Sorry for the lazy posting but good news has to be shared. : )
Sorry for the lazy posting but good news has to be shared. : )
An hour before we needed to leave for graduation, Grant came downstairs cap in hand and said, “I need to decorate my cap.” You can imagine the look on my face. Then he said, “I want to put an H on it.” So, I sent him off to Michael’s for orange and white duct tape. It moved me that he wanted to honor his dad in this special way. During the graduation ceremony, my brother and his boys sat up high in the stadium and waved an orange t-shirt when the graduates marched in knowing that would grab Grant’s attention. It worked. I should also share that when I looked over both of my girls they had tears in their eyes when they caught sight of their uncle honoring their dad and cheering on their brother. After Grant’s celebratory dinner, Samantha asked if we were going to Hayfield. We left the restaurant and headed there to sit on the benches for a few minutes. I think that it was important to all of us to acknowledge him on this milestone day.
During the graduation dinner, I looked around the table and considered the four men sitting there. All dads. All parent in different ways. But all love their children and want only the best for them. I am grateful that these men also bear the titles of “grandfather” or “uncle” and impact the lives of my kids.
My children have lost their dad. I am so very sorry that they will not have him there as they continue to complete significant milestones in their lives. But they all know how very proud of them he was. He gave them the gift of unconditional love. He let them know without a doubt that what he wanted for them was happiness. I will never forget his last Father’s Day which happened to be the final day they spent with him. He spent his last bits of energy reassuring them and loving them. I can’t imagine a more powerful gift from a father to his children.
Happy Father’s Day, babe.
PS As a side note, I watched a video of the student graduation speaker from Hayfield and in his speech he talked about “Rockin’ the orange one last time for Mr. T.” I was touched that he also wanted to honor Dave on his special day.
Two years ago, I was holding Dave’s hand in the hospital during the most terrifying hours of my life. Logically I knew he was leaving us soon. I prayed that he would not suffer and that he would be at peace. I watched in disbelief as his breathing slowed and then eventually stopped. It all seemed so unreal.
Tonight, as with many nights, I go between thinking back to that time and reflecting on what he brought to our lives. Dave and I always said we were opposites. Raisinets and Goobers. Ketchup and Mustard. He liked the limelight of karaoke and being on stage. Being in the spotlight makes my voice shake and my stomach hurt. He was impulsive, and I tend to over think things. I like to think that we were a good balance for each other. I am the person I am today because of him.
His influence was widespread. From young tennis players he coached to students he taught to adults he led. But I don’t think there is a greater example of his influence than through our kids. They are the people they are today because of him. By way of example, I share two memories – one older and one recent.
The first is 5 year old Parker belting out a tune from Avenue Q. “AVENUE Q is great for teenagers because it’s about real life. It may not be appropriate for young children because AVENUE Q addresses issues like sex, drinking, and surfing the web for porn.”
The second image speaks for itself. This is Grant before prom with a friend’s mom.
We miss his unique brand of fun. We laugh about things he used to do and say. Most of all, we honor him through our successes and joy. We miss you, babe. I can’t believe it has been so long since I’ve heard your voice and seen your smile, but when I close my eyes I can see you still.
I have given a copy of this book to each of the 12 students who received scholarships in Dave’s name. It was one of his favorites and having reread it lately, I think it stands up to time.
Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it.
As I reflect back on the last two years, we have come a long way.
Sam had just finished up her freshman year of college when Dave died. She is about to start her senior year and has her sights set on graduate school. She works hard and has been a frequent flyer on the Dean’s list. She has been dating the same fella for about a year now. They seem to have a good time together and make the long distance thing work. She is involved with volunteering and her sorority, and when she is home, she enjoys catching up with her friends from high school.
Grant will graduate from high school Friday. He has a great group of friends and works hard at his job teaching swimming lessons at the community center. After much deliberation, he picked the college that he feels best fits him. This is his last summer to participate in the summer swim league before he ages out, so he’s currently swimming six days a week. He’s definitely looking forward to a week at the lake with his friends and doing some traveling this summer.
Parker will celebrate her 6th grade advancement next week. She loves her school, her teachers and her friends, but she is looking forward to middle school too. She is taking oboe lessons twice a week, swimming in the summer league and recently auditioned for and was offered a spot in the Northern Virginia Junior Winds Ensemble. She is looking forward to two weeks of the Judith Lapple Summer Woodwind Camp and, of course, Camp Kesem.
They are thriving. They are happy. I know that Dave would be so thrilled with how well they are doing. I know that I am.
As for me, I am moving forward. The “sucker punch to the gut” waves of grief happen less frequently. I think of Dave every day, and I miss him every day. I mourn the loss of our future. I was explaining to a friend that we did the hardest part – the raising the young kids part. We didn’t get to enjoy the “we miss the kids/empty nest so now let’s travel and just enjoy our time” part. We got robbed of that. I feel cheated for me but mostly for him.
I miss having my partner. The person who gets it and can commiserate/celebrate with me. The person you exchange knowing looks with or side comments. The person who boosts you up when you are doubting yourself or your decisions. The inside jokes. The silly moments. The shoulder to snuggle up on. The hand to hold. The voice of reason. The devil’s advocate. Feeling cared for and protected. Loved.
Two years feels like forever ago. I would give anything to go back June 13th or 14th, maybe, of 2014. I would stop time and live a lifetime in those moments. But I can’t. So I move forward.
He had given me the power of one – one idea, one heart, one mind, one plan, one determination.
PS Just to illustrate how emotional I am right now, today I cried when I found out we had been gifted VIP seats for graduation. Really.
I found myself googling “natural remedies for anxiety/stress” last night. After reading a few suggestions, I decided that maybe sleep was just as good as anything. As we head into the last few weeks of school, life will become increasingly busy.
On Sunday we saw Sam back off to CNU. She will be spending the next 9 weeks doing an internship at school. I am so proud of her for writing the application for the grant money, having the application approved, and being selected to participate in this work. Incredibly, this girl who once had a paralyzing fear of fish will be spending the summer manhandling them as she explores the adaptations to different species – or at least that is my understanding of the project. I am excited that she has this opportunity to learn and gain valuable experience. But I also worry. Sam is prone to some pretty low lows. I worry about her being lonely as colleges can be ghost towns in the summer months. Her lows can likely be traced to loneliness but also to living with chronic pain. She came home in May with what turned out to be a pretty significant hip fracture. Her orthopedist wondered aloud how she was even managing to get around. She did physical therapy during the month she was home, and I am hopeful that the pain will continue to ease as the summer goes on. But moms worry.
This week is the warm up for the hectic few weeks to come. I have a big parent night at school that I have been planning with a colleague. It will be a relief to have that behind me. Friday night is prom. We have been suit shopping and shoe shopping. Grant is going to look so dashing. The guy that sold him his suit told him his goal was to make him “look better than his friends”.
Next week we have Parker’s final band concert, scholarship awards at Hayfield, Grant’s graduation, graduation dinner, All Night Grad party, and finally a swim meet after we see Grant off for Beach Week (or Lake Week, in his case). Also, the two year anniversary of losing Dave is next Thursday which is always in the back of my mind.
Once we get through all of that there is the final week of school to get through. I am doing some home visits. We have a final big meeting at school mid-week. There is also Parker’s 6th grade advancement ceremony and the 6th grade party. In between I will be at work finishing up all the things that need to be done before the school year is officially over.
I am not complaining. Certainly if Meg’s sudden and tragic death reminds me of anything, it is that you never know what the next day might bring. I am thankful that the kids are doing well and moving forward. I am grateful that I have, at least for one more year, a job that allows me to work part time so that I can strike a balance between home and work. I also know myself pretty well. With all of these events and changes, I get anxious. I wake up during the night and worry. I am not someone who thrives on change or likes back to back to back events and activities. I am going to try to just take it one day and one event at a time. Wish me luck.