I’m not really sure how it can be March already, but here we are. Time just keeps on trucking. 

Sorry again about the delay in writing. I’m feeling a bit “stuck” these days. And I was pretty set on not writing a journal that wasn’t so sad. No promises but that is still my goal as I begin this entry.

So what has been going on with the Dee girls these days you might be wondering?…..alot! 

January found us facing a big event without John. Gracie was invited to join her girlfriends at the Military Ball. She was so excited! Because of my belief system I know John was there with me as I sent her out the door…..combat boots and all! I just love how she was wise enough to know she wanted to be comfortable! And she’s not afraid to be herself. Love that about her! It was a late night so she spent the night at her friend’s house who lives in town. Before she called it a night,  she texted me pictures of all the happenings and her smile tells me exactly how it all went. 

January seemed to have many little trials for me. The first was another darned flat tire! I quickly knew something was up and was close to a gas station so I stopped. 

I was walking out of the gas station when a gentleman stopped me and said, “do you know you have a flat tire”? Long story short he noticed because I had Bleau in the car and was admiring him. Come to find out this guy worked at a tire shop and offered to look at it for me. What are the odds? I truly felt once again like there are little angels here on earth watching out for us and helping us along the way. He was confident that with some air I could make it to the tire shop, and he was right. The guys at the shop had me up and running in no time. 

Right around that same time I was noticing I was going through lots of propane. So I was watching it pretty close in  December and January and something just didn’t seem right. So I called Tyler who built our house. Within a few minutes he called me back and said one of the guys would be out to the house the next day to double check everything. Tyler and his crew have just been so amazing to us over the years and especially the last few months since John has passed. Come to find out John had requested a particular set up so he could have hot water very quickly to the shower. I just had to laugh because John had his own ideas about things. This being one of them. His brain was always going a hundred miles an hour….thinking, planning, doing! Some adjustments were made and I’m already noticing our propane consumption is much lower. My fridge was leaking…yep they fixed that too. So thankful!! 

Gracie has been really busy with robotics. It’s really been her saving grace! She loves it so much and it keeps her busy. Being on the Calumet Copperbots team has been a dream of hers for a few years. It’s a pretty big time commitment but she loves it so much and never complains about all the time she spends at the school after hours. And because she’s happy, I’m trying not to remind myself of the two trips to town 5 days a week, equalling about 100 miles a day. But, since I’m sort of “stuck” anyhow it gives me something to do too. And sometimes I’m treated to beautiful sunsets while I wait. Copperbot competition starts this weekend with the team traveling to Escanaba. They left Thursday during the school day and I’ll pick her up late on Saturday. The following weekend they travel to Sault Ste. Marie. If they make it to States she won’t be able to attend because she’ll be in Europe.

Yes you read that correctly! I can not believe the time is coming up so quickly for her to be on this trip. She signed up about 1 ½ years ago. John and I had talked and thought it would be an amazing experience for her. The initial plan was I would go as well as a volunteer. Gracie came to us with good reason and asked that she could do this on her own. “Mom you work at the school”…..”you volunteer for everything”…..etc…she had a good point and we really felt she wanted and maybe needed to do this on her own. This is a WWII tour so they are going to London, Portsmouth, Paris and Normandy. She’ll be leaving in a little over 3 weeks and will be gone about 9 days. John and I were secretly planning our own vacation while she was gone. We had thought about Hawaii since this year would have been our 20th wedding anniversary. But, then we decided if we were going to go to Hawaii we really wanted her to be with us. I guess I’ll just pretend I’m in Hawaii as I go through all the boxes from the move that are in the garage still. Lol. Actually, I’m looking forward to putting things in forward motion with that job. I just need to get unstuck. I’ll get there. 

February started with influenza for both Gracie and myself. John and I would always get the flu shot due to John’s health. But, Gracie had a bad reaction many years ago to the shot. So unfortunately she tends to get the flu every year. This was the first year she came down with it though since 2019. She has pretty specific flu symptoms so I knew we had 48 hours to get her in so she could be tested and get on tamiflu. I don’t love giving her meds but she gets so sick with the flu. So I ran home and picked her up after work and by the time we were sitting in the waiting room, I felt achy and so tired. I was thankful for some meds because by Thursday we were both back to school, feeling pretty good! 

My brother Jeff and sister n law Linda were here for almost a week in February. It was so great to see them. We spent a lot of time looking through old pictures. My mom had a setback health wise the week before John passed away and she can no longer safely live on her own. So my brothers, sister n laws, nieces…..the whole crew spent many days cleaning, packing, and moving her out of her home. I felt really bad that I was not able to help out. My niece made sure to send me texts of all the old pictures she was finding along the way! 

Gracie and I traveled to southern WI for a wedding of someone who is so special to us! I’ll be honest and say I didn’t really want to go. I didn’t want to miss it of course but the very thought of going to a wedding without John….I just felt like I couldn’t do it and didn’t want to do it. Gracie and I planned to leave early on Friday, drive to Madison and then do some shopping. She needed a few things for her trip and of course she wanted to hit Barnes and Noble. We arrived safely and went straight to the mall. As hard as we tried we just weren’t into it. We wandered the mall passing each store up as we walked by. It was at that moment I had a feeling we weren’t emotionally ready for this weekend. Like really weren’t ready. 

Gracie had asked me casually, “mom you probably won’t let me get my ears double pierced will you”? I thought to myself, are you kidding me! This is an easy yes! Her entire body perked up, and she was instantly excited about something. I’m realizing that has been the challenge. To get on the other side of these hard days, it’s so much easier to have something planned, something to look forward to…..something to be excited for! And it doesn’t take much. A favorite homemade meal, a visit with a friend, an early morning sunrise, two more holes in your body. Just being able to have our sights on something that will bring us joy.

We were up early on Saturday, had breakfast and then we were off to the reception space to help with decorating. I don’t know when things started to go south with Gracie and myself but it happened fast. I know we were both feeling the tremendous void of John not being with us on this trip. We’ve been out of town for skating but John always stayed home during those trips. This was much different and we felt it deeply. After being a bit short with each other, I stopped and said let’s talk. We both had a good cry and actually for a second thought about not going to the wedding. But, we quickly changed our minds. The day was hard. Seeing people I haven’t seen since John passed. Thankfully we had some great friends who saved the night! Gracie was dancing up a storm with them and for a moment all was good in her world.  I watched her hold back tears as she watched the bride dance with her step dad. I knew she was thinking of her future. My favorite moment of the night was watching her dance to her and John’s favorite ZB song. Somehow she ended up in the middle of a circle, everyone dancing around her, eyes closed, smiling, dancing away. 

It was a beautiful wedding and we are both so glad that we pulled ourselves together to celebrate with TL and Bradley! I can’t help but see something special in these two kids……when you have it you know it and you can see it in others. These two are going to have the time of their lives. 

We decided we couldn’t wait to be home. So we were on the road early Sunday, anxious to pick up Bleau from my coworkers home and Kashi from Lisa’s. I’m so thankful that Clay and Stacey and Lisa and Tim have graciously opened their homes to both of the dogs. I can tell they have a  great time and are so well cared for. When we went to drop Kashi off at Lisa and Tim’s, Kashi ran right to their door. When we returned home, Bleau found his favorite spot on the couch and was sacked out for hours. You all know we love our dogs so much so knowing they are loved, makes it easier for us to get away. 

Somedays I worry, are we growing? Are we healing? How are we REALLY doing? 

After struggling so much Friday and Saturday I thought nope….not healing…..we are not moving forward…..but, something happened that made me realize there is healing happening.

In January we returned home from Eagle River and the house was so quiet. Pulling down the drive I could feel this heaviness. John wouldn’t be there to greet us and be waiting to hear all about the weekend. Empty…

In February we returned home and I did feel John’s absence but it wasn’t as heavy. I was able to move through it quicker. Of course I missed him terribly, I will always miss him but it felt different. I was busy doing  laundry and getting dinner ready when Gracie hollered from the top of the stairs, “Mom, it feels good to be home”. I hollered back, “it sure does”. We didn’t feel this in January. Not even remotely anything close to this in January. Movement. Healing.

The following weekend I rec’d a message from Scottiking saying that he and Meg, Skylar and Eric were up for the weekend….did we want to meet for dinner? I asked Gracie and she was a quick “yes”! She was so excited. So we met Scott, Meg, Skylar, Eric and Chad for dinner. Gracie loved hearing stories about her dad. And is still talking about this visit. It was nice to see some of the gang and catch up. Gracie is already asking, “when will they be up again”? Something to look forward to. Oh and Scott…..she found you on youtube haha…..

Our neighbors, the deer and turkey, were slow to show up this year but I’m here to tell you….they are here! I know this mostly because one met the front end of my car last week. My reaction was really interesting and made me think that when you lose your partner, not much rattles you anymore. This deer came out of nowhere. Thankfully I was driving pretty slow as I know it’s an area that has alot of deer. I hit it, kept driving and said out loud, “well that’s a bummer”….I decided to turn around in case something was wrong with the car and I just hadn’t realized it yet. I turned around and saw the deer alive…visibly stunned but alive…..for the moment. The only emotion I had about this entire incident was for the deer…hoping it wouldn’t suffer. So I drove the few miles home, pulled the car in the drive and jumped in the truck. Didn’t look at the damage or anything. So unlike me! Normally I would have been all worried about all the things. I told myself I’d check the damage later. I called my brother to tell him what happened and asked if maybe his buddy who lives close by might want the deer. But, in the time it took me to circle back around the deer was gone. So, I’m telling myself it was just stunned and ran off into the woods with only a sore backside!  Thankfully the visible damage to my car is not bad. The grill will need to be replaced, along with a light. The engine was getting hot so I’m sure that’s not a real good sign. I’m thankful for the truck. It doesn’t get as good of gas mileage as my car but non the less we have a vehicle to get us back and forth to town until the car gets fixed. 

I’ve been seeing on social media where people are asking, “I wonder what John Dee would think about this winter”. I can tell you…..he would have disliked it! Alot!!! But, he also believed that the weather was cyclical and knew we would have those years that would not be good for snow. But, I honestly think he never in a million years would have believed the winter to be this terrible!

We tend to remember tidbits of information by events that are going on in our lives. I wonder if people will remember the winter of 23-24 as the winter John Dee left this earth and it didn’t snow. 

I know I will.

Since I started writing this last week, Gracie’s robotics team placed 3rd in the competition and she had the best time! They qualify now for the state competition. Fast forward 2 more weeks……..

Until next time……And since I finished the last edit to this journal Gracie had her spring skating show.  You can see how much joy skating brings to her.  Flashing that classic Gracie Dee smile. (She took a piece of her dad with her to the show….wearing his flannel to the rink.) One of the numbers the kids had to dress up in costumes of their choice. Coach Sara saved the day with this find

To see Gracie smiling like this just makes me breath a little easier. On Friday she told me on the way home from school, “mom I think things are looking up”. I asked her why she felt this way and we had a real good talk about life as we know it now. I’m so thankful that we’ve always had a open communication in our home. It makes these hard situations a little bit easier if we are all talking.

Gracie leaves tomorrow morning early! It’ll be a short night with leaving our house at 3:15 am. I’m going to miss her so much!! My brother arrives this afternoon for a visit too. So that will help with the transition of Gracie being gone. And there is that garage that is calling my name. 

Thank you all for trying to be patient as we all adjust to losing John……some days are harder than others…..some things like the website get put on the back burner as I spend time working through this grief. 

I have an idea and Scottiking has another great idea for the website. I’ll share those with you next time.

I’m struggling with a send off…..good night from the Keweenaw was Johns and only Johns…….I’ll need to put my creative thinking cap on…….