So I am moved into my parents… I have not set up my computer yet and it’s been nice! My connection through technology happens only through my phone which has been limited. Once my computer is set up (meaning taken out of the box, like so many other things in my “room”) I will get back to the blog. But I have to say, so far, so good… Feels likes these 2 months might just fly by. Trying to enjoy them while we can 🙂
So this is it. Our final night in this house. ‘E’ is sad. I ask her why and she doesn’t really have an answer. I get it. We have built a life in this house… Mark and I and the kids. We dreamed of a future in this house and with this family. We had fun and laughed and loved in this house. Babies were made and brought home in this house, first steps were taken, snuggles were had, and most of all we started our life here. I know it’s “just a house” but so many things happened here that once we leave, will stay here with this house. The room that Mark and I shared, the one I’m sitting in now on a mattress on the floor, will be someone else’s… and I will move on to a room that is just mine, never to be shared with Mark. I am sad. I know this means great things for us and I know with all that I am that this is the right decision. But it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Knowing we are physically moving on to a new house, starting a new beginning without Mark is really difficult. I want him here for all of this. The kids want him here for baseball games and dance recitals and bedtime stories. I think I do a pretty good job of “being there” for the kids, but I can’t replace daddy. I will never be able to give them that again and that, well, that sucks.
The kids and I all sat together for one last talk in our house, the house we shared with daddy. We did what we always do at the end of “family meetings,” put our hands in and shout out ‘R’ Family! I know it’s cheesy, but we like it 🙂 Anyways, we are a family, even if one of us is missing. And I am definitely more happy than sad to be leaving this house. (although packing and moving after 9 years really SUCKS!) I think what keeps me strong is knowing that we are going to be okay. Of course we have our bad days, but they are less and less with more days in between. This is just the next step in healing our family. I know Mark is watching over us and making sure that things run smoothly (I mean, come on, the FIRST and ONLY people to look at the house are the ones who buy it, before we even listed it??) and I hope he will continue to do so for as long as we need it.
I’m exhausted and pod packing day #2 is tomorrow. Then we officially move into my parents’ house (which, by the way, THANK YOU for letting us stay with you!! Just another adventure!). Should hopefully be less than 2 months and we will close on the new house, just in time for ‘E’ & ‘B’ to start school. Already met some of the neighbors and all 3 kids will have playmates 🙂 Trying to move forward while still cherishing the past. Wish us luck…
PS. We have siding and a garage floor!! Oh, and WALLS!!
The past few days I have been thinking a lot about Mark. Could be because we are moving out. Or maybe it’s just time for me to reflect on things (again). Either way, I decided to do a google search of his name. Just curious, ya know? And there were two things that caught my attention. One was something I knew about from shortly after Mark died… some photojournalist had been at the scene (why or how I don’t know) and took photos THAT DAY. Okay, so those are pictures I don’t ever want to see again, or have my kids see. Nothing graphic (thank God) but enough to make me re-play that day in my head over and over. I had been thinking about contacting the blog’s writer to ask him to remove the pictures from his site (I was not the first person to do so, but each person was told no). Long story short, after 7 months, I worked up the courage to ask for the pictures to be removed. I guess I wasn’t prepared for his answer because to me this seemed like a no brainer. However, he told me “Life can be very hard, but this is not cause for me to remove the photos.” Wow. I did not respond, because he has made his choice. However, I quite honestly was shocked. I guess I assumed that if given the opportunity to lessen someone’s pain, every human would do so. This isn’t for the sake of art, or for who knows what, because honestly who cares about those pictures but me? Nobody is having a positive impact from the photos, but I am having a NEGATIVE one, so why NOT take them down? What purpose does it serve to keep them up? Other than to say it’s his right to do so? Ugh, anyways, I am working on letting it go. Realizing that he made his choice and he will have to live with it. I made mine and like many other things in life, it didn’t go the way I planned.
The second thing I found was actually amazing. There was a facebook page for our local “patch” and I found a link from the day Mark died with the article, followed by TONS of supportive and sweet comments, many from former students or parents of students. It was so nice to read all of them because I had never seen it before. It just reaffirmed that Mark really was this amazing person, not just to me and the kids, but to so many other people. It is so nice to hear all these wonderful things (and to disregard the few negative ones) after all this time. I want to print it out and keep it with all the nice cards and letters that have been sent my way. I think it will be great for the kids to read when they are older to see what a wonderful person their dad was to so many people.
And so back to packing… I think a lot of my recent thinking about Mark also has to do with our moving out. While there is some comfort staying here, there is just too much pain for me. It is just too sad and too hard to be in this place Mark and I shared. Bittersweet is definitely the word. Like always, not the way I planned it, but we will make the best of it and build a new future together. The kids are excited and so for that I am happy. Just keep us in your thoughts as I’m sure there will be a few bumps along the way.
Life is funny. I thought yesterday would be a really hard day for the kids and I (and I hadn’t given a second thought to mother’s day!) and it actually wasn’t bad. Of course it really sucked to have to spend our father’s day with Mark at the cemetery. We went and put flowers on his grave, the kids wished him a happy father’s day and told them they loved him. It was sad. We each wrote him a letter, then I read mine out loud to the kids (and I cried). We put all the letters in a card, sealed it and put it in a box. ‘E’ and I decided tonight that we would write them every year and then when Spencer graduates from High School, we will open them and read them all. I want to do something meaningful for the kids without making them sad when they wouldn’t be.
We then spent the day at my sister’s in-laws lakehouse… we purposely planned a fun busy day so the kids could just enjoy the day without missing Mark. Of course we had our moments of sadness, but overall it was an awesome day. It also happened to be exactly 7 months since Mark died. I look forward to the day when I don’t count by months anymore. When the 15th of any month is just another day of the month. Maybe it won’t ever be. I still just wish with all my heart and soul I could have Mark back. For myself and for the kids. Thankfully I’ve never been the kind of person to worry about things I can’t control, and so while I am mourning this incredible loss, I am determined to make the best of the life we have and the future we create.
And now onto finishing up packing and the big move… we move out to my parents’ house on Saturday. While it will be a crazy week and this move is bittersweet, I know in my heart it is the best decision. It is going to be another big transition, but one we can plan and prepare for. I am hopeful we will have joy in all the new memories we will create there. Not the way I pictured this next chapter but the kids and I are excited for all the positive things this means for our family. Wish us luck!!!
Tomorrow is father’s day. A reminder of what my kids will always be missing. In a way I feel guilty that I still have my dad and they don’t have theirs. It’s not fair and I can only imagine how hard tomorrow is going to be for them. I hate to see them hurting, knowing there is nothing I can do to “fix it.” I wish I could. It feels like every day that passes things get a tiny bit better, and then another “thing” comes up and we are back where we started. Peaks and valleys. It’s emotionally exhausting.
I mentioned in my mother’s day post about the amount of support and help my parents have given us since Mark died. Well, now it’s dad’s turn. My dad is quite simply one outstanding human being. He will help out in a heartbeat and will take the kids whenever I have even the smallest errand to run. He never makes me feel like I’m putting him out and he runs and jumps and plays with the kids like he is a big kid himself. He is so much like Mark (or I should say Mark was so much like him!) and it brings such comfort to both me and the kids. He tells the kids stories before bed (and keeps them up past bedtime pretty much every night) and they love every minute of it. It has taken a huge burden off me because bedtime was “Mark’s time” with the kids and I knew it would be a tough transition. And it was. But I know how much the new added support of Grandpa and Grandma means to the kids.
So on this Father’s Day, I will think about Mark. And thank him for giving me these 3 amazing kids. And for being an awesome dad who showed his love to them every chance he got. It is so comforting to have pictures and videos and memories for the kids so they will never have to question how much Mark loved them. He was truly a special dad and we were lucky to have him. I will think about my dad. I always knew he was awesome… but it is magnified even more now. So THANK YOU dad. You have been an important part in our healing and I know we can look forward to many more fun adventures together. I love you… Happy Father’s Day!
Wow, can’t believe that it’s been almost a week since I last wrote. Makes since as this past week has been utter chaos!! The packing has officially started! Which means my house is in this sort of limbo until I move into my parents house. Good news is, the new house seems to be moving along quickly… I have actual walls! But I think the stress may be catching up a bit. I am just really tired. I was reflecting tonight with my parents about the past almost 7 months. I am definitely in a better place than I was even a few months ago. I think I used the word “zombie” to describe how I felt the first 2 months after Mark died. I think my brain was still in shock and this idea of being “in a fog” describes it completely. Like I was moving through each day but what was going on externally took a back seat to the racing thoughts in my brain. Slowly each week, day, minute I am slowly reconnecting with the real world. I think people have been pretty understanding with my “flakiness”… I am not doing it on purpose. My mind is in a million different places at once. Not only is there the logistics of kids needing to be places (and me needing to be places too) but trying to balance that with “family” time with me and the kids, making sure their emotional needs (and mine) are being met, add to that trying to move out of a house and build a new house… my brain is on complete overload.
But even with it all, I feel like we are all adjusting as well as can be expected at this stage. Some good days, some bad days. All the regular family stuff (kids not wanting to go to bed, pizza movie nights, baseball in the backyard) but add to it missing daddy, all the time. The pain is still there, but it’s not (always) as heartwrenching. While I will miss the comfort of Mark in this house, I know it is the right decision to move and have a new house that is “ours” (meaning me and the kids, without Mark). I just said to my counselor last night the thing that makes this “end” so hard is that I didn’t want it. I didn’t stop loving Mark. The future I wanted and planned included Mark til the end. But that is not an option. So I have to, at some point, figure out what is going to make the kids and me happy in our future. Because (which I already knew) I love these kids more than anything in the world. They are so special because they will always be a physical representation of the love Mark and I had for each other. In fact, I once wrote to ‘E’ (when she was our only child) that she is so special because she was made from true love. I have always believed that the kids turned out well because the always knew they were loved. So I continue to tell them each night that Daddy loves them. I am so sad that ‘S’ won’t remember times with Mark. And honestly ‘B’ has a hard time remembering too. I gave them their books and they LOVED them… sleep with them either in or next to their beds each night. Day by day we are moving towards healing… another day on this roller coaster called life.
Tonight as it settles in the house, the kids have fallen asleep after a long day of swimming and birthday party fun, I decide to watch some thoughtless TV (house hunters) and look through Mark’s facebook page. I had come to the conclusion today that I am moving towards healing. I haven’t had that gut-wrenching sadness or pain in a while. I haven’t even cried in, heck, at least a few days. And all it takes is one picture. One look into that face… those eyes. And it’s all back. I remember WHY I feel so bad. And everything I am missing without him here. It can turn just like that. It is definitely the worst part of this whole process.
Just tonight as I walked down the stairs I remembered shortly after Mark died hating going downstairs after the kids were in bed. Once I was up, I stayed up. And tonight I thought, I am good. I am moving on. I am confident in my skills to manage the kids on my own. I just booked our first trip for this fall with just the me and the kids. And while I will always miss the co-parenting help and support I got from Mark, that is not what I truly miss. What I miss is, gosh, where do I even start? His ability to be so ridiculous you couldn’t help but laugh. His willingness to do things for me even when I knew he didn’t really want to (like go get me a slurpee at 10pm or switch the laundry because I didn’t remember to and was too tired to go downstairs to do it). I miss doing nothing together. Just knowing he was here, downstairs working on the computer or out for a run. While I have gotten used to him not being here physically, I don’t know how to get used to him not being here for my heart. I need him. The kids need him. I just will never be able to grasp that he was anything but who I knew him to be… a happy, funny, loving, free spirit.
Another busy day tomorrow, my nephew’s birthday and then ‘E’s’ dance recital on Sunday. I am so sad Mark will miss it… I know how much he loved to watch her dance. So many things I wish he could be here for… ‘E’ and ‘B’ both got straight S’s on their report cards (and ‘S’ got all “A’s” whatever that means in preschool!) ‘B’ has been doing amazing at baseball. And ‘S’ is just getting so big and so much more mature every day… he isn’t a baby anymore. Next month he will be 4. Mark and I would always talk about when the kids would be 4, 6 and 8 (which is almost here) and how things would be so much easier (we both HATED age 3!)… and I am so sad he won’t be here for it… or for anything else.
I wonder if I will ever be okay. I wonder if I will ever get to a place where I can just feel happy without having it feel so hard. I am an optimist by nature, so I am hopeful. I know there is no timeframe, but I wish there was. Because the thought that this could be indefinite is unbearable. Just taking it one day, one hour, one breath at a time for now. Getting through each day and trying to remember that nothing in life is guaranteed and making the most of the times I have with my family, friends and of course my 3 blessings. I encourage you to do the same.
I have always thought I will do things when they feel right. I am working on deciding the right time to take of my wedding rings. For some people this might be easy. But as a person who never took them off (except to shower) they have pretty much been on my finger since June 8, 2002. Gosh, I didn’t even realize it is almost the 12 year anniversary from the day we got engaged. I think the thing that makes it hard it for me is it means I am “available” which I know sounds ridiculous. Or if I take them off it means I am no longer loyal to Mark. That I am “over” him. It is an outward symbol of our love (we even said that in our vows) so to take them off means I don’t love him anymore? But at the same time, I feel like it makes it confusing for people. Nobody has outright asked (strangers, you know, people who don’t know me or my situation). But if/when they do, I don’t know what I will say. Saying, “my husband recently passed away” will only be accurate for so long. And how long is “recently?” After my shower today I left them off and put on a ring Mark gave me on our one year wedding anniversary. It has 3 rubies on it (we had no kids at the time, but now it seems perfect!) and is just a regular ring. I used to wear this sometimes when I felt like I wanted a change, so it’s not totally unusual, but maybe this is my transition. I’m thinking of taking the diamond from my engagement ring and having it put into a new setting for my right hand. It’s a horrible thing I have to do, I really wish I didn’t have to do it. But I feel like the time is coming… and it doesn’t mean I don’t love Mark. I doesn’t mean that I am “over” him. It doesn’t mean that I am “available.” It just means that I am living the life I was given. I have to move forward for my sake and the kids and find a way to heal. And maybe this is part of my healing and letting go of the dreams and hopes I had for my future. Because the future I planned and imagined isn’t to be. But I can choose to make it amazing and full of life and love. Every day I remind myself to be thankful for this little comfort factory Mark left me (E, B & S) because they are the reason I am able to get through each day. Their hugs and love. He is gone, but he didn’t leave me alone. And for that I will always be grateful.
This is a picture Mark took at his house before coming to my nephew’s 2nd birthday party where he proposed with my ring on top of a cupcake after singing Happy Birthday.
Shortly after we were married… we were super nerdy (okay, I was at least!)
So instead of printing out pictures, I usually make a few photo books each year through shutterfly. It’s nice because while I have all our photos (and we have a LOT!) on the external hard drive, it’s nice to be able to pick up a book and look at old pictures every once in a while. I went through all the digital pictures we have (back to 2004) and decided to make each of the kids a book with pictures of them with Mark. It was a bit of a daunting task and honestly was really pretty difficult emotionally to do sometimes. But I did it, and ordered each of them 2 books, one to look at and one to keep safe for when they are older. I used the book “Wherever you are, my love will find you” by Nancy Tillman as the inspiration. It says exactly what I want them to know. If you have a shutterfly account you can see their books below. I hope they will treasure them as much as I do.
Yesterday was the 1st annual “Running for Reilly” 5K that Mark’s school put on for him. In a word, it was perfect. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I have to be honest, it was a little overwhelming. The amount of people from the community who came out to support me and the kids and honor Mark was simply astounding. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, sun was shining with a nice breeze (Mark would have preferred a little cooler temperature so he could be faster!) but for me, it was perfect. ‘E’ was SO proud of herself for finishing the full 5K and then doing the kids “Fun Run” 1K (which she was one of the first to finish!) ‘B’ was right behind her on the 1K and ‘S’ walked with me almost the whole way (and finished strong on his uncle’s shoulders!) Everyone I spoke to said they had a blast and loved being there and remembering Mark. His school and everyone who worked on the race will never know how much it means to all of us… I can’t say enough about how much we appreciate all the work that went into the day.
Home for lunch and a short break (thankful because ‘S’ was able to take an hour and 1/2 nap!) then off to the cemetery. I knew it would be rough because even just reading my speech in my head would make me cry. And I had never said it out loud. ‘E’ was sobbing, which made me and ‘B’ upset. We all got to put in our notes with his ashes… ‘B’ put in a baseball, ‘S’ put in one of his stuffed animals and I put in a guitar pick. Once the vault was put in the ground, everyone had a chance to place a flower on top. ‘E’ gave hers a kiss before she dropped it in. Then we were able to shovel the dirt on top, the kids and I all did it together. It was really hard but I think really made it real. We then had a nice luncheon where we talked and enjoyed company with the people we love. I know we all felt supported because ‘E’ and her cousin gave a speech at the lunch and said so 🙂 It was so cute.
Now… on to… life… wish us luck!