Tonight I finally found myself with a couple of free hours at home that happened to coincide with daylight and a lack of rain. It was as if the universe was telling me - MOW THE GRASS. Well, grass is probably a tad generous since in my yard I mostly mow weeds, but that's another story.
About halfway through I was tired. It was the kind of tired where you just want to collapse wherever you are and not get back up for twelve hours. The kind of tired where all of your muscles feel like they're on fire and every once in awhile you zone out and forget what you are even doing.
But, since I knew that the next time I would likely have the "clear sky-daylight-free time" stars align would be at least a week and a half from now, I pressed on.
It didn't take long before my mind turned to Joe. At first it was definitely a "dammit why was I left stuck with this task" thought. Then, I thought about how excited he was to have a yard of our own that he could work in. He always took great pride in doing work in and around our home. And then I remembered that last summer.
Eight years ago now.
He was a year and a half in to his cancer diagnosis. That meant a year and a half of chemo treatments. An ostomy bag. Slowly accumulating fluid in his lungs.
And yet, I remember him mowing our grass that summer. It wasn't as frequently as I know he would have otherwise and sometimes he had help. But he did it. He did it all without the self-propelled mower I ended up buying myself last year. (Although I do remain convinced that if Joe were still here mowing grass today he would have gotten himself the same setup I did.) And he did it with the pride of home ownership and care for his family pushing him along.
So tonight, as I yanked and pushed the mower up and down the mean slopes of our yard, it hit me.
Here it is seven and a half years after he died and I am realizing a new way to appreciate him. How is that even possible? But it's what happened. The work of mowing reminded me just how super our Superman really was to us.
I realized it because he's gone and the chore now falls to me. It's not the first time I've mowed the grass so it's a little weird that it took me this long to get it, but I guess the point is that I finally did.
That realization got me thinking about other things I am missing in the people around me. What else is going on right in front of my nose that I'm not fully appreciating?
It took me over two hours to mow the grass so I had a lot of time to think.
I started talking to myself (hot tip: when you're using a lawn mower, no one can hear you talking to yourself), but once the ideas started flowing they kept coming.
My Dad's humor, generosity, and faith displayed in a hundred different ways even while he has faced health issue after health issue. He makes jokes with the hospital staff, buys books for his grandkids, and listens to God's prodding on issues even when it's difficult.
My Mom's willingness to always find a meaningful way to help out. There are never dirty dishes in my sink when she leaves no matter how many were there when she arrived and my yard would be nothing more than an assortment of dead things if not for her.
The fact that not only can I talk honestly with my sisters about so many pieces of our lives, but that we can also travel together and actually have a great time (even with the kids).
That Erin will talk with me about death and not be weird about it and that she can be counted on to provide the nudge I need to really take a vacation.
That Julia always has an open door, a bottle of wine in the fridge, and a listening ear.
That people in my life like Sara and Heather still remember the tough days with a text or a call or a card even so many years later.
Co-workers who always seem to find a way to push forward even when the deck is stacked.
Friends new and old who step in with support and advice when I'm about to try something new.
Domani, who can lighten my mood in a million ways, whether it's a funny joke, his own laugh, or a conversation about black holes and Trans-Neptunian objects.
I'm glad it took me as long as it did to mow the grass and even happier that I don't have to wait until I do it again to look for things I can appreciate about the people around me.