Yesterday I had lunch with a friend. I was telling Parker about her and mentioned that we used to work together but that she had decided to stay home this year to look after her granddaughter. At the end of the conversation, Parker was concerned and asked, “Do you mind me asking what happened to the mom?” In Parker’s world, her first thought was that something had happened to the baby’s mom. I reassured her that the mom was fine and the reason my friend was babysitting was because she had gone back at work. Parker will forever have a slightly different perspective of the world. It was truly a Godsend to be able to send her to camp with others who get that. If you are looking for a worthy place to receive your end of the year donations, please consider Camp Kesem William & Mary. #GivingTuesday #GiveKidsKesem
In case you aren’t on Facebook, just wanted to share today’s status. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
i am thankful today and every day for my kiddos. they are the kindest, smartest, most tenacious people i know. when life handed them a big fat lemon, they not only made lemonade but they threw it in a frosty glass with a swirly straw. i think i most appreciate their ability to find the laughter no matter what else is going on.
Last year we celebrated Dave’s 50th birthday with an orange tinted party at the Torpedo Factory. In his honor we ate, drank, karaoke’d, and danced the night away. I believe we appropriately paid tribute to his zest for life and his desire to “put the F in FUN”.
Today should have been his 51st birthday. I had some ideas as to how we can remember him this year. Maybe tackle a few…
- The first one is an easy one – wear some orange.
- Turn up the stereo/ipod/Sirius and blast some Van Halen. or Barry Manilow. or show tunes.
- If you have “a few sodas” after work, raise your glass in a birthday toast.
- The kids and I are huge proponents of random acts of kindness. We don’t set out planning to do something, but we try to keep our eyes opened to opportunities. Maybe someone will cross your path today who could use a kindness.
- If you are planning on doing some end of the year donating, allow me to share two worthy causes –
Camp Kesem – https://donate.kesem.org/checkout/donation?eid=54867
There is an option in the drop down menu to donate to a particular chapter. Parker went to Camp Kesem at College of William and Mary but any of the camps could use support!
Dave Tremaine Memorial Scholarship – http://collegeaccessfairfax.org/donate/
I think it is easier to donate through the paypal link than to navigate the CFC site. College Access Fairfax will send you a receipt for your donation which is tax deductible. (Double win!) Our plan is to give out at least four scholarships this year with the option to go up to six. NOTE: You can indicate that it’s for Dave’s scholarship in the “Add Special Instructions” area.
Finally, last year at Dave’s party I shared a quote from RENT. This year I think these lyrics from WICKED best express what I want to say.
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend.
Happy Birthday, babe. Wish you were here.
PS In case you never got to witness it firsthand, here is a picture of Dave in all his karaoke glory with his partner in crime, his sister.
A year ago, I was taking it easy after a pulmonary embolism knocked me off my feet and landed me in the hospital for five days. At the same time, I was polishing up the final details for Dave’s party. When I look back at that time it seems a long, long time ago.
2015 me is wondering how the hell I survived.
Apparently, there is a protective cloud of sorts that settles over your life after a traumatic event. We went through the motions. We worked and went to school. We celebrated occasions. Through the numbness, we trudged forward. A year later that cloud has lifted and we are left with the unfiltered, stark reality – (as I read recently in an article shared by two of my closest friends) “Our spouses just keep being dead.”
This fall has been hard. More difficult in many ways than last. It is not that we haven’t made progress. I don’t cry every day. I remember the funny and the good more than the devastating and the end. But I am tired. And it is hard being an only parent. And lonely. I avoid being around couples at all costs as it just reminds me that I am not part of one any longer. I am short on sympathy. And judgmental. At the same time, I am aware that our story is NOT the most tragic. I just have to turn on the news to realize that.
So, warts and all, that’s where I am. I am dreading the birthday/Thanksgiving/Christmas season while at the same time aware that we will be making new memories and enjoying time as a family too. A very strange mixed bag of life.
Dave’s birthday is Friday. I have some thoughts on how we might honor him on that day (or any day, really). Perhaps if you knew him or were touched by his story in some way, you will check back on Friday.
PS Here is a link to the article I referenced, if you are interested.
Samantha’s friend, Sam, is in a fraternity at CNU. He shared this story with her.
I was sitting at dinner with Parker and Grant and read this to them. I got really choked up and teary and they didn’t quite know what to do about it, but we talked about how amazing this is. I hate that he isn’t here to finish the work he started (not to mention being here with us), but I am grateful that he is remembered and that there are kids out there who honor him. And I am very grateful that Sam’s friend shared this moment with us.
Last night, Parker was lying in my bed surrounded by a herd of stuffed animals. We were talking about a little cow that Samantha picked out for her when she was a baby and laughing about a giant rattle that five year old Grant had picked out. After a quiet minute, she asked me “Is this my first birthday?” I was a pretty tired and didn’t understand what she was asking. As I was about to explain that her brother and sister actually picked out the gifts for her before she was born, she said
I guess that speaks to how numb we all were last year. She didn’t remember her birthday last year and, in fact, didn’t realize that she was ten when he died. Not really the night before your birthday conversation you would expect to have with your kid.
Today we are off to Williamsburg. Parker’s summer is camp is having a camp reunion. Most of the campers live locally which is likely why it is on a Thursday night. She is excited to see the friends she made this summer and spend some time with them. I am happy for a mother-daughter get away with the bonus of Samantha joining us for a few hours too.
Happy Birthday to my sweet, strong, smart, incredible Parker.
And though she be but little, she is fierce.
I have said many times that there are times when a memory hits seemingly out of nowhere and throws me for a loop. This weekend that happened again and it seems a good example to explain what happens.
I went to see the movie The Martian with my sister-in-law and a good friend of Dave’s. In the movie, one of the astronauts gets left behind on Mars and perseveres despite numerous obstacles. After many, many trying events, the astronaut finally gets angry. My mind flashed back to the day in the oncology office when Dave’s doctor told him that he had three to six months to live. After the doctor left the room, Dave turned his back on me for a minute to collect himself. It was that palpable emotion that took me back – that sadness and frustration when hope has all but been taken away from you. The very hope that you had been clinging to and that had been helping you get through the toughest of times.
I got lost in my head for a while after that and disconnected from the movie in front of me. I had to pull myself out of that memory and choose to shut down those devastating memories. Luckily my sister-in-law said something unintentionally funny which helped a lot. I don’t know if she noticed but I got chatty after that. It helped to keep my mind out of that dark space.