I don’t dream about Dave very often, or if I do, I don’t remember it when I wake up. Last week I had the most vivid dream. Dave and I were hanging out with the most random assortment of people – from people I work with to people I hardly know. We were in places that I didn’t recognize from real life. A cafe. A resort. Throughout the dream, Dave seemed to be reminding me of days gone by. Healthier, happier days. Towards the end of the dream, Dave and I were sitting in the lobby of a hotel with his brother, Jeff. We were waiting for “the guys” whom I thought were Jeff’s kids but would turn out to be my brother-in-law, Franck’s sons. While we waited, Dave sat in a chair across from me trying to make me laugh. I turned to Jeff and said, “It’s going to be so hard when he’s gone again.” Jeff said, “Who?”
Dream Me was so shocked when I realized that in all the places we had been and all the people we had seen, no one else had been able to see Dave. He was just there for me. Dream Me thought back and realized that he hadn’t spoken the entire time but that somehow I had known what he was communicating. Right before I woke up, I remember that I was in my room and Dave appeared. He pulled up his t-shirt sleeve, flexed his arm and grinned at me. This is definitely something that real life Dave did. It seemed like he was reminding me of how strong he was. (And he was so incredibly strong through the very end.) I also felt like he was reminding me that I am strong too – that as I stand at this moment in time where I have fought off melancholy and where I face changes and challenges ahead, that I can do it.
That dream was so intense and so real that I was left a little shaken when I woke up. I’ve been thinking about it for days and also reminding myself of the message within.
Mother’s Day, like pretty much every other day, is a time for me to reflect on how lucky I am. My kids are kind and smart and very funny. They have a good time together and look out for one another. More often than not, when we are all out running errands, they will fall back and walk behind me. This means that, more often than not, when I turn around the three of them will be cracking themselves up with some ridiculous dance.
We’ve had an eventful spring. Besides celebrating 18 and 21, Grant has also been knee deep in college applications and decision making. (I tried to remain neutral, but if you know me, you know this was challenging!) When he started the process his first choice was CNU which was just fine with me. I found it comforting that he would go to a familiar place and that his sister would be nearby as he navigated his first year away from home. But after he visited VCU, he didn’t have a clear favorite school anymore. He had two. Grant wrestled with the decision between CNU and VCU. He talked it over with each of his sisters. In the end, he said he just thought VCU was a better fit for him. He had thoughtful reasons for his choice and although I think I was still holding out for the siblings to be together, I also think he made the right decision.
On this Mother’s Day, I am so grateful for these amazing people. May they always look out for one another and turn to each other like they do now.
PS For All Night Grad Party, parents are asked to submit baby pics and current pics of our kids. Here are Grant’s.
Dave and I got married at 27 and 22. Not too long afterwards, he wanted to start a family as he felt his biological clock ticking. I never really thought too much about the timing. I was the first of my friends to get married and have kids but someone had to be first. When those ages and decisions impacted me was after he died.
In retrospect, I am glad that there was a little voice in his head urging him to get going. When we lost him, the kids were 19, 16 and 10. As far as shitty situations go, we were lucky. He was there to drop Sam off for her freshman year of college. He was there to have man to man talks with Grant about topics and ideas that guys like to talk about with each other. He had time to do with Parker many of things that he did with the other two – reading together at night, teaching her how to ride a bike.
This is a year of milestone birthdays for my kids. Grant turned 18 in March and although he and I are close, I know he misses those talks with his dad. Sam turns 21 today. Words can’t even describe how proud he would be of her. A summer internship in biology? Kid after his own heart. And this fall, my youngest will be a teen. He would love her raw enthusiasm for life.
There is a bittersweet feeling to these milestones. One LARGE part so proud of the amazing people they have turned out to be. Also, one BIG part longing to have him here with us to celebrate. To be able to look at each other, share a smile, and say “Hey, we did a pretty good job!”
Today, we celebrate this kid. It was love at first sight.
Sitting at a stoplight I was suddenly overwhelmed by heaviness and fatigue. Getting home was an act of concentration and sheer will. I am not sure what brought it on. Maybe it’s –
- Mother’s Day and thinking about Dave’s always unique gifts that let me know how much he was thinking about me and how I appreciated I was
- June 16th looming in the horizon
- Grant’s pending graduation and the idea that it is time to launch another kid into the world – this time on my own
- The dismal weather that has settled over this area lately and is too slow in pushing off
Whatever the cause, I am fighting the good fight. Today I mowed, paid bills, did laundry, ran errands. Determination triumphed over hiding under the covers.
Today has been an emotional roller coaster.
I started off my day on a high note. A card was delivered through the pony (our internal mail system). It was a thank you note from one of our scholarship recipients. He expressed his gratitude but also shared some words of advice that Dave had imparted and that he has taken to heart.
“He said always to follow and lead with your strength but to work and build on your weakness so that it can also be your strength. That has not only helped me become a better leader but a better person as a whole.”
I love that. The silver lining.
But the depressing news has been hitting ever since. Prince. A local firefighter who has been missing. A 16 year old high school student in our county. So much sad news. Trying to hold onto the good. Need to turn off the news.
When it was the five of us, we would gather around the dinner table and review our highs and lows of the day. So in that spirit, I share my highs and lows of the week.
My low was definitely when I got the Wednesday morning text from Erin letting me know that Pete had died the previous night. My heart broke for her and their children. I selfishly also felt sorry for myself and my kids. It isn’t possible for me to hear her story and not go back to June 16, 2014. Parker and I were able to stop by later that day for a few minutes to give hugs and drop off a few things. I was happy to see that she is being surrounded by friends and family. (If you have the means, please consider contributing to their Go Fund Me account – link is in the previous post. As a teacher and mother of three, I know that they will be able to use every penny that is sent their way.)
My high happened today. Parker, Grant and I went to Hayfield to let the students who are receiving scholarships this year know. I get a knot in my stomach any time I have to go to Hayfield but that was quickly erased by meeting these exceptional kids and spending a few minutes talking to them. It was so rewarding to see their faces when we shared the reason for our visit. We were also joined by some of my absolute favorite Hayfield folks. I understand completely why Dave loved working there. He was among some of the most positive, intelligent, humorous people around. I am happy to report that the scholarship committee definitely made the right choices. I am excited for these young people and the amazing futures they will have.
This was a week of extremes – the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I feel like I could sleep for days.
PS In a VERY distant second place, my other high would have to be these clips. C’mon now.
Shortly after Dave died, I connected with Erin. Her husband, Pete, was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer a few months earlier. We have communicated periodically over the last few years. Last night, I found out that Pete is in the final stages of his battle. My heart is breaking for them all especially their three children.
I spoke to Erin last night, and she is dealing with so much now – disability paperwork, legal documents, not to mention supporting her kids and dealing with hospice. She also expressed concern over finances. Like Dave, Pete is their primary breadwinner. Erin is a teacher in the county. Sound familiar? You shouldn’t have to worry about money during this time but the reality is that it is scary and stressful.
I remember those last days. One of which I spent dealing with the crappy social security office. If I could go back, I would take those hours back and spend them with Dave as that turned out to be his last relatively normal day. Erin shouldn’t have to worry about all of this. She should just be able to focus on her husband and children.
While we can’t take care of the paperwork, we can help ease the worry about paying bills. If you can, please consider supporting this family. I am quite certain that any amount would help.