For those of you who are used to hearing from me through frequent posts on CaringBridge and now hoping to be able to keep up on what is happening with our family through this blog - I apologize for only posting a few new updates here over the past months. As I was thinking about everything this morning, I realized how much of life is like dominoes - at least my life is. It's been 2-1/2 months since Tom died, and I've had one event fall into the next in rapid succession ever since. I knew in advance that it would play out this way, but that hasn't made it any easier. As I was trying to prepare myself for the inevitability of his death, I was trying equally hard to find a way to celebrate the important life events that were to follow immediately after. Those of my readers who are closest to us will be familiar with the sequence, but for those of you a little more distanced, let me explain how the "dominoes" of our life have been lined up.
Tom died on March 12th. One week later, we had his Memorial Service. The following week, our youngest son, Peter, turned 13! Finally an official "teenager" - a momentous occasion in his life and one I wanted to make special and significant. Less than two weeks after that, I had my first birthday without my husband here to make it special. 10 days after my birthday, our son, Tim, turned 18! Another huge milestone in our children's lives, and so much anticipated in his - again - I wanted to make it a day where he was celebrated. Twelve days after his birthday, Tim had his Senior Prom; it was hard to help him prepare and celebrate with him without his dad. Then there was Mother's Day. Tom always went out of his way to honor me as the mother of his children and to make it a special day for me. This year, Matt & Melissa sent me beautiful flowers and Peter used some of the money he earned by selling his toys to a friend to buy me a very nice candle holder, but the actual experience of the day was hard. I tried to get the worst part of the yard cleaned up, mowed, raked, etc. before it rained again. In the process, our lawn tractor broke down (again) and we all ended up in the yard in the rain yelling at one another and crying and just having a general family "melt-down". It wasn't pretty. This past Monday, Tom's oldest son, Matthew celebrated his birthday - I know his dad would have called him first thing in the morning to sing "Happy Birthday" to him over the phone. I didn't. I could only message him birthday wishes on Facebook. Today, Tim will graduate high school. It's been a difficult 2 years for him as he transitioned from home school to his charter high school. Getting through the past 8 months since his father's diagnosis with brain cancer, has made it incredible that he's even going to "walk" up there tonight to receive that diploma! It may not be with "highest honors", but I give him my "highest honors"! I'm so proud of him and the young man he is becoming. But it will be hard to be there without his dad by my side.
A week from Sunday, we will have his graduation party at our home. I have been trying to have some huge repair, updating and remodeling done on the house and driveway in preparation for this event. So much of it has depended on us having dry weather - something that has not happened. Instead we've had record rainfalls and my clay driveway and yard are saturated, soft, and there is a lot of standing water. The city has imposed road restrictions on our gravel access roads so that the heavy cement and gravel trucks are unable to use them to deliver the materials. Somehow, we got the first load of cement in here unaware of the existing restriction, but could not get the second load or the gravel for the rest of the driveway. As of yesterday, the city doesn't intend to remove the restriction until after June 5th - the day of Tim's party! So, we are going ahead with our plans for the graduation party, but my dreams have been seriously tested and challenged and adjusted.
The day after Tim's graduation party would have been Tom's 60th birthday. Our family will be able to be together on that day, but I haven't been able to even think about how we will go about observing the day or remembering him. I want to begin something that will become our tradition to remember his birthday - I just don't know what that might be yet.
Three weeks after the graduation party, it will be our first Father's Day without Tom and we will be packing for our annual family vacation week at a camp in Northern Minnesota. We have been going there the same week every year for 10 years - half of the time Tom and I were married. It was the first question everyone asked when we first learned of Tom's cancer and the continual question from my kids as his illness progressed into hospice and finally his death - "will we still go to Camp Van Vac?" The answer was always - "yes". It was the one thing that we did for our family and the one thing we've all come to look forward to for many months before and talk about for months afterward. We will go. It will be the first time since Tom's death that we will be able to be just "us" in a place he loved and remember our many times together with him there. I know it will be "bittersweet".
At the end of our week of vacation, Stacy is expecting our second grandchild. We will probably come home, unpack and repack to visit her and her family and celebrate this joyous event! She has been so excited being the mommy of Charlotte and now this new baby - and we have not been able to be there for her in the way or to the degree that I would have wanted to be. So many important life events in so many people's lives. So many heartbreaking events in the lives of people I care about. I would have wanted to celebrate and anticipate and comfort and support them, too, if only I could have. I know everyone "understands", but I continue to feel that life is passing by so quickly, and I will never have these moments again to do over. More "dreams" that have died. More losses. If you have felt neglected, or forgotten by us, please forgive us. We have not forgotten you and your struggles and your celebrations. My thoughts and prayers have been with you and for you, too!
Once we are through all of this, it will be time to be looking ahead to a new school year. Peter will be changing schools and starting at the same school that Tim is graduating from. They are adding middle school grades in the fall, and he will be able to go there a year earlier than we had planned on. But, because it is out of our district for bussing, I will have to transport him both ways every day until he starts driving - 3 years from now! I will also have to be working and earning an income starting about the same time. I have not been a part of the "work force" for over 20 years, and in a tough economy, I don't know how that will work out. I have had the thought that I might be able to work for the school that he will be attending, as they are expanding, and would probably need additional support staff, but I've been too busy to check it out - until yesterday.
I called the school office yesterday to see if they might be looking to hire for the next school year. I was surprised to learn that they are currently advertising for two positions and I need to apply quickly. Please be in prayer for me in this as this would really be the best "fit" for Peter and I for the next 5 years!
Needless to say, we haven't had much time to "process" our loss and our grief. Also needless to say is that we are dealing every minute of every day with the emotional, spiritual and practical backwash of Tom's illness and death. One thing is important to say, though. We have continued to have an outpouring of love and support, both emotionally and practically, from so many people as we struggle to hold it all together and keep moving forward. So many times we've been at a breaking point, only to have someone step into the darkness and encourage us and give us a hand up out of the mire! For this I will be eternally grateful and I know you will be rewarded by the Lord!
So, it's time to move on today, and see where this domino falls! I'm so thankful that my God and Father knows the plans He has for me and assures me that they are not to harm me but are for my good - to give me a hope and a future!