Monday, December 21, 2015

My Wedding Ring

I can't sleep tonight. I am laying in the bed I use to share with Holly whenever we would come down to visit her parents. I am surrounded by photos and memories of her and it just brings an all encompassing level of sadness to me. Our first Christmas without her. Inside I am filled with emotional turmoil and sadness. Still.

One thing that brings me a small amount of peace is my wedding ring. It feels comfortable. It is a tangible reminder of her and the life we had together. It also has the tendency to bring up hard conversations at times. People see it on my finger and ask about my wife and our family. Their intention is good but it creates an uncomfortable conversation to me. If I tell them the truth there is a whole period of them offering apologies and condolences. I find it is easier to just not say anything and sort of yes my way through whatever topic comes up

My ring is a part of me. Part of my life story. A symbol of my marriage. It represents a union that brought our beautiful daughter into this world. Simply removing it would feel like the most unnatural thing in the world to me. Maybe someday that will change but for now the ring remains as a symbol of my wife who left my life far too soon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Seven Months

Seven months. That is how long is has been since you unwillingly left us. It has become a macabre anniversary for me. Each month I dread the coming of the 8th in the worst way. This month worst of all. Christmas is fast approaching and all I want to do is push a fast-forward button into next year.

It is 17 days until Christmas and there is not a decoration in the house. No tree. No lights hanging from the eves. Nothing. They sit in storage where you last touched them. I need to drag some of them out. It is not fair to Sophie to pretend the holidays do not exist this year. This weekend I am going to go get a small tree and put up the stockings and do my best to fake her into believing I am happy it is Christmas time. Inside though I feel crushed.

I don't have to do much. We are flying to Texas on the 19th to spend Christmas in Winnie. We will all do our best to make it a joyful and happy event for Sophie. I had one request of Sharon and Mike and that was that they got a real tree this year rather than an artificial one. They did and I am thankful for that. It is probably silly of me but I just can't imagine Christmas without the real deal.

People keep asking me for suggestions on gifts for Sophie. The truth is I don't know. You always took care of figuring out the cool gifts and things she wanted. You made sure she never wanted for anything. I guess that is something else I need to do this week. Cobble together some kind of list of things that she would want or use.

I hurt. Inside I feel so despondent right now. I pray desperately for your return. I know it is in vain but I do it none-the-less. This is not how I wanted my life to be. You were my best friend and the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with. You were the best mom to Sophie. I can never replace those things.

I miss you. Terribly. Merry Christmas my love.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Amazon, Why Hath Thou Forsaken Me?

A Train Christmas album? If I had to make a top million list of albums I would never want to listen to, this would probably be on it. No thanks on the suggestion Amazon.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Great Halloween Key Incident(s)

Last year on Halloween Holly lost her car keys. We searched the house up and down and could not find them anywhere. I am not sure of the exact chain of events but we learned later that she had dropped them in some kids bag in the process of giving out Halloween candy. A woman posted on Facebook about finding the keys and Holly ended up putting two and two together to determine they were hers. I am sure I am forgetting most of the amusing stuff but that is the general gist of what happened.

This year while getting Sophie dressed to go trick-or-treating, I could not find my keys. I looked everywhere. In fact I tore the house up trying to find the darn things. I had totally forgotten about what happened last year (thanks for reminding me Bryna!). Sophie's jacket was in the car and I did not want to risk her being cold while we were out. I eventually just grabbed a hoody for her and headed out door without a clue where the keys were.

Sunday morning I started looking for the keys. I knew they were at home because I had locked the car door then used them to get into the house. I sifted through the trash. Twice. I pulled the sectional apart and vacuumed all the nooks and crannies. I searched every drawer and turned out every pocket. No keys (I did get lots of cleaning in though).

Later that day Sophie told me she did something "so funny" that mommy was laughing. She whispered that in my ear over and over. I asked her what she did but she didn't want to tell me so I just let it go. Later that evening I asked Sophie if she knew where my keys were (I am not sure if I asked her specifically before then but I am sure she knew I was looking for them). She told me to look under the blanket in the computer room. Since I had no idea what she was talking about I made her come show me. We walked in. She pulled the blanket back from the chair. Voila... keys!

I asked her why she did not tell me earlier and she got embarrassed and burst out in tears. Eventually she told me she did it to make me laugh. I am not sure if it was Holly pulling the strings from above or if it was just some crazy coincidence that Sophie decided to do it on the same day as last year. Regardless, I sure hope this is not an on-going tradition.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Our First Halloween Without Tigger

Another holiday milestone passed without Holly. I have never been much of a Halloween guy. This year I just wanted to turn the lights off and crawl in bed. Had it not been for Sophie that is exactly what I would have done. My personal feelings aside, Sophie had a great time.




It was an unbelievably beautiful day here in Colorado Springs. Earlier Sophie had her final soccer game of the fall season. When we got home after the game I thought she looked a little under the weather. After a nap and a bath she seemed to recover so we dressed her up and headed out the door.

Our neighborhood has an unbelievable amount of trick or treaters. Hundreds upon hundreds of kids.

Last year Holly had bought Sophie a mermaid costume to wear. At the last minute Sophie decided she wanted to stay home and hand out candy so the costume went unworn. Fast-forward to this year, she wanted to be the mermaid. Being the strong-minded 5 year old that she is (read as occasionally stubborn), she refused to wear the crown or the necklace that went with the costume. The best she would let me do is a pony tail and an almost matching bow.





We probably stopped at 60 houses. Sophie was very good about saying thank you and happy halloween to everyone. She did however step into the house each time the door opened. She would just walk in the door (regardless of how many times I told her not to do it). I think she just wanted a better view of the candy to choose from. It was cute for sure but we had a talk later about going into strangers houses.

There was one house that went all out (and apparently they do it every year). They had several guys running around with chainsaws (minus the chain), a driveway full of fires burning, and fireworks launching into the sky from behind the house. Super impressive. Sophie was brave and got her candy even though she said the men were, "super scary."

It was hard to get a good photo in the dark but here were two of the "scary men".



All and all it was a fun night for Sophie. It was harder for me for sure. Holly always loved Halloween. Every year she would dress up in her Tigger costume when it was time to hand out candy. She looked so adorable. She had the costume for years even before I met her. Maybe going all the way back to high school? This year for the first time in a very long time it remained on the hanger unworn in our closet. I miss my Tigger.

Halloween 2014

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Visit to Diana's Pumpkin Patch in Canon City

Halloween was always a big deal for Holly. She loved it. When we lived in Bend we would go to the Central Oregon Pumpkin Patch (which is and probably always will be my favorite) every year. When we moved to Colorado we would make the drive up to Erie, CO to visit Anderson Farms. There were just too many memories to do that again this year. On the advice of a friend from work, we drove down to Diana's Pumpkin Patch in Canon City. A fine time was had by all.



It is far less commercial than other pumpkin patches we have been to. The corn maze is hand cut and has a Clue theme to it (at least this year) which includes a game card and "clues" scattered throughout the maze. Truth be told we only found about half of them before we were worn out and needed food. It is unique though and we had a lot of fun.



The overall operation of the pumpkin patch is somewhat small. There is a hay-ride that takes about 5 minutes. Just about perfect if you want to be able to check it off your list. It is just an out and back endeavor. It does not lead you to get your pumpkin, just a side trip of sorts in a hay-bale covered wagon pulled by a tractor.



There are some other activities as well. The one Sophie enjoyed the most was the giant barrel slide. She ran up the hay pyramid and slid down the slide probably 15 times. When we first got there, there was no line. She could just do a giant loop over and over. Later in the day the line would take about 10 minutes to make the whole loop. She made lots of friends in line and I don't think she minded having to wait at all.



The weather was fantastic. Probably too nice for my personal taste on a pumpkin getting expedition. They had a couple of large fire pits that would have been really cool to enjoy if the weather had not been so darn hot. In fact we all got a little sunburned and were dressed too warmly for the weather.



We had burgers and dogs for lunch and they were all pretty reasonably priced. In particular I liked the strawberry lemonade. They also had pie and other dessert like items. We passed on most of that as it was just too warm to eat something sweet.

Overall it was a lot of fun and something different that did not conjure up vivid memories of Holly. I miss those memories but I did not want to spend the day crying when I am trying to get Sophie out doing fun stuff and making positive memories of this year for her. It was a good alternative for this year for sure.

If you make the drive down from Colorado Springs (or over from Pueblo for that matter), make sure to drive through the small town (the actual town) of Florence. It was beautiful this time of year with the leaves changing colors. In fact, I wish I would have stopped and taken photos as we drove through. I will have to add that to the list for next year.




Friday, October 23, 2015

Music Spotlight - Mandolin Orange

With nothing important to say I thought I would share what I am currently listening to. Folksy. Bluegrassy. Awesome. Mandolin Orange.




Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The School Fundraising Conundrum

I did it. I became one of those parents. I posted a link on Facebook to a school fundraiser on behalf of my daughter's school.

Sophie goes to public school. It is a charter school but public none-the-less. We live in the district in which she goes to school. I pay taxes in Colorado. That should be good enough, right? Maybe.

I, like most parents with kids in public school, am inundated with flyers and emails and other propaganda trying to get Sophie (so me by proxy) to raise money for her school. They sell candles and books and any number of other items all in the name of fundraising. I could send Sophie to private school for less than it would cost me to buy from or donate to the school every time the opportunity presented itself (only a slight exaggeration).

It is a sad state of affairs when public schools are basically begging for additional funds to finance the education of the students in their care. The school Sophie attends is an upper middle class school that has good test scores and strong parental support. There are literally no multi-family homes within the school boundaries. Even within the artificially erected middle class socio-economic border of her school, there is not enough funding to educate the students.

My voter registration indicates Independent. I am an odd mixture. On morality, gun control, and fiscal issues, I fall mostly into the conservative camp. On environmental, educational, and healthcare issues I probably lean a little left of center. I try to see both sides of every story. Even so, it seems to me that schools are very often on the short end of the stick.

Back to the posting of the fundraiser to Facebook... When Holly died and I needed to make some changes regarding school for Sophie, the school was an immense help in making that happen. Above and beyond what I think would have been normal. I am grateful for what they did. Because of that I want to try and give back... something. I can't volunteer because I work. I don't want to sell my friends cookie dough or wrapping paper or anything else for that matter. So what did I do? I posted a link to sponsor Sophie in running laps for her school. It is a healthy endeavor and all of the money goes directly to the school.

Almost everyone I know has kids of their own. They have their own fundraisers and school funding issues to worry about. I didn't expect anyone to donate but I was moved that some did. Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to ask...


Monday, October 19, 2015

Advice for Those Living in or Visiting Colorado

Never. I repeat, never open anything that is packaged at low altitude while it is facing toward you. This goes for coffee creamer packs, ink toner, yogurt, beverage cans and just about any other pressurized item. It will splooge all over you. Every. Time. Your shirts will thank you for heeding this warning.

Almost 4 years living here and I still make this mistake.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Happy Birthday Holly

Today you would have been 31. You would have been so excited because your birthday was on a Friday. I know what kind of cake you wanted. You had already told me this year. Strawberry cheesecake ice cream. I would have Veuve Clicquot waiting in the fridge for you. You probably would have told me you wanted some new Kendra Scott earrings as one of your birthday presents. I would have gotten you roses. As I do, I would have looked for the perfect card for you and tried to put into words how much I love you. That was always your favorite gift. I wish you were still here so I could do all those things for you one last time.

You always loved your birthday. You would remind me that no matter how old you got I would still be 11 years older than you. That was one of your favorite things to give me grief about but we both always thought it was so funny.

I told Sophie it was your birthday this morning and she was so excited. She asked if we could sing the birthday song when we got home tonight. I of course said yes. She misses you. I miss you. You are still so loved.

Happy Birthday sweet wife.

All my love,

Sean
xxoo



Our first year celebrating your birthday together (2009).


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What I Know About Losing a Wife and Becoming a Single Dad

This post has been rattling around in my head for awhile now. I make life and parenting mistakes everyday. I have, however, learned a few things in the last 5 months. Some of them are small. Some of them are pretty darn big. All of them are important at some level.

1) Be present

I think this is the most important thing I have learned as part of our whole life transition. When Sophie is around I do my best to be there for all of her emotional, physical, and whatever other needs she may have. That means listening to what she has to say. Discussing things with her rather than "yesing" her. Being available to her when she needs me. The last thing in the world I want her to feel is alienated. Just like that old EF Hutton commercial, when Sophie talks, daddy listens.

2) Put the phone/pad/game down

I am still working on this one. We are so consumed by our technology that we miss the world that is right in front of our faces. Do we really want our kids to grow up with one of their most poignant memories of dad (or mom) being him spending endless hours staring into his phone? Put the phone down. Have conversations with your child. Do a puzzle with your child. Read with your child. I think this is particularly important for kids that have lost a parent. They already have half the parenting attention as two parent children.

This goes for your child too. I have gradually cut back Sophie's screen time to get her engaged with other things. No longer does she get her iPad near bed time. No longer does she get her pad when we are driving around town for any reason. I want her using her brain to play and think and reflect. Sure there are exceptions to this but overall this has been a massive change at our house.

3) Ask for help (or at least be smart enough to accept it)

I am terrible at asking for help. It always makes me feel guilty. I have made it this far because I have had friends and family who insisted on helping me and being there for me. Simple as that. When Holly passed I had to make a lot of decisions quickly that had to do with Sophie. I was fortunate to have two friends in Chuck and Zenia who basically walked me through the whole process of getting Sophie enrolled in a new school near them. They offered to have their kids walk Sophie home after school and watch her for me until I got off work. Reflecting back on that, I am not sure what I would be doing now if they had not led me down that path. Accept help when it is offered. You will need it.

4) Change as little as possible

When a child loses a parent their whole world goes into a tail-spin. Everything they have ever known about their family structure changes in a heart beat. The last thing you want to do is continue to change the other things in their life that are familiar to them. At times it seems like *everything* has changed for me. The reality is not much has changed in our house (if anything). We still spend a lot of our weekend outside. We are planning on going to the pumpkin patch this weekend. We read the same books and watch the same movies. What she knew before she lost her mother is very much the same thing she knows now.

5) Talk openly about the parent they lost

This has probably been the hardest thing for me, but also probably the thing I have done the best. The evening Holly died, I sat down with Sophie and had a conversation with her about mommy going to heaven and that she would not be coming back. It was the hardest conversation I will ever have in my entire life. No question. Since that day I have never shied away from talking about Holly and using her name. Her death is not some great secret to be hushed up in fear of upsetting Sophie. Holly's memory will live on in stories and jokes and oral history.

Kids are smart. Communicate with them. Don't think you are doing them any good by not talking about their lost parent. You aren't. You don't want them to feel like they cannot talk to you about it. Encourage it (it is hard, trust me). Talk about them. Let your child know it is okay to talk about them. Do your best to celebrate the memory of that person. In the end it will only help your child learn to reflect on the parent they lost in a healthy way.

6) Circle the wagons

What I mean by this is bring your family together. Let your child know that there is a group (large or small) of family members out there that love and support them. In our case that means we are still making trips to Texas to spend time with Gee and Paw Paw whenever we can. We Facetime with them as frequently as possible (which is not always easy!) My dad moved from Oregon to Colorado to be close to us. Bryna and Ross came to stay with us this summer so Torin and Sophie could spend cousin time (and the parents could drink). Sophie went with Mike and Sharon to the Fahey family summer beach cabin trip. Spend time with family.

In our case it also means spending time with Chuck and Zen and their family. Their kids treat Sophie like she is another sibling. She is loved in their home and loves being in their home. They aren't blood but they are every bit as much family as we have.

These are just my random thoughts on the whole thing. I am still learning as I go and trying to find a new baseline in our life.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Am Not a Good Facebook Friend

The truth of the matter is I am not a good Facebook friend. I rarely comment on the posts of others. I don't wish people happy birthday or congratulate them on their latest successes. I rarely respond to instant messages. I am just a bad Facebook friend.

It's not that I do not care. I do. I think about the things people write. I care when people are happy or hurting. I like to read what is going on in your life. I am simply not one of those people who chime in or respond (at least with any frequency) to posts. Odd I know since I write a blog and post it to FB.

So if you don't see a comment from me or I am slow (sometimes super-slow) to respond to a message, don't take it personally. I just stink at being a Facebook friend.

Monday, October 12, 2015

It's the Small Things

Fall has slowly been making its way into Colorado over the last couple of weeks. It was always our favorite time of year. I miss you switching the candles to spicy scents. I miss watching the new fall TV shows with you for the first time. I miss our excitement for the first episode of The Walking Dead to come on. I miss you decorating the house for Halloween. What I miss most about not having you here is our annual trip to the pumpkin patch with Sophie. The thought of making that trip this coming weekend is hard for me. Every year we made a big deal out of it. We would take a family photo and you would make some great collage including the pictures from each previous year. I miss every single thing about you.

Your 31st birthday is on Friday. You always loved your birthday. I always tried to surprise you with a new place to eat. A new event that we had not been to. This year we will be home missing you instead. I pray daily for a miracle that can never come. You are not coming back. Your life was cut short and now your photos and memories are all that survive. I know you are in a better place. I know you are blessed in the grace of God. Selfishly I just want you back home with Sophie and I. We still needed you. You had such strength. With you anything was possible. I miss that feeling.

This weekend I am going to attempt to pack your clothing and personal items up. I have kept everything exactly where it was when you died. The bedroom is a mess. The bathroom and closet are worse. I bought some of those space saver bags so I can carefully pack your things and store them for Sophie someday. It is going to be an emotionally brutal task but one that I need to do. Everything of yours that had special meaning is locked away in the safe. I am doing my best to preserve your memory as much as I can. I need to do that for Sophie.

None of this is easy without you. It never will be. I can only continue to pray for you, pray for our family, and live a life focused on Sophie and raising her to be a kind and intelligent woman who is full of grace.




Single Dad Bloggers

When I started writing this blog it was an outlet to say things that I had bottled up inside that were hard for me to talk about. It has sort of transitioned into being a memory depository for all things Holly. Maybe someday it will be something Sophie will find understanding in. Maybe it will just make her sad. Who knows. For now though it is something I do for me.

I started looking for other single dad bloggers out there and I didn't find much. Maybe the truth is Facebook and Twitter have killed blogging as it's own entity. I was looking for advice, tips, the story of someone who has been there before. Aside from a few (which have become grossly over-commercialized) blogs that irritated me, I did not find what I was looking for. A lot of the ones I did find were started and eventually just forgotten.

I have no idea how long I will write here. I did choose Blogger because it is free and hosted by Google. For posterities sake I think it was the best choice.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

5 Months

How can it possibly be 5 months? It feels like yesterday. I am sitting here trying to think of what to say and the words simply aren't coming. It isn't any easier. Life still feels monumentally full of upheaval. I can't decide if I wish things were easier. I can't decide if I want to continue to hurt as bad as I do. I don't want to be a martyr to your death. I also don't want to let go of that connection to you regardless of how painful it is.

Some things are changing. Slowly. Sophie no longer panics when I walk out of the room for any period of time. She still comes looking for me but she is no longer consumed with fear when I am not in sight. She still sleeps in bed with me. She has however settled into sleeping (mostly) in your old spot. No longer is she pinned up against me all night long. She still cries for you. Often. Some days are better than others. Some mornings her sadness is so overwhelming that I just cannot leave her side. Those days are becoming more infrequent and that brings me some comfort. We look at photos of you almost every night. Your photos still surround us at home. With familiarity they do not always catch my eye. Occasionally though I will just stop and look at you and feel a deep aching inside. I miss the way your voice always filled the house. Seeing the joy you found in so many things. You being you.

I am sick. Actual sick. Not sure if I picked up a bug in Texas or am having a reaction to the flu shot I got this week. All I know is I feel like crap. You were always so good to me when I did not feel well. You would get out your essential oils and mix something up and rub me with it. Your oils are still on your nightstand. I can't bring myself to open them. They are another vivid reminder of you.

My dad finally arrived 2 weeks ago. He made the long journey from Oregon driving the same route that you and I did just a few short years ago. It made me think of the places we stopped, what we ate, where we stayed. How much we missed Bend but knew that everything would be okay because we had each other. Never did I think I would be living in Colorado without you. That was never in the plan.

We will be okay. Sophie will be okay. I will be okay. Nothing will ever be the same but the only thing I can do is pick-up the pieces and make the best life for us that I can. Sophie has more good days than bad. I am not sure if I have tipped the scales in that direction for myself yet but I am trying. Life is a gift not to be fettered in sadness and pain. I will continue to love and miss you and cherish our life and marriage. You will always be my sweet Hollybear. Always.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Bare Patch

Dearest Holly,

Today (well technically yesterday since it is after midnight) I spent several hours visiting your grave. It is still covered in flowers.  Bordered on the edge around the whole plot are additional flowers. I think you would like how much your life is still being celebrated by friends and family who still love and miss you a great deal. I brought roses. You use to tell me what you wish I sent you flowers more often. If I could do it all over again I would buy you flowers every day. Alas that is no longer an option. The only thing I can do now is bring you flowers when I visit your grave. It is a pale comparison but it gives some small amount of symbolism of my undying love and devotion to you.

As I sat on your grave today I listened to some Jack Johnson and thought about all of the fun times we had in our backyard while we listened to him. As I sat there I began to pluck the grass and weeds that covered your grave. I eventually cleared a spot that was just dirt. This bare patch of earth is where I sat and cried and prayed, and ached for you. Tears dripped from my face and moistened the earth below me. Somehow that bare patch of dirt helped me feel closer to you. I rubbed the dirt between my hands. I rubbed dirt into my wedding band. The dirt brought me comfort. When you look down from Heaven and see the bare earth spot on your grave, that is where I sit when I am with you. That is the spot I feel closest to you.

I know you did not want to be buried in Texas. I hope you understand why I did it and that you know I made a decision based on a reality we did not expect to ever come true. Your plot is nice. I feel comfort there. The cemetery is well-kept and scenic. There was a gentle breeze today that kept me cool. Dragonflies flitted back and forth and provided me the kind of silent company I needed. It really is beautiful out there. I think you would understand and see the peace and beauty you are surrounded by. I think you would be happy.

I finally picked out your headstone this trip as well. It should be in place by the time we are down for Christmas. I kept it simple and elegant. I think you would like it. I had been dreading doing it because it makes everything have a level of finality I was not ready for. Selfish of me I know. I think it will also help Sophie identify your spot and be able to understand the purpose of going out to visit you.

I still miss you terribly. I still cannot talk about you without tears filling my eyes until they feel like they will burst. Not one day has gotten easier for me. Some days I can hide it better than others but the feelings that are inside me are as raw as ever. You did not deserve this. Sophie did not deserve this. I did not deserve this. You were our whole world. Nothing is the same without you. You were so much bigger than life. You impacted so many people in your short time here on Earth. I love hearing stories about your friendships with others and how much you truly cared about so many people. You were the greatest blessing I could have ever hoped for. You were my best friend. You gave me Sophie who is so sweet and kind and full of love. You did everything for her and she is such an unbelievably amazing young girl. You would be so proud of her. I am so proud of her.

Always remember the bare dirt patch and how that is my spot when I come see you. When we come down in December I will be there again. Watering the dirt with my tears and running the earth through my hands. Until that day I will miss you and hold your memory close to my heart. You are my one and only.

All my love,

Sean
xxoo





Monday, September 28, 2015

Headed South for the Texas Rice Festival

It is that time of year again. Fall in Texas means the Texas Rice Festival is about to be in full swing. This year is going to be a little different for me though. Holly is gone. Sophie is not doing the pageant. I still need to pick out a headstone for Holly's grave while I am down there. The usual fun and laid-back event is going to be muted for me. It will be nice seeing family and friends but I can't help but feel a little hesitant about this trip.

I think this is the 5th TRF I have been to. Holly always looked so forward to going down for it each year. I know she had such fun and loving memories of the event. She was the Junior Rice Queen one year. She got Sophie involved in doing the pageant (against my better judgement she talked me into it!). What Holly really LOVED was the food and spending time seeing her friends. She looked forward to it all year. The TRF was something Holly would have gone to regardless of where she lived. It was her thing. They are her people.

Sophie and I are flying down on Wednesday and coming back home to Colorado on Sunday. A quick trip by Holly's standards. Sophie has struggled a little more often lately with missing her mom. I hope that seeing Gee and Paw Paw and having fun on all the rides will help her focus on happy things for a little bit. We will all put on our brave face and do our best to smile our way through the festival. In our hearts the only thing we will feel is the unimaginable loss of someone who left us way too soon. She will be everywhere.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Worst.Daddy.Ever.

About 5am this morning Sophie kept trying to wake me asking me to rub her back. I would do it for a few seconds and fall back asleep. After about the tenth time of her waking me I said something along the line of, " please just let me sleep!" Probably a little gruffer than I meant out of just being tired. All of a sudden she just bust out crying. I rolled over and she looked at me and said, "You are the worst daddy ever!"

That is the first time she has ever said anything like that to me. Needless to say she got her back rub while I felt like crap for making her feel that sad. Parenting. Swing and a miss on that one.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Draw a Picture

Having the usual post-Oregon game fire pit and s'mores with Sophie. Feeling a bit maudlin. Sophie looked at me and could tell I was feeling a bit sad. Completely on her own she said, "Dad. When I am missing mommy I draw her a picture. Maybe you should draw her her one." What a pure and loving heart she has. So intuitive at only 5 years old.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sophie Scores!

Last Saturday was the first game of the Fall season for Sophie's team. The cherry on top was Sophie being the first player to score in the first game of the season. So proud of her. It is probably a little ridiculous how much I look forward to her games and practices. I just fills my heart with a whole lot of love watching her have fun with the girls on her team. Proud daddy.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Advice For Stay-at-Home Moms (Serious)

Shortly after Holly passed away I got in-touch with the social security department on what I needed to do to get Sophie signed up as the beneficiary of Holly. As it came to happen, it was quite a shock. Due to the fact that she had been unable to work due to her AVM, she did not have enough work credit hours to qualify for social security payments for Sophie. All told, Sophie and I were eligible for a one time lump payment of about $250. Total. No more. After reading more on the rules and regulations in situations like this, we were screwed.

Most of the time when the parent of a minor child passes away, the child receives a monthly check for around $1000 to help cover expenses. Not in our case though. Sophie falls into the group of 5% of children who receive nothing when they lose their parent.

We had just started the SSI Disability paperwork for Holly at the end of April. It is a process that takes months and months to get approved. We never made it that far. I am still researching some options but it does not look good. Our government throws money around but when it comes to doing it for a good cause, you get the shaft.

I make enough money we will ultimately be okay. It still doesn't make sense though how Sophie will end up falling through a crack on this. Suck.

The moral of this story is that if you are a stay-at-home-mom and have been for awhile, buy some life insurance. Don't let the government stick it to you. Life insurance is fairly inexpensive and will save your family a world of financial binds if something happened to you. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

4 Months

I tried several times to start this entry tonight and each time my emotions got the better of me. Today marks 4 months since you passed from this Earth. 4 months that I have not held you in my arms. 4 months since I last kissed your lips. 4 months since I was last able to tell you I loved you. 4 months. Not a day goes by that I do not calculate how long it has been since you left us. Your presence is like a never lifting fog. You surround everything we do in all ways.

Sophie still misses you so much. Every night in bed she brings you up and we talk about different memories we have of you. While hard, it is still my favorite part of the day. I hope it is something we continue to do forever. I want so desperately for her to hold on to your memory and love. You were such an amazing mother to her and there is no one who could ever take your place. I do my best to keep her dressed cute, her hair done pretty, and her life happy. It would just be so much easier with you here. Even with the monumental amount of help I get, I still need you.

Overall Sophie is doing really well. She is doing good in school and she likes her teacher and her new friends. She has the school thing down and she is always happy to go (once her morning grumpiness passes). Each day Miranda and Charlie pick her up at the kindergarten bench after school and walk with her home. She feels like such a big girl. They along with Cedes and Flexa and Shyann are as close as siblings as they could possibly be. The Apodaca kids take such good care of her and as young as they are, are such an unbelievable blessing to her. Last but not least are Zenia and Chuck. In my entire life I will never be so fortunate to meet two better people. They epitomize what family is and means. There is nothing they would not do for Sophie and I and will never be able to thank them enough. I know how much Zenia misses you and how your loss weighs on her heart. When we moved to Colorado there were higher powers at work that guided us to move right next door to them. They are the only thing that has made moving forward possible.

Today has been one of the roughest days in a long time. The house is a mess. My normally super patient demeanor has been a struggle to keep. I am just... tired. Between getting her ready for school in the morning, getting to work, doing all the shopping and errands and raising a healthy and emotionally stable little girl, I am worn out. I am not the first single dad in the world and I am not suggesting it is any harder on me than any other man. I am just saying it is hard.

Soccer practice started last week. Her first game is this Saturday. It seems like there is something each day that needs to be taken care of. I have a great deal of respect for all of the moms and dads out there that wake up each day with the sole goal of making sure their kids come first. It is not easy.

My dad is finally making the big move to Colorado. His stuff is mostly packed and he has movers arranged and ready to roll. Tentatively he should be here on September 25th. I am looking forward to him being here and I know it will be good for all three of us. I don't need a lot of help at home but having some help will be a huge thing for me. It will also be good for him having someone to help him. Not having to worry about him living in Eugene 1000 miles away with no one close by to help him. I am truly looking forward to him being here.

I still have not slept a single night alone in me bed. Sophie refuses to sleep on her own and I don't blame her. She is getting a little better about not freaking out if I am not in the same room as her. I bought some walkie talkies so that when I am out doing yard-work she can call me when she needs something. It has worked our pretty well so far and Sophie seems to think it is pretty cool. She is learning to ride her bike so well. She loves tearing up and down the sidewalk as often as she can. You would be proud of her. She also seems to be doing better in being more driven while playing soccer. Gone are the days when she was hesitant to mix it up to get to the ball. She is so fun to watch.

I still miss you with all my heart darling. I still have the most terrifying dreams at night about that day. I still have terrible anxiety at times when something particularly poignant happens that reminds me of you. We pray for you nightly and I know you are watching down on us. You will forever by my wife and Sophie's mother. I will always make sure that Sophie knows how much you loved her. You will always be my beloved wife. I miss you baby.

Love always,

Your Husband

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Return of the Sassy Cats

Today marks a very important day. The Sassy Cats return to terrorize the U6 girls soccer fields of Colorado Springs. Sophie has been so excited for this day to finally arrive. We have been practicing on the weekends in the backyard. Occasionally playing "water soccer". A game Sophie concocted that involved lining up cones which need to be dribbled around before taking a shot on goal. The added dimension she included was the sprinklers need to be on while we do it. The grass has never looked greener (nor the water bill higher).

While I am very much looking forward to soccer starting again tonight, I can't help but feel a little trepidatious thinking about Holly not being there. Soccer was always my thing but Holly made it part of her thing as well. It was one of the many reasons I loved her. Last spring the three of us went to Dick's Sporting Goods to buy Sophie her cleats, shin guards, and a new ball. Holly in her normal modus operandi went up to the wall with all of the girls cleats and looked until she found the prettiest and most expensive pair.  I think they were $175. When she found out that they did not come in Sophie's size she was so upset. Turns out for the little girls there are only about 3 different models to choose from and they are all fairly inexpensive. That was my Holly though. Always wanting the absolute best for Sophie. Always.

As devastatingly painful as it is to lose a mother so young, I am so very thankful that Holly was able to see Sophie's first game, her first practice, even her first goal. The video below is hard for me to watch. Not so much watch but hear. Listening to Holly cheer and scream for Sophie as she scores her first goal. So joyful and bittersweet for me. I miss my wife.





Saturday, August 8, 2015

3 Months

Today is the three month anniversary of your passing. I tried so hard to keep my mind busy by working on stuff around the house. Getting yard work done. Anything to not think about it. Alas it permeated every single thing I did today. I cried periodically all day. A song would make me think of you. Something Sophie did or said would make me think of you. You were everywhere.

I have spent a lot of time brushing up my my theological knowledge lately. Something I consider vastly different from my faith (although they certainly do mix and match). At some level my irrational being thinks I should be mad at God for letting this happen. Losing my 30 year old wife to a stroke of all things. My faith tells me that it could always just be a matter of time. Your AVM had been treated 7 times over the last 14 years. Any one of those 7 embolizations could have been fatal.  We always knew you could be on borrowed time. We knew from the moment we married. If anything I feel fortunate that God gave me the best 6 years of my life with you. I am glad God gave us a child that brought us closer together than we ever had been before. He gave me a partner, a wife, a best friend at the time I needed it most in my life. He gave me you. For that I will forever be thankful for the love He showed me I was capable of giving another person. You are my one and only darling and you always will be.

Three months ago tonight I experienced and lived through the roughest time of my life. Your loss has impacted every single aspect of my life. Everything. I am a pretty capable man and have never doubted my ability to survive the hardest of times. This has certainly tested my believe in that. It is amazing how a 5 year old daughter can completely turn you on your head when you are trying to get things done. I am fortunate that Sophie is so full of love and grace and kindness. She teaches me something every day about myself. Her love for you is one of the things that keeps me going. She has become the focus of my day to day life in all ways. It is the Sophie show and I do not see that changing anytime soon.

I still miss you so much. Everyday there are things I wish you were here to talk about. Everyday Sophie and I talk about you and how much we miss you. I am doing a little better talking about you with her and not breaking down. Sophie and I spent about 30 minutes talking about John 3:16 tonight and how it impacted our lives and more relevantly, how it applied to you. I think I was able to explain it to her in a way she could understand. She is young but so inquisitive. She loves praying for you each night. It brings great joy to my heart that she brings it up on her own.

School started for her on Monday and she seems to love it. When I dropped her off she gave me a kiss and ran in to make new friends. We raised her to have such confidence  and strength of character. She is kind and full of grace to everyone she meets. You would be so proud of her in all ways. I think she is starting to understand the concept of Heaven better and that while her and I are sad, you are in such a glorious place that in our hearts we should remember that you are not in pain or worried about your health. You are with Jesus and Teddy the hamster as well as Shilo the dog. I know that makes her happy.

We had the fire pit going tonight and had s'mores to go with it. It was a nice evening. Sophie also spent a lot of time on her bike today and she is finally really getting the hang of it. She will be on two wheels in no time at all. Her speech is getting better and her problem solving skills are really starting to take off. I am so darn proud of her. I wish you were here to see it.

Three months later and my emotions are just as raw as they were that first day. I can hide it a little better now but it is always just under the surface. I wish the good Lord had taken me and left you. I would trade my life for you in a New York minute. Your life was just starting. You were destined to do amazing things in this world. I have never seen a mother spend so much time making sure her child had all of the possible head-starts that a kindergartner could have. I think you would be happy to know that she is the image of perfection so far. She is her mother's child for sure.

I am thinking about you a lot tonight and feeling pretty crushed. I know I will be with you again someday but it is hard to find solace in that thought tonight. Three months ago today I was feverishly giving you CPR and praying to God for Him to save you. I dream about it every single night. Maybe if I had been there 60 seconds sooner or had done perfect chest compression's I might have saved you. I couldn't. If love alone could have saved you, you would still be here today. It wasn't and now we are here without you, the person that made everything work so much better in our family. Things will never be the same. Ever.

We love and miss you terribly honey. Three months does not feel any better than two months. It is just another reminder that you are gone and it is up to me to pick up the pieces and raise our daughter to be the wonderful woman she is destined to be. Good night honey. Godspeed. Watch over us. We are doing our best to be brave. All my love sweet girl.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Orientation

Sophie had orientation at her new school on Wednesday. It was not an easy thing for me. Not by a long shot. Zen was there with me and she for the most part did the talking. I nodded my head a lot and did my best not to choke up when I had to say something. I remember how many times you cried when you thought about Sophie starting real school. I remember consoling you and loving you because of how much you loved Sophie. Now she is starting school and you are not here to see it. It hurts an awful lot to not have you here right now.

Her school uniforms have started arriving. She looks so cute in them. I never thought I liked the idea of school uniforms until now. I think it is the only thing keeping me from having a complete breakdown when it comes to worrying about getting her dressed for school. Now I only have to worry about lunch and hair. A small victory. I know you would love this picture of her. I am sure you would have taken a better one but it was the best I could do that day.

I love her pose with the wind blowing her hair.

I ordered all of her school snacks and lunch foods for the week. Grocery shopping seems like such a chore on top of everything else that I am paying the premium of ordering it online and having it delivered. Yes, it is all organic stuff like I know you would have done. Your mom bought her a darling backpack and matching lunch kit. Now I just have to make sure she can open everything. We will practice doing it this weekend.

Today is her last official day at Hope Montessori Academy. I only add the link because if anyone local ever reads this blog I want them to know how amazing the school is and how much the staff has done for both Sophie and I. They are genuinely sad to see her go. She will still drop in from time to time when I need to have back-up arrangements for her. Words cannot say how much I appreciate Hope and the kindness they have shown us. They have been a true blessing in every sense of the word.

I stopped taken all of my anti-depressant medications last week. While I think they have helped get me through all of this, I feel I need to deal with all of my emotions and feelings in a more authentic way now. I am still taking Ambien to sleep and something for my cholesterol but that is it. I think I am doing okay for the most part. I still cry and have moments that I feel utter sadness. I think that is okay though and while it is hard, I think it is healthy for me to feel those emotions right now.

Sophie is so excited for soccer to start again in September. She is playing with the Sassy Cats again this fall. Lisa and I are coaching again. All of the girls but one has signed up again. While the thought of not having you on the sideline taking pictures and yelling support will be hard, I know you will be there watching her play and cheering her on. I will have to recruit one of the other parents to take pictures for me since I will be on the field. I plan to stop at Fargo's to eat after each game down at El Pomar. That is a great memory of you and our little family. I am just so glad you were there to see her first soccer practice. Her first game. Her first goal. I know someday that will mean the world to her.

I am not sure why I wrote so much this time. Just a lot going through my head right now that I can't tell you in person. Sophie and I pray for you every night. We have "family movie night" all of the time and Sophie loves to talk about you the whole time. How much you loved popcorn. How much you loved Brave. How much she wishes you were there with us. I would do anything to have you back. I love you honey. I miss you terribly. Keep an eye on us. We need our angel looking over us. All my love...


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dirt

It has been a busy few weeks without you. Two weekends ago I flew down to Texas to pick up Sophie and bring her home. It was a quick 24 hour trip. It was nice to see your parents and Kelsea and Jason. While I was there I went out to your grave and just sat their crying. The dirt is still piled above you. I was hoping it would have gone down some by now but it has not. I still have not decided on what I want written on your headstone. I think I am getting closer but need a little more time.

Your grave is adorned with flowers and pin-wheels. It still seems naked without the headstone though. I need something that is beautiful like you. I want to write something befitting of your life, love, and family. It seems like such a final act. The last thing I will ever be able to do for you. I want it to be perfect. Something Sophie will understand and love after I am gone.

Speaking of Sophie she still talks about you all of the time. She asks several times a day if you can come home from Heaven. I of course tell her that you cannot to which she replies, "I know dad. I just like thinking about it." She misses you an awful lot. We pray for you every night. Sophie is excited for Sunday school to start in September. She says she wants to learn all about Jesus and Heaven so she knows where you are. Breaks my heart.

I found out yesterday that I was able to get Sophie into Banning Lewis Ranch Academy this year. It took a lot of doing but we finally made it happen. Sophie will be able to to go to school with Charlie and Miranda and Zen will watch her after school. It makes me happy that she loves spending time with them as they are the closest things to siblings she will have. The Apodaca family has been an unbelievable blessing for us.

I miss you honey. I love you. I pray for you daily and know that you are in a better place. You are my one and only true love. Watch over us darling. All my love.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Two Months and Five Days

You have been gone for over a little over 2 months. Not a single day has passed that was not full of loneliness and tears.  It does not get easier. I am not sure I want it to get easier. At least with the pain I feel connected to you. It is a reminder of just how much I love and miss you. I will carry the pain of losing you for the rest of my life. Now and forever.

Sophie is still down in Texas with your parents. She is having a great time and while I miss her a great deal I am happy that she is having fun with her Gee and Paw Paw. It also gave me a chance to start going through all of the stuff in the basement. I cried so much yesterday as I cleaned and organized. All of your maternity clothing brought back tons of memories. There were pictures I had not seen in awhile. I even found some old grocery lists that you had made. For some reason I saved them. The hardest part was going through a box that had old cards that I had given you and cards you had given me. I would do anything to be able to send you one last card just so you would know for eternity just how much I love you.

Nothing is the same at home. The house feels so terribly empty without your presence there. I spent part of the weekend getting the yard in shape. The grass is in the best shape it has been since we moved in. Every time I look at it I want to be able to share it with you. I want to look up while mowing it and see you sitting in the chair by the fire pit with a mimosa in hand. Instead there is no one there. Just a memory of you and a yearning to see you again.

I miss you honey.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Your Voice

Your mom came to town for a few days to pick up Sophie to take her down for her annual summer trip to Texas. We didn't really plan anything to do. Chuck and the kids came over on the 3rd to watch the fireworks. The same thing we did last year only this year you were not here with us. Each holiday or event brings on a new wave of sadness. I just don't think that is ever going to change. Sure we will eventually have some happy moments too but the sadness will always be lurking there just below the service.

Your mom got Sophie's room all organized for me. We boxed up the clothes that were too small for her (which I will store and never get rid of because they remind me of you). School starts in a couple of weeks for Sophie and I am having a hard time thinking about her first day of real school without you here. You always made sure she looked so nice and got all excited to take photos of her. You were the best at that.

While your mom was here we talked about how neither of us could watch something that had your voice in it. Somehow *hearing* you makes it so much harder for me. For the first few weeks after you died I would call your voicemail several times a day just to hear you without having a visual image to attach it to. Just your voice. I miss your voice. I miss the silly voice impressions you would do. I miss you.

I am glad Sophie is having fun visiting your parents. I am definitely not having fun with her gone. All I do is miss her. With you gone it is the closest connection I have to you. This beautiful child that we made together. A child that highlights the best of both of us without any of the negatives. She is so full of grace and kindness. She amazes me everyday. She fills my heart with love. Love for her and love for you for giving her to me. Love.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happy Birthday Sophie

Happy birthday sweet daughter. You turned 5 today and in true Sophie fashion you were kind, sweet, and gracious. You talked a lot about missing your mom today. I miss her too. There is an unending well of sadness in my heart when I think about mom not being here for your birthday. She always threw the best birthday parties for you. She knew just the perfect way to put everything together. I am good at many things but that planning things like birthdays is something I always left to mom.

I wish my heart was not so heavy. I wish everything could be good and fun and light-hearted. I wish you, mommy, and me were laying in bed together having family movie night. Instead you are sleeping next to me in the space your mother use to occupy in our bed. I would give anything to have her back with us. Our little family got exponentially smaller when your mother died. She took up such a large place in our hearts and I fear we will never be the same.

On top of the profound sadness I have I am now taking care of you. You got sick tonight (too much sugar I think) and threw-up all over the bed. I had to give you a second bath and throw all the sheets in the washer. What a bad way to end a birthday.

You have been wanting to wear your ballet nightgown every night. It is far too small for you yet you insist on it each night. You said it reminds you of mom. She always made sure you had lots of beautiful clothing. All of your clothes remind me of her. You remind me of her. Today we talked about how we miss mommy's perfect smile. You said that you missed mommy's skin. I miss everything about her. I miss having my partner by my side. Spending time with her. Everything. I still cry several times a day. I am crying right now. I just can't imagine these tears ever stopping. I love you Sophie. Happy birthday.

Listening to Down Like Silver tonight.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sad Dreams

I woke up this morning about 6am because I heard Sophie crying. I rolled over and could see she was crying in her sleep. I rubbed her back for a few minutes and she slowly woke up. She told me that she misses her mommy. I asked if she was dreaming about mommy and she said yes. I held her tight and stroked her hair wishing I could do something more. It breaks my heart. So sad this morning.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Title-less

It has been a couple of days since I wrote you last. You always wanted me to write you more often when you left town and I wish I had done more of it for you. Not a day goes by that I have not cried because I miss you. At work today I was thinking about all of the things we would talk about. How we could stay in bed for hours just talking and making each other laugh. Missing the way you would snort when you were laughing really hard. I miss that.

Not a day goes by that Sophie does not tell me she misses you. I am not sure I will ever truly understand the depth of her sorrow even at such a young age. You were the best mommy to her and I will never let her forget that. No one could ever take your place.

Sophie has not slept in her bed a single night since we got home. If I leave the room and she does not know exactly where I am I can hear the panic in her voice as she calls out for me. I promised her that after work today I would take her out for ice cream. We went to Swirly Cow and I think she got more toppings than ice cream. The last time I was there was when the three of us went after one of Sophie's soccer games. No matter where I go I am surrounded by memories of you.

The house feels so empty without you. You were the one that made everything work. I still can't pack up your things in the bedroom and closet. It is a total mess but I just need those parts of you near me still. Eventually I will find the strength to pack everything up so Sophie can have it someday. For now your stuff still occupies our room and our space. I am not sure when I will be able to change that.

I finalized my last will and testament yesterday. Something I never would have thought of our done before you left us. At least not at this age. I increased my life insurance, have been to the doctor or a physical, and have started eating better. You use to joke that I had to live longer than you because you could not live without me. I don't think is this is how you meant it to go. I needed 50 more years without. I love you too much for you to be gone already.

Know that I miss you and love you and will do so for eternity until I am by your side again. You are my one true love darling. Now and forever.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Barbie

This morning I took Sophie to the ENT doctor to take a look at her super huge right tonsil. The doc and I discussed several different options (we settled on a sleep study for now) and several times she mentioned that it was no rush and I could discuss it with my wife. I didn't say anything (I mean what do you say?). Eventually after she said it again Sophie stopped us be telling the doctor that, "her mommy is in Heaven now." The doctor paused... I got teary eyed... she got a little teary eyed as well. She left to get some information and came back with a new Barbie doll that she gave to Sophie. She patted my leg and I about lost it right there. Tough morning.

I still wear my wedding ring. I cannot imagine taking it off. I guess at some level I still feel like you are going to come back to us. Miss you.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Brave

Saturday evening Sophie and I were having family movie night in bed. I wanted to watch the original Avengers in 3D since we were going to see the sequel the next day. Sophie stopped me and said she wanted to watch Brave in 3D instead. The three of us saw Brave in the theater together. Brave was the first official family movie night film we watched when get got our newest 3D TV. That movie will always remind me of our family and great memories doing stuff together. Be brave.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

Tough day without you. Sophie woke up to give me a gift and a card (with some very kind assistance). We had a lazy morning then went out to lunch and a movie. Sophie and I wore our matching Captain America shirts to go see the Avengers. It was a nice day but I couldn't help but feel like we were missing a key part of our family. You would have done something nice for me and made plans to cook my one of my favorite meals. Probably your Mexican casserole that I love so much. Instead it was just Sophie and I and both of us missing you.

Tonight while we were on Facetime with your parents Sophie started to pull things out of her toy box to show them. One of the things she pulled out was Plex from Yo Gabba Gabba. It made me think of the time when we drove from Bend to Seattle so Sophie could see her favorite show in person. You bought front row seats and the VIP package where we got to meet the characters. I will never forget how when the show started you began to cry because you were so happy for Sophie to be as excited as she was. You loved her so much. I remember that trip so clearly. The weather. The places we went. Everything. You loved Sophie so much and I want her to always know that. You were the best mother I could possibly imagine. We miss you.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Say Goodbye

Today Sophie was out in the garage with me "helping" me get it cleaned up. For awhile she ran through the sprinklers and rode her bike. She asked several times to hear the "goodbye song" and I had no idea what she was talking about. She probably asked 20 times before I finally figured it out. She wanted to hear one of the songs that was played at Holly's funeral. In her mind it was when we said goodbye to mom. I knew it would be hard but I played it anyway. She started to cry. I cried. I held her tight as we both cried. We sat and cried like crazy in the garage. By far the most tears I have seen from her to this point. I have tears in my eyes just writing about it.

I picked three songs for the funeral. One for me. One for Holly. One for Sophie. The song we listened today was the song I picked. Holly was not as sappy about music as I am. I hope she would understand why I chose it.

"How Can I Help You Say Goodbye"
Parry Loveless

Through the back window of a '59 wagon
I watched my best friend Jamie slippin' further away
I kept on waving 'till I couldn't see her
And through my tears, I asked again why we couldn't stay
Mama whispered softly, Time will ease your pain
Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same

And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye
It's OK to hurt, and it's OK to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye

I sat on our bed, he packed his suitcase
I held a picture of our wedding day
His hands were trembling, we both were crying
He kissed me gently and then he quickly walked away
I called up Mama, she said, Time will ease your pain
Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same

And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye
It's OK to hurt, and it's OK to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye

Sitting with Mama alone in her bedroom
She opened her eyes, and then squeezed my hand
She said, I have to go now, my time here is over
And with her final word, she tried to help me understand
Mama whispered softly, Time will ease your pain
Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same

And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye
It's OK to hurt, and it's OK to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye

How can I help you to say goodbye

Friday, June 19, 2015

Small Thing

I have not bought a piece of clothing for myself in years. You took care of all of that. You took care of me. Almost everything in the closet, in the house, everything... you picked out. My jeans don't fit and I don't have you here to buy me what I need. How will my life work without you?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

It Sucks

Holly's funeral is all sort of a blur to me. I remember being there. I remember seeing her. I remember talking to people. I don't remember specific conversations so much or specific faces. One of the only things that I can remember clearly is one of Sharon and Mike's good friends coming up to me and telling me the most simple thing. He came over and told me, "It sucks." Nothing could be more true. I am okay when I am busy but as soon as I stop and think about Holly it brings tears. It sucks.

Each night when we lay down Sophie brings Holly up and talks about how much she wishes mommy didn't go to Heaven and that she was here with us. Each night I agree with her but try to console her with the fact that Heaven is a pretty great place. I try to bring up happy memories and play a game of remembering all the things we loved about mommy. It hit me last night that Sophie is going to have very few actual memories of her mother when she gets older. I think  about when I was her age and I remember small bits and pieces but certainly not broad strokes of memories. I am lucky that Holly always took so many pictures and videos. Sophie will never lack images to look back on to remember her mom. I have them all backed up from all digital sources I could remember. Something like 66,000 photos. 

I am going to start writing down all of the good things we remember about mommy each night. Reinforcing them with her all the time to help her hold on to them. It is the only thing I can think of to do. 

Today at Sophie's school they are having a 'Donuts for Dad' Father's Day event. They had a 'Muffin's for Mom' Mother's Day event 2 days before Holly died. She was there with Sophie. I got Sophie up this morning and I put her in the same dress she wore that day. She is such an amazing example of Holly and all the good things about her. I never want her to lose that.

Note of no particular interest to anyone but my future self. You have listened to Bright by Echosmith on repeat for 3 hours now. No idea why.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

When Sophie Cries

Tonight was a rough night for Sophie. She cried several times telling me she didn't want you dead and in heaven. That she wanted you here with us. That is the hardest thing for me. When Sophie cries.

We miss you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Being strong is so hard

I have been reading as much as I can on how to manage grief with a child and the best way to handle everything. Every time Sophie brings you up it is so hard not to break down into tears. From reading I know that I am suppose to stay strong so she does not associate bringing you up with making me sad. The problem is that is exactly what makes me the saddest. I want her to be able to talk about you and share memories about you without feeling like I am going to utterly break down because that is exactly what is going on under the surface.

Bryna and Ross left early this morning and headed back home. I was sad to see them go but appreciated the company and distraction a great deal. I know Sophie loved having them here. She will see them again in a couple of weeks when she goes down to Winnie and Galveston with your mom and dad for the family reunion. It is so important for her to stay deeply involved with your family. 

I miss you honey. So much.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sick

I am feeling so poorly right now. If you were here you would be rubbing essential oils on me and working your aromatherapy on me. I went to bed at the same time as Sophie tonight. Bryna and Ross are leaving in the morning but I felt so bad I just had to get in bed. If you were here you would be taking care of me right now. We miss you. I miss you.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Scooch Your Booch

This afternoon while putting Sophie in her car seat I told her to, "Scooch your booch." That was something you use to say to her and was uniquely yours. I remembering you and Sophie both laughing when you would say. I brought be back to reality that you are gone and there are so many things you are going to miss in Sophie's life. I keep trying to tell myself of all the things you were there for:

Her birth
Her first plane ride
Her first birthday
Her first Christmas
Her first day of school
Her first concert
Her first trip to Disney World
Her first soccer goal

So many firsts... yet all I can thing about are the things you will miss. All I can think about is how much I miss my wife and the life we had together. I can be distracted for periods of time but something always brings a memory back of you. The tears follow shortly.

Bryna and Ross are here and we spent the early part of the day at Springs Spree. There was all kinds of festival foods and it made me think of you and how much be both always enjoyed festival food. Bryna brought a couple of books for Sophie (and a beautiful Kendra Scott necklace you would love) and she showed them to me and I knew that at that moment I could not read them without starting to cry. They are good people with good hearts. I just wish they were here to see all of us together again. Not just Sophie and I.

I am in bed taking a "family nap" with Sophie. Something the three of us would often do on the weekends. I can't fall asleep though because I miss you just so damn much. I keep asking God why this had to happen to you and I don't have an answer. Did I fail you? Did I not try hard enough? Was there more that I could have done for you? I don't have the answer to those questions either. I love you so much honey. I will never be the same without you.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Saturday Afternoon Mimosa

Today is the first period in awhile where it has been warm enough to spend much time outside. It was the kind of day when you were alive that you would be out on the patio drinking a mimosa while I mowed the lawn. I can picture what you would be wearing. How you would be sitting in the chairs by the fire pit with your feet up. How you would have your hair pulled up and your sunglasses on. As I mowed the lawn this morning that is all I could think about. Everyday without you seems worse than the day before. I miss you so much. Each night in bed Sophie talks about how she wishes you were not in Heaven. How you were still her mommy here. It takes everything in me not to break down completely in front of her. I need to be strong for her, she doesn't need to be strong for me.

Bryna and Ross are bringing Toren up to visit for a couple of days. Holly loved Bryna so much and was always so excited when she got to see her. It will be nice to have them around for a few days. While I am one to prefer (if you can prefer such a thing) to mourn in private and away from people, I like them and know how much they cared about Holly. Sophie will be happy to see her cousin for a few days as well.

I miss you honey. I miss you so much I can hardly stand it. You were a pain in the ass but I loved that about you. I just wish you were still here with me.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ties

There are a million hair ties in the house and I can not throw out a single one. You had such beautiful hair. Even in death your hair was stunning. Every time I find one I can't bring myself to throw it out. Most still have some of your hair in them. They make me cry and cry and cry. You were too full of life to be gone so soon. Damn it Holly I need you.

Geography

You were born in Texas
You were married in California
You gave birth to the most precious child in Oregon
You died in Colorado

Now you watch over us from Heaven
We need you back in Colorado

Thursday, June 11, 2015

6 Years

Today would have marked our 6 year anniversary and I am sitting in my office crying like a fool. . Holly always loved celebrating special occasions. Her mother went and laid flowers on her grave for me today. She always wanted flowers. Holly always loved celebrating special occasions. What I would give to be celebrating with her today.

I knew today would be a hard day. I knew I would have a hard time holding it together. As predicted I am a total mess. The hardest day in a long time. Why did this happen to us. How does God allow this to happen. I don't have half the strength I need to navigate these waters. Someone has a lot more faith in me then I do.

There is a public service of healing at church today. I am going down to spend my lunch praying for Holly, Sophie, and our families. My dad sent me an email last night that included, "It just seems like our family has had more than our share of grief to deal with." I could not have said anything more true than that.

6 years ago today Holly and I married in San Francisco. Kelsea and Jason were there. Holly and I spent the night out at an old bar called Vesuvio which is mildly famous. We drank Bombay Saphire and tonic all night as we talked about our life to be, our plans, our dreams. When the bill came at the end of the night it should have been well over $150. The waitress only charged us $39 because we looked so happy. Such a happy day and memory.

Sophie and I will spend the evening eating dinner with our good friends. Being home alone tonight would be too hard for me. I will put on my brave face and do my best to remember only the happy memories. I miss you baby. I miss you so much.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sophie Says

Laying in bed last night, "I can't remember what mommy looks like." I lost it. Penitence perhaps. No 4 year old should ever have to utter those words.

Monday, June 8, 2015

One Month

It has been one month since Holly passed. An entire month she has been gone. I still cannot believe it. I spent the night looking through photos and crying my eyes out. I miss so many things about her. I miss her smile. I miss her hair. I miss watching our shows in bed at the end of the day. I just miss... her.

Made it out to a birthday party with Sophie for one of her friends yesterday. Outside of work it was really the first time I had been around people. It was hard even though there were some people there I would consider friends. Sophie had a great time and it was good to see her smiling and running around having fun again. I wish I felt the same.

After the party Saturday she has a sleep over at one of her friends house. Selfishly I did not want her to go. When she is around I can put my focus into her and dull some of the pain. Alas I let her go and ended up having a rough night.

I still where my wedding ring. I cannot imagine ever taking it off. It is a memory of my wife that I lost way too soon. It is a part of who I am. How do people deal with this. I pray. I try to tell myself God has a plan for each of us. I just can't make myself believe it.



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Who You'd Be Today

Sunny days seem to hurt the most.
I wear the pain like a heavy coat.
I feel you everywhere I go.
I see your smile, I see your face,
I hear you laughin' in the rain.
I still can't believe you're gone.

It ain't fair: you died too young,
Like the story that had just begun,
But death tore the pages all away.
God knows how I miss you,
All the hell that I've been through,
Just knowin' no-one could take your place.
An' sometimes I wonder,
Who'd you be today?

Would you see the world? Would you chase your dreams?
Settle down with a family,
I wonder what would you name your babies?
Some days the sky's so blue,
I feel like I can talk to you,
An' I know it might sound crazy.

It ain't fair: you died too young,
Like the story that had just begun,
But death tore the pages all away.
God knows how I miss you,
All the hell that I've been through,
Just knowin' no-one could take your place.
An' sometimes I wonder,
Who you'd be today? Today, today, today.

Today, today, today. Sunny days seem to hurt the most.
I wear the pain like a heavy coat.
The only thing that gives me hope,
Is I know I'll see you again some day. Some day, some day, some day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Overwhelmed

So. Many. Tasks. So many.

I am at work but it feels like all I am doing is taking care of other things.
  • Finding a new doctor for Sophie
  • Meeting with an estate lawyer
  • Finding a new doctor for me
  • Appointment with nurse to go over my physical health for my life insurance policy
  • Birthday to attend this weekend
  • Checking with Sophie's teachers to make sure she is okay
  • Arranging the TV repair guy to fix one of our TV's
  • Checking on her application for The Classical Academy for NEXT year.
Somewhere in there I am also doing work that I am way behind on. Way behind. Fortunately I love my job and my company and appreciate their generosity a great deal. It just means working more at home when I can.

Holly was the one who called doctors and made appointments and arranged birthday parties and gifts. She could be home when we needed to have something done during the day. I need to clone myself. This is harder than I would have ever imagined. I lost more than I could have ever imagined. I lost my partner, my friend, and my child's mother. How do you ever replace any of those things? 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Home

We are home. It was a long and slow drive from Amarillo today. There was torrential rain, tornado warnings, and overall suck for almost the entire day. It was harder coming home than I thought it would be. Everything in the house reminds me of Holly. Her touch is on everything and it rips me up inside whenever I have the smallest memory of her. How in the world am I suppose to get over this. Nothing will ever be the same. Nothing but sad memories and hard truths face me right now. Why did this happen?

Sophie has had her hardest day so far. She has repeatedly told me that she misses her mommy and it takes everything I have not to break down in tears when she says it. She is laying beside me watching Paw Patrol on her iPad. I don't even have the heart to make her go to sleep. I think I need her more than she needs me right now. What a burden for an almost 5 year old.

We picked up the dogs tonight from our good friend who was watching them. They have agreed to keep Lulu which is both a blessing and a heart ache. Lulu is the golden-doodle puppy that Holly got in February. While it makes me immeasurably sad to rehome her it is for the best. With everything that is going on it would be impossible to give a puppy the love and attention it needs. She will be happy with her new home where she has room to roam and a loving family to watch over her. I think Holly would be okay with it as well. It still hurts to lose a little piece of her.

We are fortunate to have good friends, good neighbors, and good family. Sophie's school even sent a beautiful arrangement of flowers. So much love yet I still feel so horribly far away from being the happy person I was before. I know we will get through it but it sure feels like a task beyond my ability.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Amarillo by Evening

We left the humidity of southeast Texas yesterday and made it just a little west of Fort Worth. Today there was rain of biblical proportions so we called it a short day. I have massive anxiety issues right now and I cannot take medication for them and drive at the same time. Alas we are slowly making our way back to Colorado.

Another bitter truth of being being a suddenly single daddy... bathrooms. Sophie is almost to the point of using the bathroom all by herself. Almost. She is told only to really take in the men's room and I cannot go in the women's room. I pray for the existence of the "Family Bathroom" wherever we go. Someplace I can take her and make sure she is okay. Whoever came up with the idea is a saint.

As we are all tucked in our room here in Amarillo I am filled with so much despair. Despair for myself. Despair for Holly's parents. Despair for my sweet darling Sophie who does not really understand the concept of death. I think about things like this year for Mother's Day her class made necklaces for their mothers. Holly never got to see it. What sort of questions will she go through this time every year. Will other girls be cruel or will they be delicate with her feelings?

She has a heart full of grace and kindness and I never want her to lose that.

I have been having terrible nightmares about performing CPR on my wife while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. I cannot get it out of my mind. I can't get the look of her face when I found her and rolled her onto her back. I know some of this is morbid. That is okay. I am writing it for me as a way to communicate my thoughts, anger, and emotions into the nether so I can face my daily life with more resolve and strength.

This entry is all over the place. Just like my brain right now. I have so much to do this next week. I have to go back to work. I have attorneys to meet with. I have banks and credit card companies to work with. I hate that life boils down to what is going to happen with your debt when you die. Not that Holly had a lot of it... but it still exists. Only 340 miles to go. Here comes the real world racing up to meet me whether I am ready or not.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Rest in Peace Sweet Wife

Yesterday I buried my best friend and wife. The pain in my heart is immeasurable. The only thing that keeps me from completely falling apart is my darling Sophie. How is it possible for an innocent and loving 4 year old to lose her mother suddenly with no way to prepare? I am so angry. I don't even know who I should be angry at. Am I angry at God for taking my wife at the age of 30? Yes. Am I angry at modern medicine for not having a better way to save my wife? Yes. Am I mad at Holly for somehow not stopping her death through shear force of will? Yes. I am. I feel like climbing to the top of the mast like Lieutenant Dan and screaming at God for allowing this to happen.

I am so tired of people telling me it will get easier. How? How exactly does it get easier for a 4 year old to no longer have a mother? How does it get easier for Sophie every Mother's Day for the rest of her life? How does it get easier for me knowing my wife died 30 feet from where I was working and I had no idea. Is it suppose to get easier when I ready the carpet shampoo machine to clean the blood and fluids from my bathroom floor where the paramedics battled to bring her back? It will never get better. I will never be whole again. Nothing will bring her back into the arms of her husband and daughter. Nothing.

Tomorrow we will take Sophie to Galveston to help get her mind off things. The problem is that every time I have been to Galveston I have been there with Holly. I know where she would want to eat. I know where she would want to stop and buy Sophie cheap plastic toys. I know just where she would point out where Jim Cantore fell over a railing during Hurricane Ike or Gustav. I know she would write Holly hearts Sean in the sand then laugh about how our old dog would always dig it up when she wrote it. I will soldier on tomorrow for the sake of Sophie. In my heart it will be nothing but sad memories and tears. I love you sweet wife.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Death in the South

Being raised in the northwest was a different experience when it came to death. Someone passed, a funeral is held, and that is the end of it. Down here in Texas it is an entirely different scenario. One day there is an immediate family viewing. The following day there is a public viewing for all friends and family. Finally, there is the actual funeral followed by an internment service at the graveside. The mourning process is drawn out. It is not a quick one time event but rather something that stretches on and on. At some level it is comforting. Having time to digest and accept the inevitable without feeling rushed.

In a few hours we will be holding the public viewing and I find myself in an emotionally drained place. I have cried so much but the tears always replenish themselves. I am feeling just so broken. I know life will move on. I know that at some point there will be a sense of normalcy that  kicks in. As of today that seems so far away that I cannot even envision it. Right now I just miss my wife so damn much.