Summer is here. Shelby’s last day of school is tomorrow. Work is slowing down, after the “sales” season rolls into the “build” season for the company I work for. Weekends are a time for rest and relaxation. Time to get things done around the house, and to spend time in the woods, at the beach, or just taking in an overnight trip somewhere with Shelby and Sarah. I FINALLY get to spend more time with my family.
Only, none of that is true. It has been an endless series of holidays, birthdays, baby showers, slumber parties, and family visits for almost two months. It is to continue until July. That’s right...every single one of our weekends is spoken for already until July, and none of it has been planned by Sarah or I. Hell, she had THREE birthday parties to go to this past weekend, a baby shower next weekend, then ANOTHER birthday party the weekend after that. I seemingly get no say or respect in the matter, and it’s about to come to a head, where I will forcibly isolate myself from any and everyone.
It reminds me that Megan is gone.
Way back in September of 2012, Megan, Shelby and I took our first backpacking trip together. Shelby was only 5 years old, and Megan was almost two years past her lung transplant. I meticulously planned the trip, choosing the Blackbird Knob trail in the Dolly Sods Wilderness, in West Virginia. I was already intimately familiar with it, knowing the various campsites, creek crossings, and hills along the way, but neither of the two of them had ever been.
I chose it because of the safety factor. I knew that we could ramble in about a mile before we came to a creek that I wasn’t comfortable having them cross. Just downstream from that point, there was a beautiful backcountry campsite where we could spend the weekend. I limited them, purposefully, so that I didn’t have to worry about Shelby trying to rock-hop across a fairly sizable creek, slipping, and being washed downstream. Nor would I have to be concerned with Megan, who was still getting her feet under her on dry, flat ground in her recovery, experiencing the same.
This past weekend, Sarah, Shelby and I took our first backpacking trip together. Shelby is now 10 years old, and Megan has been gone almost three years. I barely planned the trip, deciding on Monday that we should leave on Friday for the Blackbird Knob trail in the Dolly Sods Wilderness. I’m still familiar with it and all of the campsites, creek crossings, and hills. While Shelby had been briefly acquainted with it, Sarah had never been.
Megan loved being a mother. If there was one thing, one goal in life she had, it was to create a little girl like Shelby. For 7 years, she doted on her, relishing taking her to school, feeding her creamed peas, changing diapers, reading to her, and in effect spending every healthy moment she had with her. Even when she was admitted to the hospital, roughly 5 - 8 times a year for three or four weeks at a time, she wanted Shelby there. Nothing would perk her up and make her smile more than to see her peanut waltzing through the hospital room door, saying “hi mommy”.
She was proud beyond words (still is, I imagine) at who Shelby was. I half assume that the only reason she joined the PTA, and chaperoned different school functions was so she could show Shelby off to the other moms. I mean, i sure as hell didn’t have a desire to sell popcorn balls in a school basement to three dozen other mothers as part of a “fundraiser”, but Megan, damn, she would have been leading the endeavor.
Like so many of these posts go, there's a summary of something in my past with Megan, followed by “Then, she died”Read more
(So, I wrote this last year on Mother’s Day. I tried and tried to write this week, and the more i did so, the more it read just like the below. So instead, I’ve decided to re-post it, with an update on what has changed, a year later. A year further from losing Megan, and another year growing with Sarah.
I’ve underlined in parenthesis my updated perspectives and thoughts. It’s an interesting examination of what a year can bring...or not bring)
It’s been cold, rainy, and just plain miserable for the past two weeks. The brief respite prior to our Texas trip, where it was summerlike for a few days did nothing but remind me that May in Ohio is fickle. You can be sitting outside, sipping a cold beer in the sun one day, and the next, you’re protecting plants from frost and bundling up in winter coats.
Still though, this has been an exceptionally cold and wet month. The coldest in 12 years, and the most rain since 2011. We’re itching to be outside, but frankly, it just sucks.
Fairly often, I struggle to find something poignant or meaningful to write about on these Tuesday mornings...today is no exception. The thing that is circling my mind though, is the weather in May of 2011..the year Megan got her transplant.Read more
On a day-to-day basis, I’m fairly composed and not overly sensitive to things that remind me of Megan, her illness, or the fact that she’s gone. Shelby acheives honor roll like clockwork, and though it reminds me of how proud Megan would be, and I wish she was there, it’s an “it is what it is situation”, where I can be happy for both of us and go about my day. I can hear and talk about others that are sick, watch shows or read about widowers or illness, or drive by the hospital she was treated and died in, and it doesn’t really phase me.
Chalk that up to years of becoming desensitized to it all. Long-term illness has a way of letting you begin grieving long before it is “required”, so that you are already well into the process when the time comes. Although Megan’s death was “sudden”, in that we didn’t know precisely what day of the month it would occur, it wasn’t a “surprise”.
So, when a neighborhood stray cat was evidently hit by a car, at first, I thought not too much of it, and decided, with Sarah, that we needed to take care of it with a clear head and confidence. Out came one of the largest triggers I’ve had since Megan’s death.Read more
Lately, it seems as if any and every project I have going on is halfway there, with no completion in sight. There’s the half-finished garden path Sarah and I are installing, a fence we are putting in around the vegetable area, still half-built, a half-stained deck, a “mostly” painted bedroom, and one of three cars has been cleaned and waxed for spring. At work, it’s much the same. It is constantly busy, but nothing is completed other than minor computer problems that I fix on a day to day basis.
I’ve taken a few weekend trips to the woods over the past few months, and half of those were cut short because, well, I just came home. My big personal project, filming and producing videos with the intent of sharing useful knowledge and experience to those who would like to take their own trips to the woods has stalled, totally.
I need to complete something. Anything, really, that’s bigger than a five minute task. Ultimately, my life has been a series of constant projects that get “almost there”, but not quite. Including my marriage to Megan.
Way back when I started writing here for Soaring Spirits, I had posited a statement that when “my switch flips from suffering to determination, it is simply not possible to feel more powerful”. At the time, that was related precisely to losing Megan, and wading through the grief until I finally got up off of the couch, wiped the snot off of my face, and got to work.
I felt as if I could power through anything. A workout. A stressful day at work. Chores at the home or a general busy day. I quit feeling sorry for myself, effectively pulling my widow card as an excuse to be lazy, and breezed through anything with ruthless efficiency.
For the past year or so though, I felt as if I aged 10. I’m sore, tired, slow, and gaining weight. I’ve let the doldrums of everyday life evolve into a bad thing, and my determination, initiative, and drive has slowly waned.
I was “suffering” from complacency, not loss or grief.
The switch had flipped.Read more
Megan’s younger brother will be having a little boy sometime around late July, right around her birthday. He’s getting married in October, just after my birthday. Shelby is ten now, getting her straight A’s and growing like a weed. This past sunday, Sarah, Shelby and I attended a baby shower for two friends that were originally close to Megan (they both have Cystic Fibrosis), but who were there for Shelby and I through her rejection. They and Sarah have also begun forming a strong friendship, as they have welcomed her into our lives, and there's an underlying feeling that they have known each other forever.
Recently, there has been an ongoing parade of happy news and big milestones from persons that were close to Megan. Persons that are close to me. I cannot imagine Megan being anything other than ecstatic...
...and it sucks in a way.Read more
It’s no secret lately that I share my outlooks, experiences, and emotions with ruthless integrity, perhaps bordering upon over-sharing that information. Private anecdotes become public, once a week, as I write here. The quiet grumbles or “bad moods” that friends and family may see me in become soap-box seminars when it is in digital form on the internet. They morph into baring my very soul for all to see on a blog, when in person, the only indication of stress or deep thought may be the distinct lack of my underlying sillyness.
Suppose that it is the anonymity then, that brings forth this behavior. Barring Sarah, no one hears or sees my “grief” emotions via an attentive look in the eye or a cupped ear. It is only through your screen, dear reader, that I share my life and its many complexities. A simple electronic series of ones and zeros that organize themselves into something that a grieving person may need to read, even if it is only a “me too” thought or a “wow, at least I’m not THAT bad” comparison.
My writing here, initially, was simply allowing a bleeding wound to flow freely. Allowing it to flow into the deepest corners of the room and drip onto anyone nearby. I let the pain out by screaming it to the world. As time has progressed, the bleeding has slowed...the wound of Megan’s actual death is all but closed. Writing has become more of an examination of old scars.Read more