My broken necklace

The first few days getting dressed for the hospital were a blur… One day I wore the Time Turner necklace Tim got me because he said I was Hermione. Then I pulled out the necklace he bought me in Breckenridge on our first trip there together in early 2008. Two hearts in one with a small diamond… And I wore it every day thereafter. That first day, May 17th, they gave me his ring in a bag. I put it in his toiletry bag I’d been carrying since I arrived with his toothbrush, etc., and then his wallet and phone and other things in. On the day he died I got the ring out, put it on that heart necklace and put it around my neck. I wore it there every day for a year. After the year mark I started wearing it only on special occasions or days I felt I needed extra strength. It is so very heavy. We picked it… Tungsten, for that reason… Indestructible and inexpensive in case he lost it or so he couldn’t destroy it!

I wore it on special days and the Saturday before Easter, when the kids and I took Tim’s dad to see Tim’s bench at Veramar for the first time. A wanted to take a picture of D, Chief and I. We sat together and posed and D started wiggling then pushed hard into my chest and I felt a little crunch-snap. Tim’s ring pushed hard into the chain of my necklace and it broke and the ring and the two hearts charm fell. My heart sank. D ran off. A caught the moment on my phone….

The location was not lost on me. After all the time wearing the necklace… That it would break in the very spot where we exchanged rings… Sitting on the bench I bought to dedicate to him. There, mere steps from where he put it on for the first time.

This song reminds me so much of Tim, and our love. The sentiment may seem off because, um, clearly he did not live forever, but so much of it resonates.

In Case You Don’t Live Forever
You put all your faith in my dreamsYou gave me the world that I wanted
What did I do to deserve you?
I follow your steps with my feet
I walk on the road that you started
I need you to know that I heard you, every word
I’ve waited way too long to say
Everything you mean to me
In case you don’t live forever, let me tell you now
I love you more than you’ll ever wrap your head around
In case you don’t live forever, let me tell you the truth
I’m everything that I am because of you
I, I’ve carried this song in my mind
Listen, it’s echoing in me
But I haven’t helped you to hear it
We, we’ve only got so much time
I’m pretty sure it would kill me
If you didn’t know the pieces of me are pieces of you
I’ve waited way too long to say
Everything you mean to me
In case you don’t live forever, let me tell you now
I love you more than you’ll ever wrap your head around
In case you don’t live forever, let me tell you the truth
I’m everything that I am because of you
I have a hero whenever I need one
I just look up to you and I see one
I’m a man ’cause you taught me to be one
In case you don’t live forever, let me tell you now
I love you more than you’ll ever wrap your head around
In case you don’t live forever, let me tell you the truth
I’m everything that I am
Whoa… whoa…
In case you don’t live forever, let me tell you the truth
As long as I’m here as I am, so are you

Choice

This is me, pumping in the hospital, 2 years ago. I was there fighting for my husband’s life every day, and still making sure I could pump for my 9 month old baby… I took this pic to share with mom friends when I could find no private place to pump, so resorted to a mostly deserted waiting room near the step down unit. I wanted to share this memory today, now, more widely.
Every woman has stories like this. Private things they did with their bodies. Choices they made. I have more.

I want my children to understand the science of women’s bodies, and the choices they have, or SHOULD have regardless of class, status or means. I want them to have all safe, healthy, choices available to them in healthcare. I want them to respect their own and other bodies, and not be ashamed of their bodies. I want my son to understand the science, the social science, and what can and can not be legislated. I want him to understand his own responsibility. I want my daughters to educate and advocate for themselves. Most importantly, I want them all to understand the importance of choice.

Another year without your voice

My dearest Tim,

Here it is, May 16th.  How is it even possible that its been two years since I heard your voice? I wrote about this last year in my post Reliving the trauma – a year without your voice, and so tonight I pulled up old videos, to do just that: to hear your voice.  It’s so good to hear it.   But hearing it reminds me how MUCH I miss it.  How much am I allowed to sit in that pain?  How much do I need to let go?  I tell anyone who asks me to let themselves simply feel what they are feeling.  Don’t rush, don’t try to force yourself to feel differently.  But that is advice that its so much harder to give myself.

I miss your voice, I miss your FACE, I miss your LAUGH.  I miss your big, lanky SELF.  I miss the way you (impossibly) tried to make yourself small.  If you had told me this was coming, and asked me what I would miss, all of that is obvious. All of that I could have predicted.  What I would not have known is how much I even miss the things about you that got on my nerves.  There are times now when I find myself seriously missing and longing for the things that drove me crazy in life.  That would surprise you even more than it surprises me!

How is it possible that I’ve had two trips around the sun since I last heard your voice? Since we last talked and joked with each other, and the nurses? Since they told me they would need to intubate soon?  Since you told me you were just so tired, and just wanted to sleep?  I do not know how it is possible, but here we are.

I spent some time thinking of this letter and the things I would want to tell you if I had just a few minutes to tell you things… the very very top is this:  Oh if you could see them, Tim!  The other day I said out loud to someone “my oldest was in Kindergarten when my husband died” and I saw the effect that had on them.. this person who knew I had three children… my OLDEST was in KINDERGARTEN.  I saw it, but it wasn’t something I had thought about before.  I thought about it tonight when I looked at videos with you and the kids. How YOUNG they were in the videos with you.  How evident your love for them is in each one. Goodness, Tim, how they’ve grown!  A has improved her speech, and is playing lacrosse and loving it! She can be a total jerk to her siblings, and as a fellow oldest child, you would have more sympathy and understanding for that than I do.  She is thoughtful, her attention to detail and memory is incredible.  She absolutely LOVES when we have visitors, she gets SO excited when we have guests.  She loves to have anyone and everyone come, and yet she is the one who thrives most on one-on-one attention.  She is the MOST looking forward to your baseball game next month!  R is in kindergarten now!  And the end of the year is approaching.  Two years ago, just before you got sick, A brought home a packet of Patriotic songs, for her June 13th patriotic performance.  All through the time you were in the hospital folks at the house sent me video of her practicing her songs.  Then the performance was two days after you died.  I went faithfully, but when they got to “My Country tis of thee” and Annabelle faltered on the line “land where my father died”… I LOST it.  Now, R is preparing for that same concert.  We shall see how it goes.   R is a goofball.  She is not serious like A.  She has a great sense of humor, just like her Dad.  Also like you, things tend to come easily to her, especially writing and math.  She FEELS BIG like you as well… which can be so beautiful, and can be so challenging!  D just potty-trained!  And he rocked it!  He also has a great sense of humor!   He’s less good about sleep.  But, I think he’s a genius.  I love to watch him play on his own and use his imagination.  You two would have so much fun playing together!  He absolutely LOVED the hockey game, and the basketball game this winter.  I think he will be addicted to sports like you.  And I think he’s going to be a leftie!  But even better, he has a kind soul.

I’d want to tell you about the disappointing things going on in our country and in the world… I’d want to hear your outrage – not because I want you to be upset, but because it always inspired me, and because I’d know there was one more white male in this country who GOT IT.   I’d want to tell you what has happened with me, with my work,  ask your advice, report on friends, with other family.. well, I’d want to tell you everything.  But you probably wouldn’t let me get to it if we were short on time.  All you’d want to hear would be our children. I wish you could see them now!  I like to believe you can.  I wish we could see you!   I guess I do.  I see so much of you in them every day.   No matter what, you live on in us.

All my love, always,

MaryBeth

Mothers Day 2019

I shared this on Facebook but later thought it important to capture here for the kids. This past weekend was Mother’s day weekend. I took off Friday. Specifically to do the three day potty training approach. Man did our guy rock it. Yes, it’s still a work in progress moving forward after this weekend, but he took to it better than I imagined! That was his Mother’s day gift to me ♥️ What more could I possibly ask for?! He and I had a really great day together Friday, I love learning more about his personality. He and the girls both brought home amazing homemade cards and gifts.

There are many emotions on Mother’s day. A hyped Hallmark holiday… and yet we want to be sure to send love to all the mothers or motherly in our lives♥️…and yet it is a day of many emotions, and difficult for many, either due to the loss of a mother, the loss of or longing for a child, or an estranged relationship… I was blessed with a wonderful mother, I was blessed that motherhood came to me relatively easily. And for these things I am sincerely grateful.
But mother’s day will also be forever the last weekend we were together, the Gaige party of five. I am grateful for the reason to have a card in his handwriting from that last weekend, with words I look at often when mothering seems more than I can handle. But I will never again be greeted or reassured on Mother’s day by the man who made me a mother. This heavy sadness of the day is unshakable. Yet I count my blessings, for they are many. What ever this holiday stirs in you, Happy Mother’s day to all my beautiful village. ♥️

Second Annual Tim Gaige Memorial Event

This year, we will again hold the Tim Gaige memorial sporting event in June at the Potomac Nationals stadium. Thanks so much to everyone who came out last year!  I love that the kids have a fun way to honor and remember Daddy while giving back!

This year’s game will be held at 6:35pm on Saturday June 8th, at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium 7 County Complex Ct, Woodbridge, Virginia 22192. Potomac Nationals vs. Lynchburg Hillcats – It is Military Appreciation Night, to include Camo Hat giveaway! Fireworks! and Kids Run the Bases!

To read more about why I chose to benefit Together Rising, you can go to last year’s post.

The link to buy tickets is below, $20 each. This year $14 of your ticket will go directly to Together Rising to help people in need. You have to use our specific link for it to go to the fundraiser.

We will sit in the Grandstands on the first baseline. If we sell 100 tickets, we will get to throw out the first pitch! (Like Declan and Lucas did last year!)

To make it easier to spot me on arrival I plan to wear an orange tshirt because it was Tim’s favorite color! I would encourage you to wear orange too if you have it!

https://pn1.glitnirticketing.com/pnticket/web/gpcaptchaRC.php?ordersrc_id=200&gpid=284
password is: gaige

For those interested in donating to the cause, but who can not join us for the game:

https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/GAIGE

Gaige #partyofFive (one in utero) enjoying a Potomac Nationals game in May 2016

A reminder… They can feel it too

It was a rainy day but we were mainly on the go… It was a difficult day. I was close to murdering my children in Trader Joe’s when I ran into a former colleague who offered a play date if I needed a minute…. At first I said no… I’d never met his wife and short of work, really don’t know him very well. But I was thinking about wrangling a 6 and 2 year old in the pouring rain while big sis played lacrosse and said ok. I dropped the littles off for playing and lunch. They had a good time. I hate to feel like I’m accepting charity because of my situation… But I appreciated it.

This afternoon R fell asleep on the couch while I was preparing dinner. She woke up and just cried. I held her at the kitchen table for a long time. When prompted she agreed she had a bad dream. Eventually, without prompting she said “I miss Daddy.” Post-bath we talked and I agreed I miss him. She said she wished he could come back every week, and I said I wished he was just here all the time. She agreed but said “but if THAT’S not possible, I wish he could just come back once a week. But I know that can’t happen.” Then she looked up at me hopefully, exactly the way she does when she says “I wish I could have a sweet after dinner but I know I can’t…” {Eyes beg me to contradict.} When I thought she felt better, I went downstairs to get A and D… then heard her sobbing. She just cried “daddy!!” Big fresh weeping sobs like she just found out… Like it had just happened. She FEELS that one. I comforted her as best as I could… told her I wish I could offer some comforting words but I’m pretty sure she will always miss him… I tried without saying it to tell her that it’s ok to feel sad. It’s ok to feel this sad.

This was out of character. I don’t truly know what triggered it. She never described “the bad dream…”

All I can think is that somehow she feels this time of year too, because she simply feels everything. It’s a good reminder to me. They can feel it too.

May

May came crashing in. I woke up thinking about the hospital time in a confusing wake up where it wasn’t clear where the dream stopped and the conscious thought began.

In some ways it was refreshing to wake up on my own like that. It’s rare. I usually awake suddenly right in the middle of a sleep cycle by one of my offspring calling for me or busting into my room.

I woke up thinking about the hospital time. And then I remembered it was May. Much like last year, all the thoughts are creeping in as the time of year approaches. As I mentioned in my post last year Pain, my body is readying to relive the trauma.

There is a part of me that wishes I could skip this part. Skip the pain …

Last night I went to the gym. Another rarity. I worked hard. At the end I felt like I was going to vomit. But I felt alive. So I’ll take it.

I remind myself what he wouldn’t give to be alive … To be here with me, with his children whom he adored. To take every chance to learn new things, to experience the world, to watch, to play, even to worry. And I know that even with all this pain, this grief, the struggles, I am so fortunate to be alive.

Last night a picture came up of the four of us (before D was born) standing at a farm in the fall in front of a field of sunflowers. I loved that photo. I think I made it my Facebook profile picture after it was taken. But as I looked at it last night on the screen I thought to myself, I never appreciated how perfect my life was. I don’t want to do that again. I’m not sure I can simply STOP worrying about the worry of the day, but I want to consciously appreciate.

Maybe my life isn’t “perfect” anymore with the love of my life dead, but here’s a thing: I can stop and think about how much he loved me and it still fills me up. It still takes my breath away. What a gift to have been loved like that. What a gift to love like that. Even if it ended tragically. That kind of Love is such a gift. And while the task of raising these three humans may seem monumental most of the time, and while I feel like I’m mostly screwing it up… The task is also a gift I need to fully appreciate.

I can be grateful. I can accept the suckiness. I can demand more. I can demand more of myself, and of life and of the world around me.

I can not skip the pain. Feeling the pain… is what it is to feel alive.

I have so much more to write, but for today, this is enough.

Here we go, May! Here I am. I am alive.