my road often make me fall flat on my face, but I keep getting up and that’s all that really matters. I read a poster once that said “It isn’t the number of times we fall, but the number of times we get up that counts” I don’t remember who the author was but I think it’s true and as Justin used to say “you make your own….”
P.S. This summers project is the backyard. All my idea and coming along slowly but very nicely 😉