Day 17 – Looking Up

Yesterday did not start off awesome. In fact, I was feeling a little sorry for myself. After Sam’s upset, it was hard to sleep. Then at 4AM, Winnie decided that he needed to go out. While I was standing on the sidewalk waiting for him to do his business (contact-less and blind as a bat) SOMETHING flitted by me. Something big and buzzy and loud. It scared the living daylights out of me – I do not like anything with wings except for airplanes. Of course, Winnie wasn’t as eager to go inside so was taking his sweet sweet time. I resorted to going back into the house and luring him in with dog biscuits. Since I didn’t have work I went back to bed for a few hours. Later I returned downstairs to the sight of multiple piles of dog vomit. I guess the biscuits didn’t sit too well with him.

My mood was less than sunny, but I tried to stay focused on the positives. And here’s the thing; sometimes you don’t have to do that on your own. As I pondered the additional stains to my carpet I decided that I had to buy one of those vacuums that scrubs and steams and cleans. I checked my email to discover that Bed, Bath and Beyond had just sent me a 20% off coupon. Score!

A little while later I checked the mail to discover not one but three amazing gifts. In the first envelope was a card from the parents of one of Dave’s APs at Hayfield, Alfonso. Not only was the note so heartfelt, they had also sent along a check to donate to Dave’s fund. In the second envelope was a card from my friend, Lori, along with some gift cards to Chipotle that her neighbor had dropped off. Finally, in the third larger envelope was this bracelet.

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A friend of my mom’s, Jayne, who has become a friend of mine and a great support sent it to me. It is a great reminder to prioritize the important things and let the other things go.

I checked in on Sam, and she was doing much better. She and I researched counselors, and she was going to call a few and make an appointment. She also went to her professor’s office hours to get some clarification on a few points that were on her homework. All in all, a good turnaround.

I took the kids out to lunch and to buy the vacuum. When we returned there was a package in the door containing these tee shirts.

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Turns out the stats boys renamed the league in Dave’s honor. Who knew that tacky orange tees could choke me up? I thought that was a pretty darn cool thing to do.

Our last event of the day was going to Parker’s Open House. Her 5th grade teacher is going to be fabulous. And she got a ringing endorsement from the principal, Parker’s 4th grade teacher, and the Tremaine family’s absolute favorite teacher of all time. As a side note, when Dave met the Absolute Favorite Teacher of All Time, he said to me “she reminds me of a younger you.” He was always a charmer that one!

Before bed I checked on the fundraising site and was thrilled to see that we were over the $11,000 mark. Success! I was humbled when I saw that many people donating had already given to the fund that was set up for me and the kids in June. The generosity of others has time and again blown me away. To quote one of my favorite movies, “My cup runneth over.”

So today I am grateful for my life and all the goodness in it.


Day 16 – A Friend in Need

Parker handed me my cell phone and said simply, “It’s Sam,” so I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me.  Samantha couldn’t even speak because she was crying so hard.  Different scenarios of what could be wrong flashed in my head.  Through the tears and gasps for breath I was finally able to understand, “Did you get my text?”  I hadn’t looked at my cell phone for hours and panicked as to what might be going on.  

It took a few minutes of reassuring for Sam to calm down enough to tell me what was wrong.  She had been looking at old texts on her phone and came across this one – 

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She was devastated by the fact that it took her 30 minutes to respond to Dave’s text that last Saturday and that she wasn’t sure he ever got to tell her what he wanted to say.  And then she cried.  And I reassured.  And she cried harder.  And I cried silently with her.  It is a pretty helpless feeling when your child is 3 hours away and hysterical about the loss of her dad.  I let her cry.  I comforted her.  I sat silently while she tried to regain composure.  I figured out that she was alone as her roommate and suite mate were both out.  I asked her to please have someone come over so that she wasn’t alone.  When she sounded a little bit better, we got off the phone with the promise that she would call me back if she couldn’t find someone to keep her company.  

After hanging up, I looked at the texts that she sent me, and I cried for her.  And for myself.  Sometimes it all feels pretty damn impossible.  I texted her back and put Dave’s text in context of time.  Grant, Parker and I had gone to the swim meet and he texted her because he knew she was home and probably needed her to get him a drink or bring him something.  That I was quite sure she had gotten him whatever he needed.  

We both agree that she needs to find a counselor near school to work through some of this.  I worry about her dealing with the stress of school and these moments of grief that catch you off guard and literally take your breath away.  Thankfully a friend of hers arrived while we were texting so I was able to relax a little.   He’s a great kid and a friend from home, and I am so grateful that he has her back and can support her when I am too far away.



Day 15 – Sam


Sam is one tough kid. She lives in chronic pain. Pain that we cannot begin to imagine. At 19 years old, she often struggles when standing up from a chair. Her hip locks up or just shifts slightly out of place so she has to limp a bit to get it returned as best she can. The doctors we have seen (3 so far) do not have a single solution for her. It became disheartening to hear the “live with it” spiel one more time. To be told that “once you start using a walker, we can consider a hip replacement” was devastating. I wish we could find a doctor who was willing to think outside the box and not be satisfied with the standard response. Would they be okay with that solution if she was their daughter? I doubt it.

In spite of this, she goes to the gym every day, volunteers, works, does exceptionally well at university, and has a busy social life. Although it never goes away and she doesn’t know a pain free moment, she makes the best of her situation. I couldn’t be more proud or in awe of her. I miss her when she is away because we sit and talk about all manner of things, or go shop, or just watch silly TV shows together. I cherish the relationship that we have.

So you can imagine that it broke my heart when she said to me a few weeks ago, “Maybe I am sad/grouchy a lot because I am always hurting.” If I could take it away, I would. I am researching more doctors but don’t want to get her hopes up because that would just be another disappointment.

She has dealt with her dad’s death with such grace and maturity. I know that she is sad and misses him every day. I know she gets angry at the crappy hand that she has been dealt. But mostly she just perseveres, laughs a lot, and trudges forward one step at a time. I am thankful for her every single day.



Here We Are 10 Weeks Later….

I have been thinking about Dave A LOT. I made it through our anniversary and my birthday better than I would have imagined, but I think it is not going to be the big occasions that trip me up as much as the day to day occurrences or the unexpected memories.

Sam went back to start her sophomore year at CNU on Saturday. She wanted us to come with her so we loaded up her car, and Parker and I followed her and Grant down 95. Parker was very tired and was snoozing during the 7AM journey so I had lots of quiet time to think. I was overcome by memories of dropping Sam off her freshman year – funny bathroom centered events, having lunch together before we left, the nervousness, the anticipation. Dave being the total dad and offering to take her to get running shoes, and groceries and anything else he could think of. And it made me both sad and grateful. Sad that was our only chance to drop off a kid at college together. Grateful that we had that chance at all.

Speaking of grateful, I am thrilled that our little fundraising effort is growing daily. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far and has spread the word to others. A friend of Dave’s from his tennis playing days wrote the most beautiful message on the page. Tear inducing in its accuracy. A gift in itself. Also, a special thank you to the man who thought Dave would be just the right match for Hayfield, Dr. Scott Brabrand. Thank you for giving him his dream job and for continuing to support him today. I am forever in your debt.

Also, as a housekeeping note, I was supposed to send out a Save the Date for Dave’s party but haven’t quite gotten around to it yet. I am excited to celebrate and honor Dave’s life with everyone on Friday, November 21st at 7:30. Because of the permits and insurance that I have to take out in order to be able to rent The Torpedo Factory, it will be a 21 and older event (with the exception of children in our immediate family). I had some inquiries as to whether students could attend and sadly the answer is not for this event. However, Dave’s family and the kids and I are working with the school and planning a dedication event at Hayfield for the spring and all students will be invited to join us and celebrate and honor Mr. T! Thank you for understanding.

Now let’s see if we can make our fundraising goal by then. Spread the word!



Day 14 – Stats Fantasy Football and My Birthday

Dave was a total fantasy football nerd.  He LOVED it.  Everything about it – spending hours reading up on players, talking crap with the boys, watching hours of games each weekend.  He was in his league for over 20 years, I think.  Some of the names and faces changed, but many of them are the same.  

Some years ago, someone (likely Dave) came up with the idea to hold a “live” draft.  I think it is just an excuse to get everyone together from all over the country, drink beer, and talk football without any pesky wives or families around.  They have been to Chicago, Vegas, Savannah, the lake house in SC.  One year for whatever reason (I am sure it seemed important at the time), I told Dave that I didn’t want him to go.  After he spent 5-6 hours on speaker phone drafting his team, I confessed to the error of my thinking and declared that he could go wherever and whenever the draft was held from that point on.

Draft talk began in late winter/early spring this year.  The destination is Chicago.  The only weekend that worked for most was this one.  Since the draft weekend tends to fall on or around my birthday, I did give Dave a little ribbing about it.  (I consider myself to be pretty low maintenance when it comes to birthdays.   No big demands, no fancy gifts or trips.  Maybe Dave would have said otherwise, but I don’t think so.)  Anyway, he decided that he wouldn’t fly out until Saturday so that we could spend my birthday together.  I think we both realized that this could be one of the last ones we would spend together not knowing he wouldn’t even live that long.  

So, as far as birthday wishes, I wish he could have made his trip to Chicago, and I wish we could have had a nice dinner out tonight together.  But since neither of those things is possible, I hope that people will continue to contribute to his fund and spread the word to others.  $5, $10, $20 all amounts are appreciated and will let him continue to live on through our young people.  Thank you for helping to make it happen.  It really does mean everything in the world to me.



Day 13 – You 2.0



Whose mom thought sending the volcano into school in a shopping bag

featuring a half naked man was a good idea?!  Oops!

I checked in on our fundraising page this morning and was excited to see that we are off to a great start. I appreciate more than words can express people clicking, reading and donating if possible. Each dollar helps us move towards our goals. I wish I could think of something clever like the ice bucket challenge, but I’m not that smart or creative. I will tell you that every dollar you donate will go directly back to helping out kids. And each dollar helps Dave’s great work and spirit live on.

I hope that this former student of Dave’s doesn’t mind me quoting the comment he left on the page.

“I was in Mr. Tremaine’s ’97-’98 7th grade science class at Luther Jackson M.S. Such an energetic and positive human being. I will always have fond memories of practicing my golf swing in class. When my kids and grandkids ask me who my favorite teacher was, the answer will be easy.”

This is truly priceless. Thank you, Adam, for your incredibly generous donation and for sharing your memories of Dave. Your words made me grin from ear to ear and also maybe fight back a tear or two as well.


Day 12 – You.


I have mentioned many times over how very lucky we are to have the incredible support of family, friends and even an online community of people we haven’t met in person.  The support has come to us in the form of emails, texts, calls, lunch dates, dinner dates.  We have been dining out on the generosity of your gift cards for months now and, in fact, still are.  You have sent us money to use for whatever we might need during this time.  It has been humbling.  We are so very grateful.

With all this in mind, I do not take asking for monetary donations lightly.  Dave’s family (his parents, sister and brother and their families) and the kids and I have created a site in response to friends and family asking “Can I make a donation somewhere in honor of Dave?”  (Technically, all credit to creating the page goes to Kris!)  We hope to raise money in order to contribute to two places that both honor Dave and were so near to his heart.

We would like to establish a scholarship at Hayfield for a graduating senior.  This is something that I hope the kids and I will be able to continue on a yearly basis.  Because this would mean that at least one time a year, the graduating seniors would get to hear about this incredibly tall, spirited man who was proud to be a hawk and found the good in all of his students.

We would like to make a one time donation to Hayfield, to the drama department in particular.  Dave loved to attend ALL events but how many school principals actually take part in their school’s plays?  He LOVED it.  He loved the energy of the students and the thrill of being able to act, if even for a few moments.

Finally, we would like to be able to make a donation to a foundation that will bear his name.  Dave grew up playing tennis for Bob Pass.  Over the years, their coach/player relationship became a long lasting friendship.  Dave coached for Bob after his tennis playing days were over.  In recent years, they worked together to create a foundation that supports youth tennis.  Bob has decided (with our enthusiastic approval) to rename his foundation to include Dave’s name.

Please check out our page and make a donation if you are so inclined.  Any amount is greatly appreciated as we work towards our goals.  Thank you so much.



Day 11 – DMV and My Dad

Yep, you read that right, folks.  I am grateful to the DMV.  In particular the Westfields location.  I needed to transfer titles on a few of the cars and get new license plates, and the lady who helped me was so pleasant and efficient.  In fact, she was even kind and reassuring when I continued to fill out the wrong lines or not fill out the correct ones.  All in all, not a bad experience at all.

I am also grateful for my dad who is running around getting the same cars inspected.  It is the task that I dread each summer.  Luckily for me, I have a dad who is willing to take care of it for me.  He is also taking Sam to Costco to load up on necessities for school.  I am so very appreciative.



PS Although I could have done without the “Virginia is for Lovers” at the bottom of the new plates….


Day 10 – Procrastination

Two out of three payroll/retirement related checks that were sent to us have been returned.  It seems that after issuing the checks, the different departments realized that we were not, in fact, entitled to those funds.  So, they sent us letters requesting the money be repaid.  I am glad that I procrastinated and did not deposit these checks.  I am thankful that I did not think that we had an extra almost $9K.  If I had deposited them and used the funds then I would have had to still come up with the money immediately.  Instead, I was able to just return the checks that were issued.  Both issues have been/are being resolved, and I know it will all work out in the end.  Sometimes it is okay to procrastinate!





PS Sam and I spent quite a bit of time today talking about Dave, in particular the last time she saw him.  Yet, it still took me until about 8:00PM this evening to realize that it was Monday and that another week had gone by.  I consider this some sort of progress.