Monday, February 27, 2012

Our Two Gifts

On Sean's birthday, I like to think that today we gave him two gifts.  The first came from me.  Let me explain.  When the whole Hillary Clinton book came out about how it takes a village to raise a child I honestly thought it was a crock.  I still think the main influences on a child are their parents and was too much of a control freak to think that anyone else really made that much of a difference.  And then January 11, 2011 came along and that theory was blown out the window.  Half of my whole was gone.  And I truly began to realize that I need the people that are in my sons' lives.  I need their teachers, their Sunday School leaders, their Awana leaders, their friends, their friend's families to help me raise these children.  And that was really not more true than yesterday.  Logistically, my life can be a little difficult but thankfully I have really kind people nearby to help.  Hunter had a birthday party to go to and I arranged for John to go to his friend Mason's house.  Let me interrupt myself here.  Back story:  John would ride the Superman ride at Six Flags but would not get on his bike.  Literally.  He was terrified of the thing.  And I just knew in my heart it was time for him to get on it and ride.  I asked Grant, Mason's father to help me.  He was a good one to ask, I don't know too many more laid back people than him.  I brought John and the bike to his house during that birthday party and said, "Will you please teach my son how to ride his bike?"  Confession time: that was hard for me.  I felt like a little bit of a failure as a parent with this.  I felt like it was my responsibility to teach him but I knew that I just wasn't the one.  And that was all right.  So, I dropped him off and did what I do best - I cried halfway to the party.  Tears that I wouldn't see him learn, tears that Sean wouldn't be the one to teach him and, honestly, relief that I could pass that on to someone else. So, Sean's first gift was my acceptance that maybe I can't always be the be-all and end-all in my sons' lives (persish the thought).  But there will be people in their lives that will come alongside them and love them.  What a gift to their father.  

The second gift came from my John himself.  I got to Grant's house after the party and he said, "Yeah, he knows how to ride and he's doing a good job."  Just like that.  You know how your children will ultimately teach you more than you'll teach them?  Yeah.  I got that in spades.  John got on the bike, looked me straight in the eye and said, "Mama, I just didn't know how much fun it would be."  God, I love that little boy.  Talk about a life lesson right there.  How many times have we missed something because of fear and missed all that fun?  I know I have.  So, I think the gift John gave was his willingness to try (once his mother went away) and he did it.  John is living through the darkest days of his life and he triumphed.  He could have kicked and screamed and refused to even try.  Sean is watching that.  I can only imagine that he was cheering him on from above.  And I hope that we made him proud. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sean's Birthday

Tomorrow is Sean's birthday.  Tomorrow he would have been 49 years old.  And all I want to do in the quiet moments of today is cry. 

I got so many phone calls and cards on the anniversary of Sean's death and it made me heartsick.  Not the love that people showed, but that the darkest day of my life was given any attention at all.  The notice of the day gave weight to it.   I talked with a friend who has gone through a devastating loss this year too and when people asked her what she planned to do to commemorate the one-year loss of her daughter, she hit the nail on the head.  She said, "I'm going to try to forget the worst day of my life."  That's how I feel too.  I appreciated the love that people showed but I just hated being reminded of it so much.

But, his birthday.  That's a different story.  That's a day that should be remembered.  Sean was in a word magnificent.  He was the hardest working man I know, he was the kindest, most honest, forgiving, loving man to ever grace this planet.  I was so proud to be his wife and he loved me and our sons.  His birthday honestly always used to stress me endlessly.  He loved angel food cake, his favorite, and I struggled every year to make a good one for him.  He didn't have a lot of family so I felt a great responsibility to really show him how loved he was on his birthday.  I would give anything to have to make another one of those dreadful cakes.  And fret over not doing enough or worrying that I had gone way overboard.   

He honestly lived every single day of his life.  He gave and he gave and sometimes fell into bed with the exhaustion of the day after serving so many people in his life.  I'm going to tell his sons what a remarkable husband he was, how he was the one who took the first lock of the boys' hair, how much he loved them.  I'm going to try to show them the husband and father he was so that one day they will follow in his footsteps.  That they will one day grow into the same kind of man he was.  I see his kindness and his patience in John.  I see his impishness and his generosity in Hunter.  I'm just so very proud that I get to live with his children every day. 

Your birthday is a celebration of your life.  The years you've lived and the ones still down the road.  It's a day to take stock and make some changes if you need to.  It's a big day.  So, as I sit here on the eve of Sean's birthday, my heart is sad.
He was taken away from people who loved him so much.   But I won't let them forget.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Lesson I Learned From My New Hat

This is a picture of the hat I recently knitted for myself.  To say I love this hat would be a huge understatement.  I loved the whole process of knitting it because it wasn't easy.  I had to rip it out and start over about five times.  I was frustrated and angry but I kept at it.  And the finished item was something I just adored.  And I'm so glad I persevered. 

Saturday morning rolls around and I start to get ready to go to John's basketball game.  It's a Park and Rec game held at our local middle school.  And I really want to wear my new hat.  So, I put it on.  Then I took it off.  Then I put it on again and took it off again.  I did this about five times.  I even stooped so low to ask John (who's only 7 for goodness sake) if it looked okay.  It was bordering on ridiculous.  Gosh, I miss Sean, he really had such patience for me when I got like this. 

It's only a hat....I know, I know.  But  I just worried that people would think I look silly.  It's hard when you're forty but your heart feels sixteen.  So I talked to myself a lot.  I have a confession to make.  I worry about what people think of me.  All the time.  It almost borders on excessive.  And I know deep down in my heart it has to stop. 

When Sean died, part of me died too.  And I don't say that to sound maudlin, it's just the truth.  When he died, I looked at the world differently and I honestly have tried to embrace that and live in a way that's opposite of how I used to.  When the love of your life is gone and the world completely stops making sense and your life will never look the same again, things that used to matter don't anymore.  And I keep forgetting that.  It doesn't matter what people think of my new hat.  I love it.  And that is ALL that matters.

So I wore my hat on Saturday morning and I didn't even cause a blip in the world.  It didn't cause an international incident and I'm pretty sure the people of Old Lyme aren't buzzing about it.  But, it was a huge step for me.  I shed a little more of the old Jen and that was pretty big for me.  I started listening to that still small voice that is crying out to be heard.