Grief and loss

In Texas, where I’m from, a funeral service is conducted for the family
of someone who dies. Here in New York, most funerals are preceded by one or
two wakes, especially when the deceased was Catholic. I guess New York Protestants
hold their own version of a wake, though they call it a viewing. I attended
a viewing today. I did not know the family very well, but they (a father, a
mother, and five children—the oldest of which is 12) were members of our church
until recently, when they moved to another part of the
state.
The father of the family was in his last day of training to become a fire fighter
when he collapsed and never recovered.

Even though I barely knew them, I hoped that as a deacon in the church I might
provide some comfort to the family. I went with our associate pastor and his
wife (our pastor would arrive later to speak at the funeral). I’m
not sure how much comfort we gave them, but I’m certain that we at
least didn’t upset them. The wife clung to us for
some time both when we arrived and when we left—she was grieved
almost beyond her ability to bear it. She told me: "I know he’s
with Jesus now and that I’ll see him again some day, but I’m just going to
miss him so much."

I can’t imagine the pain. I don’t want to. Every time I begin to put myself
in her shoes I’m overwhelmed. I thank God for the time I’ve had with my wife.
I hope I can still thank him if he ever decides to call her home before me.

Q & A time with Curt

It’s time for another installment of Q&A Time With Curt, the occasional feature
in which I answer questions people have sent me and make up a bunch of stuff
to fill up the space and create the illusion that lots of people value my advice.
Let’s get
started, then:

Q: Is Curt Hendley your real name?
A: Yes. Curt is my middle name, but that’s what everyone calls me. If I made
up a pseudonym, it would be a lot more exotic—something along the lines
of
Nathanael
Wildridge.
(I
didn’t
make
that up.
It’s my brother-in-law’s
soap opera name. Take your middle name and add to it the name of the street
you grew up on. My soap opera name is Curtis Farm-to-Market Road 3097.)

Q: Why don’t you use a pseudonym?
A: Pseudonyms work well on blogs where an author’s demonstrated knowledge is
more important
than his identity. When I started this blog, I thought using my real name would
add a little credibility.

Q: Why don’t you ever mention your wife’s name?
A: She works in a career field in which security and confidentiality are a
matter of law, and the government doesn’t have the resources to track down
and shoot
every reader who learns
her name.

Q: You have mentioned before that both you and your wife refrained
from sex until you were married. How did you pull that off?

A: She had high standards, strong convictions, and steely willpower. I had
pretty spongy willpower, but I also had strong convictions and a geeky appearance.
I think the key to remaining "pure," as they say, is keeping yourself away from
temptation. My closest friends always shared my beliefs, as did the girls I dated.
That, along with my geeky appearance and social awkwardness, resulted in very
few opportunities for real physical temptation. The most difficulty either of
us ever had in that area was with each other.

Q: So how did you make it with each other?
A: I assume
that by "make it" you mean "accomplish your goal of refraining from sex until
marriage." We took a three-pronged approach. First, we attended a lot of
group
activities together, especially with other Christians our age. Second, when
we were alone we tried to be in public as much as we could—restaurants, movie
theaters, and parks were all good places for us. Third, when we were alone
in private, we tried to keep physical contact to a minimum. The third prong
is the most difficult and, for us, was the most dangerous. Willpower goes
only so far.

Q: I’ve heard that if you wait until you’re "ready" for marriage,
you’ll never get married because you can never be ready. Is that true?

A: You can never be ready for marriage in the sense that you can never
be ready for anything you’ve never done. Were you ready to be born? Were
you ready
to move out of your parents’ house and be responsible for yourself? It depends
on what you mean by "ready," I guess. If you wait until you understand every
aspect of marriage and comprehend the exact nature of what you’re getting
into, you’ll never get married. I’ve been married nearly seven years, and
I’m still
working on that.

Q: What about you? Did you feel "ready"?
A: There was a time in my adult life when I was too emotionally, spiritually,
and relationally immature for any sort of serious relationship, let alone
marriage. When I finally let go of the beliefs and attitudes that were holding
me back, I started growing. I was ready to meet my wife when I did. As I grew,
so did my ability to love her. That love grew to a point where it couldn’t
really grow any more unless we committed our lives to each other. I felt ready.
She felt ready. We were ready.

Q: People say the same thing about waiting to have kids until you’re
ready. Are you ready to be a father?

A: No.

Q: So how do you feel about it?
A: I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced such intense joy and fear simultaneously.

Q: Are you taking good care of your wife while she’s pregnant?
A: I’m trying.

Q: What’s something you should never say to a pregnant woman?
A: "I’m so glad I’ll never be pregnant. If I knew there was a life
inside me, that scene from Alien would
constantly replay in my head for nine straight months."

What baby is telling us

Lesson learned yesterday: Our unborn child does not like chili. At all.

Lesson learned today: Our unborn child will continue to express a negative
opinion long after his mother has taken the hint and stopped eating chili.

Sorry. RLTB.

Marriage links for the week

Humble Amy has rewritten the traditional marriage vows for
modern couples
.

Joe and Jane Missionary welcomed a baby girl into the world on
March 20
. Joe posted a picture of the
precious little one
on that same day. I am taking notes on how he’s taking
care of Jane
at this point, and also on his
feelings
toward both his children.

The amount of love and support in a marriage affects how
quickly physical wounds heal
, according to an article in USA Today.

Here’s a story that combines three of my favorite things: marriage,
weddings, and dogs
.

Martians are attacking
this blog
! (link via Rey at The
Bible Archive
)

His and Hers: Literary leanings

His and Hers is a weekly discussion of a question or topic relating
to marriage. On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the week’s
topic. I invite others to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in
celebrating marriage. This week’s question is:

What book have you not read that you want to read?

Mrs. Happy’s response

The Bible, cover-to-cover. I have read a lot of the Bible, but only
in parts. I think it would be a very enriching experience to read all the way
through it in a systematic way.

Curt’s response

Moby Dick. Call me lazy, but I’ve never
read past the first chapter. I’m sure it’s a masterpiece, though, which is
why I want to read it.

23 things I don’t like

A blogger I read regularly once posted a list of things he or she hates. I
think it was Miss
O’Hara
, but I couldn’t find the post in question on her
site, so I might be wrong.
Anyway, I’m stealing picking up that idea and listing 23 things I don’t particularly
like or strongly dislike. In no particular order:

  • VH1
    (no variety)
  • apple pie
    (just don’t like it)
  • fans of the New York Yankees
    (fair weather blowhards, all of them)
  • when something I enjoy becomes so wildly popular that I can’t stand it
    any longer
  • mice
    (especially when they act like they have a right to the food in my
    pantry)
  • college students studying science
    (every one of them—there are no
    exceptions—thinks he or she is
    the smartest person in the world)
  • people who think it’s funny to complain about their marriage
    (why did they
    get married to begin with?)
  • American Idol
    (it simultaneously fascinates and irritates me, which is unnatural)
  • the flagrant misuse of apostrophes
  • those days when nothing goes right
  • when someone behind me on the road wants
    to drive two miles an hour faster than I do
    (freaks)
  • when someone ahead of me on the road wants to drive two miles an hour
    slower than I do
    (morons)
  • Jon
    Stewart
    (used to like him a lot, but he went off the deep end during
    the 2004 presidential election)
  • lame music that gets seemingly infinite radio air time
  • Boohbah
    (it’s like Teletubbies on
    acid, which is like peyote on acid)
    (note: my spell-check doesn’t recognize Boohbah as an actual word and
    suggests replacing it with bloodbath)
  • when people obsess, whether positively or negatively, over Rick Warren
    (I hesitate to bring this up. Please don’t turn the comments into a PDL
    debate.)
  • tipping/gratuities
    (employers should pay their employees themselves)
  • laugh tracks on sitcoms
    (if I need to be told when to laugh, it’s probably not funny)
  • The Candy Man
    (really creeps me out for some reason)
  • Disney’s bastardization of Winnie-the-Pooh
    (A.A. Milne must be exhausted from so much rolling over in his grave)
  • being unemployed
  • the laundromat
    (can’t wait ’till we have our own house with a washer and dryer…and dishwasher,
    too)
  • when I forget to put on my watch before leaving the house
    (I feel lost and naked without it—not a good combination)

Jenna asked in the comments
why I so dislike the way Disney ruined Winnie-the-Pooh. Let me say that the
Pooh books are my favorite books. They, after the Bible, would be my desert
island books, if I had a choice. When Disney got the rights to the stories,
the company turned rich characters into cheery, one-dimensional caricatures
devoid of any real personality and thereby robbed the stories of any style
whatsoever. Take for instance this exchange (gleaned from IMDB) from the Disney
movie Winnie-the-Pooh
and Tigger Too!
after Tigger and Roo have become stuck at the top
of a tall tree.

Christopher Robin: You’re next, Tigger. Jump!
Tigger: Jump? Tiggers don’t jump. They bounce.
Pooh: Then bounce down.
Tigger: Oh, don’t be ridickerous. Tiggers only bounce up!
Christopher Robin: You can climb down, Tigger.
Tigger: Uh, Tiggers can’t climb down, uh… because, uh… their tails get
in the way!
Rabbit: Hooray! That settles it. If he won’t jump, and he can’t climb down,
then we’ll just have to leave him up there FOREVER!

I guess the people in charge at Disney thought that was funny. Here’s a scene
from the same basic story in The House at Pooh Corner, Chapter IV, In Which
It Is Shown That Tiggers Don’t Climb Trees
:

Christopher Robin looked up at Tigger and Roo, and tried to think of something.

"I thought," said Piglet earnestly, "that if Eeyore stood
at the bottom of the tree, and if Pooh stood on Eeyore’s back, and if I stood
on Pooh’s shoulders—"

"And if Eeyore’s back snapped suddenly, then we could all laugh. Ha ha!
Amusing in a quiet way," said Eeyore, "but not really helpful."

"Well," said Piglet meekly, "I thought—"

"Would it break your back, Eeyore?" asked Pooh, very much surprised.

"That’s what would be so interesting, Pooh. Not being quite sure till afterwards."

Judge for yourself whether Disney captured or even respected the spirit of
the source material.

Reasons I love my wife, 61–70

I’m pleased to offer ten more reasons I love my wife:

  • Even Especially when she’s pregnant, she grows more beautiful every
    day.
  • Her singing voice is sweet, sincere, and untrained.
  • She helps me dress in a socially appropriate manner.
  • I can’t fall asleep in bed if she’s not beside me.
  • She has this tiny little shirt that, uh, never mind…
  • When I start thinking about her in that tiny little shirt, it takes me
    half an hour to gather my wits and write something.
  • She appreciates humor more than punch lines, and thus we agree that Scrubs,
    Malcolm in the Middle, The Simpsons, Arrested Development,
    and King
    of the Hill
    are the best sitcoms currently on TV.
  • She’s both humble and confident.
  • She has beautiful penmanship.
  • She sculpted a little dog figurine for me. It sits on my desk and makes
    me feel close to her even when we’re apart.

RLTB

There are things going on in the Happy Household—nice, good, blog-trumping things,
the bulk of which I wrote about all last week. I do have one announcement, though.
This blog will be moving soon to a more logical domain: TheHappyHusband.com.
The new design, which demonstrates every design technique I have learned in my vast experience as a writer, is just about ready for prime time. All it needs are a few animated
GIFs and it will be complete.

Not really. Basically, I bought the domain and posted a really obnoxious index
page. I actually bought the domain a couple of months ago. I am still working
on a new design with a new content management system, but it’s slow going.
It may go more quickly now that I have no job and my days are freer, but it
may go more slowly now that I have a pregnant wife and am focusing more of
my time on making sure their needs are met. Anyway, don’t change your bookmarks
just yet. Please.

Marriage links for the week

I don’t know whether this is just a fertile time for the world or if I have
a one-track mind this week, but I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff about babies
and pregnancy lately. I apologize if this is boring anyone, but I can’t seem
to think about much of anything except the fact that a baby will soon enter
my life.

Joe and Jane Missionary are about eight months ahead of us in the whole pregnancy
thing. Joe writes about choosing
a nickname for the baby
, Jane’s trip
to the hospital
, and her false
labor
that should soon become real labor.

Marla Swoffer lists some sure
signs
that suggest the presence of a newborn, and some
more
that occurred
to her later.

Doug McHone apparently does
not want to be my friend
.

Rey offers me a few words of advice in the way of pregnancy
literature
.

Daniel J. Phillips explains
why "Marriage
isn’t for the faint
. But then, neither is life." (Link via Transforming
Sermons
.)

His and Hers: Naming names

His and Hers is a weekly discussion of a question or topic relating
to marriage. On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the week’s
topic. I invite others to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in
celebrating marriage. This week’s question is:

What will you definitely not name your child?

Mrs. Happy’s response

I will not name a boy Titus, because I had a spiteful and hateful teacher
in elementary school named Mrs. Titus. I will not name a girl Rebecca, because
I once worked as an aid to a sadistic and hateful teacher named Rebecca. I
have also had several other bad experiences with coworkers that have reduced
our pool of possible names.

Curt’s response

I will not name a boy Judas, Benedict, Adolph, or Mookie. I will not name
a girl William.