It has only been 5 months, but it feels like a life time. I find myself looking at pictures and old quick movies that I took on my phone of her and her brothers and I still can’t believe it; I don’t want to believe it. The fog has unfortunately lifted and now my family is smacked in the face of this reality.
The day to day activities seem to be moving back to the norm (new norm) with me going to work and Libby and the kids having play dates and running errands. I don’t like the fact that it is moving in this direction. I feel like I need to be doing something different, something big, making a difference and all I am doing is going to work for 10 to 14 hours a day, come home and kiss the kids goodnight and sit on the couch until its time for bed and do it all over again. I am supposed to be setting up the books for our non-profit, and learn how to be a Treasurer of a 501(c)3 and I am just dragging my feet.
I told Lib that my priorities have changed with this whole tragedy, but at the end of the day, I slip right back into my old habits of working too much. I think subconsciously it is my way of escaping the reality that she is not here. When I am at work, I am not a grieving dad, I am a worker that needs to get things done and support others to get what they need done. When I am at home, I am immediately thrown back into the reality that my daughter is dead and I can’t fix it. I honestly don’t know how Lib does it. She is smacked with this reality 22×7 (2hrs for her cross fit). She can rarely escape and I do not envy her.
The dreaded question came for the first time since she died this past week, “How many kids do you have?” I said 4 and left it at that…”How old?” Crap…Forever 6, 4, 2, 1…She laughed when I said forever 6. Because I have worked with this person in the past, I assumed she knew…she did, but did not realize it was me. At that point I felt I had to explain and then she got it…
I hate being the downer and I feel like I am anytime I talk about her. I see peoples faces change if I bring something up that has to do with her. Luckily because I am a guy, I don’t talk about feelings and stuff that often (other than to my wife and therapist). My problem is that this is my reality and I need to not worry about how it will affect others.
Lib mentioned that maybe I could write a little about the holidays. For me, I have no idea how I will react to a holiday. I figured Fathers day would be really hard for me this year, and for some reason it wasn’t, but next year it might. Now the 4th of July kicked my ass.
I had one of those moments where I wanted to escape as fast as I could and pretend it was not happening. The whole ride over to the parade, music that made me think of her played. We got to our destination and Lib burst into tears, Charlotte starts crying, I did not take my younger son out of the car the way he wanted so he lost it, then takes off running down the street and I feel like everyone is staring at me and I cant fix a damn thing.
My mind shuts off and my anger comes out…and that always fixes everything. I blame it all on Libby, the one person that is hurting just as much as I am (if not more) and all she did was have the same reaction as I did, but the correct way. It is easier for me to get mad rather then be sad. I am more comfortable yelling and blaming others than to be sad and in the moment and possibly let someone see me cry. I have never cried this much in my life (and I was a bit of a cry baby when I was a kid). I feel very uneasy just writing that last sentence.
Jennifer not being there for a traditional event is where I believe I struggle. She was always center stage either because of her personality or her Celiac disease. Seeing one of her closest cousins without his bud by his side still chokes me up when i think about it. I think Christmas is going to chew me up and spit me out…but really who knows and there is no point worrying about how it is going to be until you are there. I need to worry about what is happening today, this weekend, not what might happen in 6 months or a year.
With Lib, she does wonder whats going to happen and it works for her. It helps her to think about how people will react in a year, 2, 10 and it prompts her to make changes today. To help others know what she needs from them so her worries do not come true. I love how her mind works and how truly brilliant she is. Libby really is an amazing women and I am very lucky to have her as my wife. I do not see the kind of drive she has in many people. As difficult as it is for her to see, she will and has made a difference in this cancer world.
I just wish it was not the death of our daughter Jennifer that forced the hand.