Monthly Archives: December 2011

No, Daddy!

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For the past week, Justin and I have been so wrapped up in our own grief and processing that we didn’t take much time to focus on Robbie.  He spent our time in Kentucky with family and friends, while Justin and I survived long, emotional days with hardly any energy left over for a boisterous two-year-old.

And now we’re seeing the repercussions.  For the most part, Robbie is fine with me.  There have been more moments than I would like to admit where I have lacked patience.  There have been tears on both parts.  But, at the end of the day, he loves giving me hugs and kisses and trying to get out of bedtime.  Tonight actually involved three trips to the potty, two complete strip downs, two baths, two teeth brushings…  You get the picture.

It’s not quite the case for Justin, who Robbie has never seen shed a tear until last week.  And I think it scares him a little.  This morning, Justin tried to get Robbie out of bed to save me some time.  Robbie was standing at his crib talking about his fun rest when Justin went in.  He took one look at Justin and threw himself on the bed, screaming, “No!”  I took pity on the both of them and got Robbie out of bed.  And it all went downhill from there.

Running late with a toddler attached to your legs does not make for a good morning.  Particularly when he is sobbing and you are late.  I finally managed to untangle myself from his clutches and asked Justin to help me out.  As soon as Robbie saw Justin coming towards him, he took off for his room screaming at the top of his lungs.  Just when Justin started to go into his room, the door slammed in his face.

Both of us were taken aback, but Justin was hurt.  It’s horrible to have anyone do that to you, but especially a two-year-old.  And for the first time.  So this weekend will be time for me to spend with Robbie, hopefully showing him that both of his parents are back and love spending time with him.  And, God willing, we’ll postpone the door slams until he’s six or seven…

Holiday Spirit

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Christmas is my favorite time of year.  Our house is cozy, with the tree taking up a good portion of our re-organized living room, greenery on the railings, handmade stockings on the door, and cards lining the support beam in the living room.  Candles fill the house with scents of evergreen and cinnamon.

And, this year, Robbie gets it.  He knows about Christmas trees and lights and Santa and snowmen and candy canes.  He points out lights to me the whole way home, telling me, “Nona’s house.  Christmas lights.  Mama!  Lights!”  He shouts every time he sees a Santa.  And he thinks you decorate a tree by throwing ornaments at it and hoping they stick.

He screams with delight every time we get to the top of the stairs and he sees the Christmas tree.  Robbie takes great delight in showing people (namely Daddy and Aunt Allie) the miniature Christmas tree we set up in his room last night.  And the daddy bear that reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to a baby bear?  His whole face lights up.

I love that he wants to help me decorate – and, in the case of the tree, undecorated and redecorate – the house.  He’s perfectly content to watch Christmas specials with me.  And I can’t wait for him to actually realize what Christmas morning is.  I’m just hoping he’ll be able to hold it all together when we take him to meet Santa next week.  But I’m not holding my breath.

A New Normal

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It was our first day home today, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  Would it be hard to get Justin out of bed?  Would we spend all day crying, overwhelmed by everything that lay in front of us?  Unsure of what to do without something tangible to plan or sort through?

What do you do on a day like today?  Resize your mother-in-law’s rings so that you can wear them and have a  part of her with you?  Yes.  In fact, you make that the first thing you do (after daycare drop-off, of course).  Schedule stress-relieving massages for you and your husband?  Definitely.  Even though you’ll still feel the stress afterwards.  Still, the momentary relief is worth it, just being able to move your shoulders.  Buy a Christmas tree?  Absolutely.

In fact, I think the Christmas tree was the most important part of the day.  Christmas is something we know how to do. The tree goes in front of the living room window.  Justin puts the lights on the wrong way (really, it’s fine; it’s just not how I would do it).  Robbie breaks a few ornaments and runs around in his diaper, Mickey Santa hat, and Go Cats shirt.  It all makes sense, you know?

And maybe that’s the key…  Finding a few things we know how to do each day and doing them.  Eventually, they’ll add up, right?  Tomorrow, Justin will travel for work.  And I will go to work.  And we will be OK.

Home Again

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It seems like it’s all done.  We’ve had the funeral.  We’ve sorted the house and packed the boxes.  We’ve had the mail forwarded.  Checked all the boxes, you know?  Some minutes it feels like the last week took a lifetime to happen.  Others, it feels so surreal that it can’t possibly be true – or have lasted more than five minutes.

We made it back home this afternoon.  The time on the plane giving us too much time to think, to try to process and rationalize.  We did so much better yesterday when there were closets to go through and papers to sort and kitchens to clean.  There was no time to think.  There was no time to hurt, not like today.

We are exhausted.  Mentally.  Physically.  Emotionally.  We are eternally grateful for all the prayers, thoughts, and kind words.  For the friends who came to help us, particularly Justin, start to shift through our grief.

And now I’m going to sleep.  And try to fight the stomach bug that started with Robbie Friday night and moved to my mom and sister-in-law today.

Processing…

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And here I sit, at 4:30 in the morning, unable to sleep.  Unable to allow myself the simple escape for a few hours.  It’s what my body and mind want and need more than anything, but sleep just does not come.

I’ve been a terrible mother the past three days.  So bad that I hardly know where he’s been or what he’s done.  Family and friends stepped in to take the reins as soon as we arrived.  My sister making sure he had a new pair of pajamas (‘Ickey Mouse, Augusta’s favorite), wipes, and Plups.  My mom finding childcare for the first day.  And the two of them arranging to watch him into the evening.  And yesterday, an old friend coming over at 8:30 and incorporating Robbie into her day until my sister could relieve her. 

I know snip-its of what he’s done.  And that he’s been the best little boy.  He clings to me when I have a few moments at home before moving on to the next thing.  Peppering my face with kisses, giving me strong hugs.  Telling me, “Happy, Mama.”  Wrapping himself around my body when I try to let him go.  Tonight before I tried to go to bed myself, I went up and just watched him sleep.  Grateful that we have him to pull us out of our mourning and grief.

Yesterday continued to be difficult.  Finding the perfect outfit.  Selecting the perfect site.  It’s  beautiful, by the way.  Shaded by trees, a beautiful view. 

Going into the apartment was the most difficult; it feels like such an invasion of privacy.  My sister-in-law and I brought back pictures for the boys, some they had never seen in albums long forgotten.  And that helped.  When Justin and I stopped by to grab a few more pictures for the reception tomorrow, the phone rang.  We both froze, unsure of what to do.  Finally, I answered just in case it was someone who didn’t know she had passed.

There was only silence when I answered.  A few seconds later, an automated voice said simply, “Good bye.”  And disconnected.  In near tears, I unplugged the phone.  After all, the message was pretty clear.

I broke down this afternoon to a bewildered Justin.  I’ve tried not to, only crying when the pain of seeing him so overcome with grief was too much to contain.  But today I cried for me.  It helped.  Some.  But not enough.  It won’t be enough for a long, long time.

Thank you for being with me during this time.  For allowing me to process in writing, the only way I can truly feel settled.  Well, as settled as anyone can feel during a time like this.

The funeral is today.  Our private visitation starts in a mere five hours.  Regular visitation will be from 11:00-1:00, with the service starting at 1:00 at Immanuel Baptist Church.  3100 Tates Creek Road in Lexington.  Please continue keeping us in your prayers.  We have  been blessed by the ones you have sent and truly need them to get through this.

Grandmama

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I find that I keep checking my watch.  Three hours.  Seven hours.  Eleven hours.  And now, thirty-five hours.  Thirty-five hours into the after.  I remember the before clearly.  It’s the after that’s been such a blur.

Time slowed down when I got the phone call from Justin.  His voice seemed to stop at each word.  “It’s.  Mom.  She.  Died.”  Even now, a mere 35 hours later, I’m not sure that it has processed.

In a matter of hours, our bags were packed and we were on a plane home.  Home to make arrangements that you just shouldn’t have to make in your early 30’s.  Arrangements that we have no idea how to make, blindly grabbing for gentle hands to guide us.  And, thank God, we have found them. 

Through the grace of God, we survived today.  A trip to the coroner’s office, where we met two of the most compassionate men I have ever met.  They walked us through what they had pieced together, letting us know that they had been gentle with Augusta.  Massive heart attack, the diagnosis.

We found our way to the funeral home, sitting on an old couch facing a fake fireplace.  Nothing about this seemed real as I clutched Justin’s arm, not sure if I was shaking from cold or shock.  We went through the motions: writing the obituary, selecting the coffin, setting a date. 

So much of the day is too personal and raw to share; it’s not anything that I want to return to read later.  This has been, quite possibly, the worst day of my life.  Followed closely by yesterday.  And I have no idea what tomorrow holds.  I can only hope that it will start to get a little easier, especially for Justin.

That’s the part that is most difficult for me – watching him suffer, knowing that his loss is so great and one I cannot even begin to comprehend.  Trying to be there for him and desperately hoping that I’m giving him the support that he needs.  Knowing that whatever I give will never make it better or replace the ache and loss that he is feeling.

I’ve had a headache for the past day and a half.  I keep trying to remember to take something for it, but the throbbing reminds me that this is all real. 

My heart also breaks for Robbie, who will only know Grandmama through stories and pictures.  Who will never make his first trip to Disney World with her, even though we were supposed to go in January. 

We can all use your prayers.  Please.