Any Kanye fans? “that that don’t kill me, can only make me stronger”
I woke up this morning thinking about the time that I had to go to Hayfield to return Dave’s phone and laptop etc. The interim principal met me and walked me back to what used to be Dave’s office. I stood there shellshocked while he tested out Dave’s keys in the door and desk drawers. It was so thoughtless and insensitive. I was frozen in place.
My next thought was that two years later, I am not that person anymore. There is no chance now that I wouldn’t turn on my heel and walk out the door. The stunned, voiceless shell is no more. 2016 me is far less complicated and way more forgiving than versions past. What you see is what you get.
I made it through the last few weeks of potential land mines unscathed. My anniversary, in the end, was just another day. I thought of Dave. I missed what should have been. I got my hair cut and went out to dinner with friends. Grant and I got him moved into VCU. I navigated the closed off roads and traffic that comes with going to an urban school. We moved his carful of belongings into his apartment and set up his space. The girls met us in Richmond, and we shared a meal together before heading our separate ways. Life does incredibly move on.
I couldn’t have imagined this place two years ago. I am sure that time line is different for everyone. And I am equally sure that there will still be dips and valleys. Tomorrow I start my sixth year back in FCPS, this year with an interim principal, thankfully not the same one.
I may be in for a rough ride this week. Yesterday Sam and I dropped Parker off at camp. She is fine. She is happy. In fact, she has been looking forward to this since camp ended last year. It may sound silly, but I already miss my girl. And I am not the only one. Grant spent the weekend at Super Smash Con with friends. He was texting me from the event asking my opinion on things he might buy his little sister and as soon as he walked in the door last night he said, “I miss P Wiz.” It is going to be tough on both of them when he isn’t here on a daily basis.
Today would have been/should have been Dave and my 24th anniversary. 24 years. No small feat in this day and age. Through good times and not so good times, we persevered. Through sickness and in health.
Sam returns to school on Thursday, and I take Grant to VCU on Saturday for move in day. Since I can’t be in two places at one time, Sam will pick Parker up from camp and bring her to Richmond. That way Parker can see Grant and where he will be living and the four of us can spend some time together. The kids want to celebrate my birthday a few days early too.
So, although my heart is feeling a little heavy at the moment, I am also so thankful for three of the absolute best people I know. They are strong. Resilient. Loving. Kind. Brave. I am a proud and lucky mama.
Something that I have tried to do as a parent is to teach my kids to keep their eyes open for opportunities to help others. This might be in the form of volunteering or in practicing random acts of kindness. They have volunteered for different causes and organizations throughout their growing up years. They have seen someone who could use a boost and reached out to lend a hand. I would say they have learned a lot about themselves in these opportunities – how lucky they are, how tough life can be for some, how a simple kindness can bring joy to another.
They have also learned as much being on the receiving end. I think I already shared that one day Grant and Parker took themselves out for a nice lunch at PF Changs. Someone took notice of them and paid for their lunch. They learned first hand how amazing it feels to be gifted with a random act of kindness. They wondered aloud who would do such a nice thing and why they would be deserving. In the receiving, they could truly see the gift of the giving.
This week they have also had a chance to see the incredible generosity of others in action. I work at a Title I school. This means that over half of our students (well over half) are on free or reduced lunch. Last year, one of our amazing ESOL teachers spearheaded an effort to start a Bookmobile during the summer. Teachers volunteer their time on Wednesday mornings to bring books out into the community for our students, their families and neighbors. We have already given away over 5000 books this summer. As the summer has gone on, our books have begun to run low. I put out the word on Wednesday afternoon that we were in need of books for our youngest readers and 4 days later I have 301 amazing, beautiful books in my living room sorted and ready to be handed out. The kids have been helping me pick up and sort books and marvel at the number of books and how nice they are. It is so inspiring the see the good in people when we are flooded with images and stories of negativity. It takes a village, and I am so grateful for mine.
This morning I read a post written by Patton Oswalt whose wife died unexpectedly a few months ago. https://www.facebook.com/pattonoswalt/?fref=ts In my opinion, it sounds like he is holding he own. 102 days in. All things considered.
Grief is unique. If you have been fortunate enough not to have had grief lodge itself into your life, then no amount of explanation can do it justice. (It’s like when people try to tell expectant parents how tired they will be. There is no way you really get it until you live it.) Grief is certainly not linear. It does not follow the whole denial, anger, blah blah blah path. Grief settles around you like a thick blanket of fog. There can be breaks of sunlight but for the most part, it just hangs around. Imagine Charlie Brown and his personal rain cloud.
Suddenly this summer, I realized that the fog had lifted a bit. That is not to say that I don’t miss Dave all the time. Or that I don’t think about him and connect him to every event, extraordinary and workaday. But I felt a lightness in my mood that I had not experienced in a very long time. I still have my moments of sadness, of course. However, this lightening has allowed me to be more productive, laugh more, and look toward the future.
I am slowly checking off some to-do list items that have been nagging at me for years. Christmas cards have been sent in July. All of the common areas of the house have been sorted into donate, throw away, and keep. Starting the school year having translated some of my good intentions into actions will be a relief. My list hasn’t been entirely crossed off. Dave’s clothes still sit in his dresser and closet. I want to have t-shirt quilts made for the kids. I need to have some renovations done to the house. I don’t have any timelines for myself. It will get done.
In the meantime, I am going to enjoy these last weeks of summer with my kids. Sam returns from her internship on Friday, and we head to the beach this weekend. Upon our return, Parker heads off to Camp Kesem while the rest of us prepare for the college move ins. Come August 21st, it is going to be pretty quiet around here. I tried to get tickets to Phantom for Parker and me on my birthday but unfortunately it leaves town the 20th. It’s okay. We will figure something out. Possibilities.