Saturday, February 21, 2009

I cleaned out Joe's closets on Valentine's day night. The kids were at Meme and Papa's for a party so it seemed like as good a time as any to do it. You may remember that I did the bedroom last summer. This stuff is not fun.

Joe did not have a lot of "stuff". He used to say to me "You know the difference between a man and a woman when it comes to buying stuff Robin? Women buy little things here and there on sale or whatever.... couple bucks here, couple bucks there and men don't do that. Men just skip all that little shit and want the big stuff". That was basically his line of defense when telling me about all the things he wanted to buy. For years it drove me crazy, he'd get on kicks and talk about them constantly for months (I want a boat. I want a sports car. I want a camp. I want a motorcycle. I want a new snowmobile. I want a boat...). I noticed after a few years it was all cyclical. He'd be on a kick or a while, want something and within a few months he'd be onto something else, acting like the first thing was SO OUT and this new thing, THIS is what he really wanted. After a while it didn't bother me anymore. I just waited it all out with the seasons. And truthfully I waited it out with a lot of eye rolling. Afterall, one of my favorite sayings that I have had on my desk for probably 10 years is:

"Happiness is not getting what you want,
but wanting what you have".

I believe that Joe and I were good together because he kept us moving forward....never seeing any impossibility in having or doing anything, and I kept us grounded, remembering to appreciate what we already had. It was a good mix of both. Too much contentment can leave you stagnant; too much yearning for more can leave you not appreciating anything. We were good together.

When I was going through the stuff in his closet I came across this scrap of paper. I wrote this note to him while I was in labor, minutes before we left for the hospital, and I left it on his bureau for him to find some time later. We never talked about it, and truthfully I had forgotten about it until I came across it last week:

I have been crying about this piece of paper all week. A part of me does not know why it makes me so sad, and part of me can list you a thousand different reasons why.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The judge will give his decision sometime in the next few weeks about the appeal. I had assumed he would make his decision directly after hearing both sides yesterday but that's not how it works I guess. There is a an aricle in the paper today outlining the pathetic arguments (that were also pathetically argued I might add) made by the driver and his lawyer.

I am also very touched today thinking about the faces that I saw yesterday in the courtroom. I know that you were all there for Joe, but honestly, it warms my heart to know that he is not forgotten. It means a lot to know you all still carry a piece of him with you, and that you are willing to take time out of your busy lives for him still.

He was such a great guy.
There are just no words to describe what we lost that day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I am just sick that I have to go and face this again. I wonder if there are people on the earth who take another's life and feel remorse for the family, enough to not make them face a court to hear details again and again of their loved one's violent, tragic, and untimely death? To listen to lawyers who skew details in their client's favor and try to pass them off as facts? To listen to lawyers who skew details and try to pass them off as fact all in an effort to make a buck?
I wonder if there are people on the earth who take the life of another and then apologize in a sincere manner to the family? I wonder about that.
I wonder time and again how my husband's life could be taken and no one wants to admit that they did anything wrong; they want to pay no consequence (no matter how insignificant). I wonder how someone could just take a life and want to walk away and not face any of it.
Yet WE, the family, friends and loved ones are left to face the loss every day. And some days are worse than others.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I told my children that their father's body is in a cemetery in Strafford. They seemed to take it okay. I am sure the questions will come later when they allow it to sink in.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

There is a hearing on Thursday at Strafford County Court in Dover at 1 o'clock pertaining to whether the license of the driver (who caused my husband's death) will be revoked (again). You may remember that his license was revoked by the State of NH for 3 years. The decision was appealed and no one from the State showed up at the hearing due to a clerical error. I was unaware that any appeal had even been made, as was the rest of Joe's family. The judge gave the guy his license back pendng the new hearing, which is February 19th. It is open to the public. Contact me if you have questions.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I am starting a new group, for young widows. Ugh. I still can't believe I am one of those.
I also signed my children up for a group that starts in March. It's not that either of them seem to be having a hard time, it's more that I want them to connect with other kids who are in similar situations. They will actually be in different groups, because they separate the kids by age and developmentally obviously 4 year olds are a lot different 7 years olds. Alyssa is pretty open to the idea, but Luke immediately and matter-of-factly said "I'm not going" (like he has a choice). After I explained to him that they are going to be doing projects, things like cooking and making things he warmed up to the idea a little bit. I think it will be good for them.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More from our conversation referenced in my last post.

I asked "How do you feel, Luke, when you see mommy cry?" He said, "I've only seen you cry three times. The rest of the times I was at school."

Background: Luke asks me sometimes when the last time I cried was, how often I cry, etc. He does not talk about Joe in the same sentence but we both know where these questions come from. I tell him that I cry a lot. Not every day, but probably every week. I tell him that it's ok to cry because everyone needs a way to let their feelings out, and it's important to let your feelings out and not keep them all inside. And then when you're done crying, you move on to something else. I've told him there are different ways of dealing with the feelings, to talk about them, to cry, etc and it's not important how you let them out, but that you let them out of your body and mind. We talk about this concept pretty often because Luke will always be the first to say "I never cried about daddy". He says it as though it's a good thing. I don't know where this comes from. I don't believe that Joe or I ever gave the impression that crying means weakness. I'm not going to tell my son he has to cry over what happened. I just tell him that it is ok no matter if he cries or does not cry and if he does cry I would just hug him.

Luke also says he does not think about his daddy a lot. It is so true that kids process loss so much differently than adults do. First, they don't necessarily understand what it means to die and the permanence of it. Second, their minds do not focus or dwell on hurtful things the way ours do. They may think of it for a minute, it may or may not feel good, and then they are on to something else. Third, kids really are "in the moment". It took me so long to understand and accept this concept. If kids are having fun doing something, they really are having fun. There 's no hidden secret to uncover. That's it. You just have to let it be what it is. They are not like adults, where we kind of go with the flow with sadness overshadowing everything.

So back to the question I asked Luke. "How do you feel when you see mommy cry?" I asked him again and didn't dispute his "3 times" comment, though this kid has definitely seen me cry more than three times. Luke went on (in his silly hyper-active voice) "I feel like, oh boy, I gotta get daddy. Where's daddy??" I realized what he was saying for the first time. "You feel like you don't know what to do when you see me cry?". He said "yes".

"Luke, I don't need you to do anything when I cry. If you want to do something, you could give me a hug, but I don't need anything. It's just how I let my feelings out. And I don't need daddy Luke. Mommy will be okay, even without daddy. You remember that I met daddy when I was 23 right? You remember that there was 'mommy' before I met daddy right? Mommy can take care of everything, including my two babies (ok they're not babies but I am allowed to still call them that if I want to :-). It's been a year and a half since daddy was here Luke, and we're all doing pretty good, wouldn't you say?

Luke said yes.

"Look at Alyssa's report card", I said pointing to the fridge, "she's doing great. And you're doing great with school and hockey and your friends and all the other things you do. And mommy is doing good too right? We are okay, and we've spent a long time without daddy now and we're all okay. Mommy can take care of you guys and the house and everything that needs to be done, even without daddy."

Luke agreed.

I honestly do not know what Luke thinks about in terms of his father dying, but I have always known that he worries about me. He makes comments here and there about my life; how I 'have to' do all the things around the house (to which I reply- "but Luke, that's okay, because I like to do that stuff") and believe it or not, he makes reference to me getting old "by myself". I think this comes from that he understands that Joe and I were married and we planned on getting old together. My sweet boy does not want his mommy to be alone as an old lady. It tears at my heart to think of him worrying about that. For now though, all I can do is show him that I am okay, that I am am not worried about that. And I'm not.

In a way I was glad to talk about this topic with Luke because I realized that some of his worries are possible to take away. With death, there is so little you have control over. There is no chance of hope to see Joe on this earth again. That's a hard thing I struggle with in terms of easing my children's pain. But their worries about me have possibilities to diminish with my actions.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tonight at dinner the kids and I went around the table and each of us said something good that happened today. We did that, and I love doing that because I always like hearing what they come up with. Then Luke said "now lets go around and say the worst thing that happened today", I said ok and the kids said their things and it got to me. Honestly, I had some pretty shitty things go on today but nothing I was about to tell them about. But as I was sitting there thinking, Luke said "the day that daddy died". He was referencing other conversations in which I have told my kids that that day was the worst day of my life. "That didn't happen today", I said to Luke, "but yes that was the worst thing that has ever happened in my life". Luke followed it up with "But we didn't have a funeral". He says these things in a silly voice that he uses when he wants to talk about something that he feels uncomfortable with.

"Yes we did Luke, you guys were not there". I said. Luke knows that there was a funeral and we have talked about it many, many times. Both of my kids remember the day that I told them their father died surprisingly well. They make comments about the time period...when they came home and their cousins were here and they didn't know they were going to be; the tent that was in the yard; all the people here that they did not know. It was a confusing time for them. It will be interesting if they are able to vocalize their feelings about that time period when they are older, and tell really what it was like for them.

I do not have regrets about anything really during that time. We were all doing our best to get by those first days and the kids were well taken care of and literally surrounded with love. That is all that could be done. There are differing opinions on whether kids should or should not be at funeral services at young ages. I believe that it depends on the children, and I also do not regret that my kids did not go. It was enough for them to be here at my house and have people come here after the funeral.

me: "You remember Luke, mommy spoke about daddy at the funeral to all the people that were there. I talked about how much daddy loved you guys".

Luke: "You talked ahout US?"

me: "Yes."

Luke: "What did you say?"

Me: "Do you want me to read to you what I said that day?"

Luke and Alyssa: "Yes!"

Both kids were acting a little silly an excited to hear what I said. I went to my computer and printed out a copy of what I said that day. I had not read what I was about to read for well over a year, but at that moment it felt right that the kids wanted to hear it. I brought it back to the kitchen and sat down. I started reading it and the kids listened, kind of fooled around, and they commented on certain parts. When I got almost to the end, there is a part about how much Joe loved to skate. I paused as I remembered the sentences I was about to read and I felt a rush of emotion come over me. Up to this point I had moments where my voice quivered, but I held it together, wanting my kids to focus on what I was saying, and not my emotion. When I got to the skating part the tears flowed out of my eyes and I put my head down.

Alyssa kind of quietly to Luke: She's crying Luke.

Alyssa to me in a sweet voice: "Mommy, daddy wishes he could come back but he can't."

Me: "I know Alyssa." I was hearing the words I've said to her a thousand times, trying to let her know that her daddy loves her and did not leave us by choice. Luke did his "normal" thing that he does when he sees me cry, which is basically to try to be silly and kind of make fun of me. I always stop him and tell him everything is okay, that mommy is fine, that I just cry sometimes because I love daddy so much and I am sad that he is not here with us.

This whole episode prompted a half hour long "discussion" with my kids about their daddy, the accident, various other issues surrounding the tragedy. I say "discussion" because the way these things work is that they say little phrases that to an outsider would probably make no sense but I try to interpret what they mean and what they are talking about, and go from there. I don't know if these conversations are productive or not, if the kids get anything out of them. I just seriously and simply do not know.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tonight I had Alyssa's first conference with her preschool teacher. Three years ago Joe and I sat with the same teacher for Luke's first school conference.

On my way there while I was driving, I was talking to myself out loud in my car, listing all of the things in this life that I am "lucky" to have....listing the reasons why my life is great....listing things that I am thankful for. I sounded like a crazy person. I was doing this because I was desperately trying to occupy my mind with something other than what I was about to do, which was sit in a chair across from Alyssa's teacher, alone. God, it hurts so much. I have a really hard time with the school things. I have yet to have a conference with Luke's teachers in which ANYONE does not shed a tear, teachers included.

I thought for sure that I would be okay tonight. I had some questions about Alyssa and whether or not the teacher hears her talking about her daddy in school. I know she does, I know that she has told some of the kids that "her daddy died" and they just look at her with blank stares. They don't know what to say to her, why would they? They don't even understand what she is saying I am sure. To most 4 year olds, daddies don't die. Maybe grandparents and pets and old people die. But not daddies. My heart breaks for Alyssa, thinking of her admission of this huge void in her life, being met with silence. But maybe she doesn't need anything. Maybe a kid just wants to say it.

I pretty much bailed on the conference after my first mention of Joe, because I felt my lip start to quiver and my hands shake. I just wanted to get out of there at that point because I was not up for an uncomfortable moment and I knew I wasn't going to cry through my questions to the teacher. I just wanted out and I'll talk to her another time. I'll tell her all the usual stuff....if they do anything for father's day, please consider Alyssa at that time...she has others in her life that she can make a project for, her Uncle Jeff or one of her Grandfathers.....please let me know if you hear of anything that she talks about in terms of her father or any situations that arise.....please let me know of any unusual behavior or anything out of character for her. All these questions I thought I would never ask, masked in words that make it seem bearable. I made it back to my car before I really started to cry, or maybe just out the door, I don't really remember.

The teacher had nothing but great things to say about my daughter. Wonderful in every way.