Happy (belated) Birthday, Miss Josie!

 

We celebrated your birthday last Wednesday, and even after a year I do not have the ability to fully express to you what you have brought to my life. I remember telling your daddy on Christmas Day that we were pregnant, and we were both excited but had no idea how much our lives would change when you were born.

 

From the beginning, you were a challenge; my pregnancy with you was really hard, and there were a lot of problems. Several times I was sure we were losing you because I kept having major bleeding, and I had every possible malady known to pregnant women. Morning sickness, the bleeding, a constant bladder infection, kidney infections, weight loss, stuffy nose…you name it, I probably had it. On the day we had you, I went to the doctor for my appointment and cried as I begged him to not make me go through one more week of this. He admitted me in for an induction at 38 weeks, because I was contracting and at 5 cm when I went in. Within an hour, they were wheeling us down the hallway with the doctor on the bed holding your head up off the umbilical cord, headed for an emergency c-section. Minutes later, there you were, with your full head of hair and your dazed eyes, and I was instantly besotted.

 

We went through colic, and your daddy and I took turns walking the floor with you. When you weren’t crying, you were nursing, and some days it felt like I was chained to the couch with you attached to my nipple. I tried to go back to work and it lasted less than three months, because you hated the bottle and would cry at daycare most of the afternoon; you just needed me, your mama. I used to call you my little limpet baby, attached to me at all times.

 

Still, with all of the challenges, I will tell you that I cannot imagine not having you. You are completely different from any of the other kids, and have forced me to stretch and grow in ways I had not envisioned. You have refuse to allow me to harden my heart in order to leave you so i could work, you have not let me become complacent and blase, and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t count my blessings, even on the days where all I can do is cry with you.

We are so lucky, all of us. The boys have all had to learn patience and develop the ability to help you cope as you navigate through life. They have been and will be your protectors, your strongest allies, your big brothers. Your big sister has been so happy to finally have a little sister, and that fact that you are a year younger than your niece makes us all laugh. You were wrapped around your daddy’s finger from the second they pulled you out of me, and he still talks about how amazing it was to be the first to hold and kiss you.

 

The pictures are in reverse order because I see you the way you are now, but underneath the now is the before, the tiny baby and the slightly bigger baby and the way you first looked when you smiled. Every day has come together to bring us to where you are, at the end of the first year. We love you, Miss Josie, and we are so grateful you are with us. Happy, happy day.

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Goodbyes

I have been wanting to write, to give some sort of tribute to Josh and his life, spout some eloquence about how beautiful the services were and somehow wax poetic about the fact that he is gone. Eloquence escapes me.The flowers in and of themselves were beautiful. The weather was beautiful. The church filled with people dressed up in their finery-yes, beautiful. It was all beautiful save for the fact that we were all there to mourn the loss of a twenty year old man.

There is nothing beautiful about watching his father walk into the church to sit in front of the casket of his only son, knowing that the last words he said to him-no matter what they were-would never be enough. Nothing beautiful, either, about knowing that every photo, every song, every flower was chosen knowing it would be his last gift to his child. I watched him, the stunned disbelief in his eyes as he walked into the room, and my heart ached;while I was crying for his pain, I was thanking God that it wasn’t me, and there is nothing beautiful in that.

No beauty either in a room packed full of people whose lives he touched, 350 people there to honor his life. Of course it is a tribute that he had such an impact on people, but at the same time there are all of those people who no longer have him in their lives, however peripheral a part he might have played. He was loved, and it is ugly that he is no longer here to love and be loved. The life sketch was full of memories of this man who only had 20 years here but lived a lot in those 20 years-because it was a reminder of how many more years there should have been. One of his aunts talked about Hannah and Aubry and there is nothing beautiful in the missed opportunities, the fact that there wasn’t time for them to resolve their differences and find love and peace again.

I did not find beauty at the gravesite, where Hannah saw Josh’s family for the first time since the breakup and his father couldn’t even say anything, could only hold onto her and cry. It isn’t beautiful because it should never have been this way; kindness and tolerance should have played a part from the beginning, not now when it is too late. Again, not enough time. There was nothing beautiful in watching my daughter stroke a casket that held nothing but fragments of the person she loved and having to pull her away and tell her she had to say goodbye.

In time all of this WILL seem beautiful; there will be a time when we can all realize that this was the beginning of healing, for all of us. For now, this moment, we grieve. I can only leave you this: the video above is one of the songs his father chose for the video montage, one that included a precious photo of Josh and Aubry.The photo below is the last one I took of the three of them. I have no more words.

Monday Monday

I tell you, some days it seems like too much. Steve and I had the big (and some would say inevitable) fight on Saturday about whose work has more value, about whether or not I actually “work” (apparently I get to sleep however long I want, including sleeping in AND napping, and then spend the rest of the day on the computer), and about how inconsiderate I am for, every night at bedtime, leaving him with the baby while she is crying so I can do whatever it is I do before bed. For ten minutes. It was a doozy, and coming so close on the heels of our first BIG fight (about the kids) a couple of weeks ago, I am feeling very bruised and fragile today. It isn’t that he didn’t have valid points (though not about me sleeping whenever I want NOR about being on the computer all day!); a few of the things he was angry about had merit, no doubt. We all have a part in everything, I firmly believe, and I am not the perfect wife by any means. It was more the way he approached it, and some of the things he said were really hurtful. Also the things he implied-number one being that I am LAZY-and then of course we all know how I tend to overreact just a little…it was ugly. I may or may not have uttered the words “you are a fucking asshole” before gathering up the still crying baby and going to sleep in another bedroom. And I may possibly have laughed just a little when he was telling me about how mad he was that I leave him with the baby while I get ready for bed. So it isn’t as if I did my best to defuse the situation, I am aware.

On a rational level, I know that fights happen. I know that to a point, they are a good and healthy aspect of a marriage. My dear friend Janet says that if couples aren’t fighting (within reason) then they aren’t talking, and I agree with that. It is just so hard for me to fight, and especially to fight in a rational, adult manner. At that moment, after having dealt with this rather needy, fussy baby for several days and running on less sleep than he has been getting, well, I was in no way capable of handling anything in a rational manner. Really, at that moment in time, I really just wanted him to shut up so I could go to bed. After I called him a few names, of course.

In both our defense, too, things are just really hard right now. We are dealing with the loss of Josh in a permanent way (as opposed to the loss when he and Hannah broke up), trying to process all of the immediate feelings of grief attendant to a sudden death. We are trying really hard to be there for Hannah, and even though we love her and Aubry to pieces and WANT them to be here with us whenever she needs us, it is still an added stress to have to be strong for her to lean on. The reality, too, is that he doesn’t get to sleep much, he works really, really hard, and I am probably not as considerate of that as I should be. Neither of us are operating under optimum conditions, and we take it out on each other.

This will pass, I know. We need to have a dialogue about some of the things he brought up, but today is not the day. We have both apologized, which is the first step (and a huge one), and we are both aware of some things we need to work on, and none of that is bad. I just feel so tired and overwhelmed right now, and it seems so much more difficult than it really is, you know?

Sigh….just keep us in your thoughts, will you?

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

 

 

***It feels like the Apocalypse here right now. We have fires burning all around us,extreme heat and let me tell you, if I believed in zombies I might be worried they were going to start coming out of the smoke to kill us. Since I don’t, I really only have to bitch about the ash everywhere and try not to breathe too deeply. It does kind of feel like end-times though.

***Under the category of ends, Josh’s service will be on Tuesday. It is a little strange; the announcement on Facebook (and don’t get me started on that one) says,”Services will be here at this time, but SEATING IS LIMITED.” I get that, the church is small and Josh had a lot of friends, but it sounds a little but like an advertisement for a concert or something. I don’t know why that bothers me, but there you go.

***The police have finished the investigation of the accident and between that and witness statements, the other driver was speeding and veered over into Josh’s lane and they collided head on. Please God that he did not have time to be afraid, and that he was gone or at least unaware when the vehicle caught on fire. I can’t get the image out of my mind.

***We had a playdate yesterday with a potential new friend. We met her when we hosted the Japanese girls a couple of weeks ago, and we had enough in common to form an almost instant bond. I was terribly nervous and even debated about what we should all wear, for God’s sake, but it was fine. We may even have a second playdate. It cracks me up that I am even talking about playdates; next thing you know I will be driving a minivan and my transformation to SAHM will be complete.

***Josie decided that it would be delightful to get all four teeth (two bottom, two top) within the same two-week period. Her top ones are not quite through but her gums are so swollen it looks like they may burst. Needless to say, this has not been *quite* so delightful for me.

***In the midst of all of this sadness and stress (can anyone say CUSTODY FIGHT?) in Hannah’s life right now, she also had to start her classes at the Cosmetology School this week. My poor sweet girl.

***Two post in the same week….maybe this means I am starting to get my blogging mojo back!

Thank you, Mrs.4444 for your wonderful Friday Fragments. It is always a great way to jump right back in!

Hannah and her fiance broke up a few months ago, after 18 months together as a couple and a lifetime of friendship; I think they met in fifth or sixth grade, and even dated for a short time about 18 months before they got together again. In fact, they went to his homecoming together. The break-up was ugly and dramatic, as they do tend to be when miscommunication (or no communication) plays a major role. Ugly words were said between them, and there was no contact after that last night. He moved out, and prompted by his father (who really did not like Hannah and was glad they broke up), took everything out of the house including all of the food out of the fridge. All of Aubry’s things were left alone, but Hannah had nothing save her clothes and one towel. The night they broke up, he got into a wreck; he said he blacked out and next thing he knew he was pinned upside down in his vehicle. He was lucky to be alive, we all told him, and he knew that, was so grateful. We kept contact with him until last month, when he and I got into an argument of sorts when he blamed Hannah for his accident. Still, he talked with Eli quite a bit, and Steve, and was very kind to the little boys when he saw them.

Last night he was in another accident, and this time he wasn’t so lucky. He was working, driving home from delivering fertilizer, and he was involved in a head on collision. There was an explosion and both drivers died at the scene, their vehicles fully engulfed in flames within seconds. We knew before the general public, before his parents even knew, due to the fact that his boss is Steve’s brother; Steve is actually the one who got him the job as he used to work there as well. S. called Steve and said hey, one of our trucks has been in an accident and Josh is the only person not accounted for, so..Hannah was here at the house with me, and I couldn’t tell her anything because we didn’t know for 100% sure, even though we knew. And then, later, when it became official, I had to tell Hannah, and then Sam and Eli and….

We are all so heartbroken, all of us. Not simply because a 20 year old died in a horrible accident, and a 72 year old. It was beyond horrible, actually; explosions, flames, bodies burned beyond recognition. Josh’s boss had to go to the scene and verify that it was their truck and tell them who the driver was. That alone is awful enough, but this was someone we knew and loved. Telling Hannah was one of the worst things I have ever done, watching the look in her eyes as the reality sank in. Yes, they were no longer together, but I think there were hopes on both sides that they would work it out in the future-there just wasn’t time. She loved him, and it didn’t work out for reasons we have all experienced, and their last words were hateful, ugly ones. It isn’t just the loss of life, it is the loss of myriad possibilities. They lived together and loved together, he was in Aubry’s life for over a year and was a great father-figure for her, and he cherished Hannah. Then they broke up and both of them were so sad, but at the time it was what needed to happen. Now, there is no chance of mending fences, no taking back of harsh words, no forgiveness bestowed on either side.

So now we sit back and try to process this grief we aren’t really supposed to feel. We can’t   go visit with the family and offer food and hugs and draw comfort from each other. Hannah cannot walk up to his family at the services and tell them how sorry she is, how her heart breaks because he was a good young man who should still be alive. There are those close to our family who have said,”I don’t know why Hannah would be upset, it’s not like they were still together.” True-but it has only been a couple of months, not years. Not that what anyone thinks really matters; grief is grief, and we are all feeling it, but Hannah most keenly.

We went swimming and ate dinner and Steve and I made frantic love, trying to hold on to this life because we don’t know how long we have. We each cry our private tears and speak gently to one another, reminded starkly that what we have together really is fleeting and we shouldn’t waste any time. We are parents who feel the pain of another pair of parents who lost their son-we can’t imagine, and hope we never have to experience this. The children are sad and scared, because accidents happen; if it can happen to Josh, it can happen to any of us. Of course this hyper-awareness of the transience of life can’t last-but for now, we are all very sure to tell one another how much we love each other, how much we matter.

Josh has a good family, and he was well-loved; pray for them. He was a good friend, so pray for his friends too. He had grandparents and siblings and a brand new baby niece who is never going to remember having met him. Pray for all of them. I don’t know how you feel about souls and the afterlife, but pray for a safe journey to wherever he is headed next. Pray for the peaceful repose of his soul.Pray it was fast, that he didn’t have time to even be afraid. Just-pray.