Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dear Pat...

Dear Pat,

It has been 11 and a half months since my world completely changed. My whole world *was* you and the life we created together -  our children, our routines, our rituals. Getting up each day with you beside me and going to bed each night in each other's arms. July 3, 2017 seemed like any other day. We went to church, we had lunch, we looked at furniture and laughed because there was not a single thing we liked. We joked about being the hippies our kids thought we were and just having bean bags and the exercise ball. You did your yard work while I wrote yet another paper for my graduate degree. Without warning, July 3 became the last normal day.

I miss you - that is a given. There is no denying that not a single day goes by without thoughts of you, without shock and wonder that this state of existence without you isn't really just a terrible dream. Wendy and I were talking the other day about how it is simply unfathomable. Some days it seems like you are really just here, maybe outside tinkering in the yard, or upstairs napping. Other days the horrible hole left in this life by your passing becomes a yawning chasm impossible to cross.

How have I dealt with your passing? I've done what I always do. I've sucked it up; I've kept a stiff upper lip. I've done what has to be done. Oh, I've certainly broken down and howled, bawled, sobbed, and screamed. I've tried to do that in privacy but there have been many times where the tears rolled freely and I couldn't stop them. Regardless, I've made it a point to keep moving forward. Survival. That's been the name of the game. Because really -what other choice is there?

My mother always said, "Don't cry over spilled milk. Clean it up." Well, losing you is far, far, FAR more than spilled milk. However, the sentiment still fits regardless of whether other people don't "get it." Staring at my loss and wallowing in it would do nothing at all to get me from sunrise to sunset, day in and day out. It certainly wouldn't make me feel any better in the long run. So with no other option, I've surveyed life on each given day, made a mental inventory of my needs/wants and sought to meet whatever each day required of me.

I had accepted a job before your death that, while very rewarding, does not pay well at all.We both prayed and felt so right about this job.   Knowing I couldn't live on that income, I began a side job that would cover my health insurance costs. Now I have another side job that will further supplement my income. You would be very happy with God's blessing me with the ability to do what I love - teaching language arts and more exercise classes (as long as they didn't take time away from you). There are things that would not make you happy: the adult bully who tormented me throughout the year and the fact that the exercise classes are co-ed. I can imagine your opinions and advice on both. So many times I wished I had had you to come home to and tell the stories of my day. You would have laughed so hard - that special Ernie laugh. You would have wanted to come to my classroom and meet everyone, do special things for the students. You would have loved building things for science experiments. You would also have been my knight in shining armor and my shoulder to cry on when my own Dolores Umbridge was doing her best to make my days dark.

But you are not here to be and do what I know you would. Instead I've had to face my trials in a different way, find new support, You were my "person" and I was your "person." Even when things were rocky and we were at each other's throats we always knew that we had each other. To suddenly find myself without you put me at such a loss. What we built over decades can never be recreated. I have had no choice but to find new connections, engineer a new support system.  Yet God, He has always been there - a strong tower for me to run to, a mighty fortress, my deliverer.

And then there are your children - they miss you so much. You were a rock, a steady, immovable rock. They could count on you being there - for a laugh, for a hand, for a strong shoulder. We were all so blinded by our own grief, but I really expected better of myself. I was so consumed by my loss of you that I wasn't the nurturing mother I should've been to help them deal with theirs. It is so hard to be the mother when you want to be mothered yourself. That's a whole other ball of wax - not having my mom and my dad at a time when I want so badly to run to them, pour out my sorrows and have their support.  When I started coming out of my own fog and seeing everyone else's struggles, it was mind-boggling, guilt-riddling and awful on numerous levels. It isn't my place to write here about their stories - but I know that they would give anything for the strong, loving hands of their Daddy on their shoulders and embracing them in a huge bear hug.

I went to your grave this morning - our anniversary. Thinking about how one year ago you were here, taking the day off from work while I was substituting at Biomed. We had plans to celebrate our anniversary in July, after Jenna's baby was born. You had a big surprise for me when I came home. You had cleaned out the back bedroom, set up bunk beds for the grandchildren, fixed the ceiling fans, and set up toys. You were so proud to show me this - you had me close my eyes and then revealed it to me.  Here it is, one year later, and your body is in the grave. I miss you so much.

How can this be? We are 15 days away from that dreaded one year anniversary. Six days away from the night the week from hell began. I've been living without your hugs, without your kisses, without your loving texts and phone calls, without your warm, snuggly body for 350 days. I asked, how can this be? It doesn't really matter, does it? Because it *is* and there is no changing it.  Abject acceptance is the only recourse.


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