Maybe I shouldn’t read other bereaved mom blogs. I can’t help but compare. Wonder what is wrong with me. In some ways it actually scares me..How they seem to be able to find comfort in the pain.. while I am ..
Utterly. Completely. Shattered.
She is gone. That was the sound track of me today.
Today her class was promoted from kinder to first grade. I went with the kids. I am glad I did. But oh boy.. did it wreck me. I found myself remembering back to her first day. How nervous she was.. and sad I was. Ha “sad”.. what a fool I was to think I had a clue. Its like every definition of every word I knew changed February 12th. So when Jonathan goes it will be “sad” .. I hope I can let some of that go.. not feel like I always have to clarify myself … “sad”..new normal.. all those words I am almost making up in order to explain myself.. to myself.
I made her a bracelet and necklace and a matching one for myself.. I am not even in the realm of crafty so this was big time for me.. She loved it. I did too. Through her school career it helped her.. and me. She lost the bracelet on the playground and was so upset. The assistant principal actually found it for her…I am so glad I have it.. It is so tiny.
That first day was the rest of the kids 4th day of school (a charter school so it took time for her name to come up in the lottery).. it made it extra challenging for us. I cried all.day.long. No joke. I was beside myself. For the first month Tony called during the day, I think in part to make sure I actually took her to school. I just missed her so much. Hated being away.. not knowing every thing that was happening in her life. I went to every morning assembly and was waiting for her on the play ground at pick up. ..I couldn’t stand being apart.
That first day.. I picked her up solo. Something that was so unlike me. I always had all my kids. I liked it that way. Something that her death has changed. .. I am ok without them all the time. The class all walked out and when she saw me she broke down. I did too. I decided that moment it was done. We would homeschool.. I was prepared for it and this simply wasn’t for us.. I finally got her to talk to tell me what was wrong. Since she was accepted and started the next day she didn’t have the same tote bag as everybody else so I sent her with 2 bags. One that held her snack and one for her lunch. She lost one. She was hungry and sad. We walked the whole campus.. Ran into a upper grade teacher who stopped to help us.. she was so kind to me.. and to my Jennifer. It was because of her in part I was able to take a breath and allow Jennifer to try school again. This teacher is also the one who made me the tutu I wore at the 5k.
Once we found the bag.. where she had left it before her first class.. and once we talked about solutions to those kinds of problems she felt ready to keep at it. I am so proud of her perseverance. Quickly she started making friends.. Maybe all parents feel that way.. but I truly think there was something so captivating about my daughter. I just wish she had more time with them.. more time to make an impact.. more time to be remembered. To be missed…because its just not fair that she is gone.
Today was the first day back on campus.. My bereaved mommy friend whose son was also being promoted came over to help me get the kids ready. I don’t know if I would have been able to hold it together enough to get there without her.. Driving to the school I started to cry. Actually just getting the kids ready was the start of it all. Waking them up early. Feeding them breakfast right away with a time limit. .. I remembered. I complained about it. Then I feared for this day. I write notes once in awhile in my phone.. thoughts I have that I want to remember and explore. One.. right before we knew about the tumor progression.. before we knew how short her time really might be I wrote about that
” breakfast before school, rushing and what type of food. I hated it then but ache for it now. It can always be worse though. One day I will be doing it with only 3.”
I don’t think I will ever erase that… there is one more from that time.. I cannot bring myself to get rid of those notes. Because it brings me back to a time when she was alive.. sick.. but not yet dying.
Parking I lost it. I tried so hard to rein it in.. I could see my Jonathan.. stoic and concerned for his mama. How he hates this pain ripping me apart. A little man already wanting to protect me.. save me.. fix this heart break. But he can’t, he knows that and it angers him. All while still going through his own kind of despair.
Nicholas on the other hand started talking all about Jennifer. How she is in heaven .. until we pulled in. Then he called to her.. like he saw her. I didn’t know what to think.. I still don’t. I pushed a little..
“where bubbas?” I looked for her too. A crazy piece thinking maybe I could will her there.. make this all go away.. While at the same time just yearning to see and sense her spirit since I know she is gone. I gripped the steering wheel and looked out the windshield.. looked with every ounce of me.. but came up empty. My friend came to the door..
We walked onto campus. I wanted to run away.. I wanted to run in. This was her school. In such a short time she imprinted herself there for me.. I just wanted to wrap myself up in it and force my old life back into reality. Then I saw it. The bench. Her bench. She is gone.
We are so immensely grateful. I think all bereaved parents feel similarly.. our greatest fear is our child being forgotten by others. So to have her name. A place to go sit that is hers at the school that all my surviving kids will be lucky enough to attend. It means the world to all of us.. well me, Tony and Jonathan that is and I believe it will one day for Nicholas and Charlotte too. Their big sister was here. She mattered. She is remembered.
She was supposed to be there to look out for them .. she was supposed to pave the path. One little boy came up to us…and with him I could just tell it was all him, so genuine. He just misses my daughter. One of the very few who I think might really remember her in 5 years.. I tried so hard not to cry when I asked him to look out for my kids..But that is the biggest thing I can ask for from the parents and students at her school. Look out for them..
Jennifer would have kept an eye out for her siblings.. especially Jonathan. Would have made sure he didn’t sit alone. That he didn’t lose his bag.. that kids didn’t pick on him. ..
He wasn’t made for this.. he wasn’t made to be the oldest.. to lead the way.. I was supposed to already know the things you learn with your first when it was his turn. .
I doubt most will remember her..us.. most will have moved on.. But we never ever will. See that’s the thing. He will start school in a year .. it will have been 1.5 yrs since she died then.. It will still be so present in our lives.. but seem like maybe it shoudn’t be.. so please, please try to remember her. And them. I hope the bench helps with that…. she is never completely forgotten. Its just not fair she didn’t have time to make the impact I know she could have. We aren’t even 8 months from diagnosis… but still here I am. And she is gone.
I had the kids take pictures on the bench afterwards. Her picture on it was so striking and so beautiful. Jonathan asked where the bench would be on campus. He gets it.. I hate that.. Charlotte couldn’t get enough of her sisters picture. She refused to look forward for the camera.. she just wanted the picture. Even at home tonight she was the same way.
She said “sissy”. Her first and only word still.
Looking around campus I was struck by the people I was just beginning to make relationships with. People that I believe would have become friends. I appreciate the friendships I have made.. the ones that have grown since she got sick and died. I try to leverage that against my pain sometimes.. telling myself I wouldn’t have these relationships without her death. But today I looked and realized I just would have had different ones.. I would have still had my old friends too.. the ones that this is all too much for..
And I wanted that life back. A student such a short time.. I didn’t “feel” here there.. but I want to make up a excuse to go back.. just be there again.. Did not expect that.
Would give anythign to be waking up tomorrow.. trying to figure out food to shove down 4 hungry throats.. Instead we will likely sleep in. I am so exhausted I will try to get them to snuggle me in bed and watch some shows.. I did expect that.
Nicholas had clothes on..which shows how chilly it was outside! Jonathan doesn’t like being cold but he had chosen his we love our sissy shirt and wanted everybody to see it.. so he took off his jacket. He was very unemotional at school.. his feelings manifested in copious amounts of energy and wanting to play very roughly with his brother. At home it came out .. both in tears and anger so strong he had no idea what to do with it. We made up running diving punches on the couch.. gives him a full body release. And throwing a baseball.. hers from t-ball against the sound wall as hard as he could.
As the kids left the stage they played her song “brave” And I cried. In public with people that knew me. It started to come really hard. But my body rejected it.. resumed silent tears though. Not sure if its progress or implosion.
We came home. And I did what I do. We baked. And then I felt guilty. It wasn’t a gluten free muffin. I used a box mix. I just grabbed it out. No idea where it even came from. Her day. Baked after school treat she couldn’t have eaten. She is gone.
Boys took some time in their room for me. I felt it building.. a wave so strong I had to try to keep them out of the way of it. I hadn’t really stopped crying since we left campus…but I knew something fierce was on the verge.
I exploded in desperation and sorrow. I wailed.. I moaned..A cry so hard my throat hurts now.. I can’t remember exactly what words escaped me in between the sobs.. but I begged for her to come back. And I prayed for help. I pleaded for forgiveness. I was on my knees. no strength to stand. I looked through the book of her kinder year.. only a few pages long and I told her how proud I was. I saw they gave her a certificate of completion.
This is how I imagine today could have looked.. should have looked. Bright shining eyes peeking out over her certificate.
Boys came out and I was spent. Felt like I had been in a fight and ran a marathon. We ended up in the back yard. Just a few days ago I was talking about how hard to was that they didn’t know how to play well together. So its been in the forefront of my mind with discipline,encouragement and activities. Yesterday and today they have played together. I distinctly remember yesterday morning stopping in my tracks doing the morning dishes. I listened.
“ok you stand here…I will throw this too you.. now you throw it here…”
I was alone in the kitchen..listening to sounds I had forgotten about. That I hadn’t heard since the last week of January. My kids playing together. Time for me to do the dishes.
Fighting was hard.. surprisingly getting along is too…They are remaking our day to day. Today Jonathan pushed Nicholas on the swings. Not because I asked him to..I hope its because she taught him to.. She is gone. We are not.. so things are changing. .
“I love you sissy.”
She knows buddy. . I couldn’t say nothing in that moment..looking back maybe I should have… it wasn’t my conversation.
I missed Tony so much today. All I wanted was my husband. I wanted to get in the car and just have him drive. The way he did early on. He didn’t call to say he was coming home.. he just walked in the door. I dissolved in his arms. Finally. I was safe and secure in a way nobody else can make me. I love this man.
He threw together dinner for us. I couldn’t. I was spent. . Then we went outside with our pink balloons from her, should have been kinder promotion, and wrote messages to her. We stood together by her stone in our yard and let them go. My boys screamed WE LOVE YOU JENNIFER. WE MISS YOU SISSY. And we watched our messages until we couldn’t see them anymore.
Charlotte let hers go late.. but it caught up. No matter what this family sticks together..a great visual of that for my boys. They asked my to write sissy on their arms too. Wonder how long a sharpie lasts?
A friend took a picture at her school today (their school I need to stop calling it her school) and all I noticed was my feet. They are so cracked they hurt. Really need a pedicure. But I cant. I have just the tiniest remains from our last pedicure together.. I went from never doing one with her since I assumed ..we had the rest of our lives to do it.. once I knew how short one of our lives would be I squeezed in as many as I could. . I still have just the tiniest bit left from the last time getting one together. Matching pink sparkly..
This is how surviving grief manifests for me.. little things to hold onto and control.
because quite simply…