Denise Day Spencer

October 15, 2010

A good ninety minutes

Filed under: Home Front,Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 5:53 pm

Last night we made a social worker smile–“we” being my grief support group and the social worker being Barb, our group leader. She asked us to share about changes that have taken place in us, in our homes and in our personal worlds since we lost our loved ones.

Not all of the changes were good. Some were neutral, while others, truth be told, were probably not so great. One member has noticed a lot more gray hair since she buried her husband. Several of us said we’re not at home as much as we used to be. Are we keeping productively busy? Yes. Avoiding the loneliness of the empty house? Probably that, too.

The good stuff, though, it was pretty darn good. I shared how I recently made a five-hour trek to my hometown all by myself, and did several things on my mini-vacation that I simply wouldn’t have done if Michael had been with me. Not that I couldn’t have; I just wouldn’t have. And everyone smiled as I told of going with Noel to the doctor just the day before and hearing my grandchild’s heartbeat for the very first time. Meanwhile, Dave has started on a home improvement project. He’s slowly moving from room to room, painting and laying new carpet. This is the first time he’s shown a real interest in anything since his wife died a year ago. Susan surprised us all by saying that she’d been on a road trip since our last meeting. Though she admitted she couldn’t wait to get back home, this was still a big step for her. The biggest news, however, came from Dorothy. She was positively glowing as she told us that she’s getting ready to go on a mission trip in the near future. And she’s already planning to enjoy it so much that she’ll want to go again.

Barb was absolutely elated. “When I was here last month,” she recalled, “you were the most depressed bunch of people I’d seen in a long time. I went to work the next day and said, ‘Hey, gals. We’ve got to pray for my support group!'” And they did. Barb went on to caution us that at the next meeting, “You may all be depressed again. It comes and it goes.” Yes, if we’ve learned anything so far, we’ve learned that. But for one lovely evening we shared more collective healing and joy than we had ever before known as a group.

And so we trudge on with our tiny steps. Sometimes it seems like three backward for every one in the right direction. Tonight I’m smiling, but a week ago I was sobbing over the six-month anniversary of Michael’s passing. Tomorrow I may be a basket case. But right now I’m glad to have a social worker who cares and prays. I’m thankful for God’s moment-by-moment grace. And I’m grateful for last evening’s ninety minutes of happiness and hope.

July 8, 2010

We never said the words

Filed under: Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 11:32 am

Today would be our 32nd wedding anniversary…if we weren’t now permanently stuck at 31. So if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to tell you just a bit about our wedding.

We got married in 1978. Michael was fresh out of college; I still had one year to go. We thought it would be cool to buck tradition and write our own wedding vows. (Will anyone else out there admit to doing that?) I would tell you what they were if I could remember them. I do recall that the ring vows included words from the Song of Solomon —  “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm,” and went on from there with some trendy stuff we made up. Michael’s poor minister uncle was as traditional as they come, but somehow he calmly endured our shenanigans and pronounced us man and wife anyway. (more…)

June 12, 2010

Sometimes it’s just plain hard

Filed under: Devotional Life,Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 7:36 pm

Warning: This post contains graphic content. Still with me? Then let’s proceed.

I’ve been reading and hearing lots of death stories since Michael passed away. I’ll share a few anonymous examples.

First, one that I heard long ago but will never forget. “Jim” was dying of cancer at home and had been in a coma for days. One evening he regained consciousness. His wife was thrilled. She called the two adult daughters, who arrived with their young families. Wife, daughters and grandkids all piled up together on Jim’s bed. For a couple of hours they enjoyed a joyous time of holding one another, saying “I love you” and sharing their goodbyes. Finally Jim’s eyes closed. He sank back into a coma and died later that night. But the family will be forever grateful for that gift of precious time they were given. (more…)

May 28, 2010

It’s never too early to start

Filed under: Home Front,Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 6:53 pm

Noel has been notorious for posting notes on our refrigerator through the years well in advance of December. The note will be her Christmas wish list along with the admonition, “It’s never too early to start!” Shopping for her, that is.

With that as my theme I’d like to discuss something much less cheery than Christmas. In fact it’s not cheery, but positively dreary. It’s death. This post is basically a public service announcement, but one from my own experience. From Michael’s experience. And it’s very important, so listen up. (more…)

May 14, 2010

“He is my teacher”

Filed under: Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 6:55 pm

Tomorrow is graduation day at our school. My first graduation without Michael; it will be difficult, to say the least. To me graduation was always much more of a special day for Michael than for me. He was the one who worked directly with the kids. I watched them embrace him and thank him for all he had done for them. I saw them proudly introduce him to their families. I heard them describe what he had meant to them in their graduation essays. I was always so proud of him on graduation day.

So as a tribute to Michael, this time I’d like to let a couple of students speak for themselves. (more…)

May 8, 2010

Pronoun trouble

Filed under: Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 8:10 pm

It’s true; on the internet you really can find just about anything — including the dialogue to my all-time favorite Daffy Duck ‘toon. Daffy, Bugs and Elmer are standing together, Elmer (of course) holding his hunting rifle.

Bugs: It’s true, Doc; I’m a rabbit, alright. Would you like to shoot me now or wait ’til you get home?
Daffy: Shoot him now! Shoot him now!
Bugs: You keep outta this! He doesn’t have to shoot you now!
Daffy: He does so have to shoot me now! [to Elmer] I demand that you shoot me now!
[Elmer looks at the camera, unsure if Daffy knows what he’s talking about. As Daffy sticks his tongue out at Bugs, he is shot. Daffy puts his beak in its place and pushes the tongue back in and walks back over to Bugs, gun smoke pouring out of his nostrils.]
Daffy: [to Bugs] Let’s run through that again.
Bugs: Okay. [deadpan] Would you like to shoot me now or wait till you get home.
Daffy: [similarly] Shoot him now; shoot him now.
Bugs: [as before] You keep outta this, he doesn’t have to shoot you now.
Daffy: [re-animated] Hah! That’s it! Hold it right there! [to audience] Pronoun trouble . . .
I laughed aloud the first time I saw this cartoon, and it still makes me chuckle to think of it. English teachers everywhere, take note. It’s an adorable example of the power of the pronoun. And now I find that I, like poor daffy Daffy, am having pronoun trouble.
You see, these days I’m having an awfully hard time changing from “our” and “we” to “my” and “I.” It’s perfectly understandable. For over 31 years I have been part of a “we” that I never dreamed would end so soon. So I constantly catch myself saying things like, “I was back in our bedroom when the phone rang,” or “Oh, yes, we have that movie, too.” I could make the excuse that the “we” is the dog, the cat and myself, but you and I both know that’s not what I meant. (more…)

April 23, 2010

“We love you”

Filed under: Devotional Life,Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 2:17 pm

There is no way I can ever offer enough thanks to all of the people who have prayed for us, encouraged us, cooked for us, supported us emotionally, supported us financially and just plain ol’ been there for us these past months. Today I want to simply share a couple of unexpected sources of that support in the past couple of weeks. (more…)

January 21, 2010

Me, mySelf and I

Filed under: Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 7:25 pm

Are you one of those people who reads magazines in a doctor’s office? When I say “reads” I’m using the term loosely. I generally just thumb through, mostly looking at the pictures, and that’s only if I’ve forgotten to take a book to read.

Michael’s radiation appointments go so quickly that I don’t bother with a book. But the other day I had a few more minutes than usual so I picked up the nearest publication. It was one I don’t think I’d ever looked at before, though the cover boasted it was 30 years old —  Self magazine. In my few available moments I learned that plaid is apparently in. That’s good news for my old flannel shirts. The beauty writers told me how to choose an eyeshadow shade based on my eye color, and how to pluck my eyebrows according to the shape of my face. (What shape is my face, anyhow?) I even read how to slim down by Saturday. Hmmm…I wonder if that promise would stick if I didn’t read the article until Friday? (more…)

December 26, 2009

“Terminal”ly homeless

Filed under: Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 9:41 pm

As I write this, Michael has been a hospital inpatient for five days. Absolutely everybody — from the chief neurosurgeon to the young lady who brings the breakfast trays — has been wonderful to us. So I have no real complaints. But I do have a thing I’d like to mention to any hospital administrators who just happen to be fans of my writing. Think of it as constructive criticism, OK? I’m only trying to be helpful. (more…)

December 20, 2009

The Advent within

Filed under: Devotional Life,Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 6:17 pm

Advent is a time of waiting. Boy, don’t I know it.

As other people light Advent candles and wrap Christmas gifts, Michael and I are waiting. First we waited to see if our family doctor agreed that Michael was having a gallbladder attack. Then we waited for the results of a CT scan because something on the ultrasound looked a wee bit suspicious. Next we waited to see an oncologist because the CT showed things that were downright scary. Now we wait for Tuesday, when Michael will have a biopsy. Then more waiting until the physician can tell us what kind of cancer this is and how we will fight it. And so it goes…and will go for some time. (more…)

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