September 26. 2015
Dear Team Craig
This morning, while checking Facebook, I was greeted with this post: “You and Rick Schuff have been friends on Facebook for 6 years”. I had to laugh as we have been married for 40 years. It displayed 6 pictures of us together. One hit like a punch in the gut. It was a picture taken over six years ago,showing Rick and Craig sitting in the lodge at Devil’s Head ski resort. It was over the Christmas holidays, December 2010, our last time skiing. Craig, strong, muscular, fit, and smiling.
I rarely look at old pictures, but this one snuck up on me. Stabbing me with the sheer heaviness of the grief that we have been carrying for over four years. Grief for the life Craig used to have, the life we all had, the future that we thought would hold more ordinary ups and downs. Some pain, but not the heavy, heavy kind that doesn’t abate.
I used to think that perhaps time would bring a kind of healing. That grief wouldn’t always be that thing that disappears into the shadows when I am busy, but creeps out in the quiet moments, hanging on my shoulders, glowering. Lately I am coming to grips with the fact that time has not lessened the pain. Perhaps that will still come. Perhaps not, at least on this side of heaven.
Craig continues to battle pain. He has tried acupuncture, which has provided a little relief, but not enough. He has a new kind of brace for his shoulders, which he is working with. He has trouble sleeping, so he had a home sleep study not long ago. Unfortunately,it showed that he is having breathing problems which they think are caused by a mix of his pain meds and other meds. His pain doctor gave him no choice. He is decreasing the pain meds, which will cause more pain, more suffering, at night. As you can imagine, this is very discouraging to Craig. At work, Craig has been pricing a part for his invention. This part needs to be individually made; it is not something you can order mass market. Craig found out that it would cost, in his words, “the price of a small house”. His department can’t afford it. So they are going to have to cobble something together to try to make things work. One good thing, Craig was able to find a good head caregiver for the year. The head job involves more hours than the other caregiving jobs, and more responsibility. The hardest part is the scheduling, the coordinating of all of the other caregivers, as well as doing several shifts. The people in this job never have lasted more than about a year as they go on to more schooling of some sort. We are grateful for another one who seems to be working out.
After retiring last May, I received a phone call on the first day of this school year. I was unexpectedly offered an interim positionas a gifted education teacher at another elementary school in our district. It lasts through Thanksgiving, and has been awelcome transition job. I get the chance to teach for a while longer, with a little less stress and no testing pressure. It provides more income and consistent “kid time” than subbing, yet without requiring me to work the entire year. Rick officially retired shortly after his August 6th birthday. However, he too is working part time for his engineering firm. His hours vary from week to week. Sometimes he works just a few hours, other weeks he is fulltime.
I grapple with the grief off and on. It seems lately that I deal with it more; probably because Craig continues to get hit with blow after blow, and because Rick and I are dealing with the life changes that come with retirement. There are no magic answers. God doesn’t provide an easier life for the faithful, in spite of what a few popular preachers say. Prompted by a verse shared by a Facebook friend, I began reading in Isaiah this morning, chapters 50-53. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 shares the message of the suffering servant; a profound prophesy of the Messiah who came to suffer for us and with us. I don’t know why God doesn’t stop suffering. I never will understand during my earthly life. I only know tha tGod goes through the suffering with us. He didn’t have to enter the body of a human and go through agony. But he did, and he still does. It doesn’t make it easy. But it does make a difference.
Please pray. I may sound like a broken record, but pray for the pain to go away, especially now. Pray for Craig’s work, that they can find a way to make his invention work in spite of the set back. Pray for Craig’s spirit, that he can feel love, encouragement, and hope. If you can, let him know that you care for him. You do make a difference.
Mary, Rick, and Craig