Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

It's hard to fathom a year without you in it. But I'm still grateful I'm here to see it.

This is from New Year's Eve last year. One of the last pictures of the four of us.

Love you, babe.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Our Christmas Gifts

I have been slaving away for months...

Really only a few weeks...

Although I did start months ago...

Anyway... I've been working on our Christmas presents to our girls. I had the idea some time ago to make quilts for them from your tshirts. On our first date, you wore a tshirt (and I still fell for you), and in the past years your fashion item of choice was a tshirt. You left quite a selection from which to choose! I tried to put in important shirts, ones that had meaning. I avoided the ruder ones, although in hindsight I might have chosen differently. But there is a story that goes with each shirt, and I look forward to explaining each one to the girls.
Making the cut (wasted effort since this one didn't make it into the finished product!)

Each quilt has a Conway Cup shirt, and each one has a Don't Shrink shirt. Each contains two shirts from other ALS warriors, and each has a Celtic shirt. Each one has a part of your favorite comfy shirt, the navy waffle knit.
In honor of Michael and his family, ALS warriors

I knew that Erin's shop was the perfect place to work on them, especially because I needed her help! And I couldn't have done it without her. It was a wonderful experience to spend the time with her, and get to know her better. You were still the common thread (haha, I'm hilarious!), but hopefully we started a friendship of our own.

Sashing ready to stitch

Initially cutting the shirts was difficult, but then I was okay until the tops were finished. Then I could barely look at it without crying. There's a whole lot of love and a whole lot of emotion (and work!) put into these, and I suppose it just got to me.

Along the way, I decided to make them into duvet covers instead of quilts since that's what we normally use. I've got a bit more work to do to them, but turning them into covers helped me get them done faster. So, I've wrapped them up to give to the girls tomorrow. I know that they will love them. I also know that making them was a gift to me. I hope you'd be proud.
The finished top of Cora's quilt

The finished top of Louise's quilt

Love you, babe.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Solstice Planting

Tony and I have written many times about our friends, Michael and Libbi Jaillet. We met them on twitter, and they were our closest friends in our ALS war. Libbi and I compared notes about everything, and I only hope I was as helpful to her as she was to me. The started the charity MJ's Army to help other ALS patients in the Austin area and to support ALS research... and they do great work.

Michael died one year and one week ago, after living with ALS for over three years. I sent Libbi some wine, but wished I could be there to give her a big hug. She started the process of recovery, while I battled on. Then Tony died ten months and one day ago. Libbi told me she would be sending us a tree.

It is a very appropriate gift for us, as I love to garden and we all love to be outside. And so very kind of her. First, I had to pick a tree, and there are a lot of trees out there, so it wasn't easy! I finally decided on an oak. There are lots of reasons why, and the symbolism is easy. I always remember Tony telling me stories of the famous English bowmen who destroyed the French armies with their longbows of English oak... and the origin of the two fingered salute!

Since Libbi lives in Texas, I am not sure how she managed it, but today a beautiful white oak was planted in our yard. I know she was hoping it would have happened earlier this year, but I think today was the perfect day. A day when things finally came together, and the winter solstice. The darkest day of the year seems the perfect one to plant a symbol of strength, love, and remembrance. I hope it is happy in its new home, and I can't wait to watch it grow.

Thank you so much, my friend!

Cora in her new MJ's Army shirt!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Thirty-Seven Years Young

My favorite day of the year has come and gone. I'm officially thirty-seven now!

I am extra aware of events in this year of firsts, and so I did something different for this birthday. I arranged a rare night off for myself, and threw myself a party this past Saturday. My family, friends, soccer boys, and my lovely daughters sang me happy birthday... which is all I really wanted. I had a great night. 

Yesterday (the official date), I celebrated with a movie, a nap, and a nice dinner out. 

Tony and I learned that you make your own happiness, and I was certainly able to make some over the past few days. We also learned that we have some of the best people around in our support group, and they are what made my birthday special. 

So I'll borrow a few words from John Lennon to sum up my birthday message

"I get by with a little help from my friends"

"Count your age by friend, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears."

A HUGE thank you to everyone who celebrated with me and sent me birthday cheer!

The girls and I getting ready for the party. Cora doesn't look like my child at all!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Got Wood, Revisited

I know so many of you have been on pins and needles, wondering about the status of our new mantle since Tony introduced it last year. I am here to alleviate your curiosity.

Our mantle was hung (teehee) this summer, and now we've got it decorated for Christmas. It is lovely to have a place to properly hang the stockings!

Now you can all rest easy, knowing Tony's wood is well hung (teehee).

If you wonder what the hell I'm babbling about... Tony's post can give you a little background - Don't Shrink: Got Wood It looks pretty close to what he hoped for!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Last December

For the past few months, I have been rereading Tony's blog posts from past years. In October, I read the posts from the previous Octobers, etc.

Since December 2015 is a few days old, I recently read the December posts. The early ones were filled with good memories. But last year's were very hard to read.

One of our closest friends in our ALS world died last December, and Tony wrote about him several times. He wrote about the idea of the end. And it wasn't long before his own came. It brought last year back to me very vividly. ALS is a disease of incremental losses, and I was unable to see how much they had piled up last December. Now, I can; and I can't describe how awful it was.

Tony wrote about the Charge of the Light Brigade last year, so I'll continue the battle analogies. Last year, I was deep in the trenches, just fighting for the next foot and the next hour... unable to see beyond that. This year, my battle pales in comparison.

There is always a battle of sorts to wage in life. We should always battle to do the right thing, be the best we can be, insert motivational message here... It's hard to say, but I will admit that I'm so relieved I'm not fighting ALS anymore.

Here's to those still in the saddle.