What’s this? What’s this?

As I work to clean up the clutter of over 30 years of married, family life, I find that it’s funny how the human mind works sometimes. This is “stuff.” Inanimate things. But it is sometimes VERY difficult to put those things in a bag for either the garbage or the donation center (my favorite is the Purple Heart). Why is that? Why, when I hold something in my hand, am I magically transported back in time to a period in my life when Kim was alive and vital? Sometimes, it isn’t even the timeframe in which the thing was acquired that I’m transported to. And, oftentimes, it is simply the remembrance of how Kim liked the sort of thing I’m holding in my hand that triggers it. This reaction comes especially with things she made.

I know I’m not abnormal – we humans assign emotions to all kinds of things. I’m just both fascinated and horrified by how the mind behaves around such things. I think there would be no such thing as a hoarder if we didn’t attach emotion to things.

As I once told my sister in a similar discussion decades ago: this “clutter” constitutes the collection of souvenirs from the various stops along the journey we’ve been on. We gather things to remind of us the events of our lives; of the emotions – happiness, excitement, sadness, and melancholy – the gamut of our emotional states along life’s path. Some of us collect all kinds of little things, and have difficulty surrendering them, leading to “clutter.” Some are more selective and need and have less laying about to remind them of where they’ve been.

I’m trying to become more like the latter group. So many things. So many of these collected things are relatively useless to me both today as well as with my plans going forward – but this realization makes it no less difficult to relinquish them.

So much work to do. I want to get the house into a saleable condition. It’s much too large for me now. Frankly, it has been too large for Kim and me for several years now, but we made use of the extra space for our pursuits, making it less “obvious” that it was time to think about downsizing. I think I’d like to find a place with all the space I need on one floor – somewhere that I know will suit me for many years to come.

I’d best get back to work…

Good Friday

One of the facets of Christianity and salvation history I struggle with is this: God is God. He can do anything. So why was it necessary for Jesus to have died on the cross to redeem mankind? Every once in a while, my mind will glom onto a cogent argument as to why it was necessary; however, the “Ah ha!” is fleeting, and the wonder at the rationale returns. I guess this lends credence to something I often say: I do not presume to know the mind of God.

One of the things I always take away from Jesus’ passion is how incredibly cruel mankind can be. Throughout the ages, mankind has demonstrated an incredible capacity for cruelty and delighting in others’ pain – to me, it is one of the most disgusting aspects of our broken nature. Maybe one day we will rise above it.

I hope everyone took some time today to contemplate what occurred in Jerusalem so very long ago. For the price paid in human flesh by God for our redemption.

God bless.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda…

A recurring theme among those of us who are left on the wrong side of the heavenly divide when our spouse passes is: if I had known, would I have gotten married? This is particularly resonant with those of us who were caregivers to our dying spouses and watched as some insidious condition or other had its way with them.

In my many bouts of introspection, I’ve often ruminated on this concept. My answer is “probably.” Why not a definitive yes or no? Let’s explore the reasons for it not being “no” first.

    Reason 1: Like those who are outside of the prison of our loss looking in, I do not believe the younger version of any of us would have any inkling regarding the magnitude of the pain we are now experiencing.

    Reason 2: We generally were not attracted to our spouses based on their life expectancy.

But why not “yes?” You would think, based on the logic above, that that would be the foregone conclusion; however, the foreknowledge would interfere with the “probability cloud” that drove us to where we are today (remember that Schröedinger guy?), so the probability that anyone with that foreknowledge would react as they did without is less than one.

Once a geek, always a geek, I guess.


As I was driving to my mom’s today for a visit, I was thinking about Kim’s and my life together. The things we liked to do when we first started dating, our young married life, and our life later on. The term that kept cropping up in my mind was “encapsulated”.

Odd term to apply to a relationship, but hear me out.

We were introduced on a blind date. We both pretty much fell for each other on that first date. We didn’t work expressly hard, either one of us, at maintaining outside friendships – they either remained, or they faded pretty much on their own. Our life together was… encapsulated. We seemed very much to be a self-sufficient symbiosis without many needs outside of ourselves and our family. Even as Kim was dying, we looked into our family for the support we needed, hospicing at home.

I truly wonder if I will – if I could – find anything like that again. So much is gone. To compare our life together to construction, it’s as if you spent decades building the biggest, strongest skyscraper, only to have it suddenly disappear, leaving behind only the memory of what it was and what you’d hoped it would become. All of the familiarity is gone. All of the understanding developed over a lifetime together rendered moot. Poof! Just like that.

But love remains. Encapsulated in the half of the whole, it is safeguarded from being lost.

Who paints the clouds?

I have always been a cloud-watcher. As a kid, I’d lay on my back for hours staring up at the clouds. As an adult, I’d point out the things I saw in the clouds to Kim or the kids as we were driving along from wherever. Finding things in the clouds became a favorite pastime for the kids when I’d drive them home from school, and it was a great exercise for their developing imaginations.

God's Stallion © 2020 Pat Babcock
“God’s Stallion” ©2020 Pat Babcock

When Kim was in the hospital last August to have a stent put in her bile duct, the clouds put on quite a show – we spent a lot of time looking at the clouds through the 11th-floor window, and I took tens – maybe hundreds! – of pictures. The picture of Kim in the header of this blog is a composite I made with one such picture. In fact, the image of her I used in that composite was captured as she was looking out at the clouds as I described what figures I could see in them.

Kim and the Clouds – August 2020

Clouds have always been beautiful.

I noticed a “new creativity” in the cloud patterns after Kim passed, reminiscent of obvious brush strokes. The following pictures are details from a single photo taken on my way home from some appointment or other 10 days after Kim passed.

Feathered clouds ©2020 Pat Babcock
Sketch lines in the sky ©2020 Pat Babcock

The clouds today were a masterpiece: at the same time dark and brooding, but with pondwater-like waves that exposed cheerier, sunlit clouds in an almost unnatural pattern. It is my conviction that God gave Bob Ross some time off, and Kim is now brushing the clouds. In any case, I look up at them and invariably smile – so, at least to me, it is the truth.

What goes around comes around, then goes around again

I ‘ve always been a bit reclusive. If given the choice between going to a party or gathering, or doing something with just Kim and I (and later, Kim, the kids, and I…), it would be rare that I would choose the gathering (unless with family).

In our early life together, all of our siblings, cousins, and friends were getting married, and we were constantly at weddings. When she couldn’t find any of her girlfriends, Kim would drag me (quite literally) to the floor for those fast tempo songs, but most often, she would dance with her friends, and I’d sit at the table sipping a beer, watching, waiting for the song to end so I could be with her again.

About four or five years into our marriage, I got a bent for community service – one that sticks with me to this day, and which I’ve imparted to my children. Kim enjoyed these activities, too, but wasn’t able to engage in them to the degree I could because, when working, she worked afternoons or midnights. I am adept at picking up tasks, and I’m usually hell-bent on getting them done quickly and efficiently – which makes you sort of popular with these groups. We’d go to the parties or functions for the various groups I was involved in and, invariably, someone or other would drag me off to meet someone, or discuss something, leaving Kim to fend for herself, waiting until I could break free so we could be together again.

Now, it has come full circle, I guess, and she has left me sitting here on earth, waiting until I can be with her again…

A sleepless night…

Huh! I really don’t know what’s going on, but I could not fall asleep last night. Well, I *did* eventually fall asleep, but the last time I looked at the clock, it was well after 0200 – that’s 4, 4-1/2 hours of laying there awake. This is not “me.” I normally don’t have any issues falling asleep unless I’m anxious about something, but I can’t think of anything I might be anxious about.

Maybe it’s that pendulum thing.

Friday was, for lack of a better term, unremarkable. My mood was good, and we did our “family Friday” as usual. Chris, Kenny, and I went down, cleaned the wine thief, and drew a sample of a wildflower mead Chris and I brewed just around the time he graduated from high school – so about 9 years ago. It smelled great, and the flavor, once balanced with some fresh honey, was very good – we plan to get some cherry extract, and then we’ll bottle it as a cherry melomel. It’s been so long since I’ve brewed anything, I may need to get ahold of my friend Ken Schramm for reminders on the Bill Pfeiffer method.

But, in all, it was a pretty decent day. I cannot conceive of why I had such difficulty drawing it to a close.

One aspect of sleep that has been troubling to me is that, since the day Kim passed, I have not had a dream with her in it that I can recall. Not one. My sleep tracker generally tells me that normally, 60-75% of my sack time is in the “restful” state, which I think implies dreamless, deep sleep. That leaves 25-40% in REM. But no dreams, good or bad, of Kim. I wonder why? What is the subconscious telling me? Oh, well.

Today looks like it will be pretty uneventful. I had planned to visit my mom, but, as the day wears on, it does not look likely as planned tasks that require my presence at home to complete are taking a lot longer than I had thought they would – it’s after 1300, and I’m only about 1/4 of the way through what I had expected to get done today. She has my sister and niece there (likely others, too), so I know she will not be lonely for family. It just feels like the time with her is getting thin, with the recurrence of her latest health issue. Maybe I’ll get this wrapped up in time to stop over later this afternoon.


One line and a word – that’s what has been going through my mind for weeks, now. Actually, it’s a similar line to the same music. Don Henley’s Boys of Summer – “You can’t look back. You can never look back.” And the word “empty”. Only what keeps going through my mind to the music is “You can’t go back. You can never go back.” “Empty” is the same, though.

Odd. It’s as if my mind is chastising itself. Oh, how I would love to be able to go back and do it all again. A big “do-over”. What would I change? How would those changes impact the ultimate end?

We are the sum product of our experiences, though. If any of those past experiences were to be changed, would the Kim I love still have existed? Or would a change in the past develop her into someone I no longer loved? Would I be the same me? Would we still have our beautiful family? Interesting mind-exercises, much like that of the famous Schröedinger’s cat. I guess in this situation, we’ve looked into the box, and the probability cloud has collapsed into the reality we’ve experienced.

Still: it’s hard not to wonder what might be if we had handled this situation or that situation differently. Back to the Future musings. I think we’ve all had them and, unless we trap ourselves in their consideration, they’re probably healthy.

Today is Friday – our Family Friday tradition. Jeanette will make burgers today. Everyone likes burgers! That’s two weeks in a row for Jeanette. Jessica and Noah are now in their home, and I think things are smoothed out a bit for Chris, who had a few major things to consider and put to rest in his life – it looks like his decisions were well-considered, and it will bode well for his future. And Kenny, freshly made single by his own choice, seems to be in a good frame of mind. I think that we’ll set out a schedule for the next few weeks, though. Lately, it’s been a last-minute Thursday afternoon text: “Who has Friday?” It’s better to plan where planning makes sense…