What IS it about this time of year that makes everything soooo hard?! I keep telling myself, “You’ve been through this before. You can do this. It won’t be as bad as last year.”
And yet somehow, even though we did really well through spring and summer, here comes the heavy weight of loss again. Ugh!
For some reason, we’ve all been missing him more lately. I mean, of course we always miss him, but it’s intensified suddenly. Is it the change in weather? Is it the fast-approaching holidays? Whatever the reason, we (both the kids and I) are feeling empty and sad lately. I made waffles for dinner the other night, which was Mark’s specialty. Breakfast for dinner was his thing. I didn’t say anything about it, but when the kids saw the waffle maker, they both said “That reminds me of Daddy!” Memories are good…and sad…comforting…and terrible.
The reminders of his absence are everywhere lately.
Gman had parent-teach conferences last week. I was nervous because although he’s doing better, he still struggles emotionally. I think we have the right, or good-enough mix of medicine to help him with self-control, anxiety and all of the other things ADD can cause a young boy to struggle with. He’s a very bright boy, so I wasn’t too concerned about the academic report, but I was nervous about behavior. Overall, the conference went very well. We are fortunate to have teachers and staff committed to helping Gman. They work with me to help him. Although he still has areas for much improvement, the conference was mostly positive. I am proud of him.
While we were waiting for our time slot, Gman showed me his artwork taped to the wall in the hallway.
Maybe it’s because I have ZERO artistic ability, but I thought this was SO good! I texted a photo of it to his big sister in Chicago. I sent it to his aunt and uncle. And for a brief second, I wanted to text it to his Dad. How in heaven’s name can my mind still be fooled 20 months later?! That made me so very sad. I want to share these moments with my husband. He would be so proud of his son. He would laugh at his goofy ways. (What kid doesn’t wear ski goggles to the breakfast table?) We would laugh TOGETHER about our kids.
I think back to the special times he shared with his only son. Gman is remembering these things lately, too.
Gman didn’t feel well this weekend. His throat hurt and he was congested. He reminisced of when he had nightmares or didn’t feel well, he would crawl in bed next to his Daddy and they’d watch TV together. He was sad. I laid next to him in bed and let him choose a TV show. I cuddled with him and stroked his hair, knowing that it wasn’t the same. Although I love him, and he loves me…I can’t be his Dad for him. There is nothing I can do to replace that emptiness he sometimes feels.
He wanted to talk about his Dad. He told me a few of his special memories and then started to ask me about all of the things his Dad built.
“Did he make my bed?” Gman asked, even though he knew the answer.
“Yes, he did! It was your very first big boy bed, and Daddy was so happy to make it with his own hands for you,” I told him.
“What else did he make for me? Gman asked.
“Well, he made your Lego table, your book case, the tool cart we have in the garage, the workbench, and Lolo’s book case,” I reminded him.
“I bet if Daddy were alive he would make me a shelf to display my Lego creations on,” he said.
“He sure would! I’m sorry he isn’t here to do that for you, Gman,” I said.
“And I’m sorry I don’t know how to build things like that. But we can look for a nice shelf at the store to hang on your wall,” I said, knowing that wasn’t the point.
I’m so glad Gman talks about these things with me, even though it accentuates the sorrow in my own heart. I know it’s healthy to talk about it. The girls don’t do this as freely, which is why I write about them less. They bottle their feelings more than their brother. Even this reminds me of my husband. Like Gman, He often wore his feelings on his sleeve, just like Gman.
“Steel Magnolias”, “A Walk To Remember”, “The Notebook” – my husband sobbed harder than I did through all of these movies. I loved that about him. It was fun to tease him about his tender heart, but also what I absolutely adored about him. A gentle man. I pray Gman grows up to be like that. I often feel overwhelmed with the task of raising a young man. What do I need to teach him that his Dad would have?
I taught him how to pump gas a few weeks ago. I promised him we’d start a fire in a can outside soon. (Are all 10-yr-old boys obsessed with fire?). I taught him how to prep the vegetables for our chili and let him make the cornbread all by himself. I didn’t object when he wanted to wear his Dad’s safety glasses while chopping onions.
In addition to teaching him life skills, I’m also talking non-stop to Gman about the importance of being kind, respectful, trustworthy, hard working, and responsible, etc. – just hoping it sinks in and sticks. I want him to be a wonderful man like his Dad.
I’m so proud of my girls, too. B is enjoying her first year of law school and sharing exciting stories about all that she’s learning. Her Dad would’ve been so proud of her. He would’ve researched Tort law, property law, legal writing – all the things so he could talk with knowledge to her about all of it. I know she misses him so much.
And Lolo. He would’ve been so proud of her last week. She’s been working very hard at mock trial and Friday was her competition.
She received a nomination for outstanding attorney and another nomination for outstanding witness. Oh, how I wish I could still share all of these parenting joys with him. I also wish I could share the parenting hardships with him. Sometimes it’s tough being the only bad guy. It was much better when we could take turns in that role.
So, in a nutshell, it’s been hard again lately. We are doing ok, but the absence of Mark swells this time of year. We will get through it, just like we did last year, but it stinks.
We just aren’t the same people, or the same family without him. But we have love, we have hope, and we are going to make it. And you will too, do you hear me? It won’t be easy, but you’re not in it alone. Remember that as you head into Thanksgiving, ok? We are going to make it. Grief is a marathon, not a sprint.
Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1
and when we run into times when it’s so very hard, we have to remember:
The Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
There is hope for us. Every day, no matter how sad, how empty, how great our grief, there is still hope. Thinking of all of you today and every day. I’m so glad you’re here.
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