I knew it was coming. Coming at me like a freight train. And yet I had promised him. Bedside, when I accepted that it was happening… that it would happen within the hour, certainly it would happen that day. His last breaths. That June 11th would be the date… I told him, “I promise you I won’t make a big deal about the date. You don’t understand why people do that… you don’t understand my thing with dates. I won’t make a big deal about this date.”
But deep down, I know, he would not have held me to that promise. He would have told me to do whatever I need to do. To take care of the kids first. Then, to take care of myself, since he couldn’t be here to do it. Sometimes, it’s so hard to me that we never had the chance to talk about these things. I never got to ask him what he would want me to do about <insert anything at all> after he was gone. But I search my heart, and I know what he would say.
Last weekend I took the kids to Longwood Gardens for their Christmas lights display. I had gone to Longwood growing up in the summer, but he had visited PA a few times at Christmas and gone then and it always stuck with him. He absolutely loved it. We went together for the first time in 2007, and then every year since except when we bailed last minute last year due to D having a really bad cold. I took the kids this year, and it snowed. That brought logistical challenges, but my family showed up for me, and we went, both my sister and then my brother driving for me in the poor visibility. But, wow, how beautiful it was in the snow. How much he would have loved that. On the way out, with D on my back and the girls with their aunt and uncle, I walked through the beautiful scenery and I just cried. The tears just streamed down my face.
On Sunday, we had a lovely Christmas brunch with my family. The kids got too many gifts, had fun and got to make a snowman with their cousin’s, and we returned to VA with my sister-in-law’s help.
I had honestly briefly considered taking off December 11th in advance. Taking a mental health day. I’ve already acknowledged to myself how impossible this month is going to be. This holiday that he loved so much, so much more than me. That if I could, I would escape… but of course, that is not an option. This month that includes my first birthday without him. And then, add to that the half hear mark. A half a year that I’ve been breathing, and he has not. But of course, I am me. And I said no, I will go to work as usual. I have a couple meetings that day. I have so little vacation time after this summer…
Every Thursday, I drive the girls to play therapy. And every week we drive by the ER I took Tim to last May. Some weeks, A points it out. Then, inevitably, R gets sad/mad that she didn’t get to go there with Daddy, to take Daddy there like A. That A got to see Daddy there, and R did not. And I realize, some day I will have to go there again. Last May may have been the only time I took Tim, but he and I had taken R. And I had taken myself when I got very sick and dehydrated and my OB told me to when I was pregnant with D.
Then at 3 am on December 11th, I find myself rushing to that ER with R. It was the exact scenario I had envisioned as worst-case when I was planning for childcare assistance after Tim died. And almost exactly 6 months to when I rushed back to the hospital to be with him when he took his last breaths, I was rushing back to the ER, I had first taken him to with our middle child. I was up all night. There in the ER I realized, there was no way I could go to work that day.
But I survived. I didn’t turn into a blubbering mess and tell anyone at the ER that I had walked my husband in there and he never came home. I knew what I had to do for R, and I did it.
This week, I’ve had to make big decisions. Medical, financial, professional and personal. I hate every one I have to make without discussing with Tim. And yet I am doing it. And yet, I can hear him. I can find him in my heart. I’ll take it.
The half year mark did, in fact, hit me like a freight train. All I can say is: I’m still breathing.
“The ones that love us never really leave us. We can always find them… in here. <3” – Sirius Black (J.K. Rowling)