The longer I wait between checking in here, the more this builds up in my mind. Like I need to have some sort of amazing, kick ass post to explain why the gap. Unfortunately, there is no real good reason. Basically, I just struggle to come up with a really compelling idea to write on…
Don’t get me wrong, life has kept moving. I’ve spent this summer really trying to pour our time out for maximum child enjoyment. We’ve been to Dutch Wonderland, we’ve been to Port Discovery, we’ve gone swimming a couple times, we’ve taken up fishing, we’ve done parades, we’ve been to ballgames, I let the kids basically borrow my credit card in a Cracker Barrel Country Store (our dinner cost less than the toys the saleswoman talked them into…Thanks for that!). But, none of it really ever seemed like such a compelling post than I rushed home, broke out the laptop and put keys to text box.
So…where did I leave off? Noah’s birthday party, roughly. The rest of May was spent taking Noah to T-Ball and getting the kids through the last few weeks of school. Noah really never had emotional issues with school, but I was proud to get him through the last bits of this year. He finished off strong, and despite some butting heads on math homework (I am determined that he will be good at math…or at least, he won’t lack for effort in that department!), he really hit strong on his school work. Around the time of his birthday, walking through Wal-Mart, I ended up in the clearance section and saw a big model X-Wing (like 3 feet wide size) for like 10 dollars. I already had his birthday stuff but…LIGHTBULB, a “graduation” gift! So I found another toy that would work for Darcy and I hid them in the closet. And come mid-June, LOOK WHO WAS AWESOME DAD! Only thing was…here was quoted Darcy’s reaction upon seeing a My Little Pony on her bed on the last day of 3 year old room: “Oh, but Dad, I wanted a Lalaloopsy”. Womp womp. Thanks a lot kid! Oh well, she didn’t consent to me giving it to Goodwill, and she’s been holding onto it ever since. Father’s Day also passed without much issue. My parents had the kids one day during the week and took them out to shop for a gift for Father’s Day, I got some new polo shirts for work and a new pair of khakis. And the kids had each made me some things both in school and at my parents’. I missed not being able to hear Shannon remind me that I was doing right by the kids, but I know by now that she always felt like I did a great job taking care of both her and the kids.
So, let’s just go ahead and tackle the 6 month mark. I knew it was going to be the roughest one yet. It’s like I posted above, the line from Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers: “Time goes by so slowly, And time can do so much. Are you still mine?” Time goes by and I try so desperately to keep the memories as fresh as the days we made them…but as time goes on, the memories begin fading. Not disappearing, but fading. Details get fuzzy. Daydreams get harder to make real. I find it hard to remember the sound of Shannon getting out of bed and coming down the stairs, waking from the sleep I would let her take until she wanted to get up. I find it hard to remember the look of her sitting in the passenger seat of the van, riding co-pilot and keeping the kids in check while I drove us on adventures. So with that in mind, the day before the 6 month mark was an Orioles game I took the kids to. That kept my mind off it a bit but getting home, I had to make dinner. And it all just started rattling in my head. Seeing her face, missing her smile…everything, and I started tearing up. Not crying, but just tearing up. So I knew the next day would be rough…
I worked from home with the kids. Working from home with the kids nowadays usually means being The Arbitrator. “Dad, Darcy won’t stop touching me”. “Dad, Noah took this toy from me”. “Dad, it’s my pick, NO IT’S MY PICK”. “Dad we want to get in the poooooooooooooOOOOooooooOOOOOllllll!”. So that kept my mind occupied along with getting my work done for the day…but there was a moment. A moment I wasn’t proud of the way I handled, though my intentions were good.
Noah has this habit, that annoys the ever loving spit out of me, where when Darcy is watching a show he doesn’t like, he’ll either change the words of dialogue or songs to potty stuff, or will start singing about how it’s the dumbest thing he’s ever seen. (Yes, typical 7 year old boy stuff, I know). He and I have had words about this. I see it borderline on the bully spectrum. It’s probably not, but I think it’s a good teachable moment to head it off. But, we’ve been down that road before. So this day, he does it, and I remind him curtly to stop that, or go up to his room. He doesn’t stop, so I send him to his room. He doesn’t go, so I count him to 3, then carry him up the steps. There was more and more escalation in here, but I’m summarizing. So by the time I carry him up the steps, my fuse has long since burned out. I walk him up the steps (with him yelling how I’m hurting his arms, because let’s face it I’m carrying all 80 pounds of him through his armpits), and then I sit him in the chair in the loft. I pull up a chair, sit in front of him and tell him neither of us are moving from our spots until he can sit up, look at me, and give me the respectful attention. So 15 minutes later, after pretending to sleep, he sits up. And I said something I regretted…I reminded him that it was 6 months since Mommy had passed, and I told him that he and Darcy were her legacy, and carrying on like that was disrespecting her memory. I asked him, if Mommy was still alive, would that behavior make her proud? I mean…I want him to think about his behavior and what others would think of it…but clearly, was over the line to use her memory to drive the point home. I still feel like crap for saying that, but I was already upset and the way he was acting was really pushing me over the edge. We ended by talking about Mommy and I apologized…but man, it hit another level for me, because losing my cool was one thing Shannon helped me to keep in check. When she could hear me hitting a brick wall with the kids, she knew how to bust me out of it and show me where i was going wrong.
Anyway, so my plans to mark the date…If I can pause a moment for a PSA, let’s talk about balloon releases. Please, don’t do them. What happens to that balloon when it goes up…it comes back down! Lucy ate a balloon in the backyard once, the kids were playing with them and she grabbed one. I called the vet and was told to shove Hydrogen Peroxide down her throat until she vomited it out. Yeah, so anyone else who’s had to do it can tell you: It is some nasty stuff. And that’s just one tiny example of how these balloons can hurt or kill things when they come down. There’s a small group of us on the Widow board I’m on that tries to steer people away from it and suggest alternatives. So, PSA over…my plan was to do a campfire in the backyard. Shannon loved sitting out and keeping her feet warm beneath the fire bowl, and she loved sitting out enjoying the summer nights. So, I figured that would be a great way to honor her memory. And as a plus, each of us wrote a small note/letter to her that we then folded up and burned in the fire. So instead of floating a note into the sky, we burned one into smoke. All the feels, none of the harmful stuff to the environment.
My original plan was to leave the fire smoldering, get the kids to bed, and have some solitude moments thinking about her. Looked like that plan was kaput when the fire started smoking itself out about 20 minutes before their bedtime. I knew it I left it smoking the way it was, a neighbor would call the Fire Department, thinking my house was burning down or something. So begrudgingly, I dumped some water on it and went inside. Got the kids to bed and all, and went out to check on it. Somehow, the thing had re-lit itself! Not all the way, I just saw the last log was back to smoldering, but it allowed me to sit out under the stars, warm my feet and just think on all the memories. I cried. A lot. Didn’t help that I put on a playlist of a lot of songs that reminded me of her. I finally played our wedding dance song by Jimmy Buffett. I hadn’t listened to it since the day she died, but I needed to hear it. I think the overwhelming thought was just remembering a time when we were young and carefree (And yes, the irony of me talking about how we were young when I am 31 right now is NOT lost on me). Just remembering the plans and dreams we had, and how it all got re-written. It was sad, but it was also good to go back to some of the great memories we were able to make. I try not to be one of these people who tries to twist and turn every little thing into a sign of her with me, but I have no idea how that log re-lit after I doused it with water. But it made for a great end for that day.
So, this brings us into July. I’m going to try to keep going with opening up my mind and sharing what we go through on a day to day basis. A lot of it is pretty close to what we did when Shannon was getting chemo, and I was kind’ve running the household, but I’ll try to keep jotting it down and sharing anything that can give anyone still reading this a little glimpse into this life. It’s painful at times, crazy most of the times, and uplifting at others. But at the end of that day…it’s life.