5AMs are the worst.
The kids and I spent several days in Massanutten thanks to our friends, the Guerbers, who generously offered up their lovely vacation home. We spent time relaxing, playing games, reading and reminiscing. Massanutten has tons of things to do so we hit the water park, mini golf, and the kids even did some summer tubing and zip lining. It was the perfect getaway. Many many times we talked about Dave and laughed at memories of things he said and did. We shared a few tears and one day emotions seemed particularly tender, but overall I would say the mood was light and fun.
Sunday morning I woke up at 5AM which is pretty typical for me. This was different though. I was so overcome with grief that I could barely breathe. I got out of bed and tried to distract myself by looking at the computer. Of course, that led to me scrolling through pictures which only made the whole situation worse. Eventually I was able to shake all the sad thoughts that kept popping into my head and get myself under control.
I have decided that grief is not linear. Things do not get a little easier every day. For me, grief seems to be a continuation of the roller coaster ride. You can be going along steadily and then out of nowhere the bottom drops out. I would have never predicted my reaction on Sunday. It felt almost as raw as those first days.
I have also realized that the spouse of the person who dies is in a unique position when it comes to grieving. The kids come to me to talk and cry when they are sad. I am certain that Kris and Jeff turn to their spouses when they are having a tough time of it. And Dave’s parents have each other. The person to whom I would turn to unburden my heart isn’t here. So, I grieve alone for the most part. At 5AM. I’m okay, and it’s okay. I just realize how much I leaned on Dave, and he leaned on me right back. I miss that.
Six weeks sounds like such a long time. Yet, it doesn’t feel like it has been that long since I talked to him, hugged him, held his hand. Six weeks of time marching ahead taking me further away from him. Unbelievable that somehow life goes on.
If we are Facebook friends, you have already had to endure this lecture. You are excused from reading today’s post. : )
I posted a photo of my new car magnet on my Facebook page. Afterwards, I got comments from friends who were interested in ordering them too. So I offered to be the link between them and Bonnie, the student who is doing the fundraiser. Within hours, I had requests for 39 magnets and 25 bracelets. It is amazing how many people want to support Dave. Well, all of us really.
When I started to think about it, I decided we could have a greater impact if we all SAID SOMETHING. This is what I posted -
“here is my request – once you have your bracelet/magnet, people might ask you about it. after you tell them about how amazing dave was, remind them about getting screened. dave was 46 at age of diagnosis (too young for routine screening), healthy, exercised daily, ate right, and had no family history. by the time he started having symptoms, he was stage IV. maybe together we can help someone.”
Wouldn’t that be amazing? If we could make a difference? Spread the word!
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.
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 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.
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.
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!!