I am going through old pictures on CDs to get rid of the old media. Wow, this is an old one. I thought it was before Matt had contacts but that’s not right. He must have been wearing his glasses in preparation for laser correction for his eyes on this day at the zoo with Summer’s preschool class mates.
I can’t remember why space travel came up at the dinner table tonight, but we were discussing whether we would travel to outer space if we could. Cole has recently expressed an interest in space technology, but no one was interested in actually taking a trip on a space shuttle. That’s how I have always felt, and Cole clarified that he did not want to be an astronaut. He is possible interested in developing and building space technology on Earth. But the discussion reminded me of one that Matt and I had several times, especially as Elon Musk has for years been wanting to start some way to do space tourism. Matt would certainly have signed up if he could afford it. He would have loved it. Well, space tourism is not yet a thing but the prospect keeps me in mind of him. It’s funny that none of the kids felt that way, and shows me the lack of the influence he would have had.
I am still running regularly and I know that Matt would be too. As much as my body compels me to continue I still find myself pushing through the uphill stretches wishing I were doing something else. I often count the remaining uphill parts till I’ll be done, but today, a lightbulb went off and I started thinking maybe I should be counting the downhills left to go.
P.S. Does this change of perspective mean I am officially over the hill?
Recently, my brother asked my how I liked my new iPhone 6. I like it but I don’t feel particularly enthusiastic about it. At this point smart phones are mainstream a without any major new features that significantly affect how I use my cell phone, everything is a subtle to me improvement.
Then this morning it hit me how I miss Matt telling me about new technology. He did love checking out the latest and greatest technologies. It was part of his job for a long time and he bought each new Apple mobile product as it came out. I will never forget the day he very carefully, clearly and completely explained to me how GSM and WCDMA cell phone technology works. I could not repeat the explanation to anyone but I remember Matt. These are technologies that developed in our life time.
With the absence of Matt keeping me up to date on the latest technology comes the realization just how much we human beings get out of communication. It’s not just that I’m missing out on delighting in the advancements of my cell phone. I miss all the gentle mannerisms, words, tones, and expressions of Matt talking about something he was passionate about.
We were reading a chapter of Summer’s religious education book at dinner and came to the question:
If Jesus joined us for dinner tonight, what one question would you ask him?
How is dad doing?
-Summer, without hesitation
Going on the fourth Christmas, I have come to accept the Christmas tree as Matt’s presence at Christmas time. Before we had kids, Matt wanted nothing to do with having a Christmas tree. We celebrated Christmas of course, but he kind of bah humbugged a lot of it on the principle that Christmas is over commercialized. As soon as Summer was born, he went out and bought a huge artificial Christmas tree. It is 12 feet tall and he got a very good deal on Craig’s list. It is a high quality tree but it is not pre lit and you have to put it together, branch by branch. He even researched the best way to string lights which is not round and round but in and out along each branch. To properly light the tree in this way takes about 1000 lights and 2 full days of work. Needless to say, once Matt died, this was not something I was able to do on my own. But with three kids, I had to have a Christmas tree even if I didn’t feel like it. The prospect of putting the tree up in good time was quite a burden. The first year, Josh and the McNamaras helped put it up. The second year I went shopping for a pre lit tree. I looked at Target, at Lowe’s, at Home Depot and online. What I found was that none of the trees measured up to the fullness of our tree and the ones that came close were very expensive. My solution was to put up 2 instead of 3 sections of our tree which meant a 9 foot tree instead of 12 feet. There are about 9 or 10 rows of branches this way and since the top section has shorter branches, it goes up pretty fast. I also don’t try to get the tree up all at once. We work on it about an hour a day over the course of several days and now that the kids are older, they can help by fluffing out the branches before I put them up.
This year, I pulled out the tree and decided it would represent Matt himself and that putting up the tree is a meditation of sorts and a way to measure my readiness. It’s also a sort of Advent calendar as seeing the tree go from a small tuft at the end of a six foot pole to a five foot tree raised up above the ground to the full 9 foot portion corresponds to the days closing in on Christmas. The kids love holiday decorating so much and that definitely helps a lot. I try to get most of the gift shopping done in November and then slow down in December with only Christmas extracurriculars and a goal to de-rush amidst the Christmas rush. This year actually feels a bit measured and steady.
There was one time that we got an infestation of flies in the house. I remember that Matt took to swatting at them with a magazine in his spare moments. He did it with such gusto and was proud to have a very high accuracy rate. It’s kind of gross, but I guess it just goes to show that problems themselves are not innate causes of what sets us off and what doesn’t. How we weather something in our path is really more dependent on our mood and how we relate it back to things we have gone through before. Remembering Matt, I can think of so many times that something bothered me and he brushed them aside with positivity. Sometimes, I was still bothered and sometimes his light attitude rubbed off on me as with the flies. Likewise, there were plenty of times that I remember him being stressed out and something would set him off that I didn’t give any emotional weight. His mood often colored his memories as well. As it turned out, getting rid of a fly infestation with Matt swatting 20 a day didn’t take that long.