Mixed Bag of Emotions

I understand there was a town hall meeting tonight to talk about the principal selection process for Hayfield.  Of course I know that this school deserves only the best.  Yet I couldn’t help but feel a little sad at the same time.  

On a positive note, at least my new car magnet makes me smile.




I Don’t Believe in Signs…..

But some things are impossible to ignore.  Today the kids and I were escaping the house for a few hours.  I pulled up behind this car at an intersection.  Initially it caught my eye because it is the same make and model as Dave’s car but in orange.  (He really wanted orange, but it was not one of the color options for the hybrid.)  Then I noticed the license plate.  It felt like a little nudge or a wink.  I don’t know.  Something. It made me pause and wonder if somehow, somewhere he was sending me a little message.




His Things


His clothes are slung along the upstairs railing. His clean laundry is stacked waiting to be put away. The fancy shaving kit that he treated himself to sits on the bathroom counter. I cannot bring myself to move any of it.

The house is pretty much exactly as he left it. The day after he died, my brother came over and helped me tidy up. We threw away medicines, and the medical supply company retrieved the hospital bed and the few other items we borrowed. Dave’s sister and her lovely husband picked up the recliner that I couldn’t bear to keep since Dave spent most of his time during those last days in it. But everything else remains the same.

His wallet and watch are still in my purse from when they were handed over to me in the ER. His lanyard and work ID hang from the passenger seat in his car. His book is next to his side of the bed. I am not sure when the right time will be to move things. It just doesn’t feel like it is here yet.

I set an arbitrary goal for myself to go in and clean out his office at school by the end of the month. Last week I emailed his assistant to let her know that the kids and I would be in on the 31st. We will see how that goes.

To me, these things feel like the last physical contact that I have with him. I find having them around comforting.  I can’t imagine letting them go.



5 Weeks Later – We’re Okay.

When people ask how we are doing, I’ve taken to saying, “We’re okay. Ups and downs. Some days are better than others.”

We had our end of the year swim team party last night. When it was time for Grant’s award, he was not content with the smattering of applause. So, he waved his arms and got everyone fired up until the volume was more to his liking. I think Dave would have gotten a big kick out of that.

Earlier in the evening, Sam was in the lifeguard office hanging out with some friends. A mom from the team came in asking for tape because “the only picture of the dead dad fell down.” Yea. Really. Sam handled it well and commented on how symbolic that was making the mom feel (in Sam’s opinion) pretty uncomfortable. I am quite sure she didn’t initially see Sam standing there, but honestly what an awful thing to say.

At the beginning of last week, Sam had a dream about Dave in which he came downstairs as if nothing had happened and went outside to clean up the backyard for us. I found this strangely reassuring.

On Wednesday, Parker came home from counseling with a journal of sorts. There are pages to reflect on feelings, deal with your emotions, consider what it means to die, ask questions, and share memories. She has been writing in it a little bit as the week has gone by. One page that caught my eye has to do with things that you miss. She wrote, “I miss doing things as a real family. I miss you teaching me things. I miss you tucking me in at night.”

Ups and downs.




So Excited…

I have booked this very cool venue for Dave’s big party.  It is in Old Town Alexandria.


Probably 3-4 times a year, we load up the family and head to Old Town for the day.  Our first stop usually involves Ben and Jerry’s.  Then we wander over to the Torpedo Factory to poke around the galleries.  Eventually we end up on the waterfront to take a relaxing walk.  I think it is the perfect location in which to celebrate Dave.


Friday, November 21st is the big night.  Start looking for your orange attire.  It is a must!    As we get closer, I will provide more details.  In the meantime, http://torpedofactory.org if you want to see what it’s all about.

Can’t wait to celebrate Dave and his amazing life with all of the people that know and love him!!



PS A huge thanks to Kathie for suggesting it as a venue.  It’s perfect!!

Differences of Opinions

I think that I have discovered a newer and easier way to blog. I just wait for someone to contact me, I respond, and then post it here. : ) In all seriousness though, some things strike a chord with me. If one person is reaching out and saying it, I feel that there are likely others thinking or wondering about it.

In response to one of my latests posts where I list 10 things that I have learned since Dave died, someone left me a message respectfully disagreeing with something that I said. She and her family suffered an unimaginable loss, and she wanted to share their point of view. She also says, in their experience, that “one day at a time” was irrelevant. Here is my response…

although i have rarely (maybe never) responded to any comments since dave died, i felt a need to come in and respond to yours. first of all, i am so sorry for your loss. i cannot begin to imagine that kind of loss. my heart aches for all of you. the “one day at a time” mantra was one that my husband said directly to all of us but used as his parting words to our son. so while i agree that sometimes it is far less than one day at a time, i find comfort in those words.

next, i would like to respectfully say that you are free to disagree with anything that i have written. you see, these are 10 things that I have learned. these are 10 things that are true for me. i would not presume that my truths are anyone else’s. though we all suffered the loss of the same incredible man, my children, dave’s parents, brother, and sister are not walking the same path or sharing the same grief. it is unique to each person. i imagine there are some common themes that resonate with people but i certainly wouldn’t think for a minute that these things are true for anyone else but me.

yes, there have been people who have been misguided or clumsy with their comments. but, for me, that is still better than silence. there have been one or two people who have crossed an imaginary line of thoughtlessness and i find that i don’t really have the energy or interest in investing any more time into those relationships. but for the most part, a well-intentioned comment that is ill phrased at least means they are trying to show they care. luckily these are the minority. thus the it is “almost” impossible to say the wrong thing. but again, this is my truth. i can completely understand why it is not so for you.

i am sending you a big hug!


ps thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts. i appreciated hearing your point of view.


After reading both her message and my response, a longtime friend privately messaged me. She was a little irked that someone would take Dave’s last words and disagree with them. Here is my response to her….

i was taken aback at her using dave’s words so dismissively. saying they weren’t relevant or something to that effect. the first time i read her message i had a bit of a “screw you” mentality. but then i went back and read it again and realized that she is obviously still suffering over her loss. enough to write about it on the blog of a complete stranger. she needs to feel right in her response. and she isn’t wrong. but neither am i. i needed her to understand that my lessons learned really weren’t for her…

In the end, I appreciated hearing from both of these women. It was good to think through some of these ideas.



10 Things That I Have Learned – 1 Month Later

1. As my friend Heather says, this is a sadness like no other. Having never been through a loss anywhere near this magnitude, I had no idea how deep and painful sadness can really be.

2. I have been pretty regularly blown away by the kindness and generosity of others. People are extraordinarily giving of their time, help, money and food. Some people have gone so above and beyond that I will use them as inspiration in the future when I have a friend in need.  The most moving and hopeful card I received was from someone I have never met – the mother of a neighborhood friend.  She shared her experiences and reassured me that my kids would be okay.  After all, hers have turned out to be wonderful people.  I was grateful for her words and that she took the time to reach out to me.

3. On the other hand, there are people you expect to be there who can’t be. They don’t know what to do or have their own baggage with which to contend. I try to remember that everyone is doing the best that they can.

4. This time of loss gives you clarity that you probably didn’t already have. I am able to really see what is important, who is important, and what I can let go of and not spend my time and energy on.

5. I don’t feel a need to make excuses for my actions. I am doing the best that I can at this moment in time. People are supportive.

6. It is important to give of yourself to help others. If I know something about someone else that Dave shared with me, I have tried to let that person know. This has been the case with colleagues, friends and family, and I believe that it has helped with my healing as well as theirs.

7. It is better to say something than nothing at all. I hate to admit it, but I am aware of the silences. Even if I don’t respond, I have read or heard every message sent our way. It is almost impossible to say the wrong thing. If in doubt, I appreciate hearing that you are sorry and are thinking of us. I still appreciate hearing from people as the days turn into weeks and now the weeks turn into months.

8. It is important to say yes. My pride often makes me want to politely decline offers of help, but I always appreciate the help when I do say yes. I think it is hard to do, but it is important. I have learned that people want to help as part of their process too.

9. Sometimes it is just better to do. I have given numerous examples of Lexy’s incredible thoughtfulness. Another example is from my friend, Lori. I told her how absolutely amazing the staff was at Reston Hospital – how loving, gentle and respectful they were in caring for Dave. Lori delivered a thank you basket of goodies to the hospital from us.

10. Be grateful for the little things – that prime parking spot, an especially beautiful day, a funny story shared. Find happiness in these things. Some days you might miss an opportunity for joy if you are not keeping your eyes open.