Afternoons are all pretty similar. Cease working. Pick up Lucas. Pick up Reed. Repeat.
When you drop off in the mornings you give a big hug, remind your children to please make good choices and to have a great day. Drop offs are easy these days. Picking up can sometimes present a different challenge. I always search for the teacher praying I will receive a smile in return, direct eye contact and not raised eye brows or heaven forbid an eye roll. Raised eye brows or a determined stride in your direction usually indicates that my boys haven’t had the best day and may not have made the best choices today. These days are far and few between but I still walk in with a sense of anticipation each day because they do in fact occur.
Today I get smiles at both schools. I empty their “boxes” labeled with each of their names. Their boxes are filled with tons of fantastic artwork, daily sheets and homework. A deep sigh of relief is released as we head to the car together. A good night is bound to ensue at home. Both boys are talking up a storm as they climb in their seats. I quickly flip through their papers and my throat catches. I’m stunned. My mind is whirling. A tinge of anger percolates. I am not going to cry. I am going to take a deep breath and think.
What in the world has me so upset?
Reed, our 3.5 year old has made a family tree today at school. His tree has included three branches, “Mommy, Lucas and Reed.” I am devastated. I show him his picture while I’m driving and begin a conversation that I do not want to have. “I love your tree! Who’s on your tree?” He quickly responds appropriately with mommy, Lucas and Reed. I gently ask if he wanted to include daddy. He simply stares at me in return. Lucas, our overly talkative child, chimes right in. “Why don’t you have daddy? Do you not remember him? Mom can show you pictures. He lived with us. He’s just not here right now because he died.” Silence from the other side of the car.
Where is my manual? What is the best course of action here? This is parenting 101, otherwise known as there is no damn manual. My tears stay hidden. I tell Reed I love his picture. In my head, I am screaming. I am crying and I am frustrated. The frustration is becoming more prevalent these days as the boys recognize what they are missing. As they begin to understand that their family is different than their peers. I take a deep breath, hold in the emotion and drive us home.
It is insane that their perspectives of our life can be so different. My eldest child will always include his father and anyone else that may choose to join our family. I believe my youngest child’s tree will always look the same, regardless of our situation. Part of that is the difference in their personalities but mainly it is because Reed's memories at this time are gone. He no longer remembers the most important man in a child’s life. He no longer remembers his dad. He has after all, been gone over half of his life now.
When death occurs unfortunately many things begin to shift. Not necessarily for the worst but also not always for the best. The best people in my life continue to speak of my husband. They acknowledge the loss but also acknowledge the man he was. Sadly this is not the majority. People continually avoid talking about Daniel, even two years later. They won’t even whisper his name, as if that small feat would bring the wrath of hell down upon them.
Small talk occurs at work, amongst neighbors, even among family members, but everyone pretends he simply never existed. Please acknowledge the elephant in the room. We all know he is not invisible. And yes I am completely aware that my husband is dead. As if I will ever be able to forget that.
The loss of my husband changed me as a person. I am no longer the woman I once was and will never be the same. For friends and family, many may not see the changes as positive. That is okay. I take responsibility. For those of you that I have lost touch with, know it’s not you, it's me. My perspectives on life, on choices, on the way I spend my time are different now.
It was so extremely difficult to feel good again. The guilt of participating in any activities at all brought so much heavy burden after his death. I remember not being able to read after the loss. To many, not reading is probably a ridiculous thing. To me, however, books have always been a big part of my life, one of my great loves. A way to get lost and enjoy “me” time. I had lost the ability to live.
I am however finding my voice again, finding my breath. Learning how to participate in life again, albeit without him.
In our recent move many people kept asking me how I was doing it, why was I choosing to do things on my own. Such a simple question to others with a not so simple answer. I was working through my grief. Physical labor has been a saving grace for me. I had a few helpers here and there but I had to box up our life. I had to close that chapter on my own.
During the move friends talked to me about being careful with my “nice” furniture. Let me be clear in stating its just furniture. Furniture. I don't care what we paid for it. I don’t care how nice it is. These dressers and chest of drawers are simply vessels for our belongings. If you dropped the dresser with me outside on the sidewalk or dented something, trust me, it’s not a big deal. I even forgive the one that busted the 4000 piece Death Star that Daniel and I both spent weeks constructing. Its just stuff. Stuff that can be replaced. Stuff that fills space.
That is perspective. Perspective from someone who has experienced significant trauma. My husband died. My best friend was taken from me. My children grieve every day. I promise, I don't give a shit about scratching my dresser. It's simply a piece of furniture. And yes I acknowledge I am a different person today. You are correct in recognizing that my demeanor, my thoughts and who I am has changed. My perspective is now what it is and I promise its not you. Its Me.
Meet the Author (me)
Driven by a need to help others. I have known from a young age that this is what I wanted to do. This is my very real, somewhat sarcastic, look into my newfound widowhood. I hope this site will help you as much as it helps me.