There are so many different kinds of parades .. some we sit through and watch.. some we march in and some we shut our windows and close our curtains to try and drown out the noise.
Last year today we were coming down from such a high. A never even dreamt of, dream come true, for all of us really. She got to be our towns grand marshall, she got to sit right next to Santa in his sleigh as they rode through town. And the rest of us got to ride along with her.
I remember well each of my kids that night. Each surprisingly different than we ever would have anticipated… ok except Charlotte she was exactly how we thought she would be. Easy and go with the flow. I even handed her off to a friend of mine at the very end of the parade and she didn’t care at all. . .But the rest, Nicholas .. my now shirtless wonder was shy and nervous and wouldn’t toss out the candy we had brought. Jonathan who we thought would rather sit with friends and watch the parade.. he was yelling Merry Christmas and waving and tossing candy to everybody.
Jennifer. She snuggled right into the man that I refer to as her Santa. We spoke the night before so he could have talking points for her. She told him she had never been bowling.. so her Santa organized a whole bowling party for her after treatment. She was nervous but also proud to do her job. She waved and smiled. And froze! It was so cold but she refused a jacket or anything warm. She wanted to look just right.. and she did.. right down to her blue toes by the end of it! Finally at the end of the night she let us wrap her in a blanket for the walk to the car. Here is a video of Jennifer laughing with her Daddy when we were home. I love and miss the sound of her laugh.. and the how deliriously happy she was.. calling herself an angel. No way to know this would be truth in about 8 weeks time.
We didn’t go this year. Part of the reason we fell in love with Gilroy was this stupid parade. The small town feel of it. Just perfect for our growing family. I imagined how many years we would sip hot coca and watch it together. I couldn’t though. Tony either. I have barreled through so much in this first year. But I couldn’t do it. Knowing it was happening was hard enough. We actually think it might have been too much for the boys too.. They both remember.
This years holiday parade.. families there.. laughing and smiling. Making memories and sharing traditions. Not knowing of the the grief and memories ripping ours to shreds. But thats what its like. I feel like the whole thing should be cancelled. How can it ever even happen again. Jennifer is gone. She’s not here. .. The whole thing should crumble under the weight of her absence. But of course that’s not how it is. That’s never how its been.
Because life keeps happening and…time keeps marching on..
… like the most horrible and cruel of parades.
Tony and I had planned a stay home date night. We planned on eating dinner after the kids went to bed and playing games together. .. I was the one who went to get our dessert while he did bath and books. . Bad call. I had to drive past the the very front of the parade route. .. Up until then I had been able to keep most of it contained.. But then I couldn’t stop the noise of that internal parade from taking over my mind.. the memories of her. Of us. Of the family we should have been.. Those memories and hopes for the future paraded themselves right through me.. taking over and I succumb.
I came home a different wife. Broken and defeated. Game night turned int0 movie night and a steady stream of off and on quiet tears.
This grief is a beast. A monster. Tearing into us until we tear into each other. We wanted to love and support, but each of us are so full. Instead we ended the night fighting. Angry at so much .. only able to take it out on each other… the only target either of us could see. This is so hard. Only one person understands the depths of pain. .. Only one person feels it to the same depths.
Like we always do. Like we always will. We came full circle. Exposed our vulnerabilities. .. Both forgave and asked for forgiveness without many words but with our honest emotions. And today we have been gentle. Kind. And so sad.
I needed to break away to write… to release whats jumbled up inside of me. To gather the strength for the next hurdle we will have to jump. I hear them now. My 3 boys all snuggled on the couch together watching Christmas movies together. And I miss the times we could have had.
The quiet snuggles watching movies . Baking cookies. Wrapping presents. The years of parades I thought we had. I was supposed to watch you from the sidelines.. dressed up in your girl scout uniform marching in the parade. I wasn’t supposed to be sitting in a sleigh behind you, but I am so glad I was there with you.
you did such a good job sissy
i was so proud
sitting behind, watching you wave.
i just wish i could go with you now
wherever you are.
i am so sorry honey
so sorry you had to walk alone.
…until there is a cure..