I’ve decided to let go of my guilt about not blogging more regularly. The truth is, I just plain need to WRITE more regularly, whether that is for myself or for all of you out there, because it is cathartic for me. Ironically I’ve been avoiding that lately. I went off of my antidepressants a couple of months back (completely supervised by my doctor), and I am feeling things more than I did while I was on them. There are times that I’m scared of falling back into the pit of misery that marked almost all of the first year after we lost Samantha. Which is stupid, and I know it’s stupid. Tears are healthy. Being sad is ok. I know all of these things, yet I don’t want to allow myself to practice it. Mostly I’m scared of being weak, which is also stupid, because weakness allows people in. I don’t need to be a pillar of strength all the time. I don’t know why I have this need to protect myself from being sad so much.

Sorrow hits me at the weirdest times. Music will do it to me almost inevitably – at football games the National Anthem can make me cry! Night is still the worst. I’m sleeping now, which I couldn’t do before. For over a year I took benedryl every single night to help me fall asleep. I don’t have to do that any more, thankfully, but I can find myself feeling sad or angry when I try to lay down and shut my eyes. I’ve always been a night owl by nature, unable to immediately fall asleep, but I used to be able to sleep in when morning came. I can’t do that any more. Once I wake up, I’m awake. Thank you genetics – and mom!

It occurred to me that I’ve been pretty lax about updating everyone on the changes to our household that have taken place over the past year. Most of you know by now that we have two dogs (I think). We’ve had Frodo for years, and in August 2011 we adopted Baggins, a second miniature Schnauzer. He started out living at my sister’s house, because we were not ready to add a second dog to our lives (or love anything new). We figured that we had planned to have a second dog so we could help out with vet/grooming expenses and their girls could enjoy having a dog, which they were begging for. As it turns out, Baggins is scared of kids (poor baby! what was his life like before that would give him this fear?). So he came to live at our house after all last winter. It was an adjustment for everyone having a new dog in the house, particularly with housebreaking that is an ongoing process when a dog has changes in his life. And of course Frodo isn’t thrilled when the new dog tries to get attention from Travis. But we love him and it’s worked out well.

In the meantime, Travis’ dad, Tom, has been living with Travis’ sister, Tina, for years. Tina has a husband and two kids, and her stepson just moved in with them this summer too. So their household was getting crowded. On top of that, Tom’s mobility is limited. He can walk with a cane but not far, and stairs are difficult. Tina’s house only has stairs to get in and out. Travis and I talked and prayed and invited Tom to come and live with us. Our house only has three stairs, and those go down to our bedroom, so he doesn’t even need to navigate them. For Tom, the biggest adjustment is being far away from his living grandkids, who he spent almost every day of their lives with. Meanwhile we let go of Samantha’s room and Travis gave up having a bathroom to himself.

There are challenges, of course. I find myself living with two men – ladies who read this, if you’re ever driven crazy by your husbands, imagine having two of them in your house! And Travis has made room in his schedule to take his dad to doctor appointments. But it’s working out well, and our house continues to be a blessing that we can share with others along the way.

What all of this boils down to is that I’m learning to let go of a lot of expectations – especially those related to what our household should look like. When Samantha got sick, all of my expectations were thrown into the air.

It makes me think about a member of a previous congregation who would say, “If you’re disappointed, lower your expectations.” I think he was wrong. Actually, I think it’s more important to have high expectations, but to remain flexible with them. After all, we can’t know what God holds for us in the future. So it’s best to remember that all of our planning is really Plan B.