Aug 31, 2009

Promotion to grades 1, 2, and 8.

In the past two weeks a lot has been going on at our house. The kids have been in full swing with their extracurricular activities and we went back to school shopping; I do not like shopping. Then last week the 2009-10 school year began. It’s been really nice having the kids home with me every evening again instead of the hit and miss each week we tried out during the summer. We won’t be doing that again next summer; at least not to that drastic of an extent. It was too hard for me. I felt like a divorcee Dad who only gets to see his kids on particular weekends and various holidays.

Dealing with grief is nothing like I imagined before August 6, 2008. It’s not something that you get over. It’s not something that just passes by. It’s an event that happens, like your own personal Pearl Harbor or 9/11. It redefines your life and, much like these National tragedies, it takes a while to recoup and reorganize into something that resembles a normal life. I do mean resembles as it’s only the outward perception that you display that ever resembles anything normal. Losing Mindy has given me new perspectives on relationships, marital and otherwise. Her effect on my life in the short decade we had together has forever changed me, and for the better. I think I’m a more attentive father compared to my ‘life of before’. Sometimes this attentiveness appears as over protection when it comes to my children, but so be it. As far as I’m concerned my children have endured enough to last well into adulthood, if not all of their lives. I’m certain they will have more pain as they grow we all do, but if life were fair they could skip over the rest of it and just enjoy the everyday miracles in life. I spent my 31st birthday ‘back to school’ shopping with my kids (because the middle school students don’t get supply list until after school starts and everything is sold out!) thinking how much fun Mindy had picking them out backpacks and pencil boxes.

The week school started my Princess got her first pair of glasses. Now she doesn’t squint to read and watch television. She’s a little behind in her reading because she had such a difficult time seeing, but she’s a brilliant little girl so we’ll more than make up for it very quickly. She loves her new glasses. She picked out some High School Musical themed frames and couldn’t wait to show them off at school. I’m glad she’s excited about it, I don’t know if I would’ve had the energy to fight her over it like my parents had to with me when I was young.

At the end of the previous school year I sent off several letters to various school administrators and did not get a reply back from any of them. I at least expected an acknowledgement of the letter, but there was nothing. So this year I expected to again have issues and I was pleasantly surprised that I have had none so far. They put my Princess in class with Sugarbear’s teacher from last year as I requested (Yeah Mrs. H!). My Teen got an acceptable schedule, which was turned in late by me instead of on time by her, with the majority of the classes she wanted. I assume by compliance of those two requests that the other letters were at least read by someone in the school district. It looks to be a promising year even though I’ve heard horror stories already from other parents in our district. To be fair I must say that I’ve only had an issue with one teacher at the middle school level. The other teachers have been great for my kids, it’s the administration that frays the last remaining threads of my sanity. It’s pretty apparent that I’m not the only parent with that experience in this district.

My Teen has shown some remarkable growth in the past few months. She even made dinner one night last week without any prompting from me, and it wasn’t just spaghetti or some frozen dinners. She made roasted chicken and it was really good. She has on a couple of occasions taken it upon herself to do some laundry and as much as I sternly remind her of areas that need a little work I also remind her that she is a wonderful young lady. I think some of what I’m saying might been sinking in…just a little bit. Only time will tell but I’ve been impressed with how they have all dealt with the crazy schedules and non existent routine this summer. It looks like a promising start to the year. I just wish Mindy were here to see what a wonderful little personalities our kids are growing into.

Aug 13, 2009

Happy birthday, my love

Yesterday was a bit hectic but I managed to squeeze in the things that I think are important. Yesterday Mindy would have been 35 years old. I would have been giving her a hard time I’m sure. She like to tease me early on about how much younger I was than her (only 4 years) and I told her then it would come back around to her. As we got older, the 4 years seemed less and less of a gap. But as I’ve mentioned before,  it was always a good tease in August as our birthdays are two weeks apart; hers before mine.

One night a few weeks ago I locked myself out of my house; there’s a whole story to that but I mention it only to say that I eventually broke out a window in our dining room to get back in. Yesterday morning the glass repair man came with my new window and the kids were entertained for about 45 minutes while they watched him replace the panes. Once he was done I checked the first thing off our list of ‘To Do’s’ for the day. We ran a few errands and got back home for lunch and I started baking Mindy’s birthday cake. It was a pathetic…very home made cake but it tasted good.


Last year Aunt Jen brought us the cake and we all sang “Happy Birthday” around the table. I thought it was simple and memorable; just the kind of thing I could repeat year after year to help the kids remember her. Mindy didn’t like many cakes, especially chocolate. Last year we had a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing so to keep things simple we did so again. When I was done preparing the cake I got all the kids to reluctantly sing “Happy Birthday” with me. This year feels much different from last but, to me, the important thing is that we have a repeatable way to acknowledge it all. Something the kids will come to expect.

We all went out to the grave site and I asked the kids if they wanted to go with me to her stone. None of them cared to go so they happily sat in the car with the cold A/C blowing and the radio on while I took a few minutes to spend with her. I’ve been out to see Mindy at least once a month for the past year; mostly by myself. This time was different. I can’t really explain why it was different; it just felt more empty. I didn’t get the release I had before after spending a little time there. Maybe it was because we were rushing through the day. Whatever the reason it definitely felt different. I hopped back in the car and we were off to Mindy’s parent’s house.

My sisters in law were there and the kids got to play more with their cousins. I wish I had more time to really visit but this week has been a mad dash from one place to another and my head has been spinning. I wish there were a few more hours in the day to get all our stuff done. We spent a few hours with them and then it was a dash back to the other side of town. So far this week my plans to ease the kids back into a schedule more convenient for the upcoming school year isn’t working. But we made time for family, and we continued to remember Mindy. That was the important part.

Aug 10, 2009

What comes down must bounce

This is going to be a busy week for the kids and for me, the chauffeur. We have places to be (after my 9-5 of course) every night with three events on Saturday. It’s the weeks like these that I really get upset that I am now a single parent against my will. Now, I’m the one who scheduled all these events (or negotiated the scheduling) for us but they needed to be done before school starts which doesn’t allow for much time. I continue to have quite a lot of help from family but it’s not the seamless transfer of duty like you have in a two parent home.

The kids are with N&P this week while I’m at the office and as I left from there last night, after the kids were in bed, I just felt overwhelmed. It didn’t help that I was rushed that morning and didn’t get everything done. I had procrastinated the night before so I have myself to blame and the Teen didn’t pack everything she needed; this isn’t the first time she’s failed to do so. All in all it was just a bunch of little things that added up. Little things that in my ‘life of before’ I could’ve split up between Mindy and I; together we could’ve had covered it all. Little things that individually are no big deal, and collectively are still manageable, but I can’t always delegate, or be the delegate, like before.

The more overwhelming things seem to be the more I say out loud what I should do. It’s sort of a way to let myself know that I understand what to do; it’s just the ‘getting it done’ piece of the puzzle that is hard to fit in. I was on my way home last night and my mind was racing. Planning this and that; trying to work out a tentative schedule for the next few weeks. By the time I got home I was asking out loud what should be next, and for a split second I fully expected Mindy to answer. For a split second I thought she would be there to help carry the load. I caught myself falling into that old routine. I caught myself living in a past that will never again be my life. It only took that split second to light the fuse.

Whatever bits and pieces I had worked out in my head up to that point have all been lost. I spent the rest of the evening staring at piles of her stuff that have been in the same place for nearly a year. Looking over pictures still not in frames, the kitchen she started painting…still not painted. The life we had yet to finish planning for will, forever, stay unfinished. It’s not often that my thoughts devolve so quickly or so thoroughly as to bring up this mix of intense anger and debilitating sadness; but there I sat. Just passed the lonely anniversary of her death and preparing for her birthday to burst onto the scene as yet another stark reminder. I eventually turned out the lights and sat in the dark still staring at all the items on her bedside table. Most of them have been there for well over a year. If not for the cleaning service they would be covered in a good bit of dust.

It’s maddening to feel so alone while surrounded by so many helpful people. It feels so hopeless at times to think that I will most likely have to continue raising our children as a single widower father. It’s such a struggle to be a single parent, but honestly, I couldn’t imagine letting anyone else get near my kids. I couldn’t imagine letting anyone else get close enough to me to ever be close to them. But that’s fodder for another post.

Maybe I’m just wallowing in the grief as I refuse to acknowledge its presence this week; and last week as well. I want to be strong and independent. I want to be able to tackle anything that stands in my way, grief included. But the like so many things in life, the more I try to tighten my grip and keep control the faster things slip through my fingers. Knowing in your head is one thing; convincing your heart to follow along is another thing entirely. I can’t let go. I don’t want to let go.

sand-from-handSome days I have a relaxing peace that everything is as it should be. My beautiful wife isn’t here hurting and confined to this life; she has been released. But I still selfishly want her here, and the more I wish she was here the faster that peace flees. With school around the corner I see the vicious, endless circle of my routine clearly. To avoid the grief I become so busy I have no time to find myself enveloped like this then the fast pace wears me down and I get frustrated that I can’t do it all. Once I’m worn sufficiently I slow down to rest and recoup; only to be swallowed by grief again. To escape the grief I look fill my schedule and we ride around this track once again.

I allowed myself the remainder of the night to wallow. Today, I refuse it. Today is a new day; a new week. I granted myself the wallowing since a year ago that day we were at the funeral. A year ago my baby girl release a balloon for Momma’s “party in the sky”. I’ll start that uphill climb once again and keep hoping that when I fall back to the bottom no one will see. As things continue to slip through my fingers I still wear that mask that says I’m okay. The mask blurs the beginning and the end of each trip around the circle. Blurs the black and white into a mundane grey; a shallow grey that hides all the fear and frustration just under the surface.

That’s what most of the world is comfortable seeing, and that’s what most are comfortable showing.

Aug 6, 2009

August 6th

The real anniversary wasn’t as much of a punch to the gut as the Wednesday of this week. Partly because I didn’t stay at home, partly because I kept busy with other distractions, and partly because it was a Thursday. I spent the night over at N&P’s, which is always and enjoyable time. The kids are still with cousins in Houston. I called them yesterday to see how they were doing. They were having too much fun to spend time with me on the phone which was a great relief to me. I was going to ask my sisters in-law how they were doing today, 365 days later, but they too were busy. That was also a relief to me.

I spent the morning getting some minor house repairs in order and doing a little cleaning. I told my boss earlier in the week that I would be pulling my widower card (nod to Supa for that) and not coming in today; mostly cause I didn’t know how I would handle this anniversary. All in all it was a fairly normal day. All the mourning, grieving, and crying was mostly done yesterday…alone as usual. I hate to cry in front of other people. I guess maybe I should’ve taken yesterday off instead.

Mindy always wanted us to get tattoos for each other; I always turned her down. I wasn’t necessarily against the idea, but for me since it’s a (mostly) permanent marker it should signify something you want to always remember. I never, in my worst nightmare, thought that I’d want anything to remind me of her…I shouldn’t need reminding. She should always be with me, or so I thought it would go. Now I grasp at anything that will help me remember things about her. I have my posts here, I jot down little notes, and I have keepsakes and photos all to help me keep her close. But today, 365 days later, I got a memorial tattoo for Mindy; well really for me. It’s a cross with angels wings. There are three roses at the bottom, one for each of our children and the banner states ‘1 THESS 4:13’ a verse that has meant more to me in the last year than any other.


It still doesn’t seem as though it has been a year. I can still remember her smile, her soft skin, her laugh. I can still hear her call my name from across the house. When I put something off I can imagine her nagging at me to do it now rather than later. I can still imagine what life would be like if she were still here, and it seems like she was with me not so long ago. Her birthday is in 6 more days. She would’ve been 35 this year.

One year down…a lifetime to go.

Aug 5, 2009

Life…52 weeks later

I woke up this morning and immediately thought of Mindy. I didn’t think that the full weight of it all would hit me until tomorrow…that is, after all, the ‘real’ anniversary. But today is Wednesday. Wednesday was the day 52 weeks ago when I lost my best friend. This morning the full weight of that hit me just as it did that morning.

I hopped into the shower to get ready for work, the same as I did that morning 52 weeks ago. But this time the house was quiet. No sleeping children; no snoring spouse. I grabbed my blackberry and as I put it on my belt I recalled that I could’ve made that call to 911 on my cell phone that morning…but I called from the land line. I walked through the living room purposely avoiding the space where I found her laying on the floor (I’ve moved the furniture to help with that) and walked out the front door.

Today is not as bad as that day was. Today is not the day I had to perform CPR on my wife to no avail. Today is not the day I had to tell my children that their mother would never come home. But today is up there near the top of the list. There are other days that I lost it; days that I am glad I was alone so no one could see me ball my eyes out like a little kid, but today marks a bittersweet milestone. We made it a whole year and we’re still in one piece. A whole year has passed and we’ve kept each other from completely falling apart. It makes me smile to know I have such great kids, and so sad to know Mindy won’t be there to praise them as they achieve great things in their lives.

As I wrote this, I received a card from my co-workers. I didn’t think they would remember what day it was…I was wrong. I’m so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends to lean on. I couldn’t have made it through a whole year on my own. I’m still a basket case some days but everyday I get a little stronger. Everyday it gets a little easier to know that I’ve made it one more day without her. My children have survived one more day in my care with only memories of their mother’s love.

I still sleep with pillows in the middle of the bed, so it feels like she’s there…but I’m sleeping; a little more here and there. I still see things that I know she would find funny; I tell her…in my head. I still get mad when the kids are tired and whining that she’s not here to help…but I’m blessed that they still remember so much about her.

I’m still heartbroken….but we are doing well.

Aug 4, 2009

One in infinity

This week is off to a horrible start. The fact that this week would be crappy was pretty much a given, but it’s not what I expected.

In my dreams she’s right there…standing just in front of me and we’re having a conversation about insignificant things. I notice the way she looks at me and just when I realize how wonderful it is to be with her again, I’m awake. Now I stare across a dark empty room. I can be still and quiet, or wander about the house aimlessly…

There is no one calling me back to bed.

There is no one complaining that I fell asleep with the TV on, again.

There is no one sliding their foot next to mine under the covers just to be in contact as we sleep.

There is no one waking me because my snoring is waking them.

When I want to talk…when I want to scream…when I want someone to understand what I feel with just a look…

There is no one.

Not one like her any where in the world.