I’m SO Pleased to Announce…

that we are going to be able to offer 4 – $2500 scholarships this year to graduating Hayfield seniors.

http://collegeaccessfairfax.org/our-scholarships

We are also going to be able to contribute to the Hayfield drama department and to the Bob Pass Tennis Foundation.  This is all due to the generosity of the 153 supporters of our online fundraising site as well as some very supportive offline donors.  I think that Dave would be thrilled with what is being done in his name.

Establishing a scholarship is not as easy as I had imagined.  I thought we would raise some money, throw it into an account somewhere, accept applications and then hand out checks to students to use for their post-graduation needs.  In my mind this might be dorm gear, a computer, or some sort of professional license that would aid someone in getting a job.  But, even establishing the account was trickier than I knew.  And forget about handing checks to students.  I understand the need for accountability, but I just wanted to operate on trust.  I am pretty clueless sometimes.

With the support of Cheryl (finance tech at Hayfield), Dana (the PTSA president) and Amy (the career center specialist), I ended up connecting with Tessie who runs College Access Fairfax.  CAF will manage the applications, set up the fund, and write the checks.  Extra money will go into a credit union account to earn a little interest until we need it.  CAF will read through the applications and forward the best ones on to us to make the final decision.

Applicants don’t have to be going to a 4 year college.  My understanding is that the program they are doing just has to accept FAFSA.  It is important to me that we are not basing these scholarships on merit or even financial need necessarily.  I have a child with a genetic disorder who had a dad who was dying from cancer during her last two years of high school.  The resilience and perseverance she has shown throughout her life is not something that can be measured by GPA or FAFSA (although I think she had a GPA to be very proud of).  I would love to recognize kids who have a similar strength of character.  Kids who have persisted through a challenge.  Kids who have done for others and given back to their community in some way.  Dave wasn’t a 4.0 student.  Nor would he have had the minimal Expected Family Contribution.  (In the interest of full disclosure, he did have tennis though.)

Our hope is to continue these scholarships for years to come.  So, if you would like to still donate, it is not too late.

http://www.youcaring.com/nonprofits/please-help-us-continue-dave-s-great-work-/215332

The scholarship application opens up on November 15th.  I am excited to read applications and hope that lots of kids will apply.  I will post a reminder here and on Facebook when the application is live.

Thank you to everyone who has made this possible.  The entire Tremaine family is so very grateful.

xoxo,

Robyn

Stronger

It would be easy to rewrite history and idealize a 22 year relationship.  The truth is that Dave and I butted heads on a pretty regular basis.  That is what happens when two know-it-alls get together.  Sometimes, most of the time, the issues were small and fairly ridiculous.  Other times had one or both of us eyeing the door with consideration.  Dave was impulsive. I over think things.  Dave wasn’t much for thinking long term repercussions.  I am not one who really throws caution to the wind.  But at the end of the day, we always came out of whatever it was stronger.  The strength in our relationship came from hard work and finding the right balance.  From persevering through the tough times.  And from keeping our focus on each other.  After all, outside support always takes the side of one person or the other.

Now that my other half is physically gone, I try to honor what I have learned from him.  I am determined to take the best of each of us and apply it to my life.  Sometimes this means pushing myself out of my comfort zone.  Other times it means looking at situations through a different lens.  During the toughest moments I consider, “What would Dave think?”  Early in the summer I was struggling with an issue in which I wondered if I was overreacting or being too sensitive.  As I contemplated aloud what Dave would want me to do, Sam knew the answer.  He had shared with her some very specific opinions and thoughts.  I felt stronger in my resolve and relieved to be doing right by him.

He is with me.  In my dreams.  In my decision making.  Forever in my head and my heart.

xoxo,

Robyn

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Little Reminders

I wake up and he is not on his side of the bed.  As I brush my teeth, I stare at his prized razor and brush.  Grabbing a mug out of the cupboard I note that it is from Annandale High School.  I sit down at my spot at the table and have no one with whom to discuss the day’s news.  As I recycle the paper, I notice his Hayfield letter jacket hanging in the closet.  I drive to work in his car and pass the sushi restaurant he enjoyed and travel the same route we drove together when we taught together all those years ago.  Even at work, I wonder how he would react to a situation or person.  Sometimes I suppress the urge to make a comment that involves him.  Other times, I share away.  Everything reminds me of him.  Everything.

On days when I am feeling strong, the memories are welcome and reassuring.  Other days, I feel his loss so profoundly with every step that I take.  I have fleeting thoughts of moving or redecorating or just escaping for a while.  None of these is the right answer right now.  There are days when I DRAG myself to work and, in the end, I am happy to be there- distracted and busy.  I turned on the tv this weekend and caught the end of the movie The Way Way Back.  And I sat on my bed and cried.  We both really enjoyed that movie.

Dave comes to me in my dreams the way that Snuffleupagus visited Big Bird.  I am the only one who can see him.  Last night we were standing in line at the grocery loading our items onto the belt when he asked me if I had made an appointment for some test.  I assured him that he had already had that appointment.  When I woke up I was left wondering, if we had done things differently, if the results would have been the same.  I am not much for “what ifs” so I let go of that thought almost as quickly as I had synthesized it.

There are moments of most days that I will think of him out of the blue.  In my mind, I see him during those last few weeks, and I still can’t believe how it all went down.  Tears inevitably fill my eyes as I shake my head in disbelief.  So, if you were wondering how that whole acceptance thing was going, it’s not.

It’s Monday again.  I know exactly how many weeks it has been.  Thursday marks the fourth month point since I last saw him and held his hand and whispered to him that it was okay – that he didn’t have to fight anymore, that we loved him, and that it was time for him to rest, that we would be okay.  And we are okay.  As okay as you can be when you are left with a Dave-sized gap in your life.

xoxo,

Robyn

Swamped

I don’t think that I have gone this long without writing a little something.  I’ve been working.  And I’ve gone to work related meetings on my days off.  I’ve also gone to non-work related meetings on my days off.  The exterior home improvements are almost done but you know how it goes – there is always some little thing that has to be fixed or improved upon which involves telling the contractor the job wasn’t done quite as it should be.  Good times.  I have sat by the pool 4 nights a week waiting for swim practice to end.  I have taken kids to music, helped with homework.  Cooked.  A little.  Cleaned.  Not at all.  I have finally figured out what to do with the generous donations to Dave’s fund in the way of scholarships.  (This is not as straightforward as you might think.)  I have created the electronic invite for Dave’s party.  And I have looked through lots and lots of pictures in order to send the best ones to my extremely talented brother in law who is creating a slide show for the big event.  I firmed up details with the caterer and the lighting guy, and I signed Grant up for his behind the wheel class (hallelujah).

I wrote down this laundry list of things for the sole purpose of reminding myself, should I ever forget, that I am a frigging rock star.  Being the only parent sucks.  But I am killing it.

xoxo,

Robyn

Flower Power

Dave’s first surgery after diagnosis was days before our anniversary and a week plus before my birthday.  One of the things that he did in the days leading up to his surgery date was stop at our local florist and order two deliveries.  He was worried that he wouldn’t be up for such an errand afterwards and wanted to make sure I had something special on those days.  I have to admit that this year, when those dates rolled around, a small part of me was hoping that somehow he had managed to pull that off once again.

I buy myself flowers on a pretty regular basis now.  I like how they brighten up a room.  Even a cluttered, dusty room.  Trust me on this.  It is based on heavy duty research.  The flowers that were delivered here after Dave died were so lovely.  None of them were funereal.  They brought lightness and beauty.

Today is Dave’s mom’s birthday.  Her first after losing her oldest child.  I cannot for a minute imagine what it is like to be in her shoes.  She and my father-in-law have just returned from a trip during which they scattered some of Dave’s ashes at some special places they revisited.  That is a journey that I am not yet ready to take, and I am in awe of their strength.  I imagine today her heart might be a little heavy.

We sent her flowers, of course.  (I might have been drawn to the orange flowers.  Maybe.)

xoxo,

Robyn

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15 Weeks Later – Alone

We spent the weekend at CNU visiting Sam for Family Weekend.  It was great to see her and spend time together but also challenging too.  She has a life and schedule there that have nothing to do with us so I tried to be mindful of her time while also secretly wanting her to pick us.  But we can’t compete with a fun party, can we?  She’s 19.  I understand, and I remember.

We talked about Dave a lot over the weekend.  After all, he was just there with us this time last year.  We found a dive-y greasy spoon place for breakfast and all commented immediately on how much he would have loved it there.  Music on the Bluetooth made us think of him.  Drifit shirts in the school shop made us think of him.  Our memories were shared almost entirely with smiles though so that’s progress.

Last night as I was lying in my bed, I looked up and stared into his closet with its partially open doors.  Tee shirts are stacked and orange button downs are hanging neatly.  And I felt so alone.  I AM alone.  It is just me.  I am not going to say that I am okay with it.  I don’t really have a choice.

I go out with friends regularly.  Some weeks probably too much.  My family checks in on me, and Mom and Dad have been there whenever and wherever needed.  There is nothing that anyone can do to fill the gap.  It is the shared history.  The jokes.  The looks that meant something that only we knew.  It is the shared parenting and decision making.  And even the shared stress.  Throughout Dave’s journey with cancer, we were us, fighting it together.  He turned to me on that last Saturday night and said he didn’t want to be alone.  And I said, “of course.”  So, I slept on the couch and he slept in his chair and I slipped my hand into his.

This past week I dealt with the water main break, finishing touches on the roof replacement job, hired a guy to replace the fence, and worked on Dave’s party.  It’s not that I can’t handle things on my own.  It all would have just been so much better and less stressful and more fun if he was here.  Who knew that work would be a pleasant escape?

I am muddling through.  Some days are more successful than others.  I have a little chalkboard of things that need to be done which is separate from the calendar of things that need to be done TODAY.  I’ve checked some things off and added some new items.  It will all get done eventually.  Or it won’t.  I guess it’s up to me.

xoxo,

Robyn

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Job

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Every day I choose to do my best to remain positive.  I try to stay focused on the bright side.  I try to find the good in people or situations when it would be easier to gripe.  Some days this is easier than others.  I have avoided wallowing.  I have gotten out of bed every day even when I’d rather pull the covers back up.  To be honest, I don’t necessarily do this for me.  I do it for the kids.  Or for my friends and family.  No need to make people worry.

I have always said that I don’t believe in luck – that some people get to be lucky and others, well, not so much.  When I came home today to water gushing down the sidewalk in front of my house and a likely water main break, I had to wonder though.  I might have mentally compared myself to Job (minus the skin sores part, of course.)  We were utterly devastated to lose Dave.  We were heartbroken again when we said goodbye to Winnie.  Now, in the midst of replacing the roof and back fence, we are hit with another expense and inconvenience.  Why right now?  (Granted, compared to the first two losses this is peanuts.  And, no, I don’t have the water main insurance.  And, yes, I am beating myself up about this.)

This is a selfish point of view, I know.  After all, there are many people who have much worse situations.  People lose their children or have a spouse die without warning.  Others can’t afford to feed their children or have no place to live.  I understand all of that.  But can I just have a month or a few weeks to just exist as life is now?  I would be so thankful.

xoxo,

Robyn