Last week, Shelby started the fourth grade. This is the second school year that she has begun without Megan doting over every paper she brought home, every picture day, PTA meeting, or fundraiser flyer th
at seems to be more frequent than homework. Her peanut butter sandwiches (which she eats every day for lunch, no matter how much we suggest otherwise) were “crafted”, not “made. Dropping her off at school, Megan would walk her to the door, hand-in-hand.
Retrieving her at the end of the school day, there was always a milk shake, followed by a snack, and then Shelby completing her homework while Megan browsed every paper contained in the backpack.
It set a standard that I, in no way, believed I could ever achieve. It was one of my largest fears when Megan died; that I would somehow set Shelby up for failure because I couldn’t keep up with the pace Megan did when it came to school.Read more
What would have been Megan’s 35th birthday was a few weeks ago, on July 24th. I would venture to say that, for most widows and widowers, birthdays are one of the hardest days to remember. They are associated with memories of fun times, friends and family celebrating that person’s day, and yet another year “in the books”. To have that annual event suddenly take on a different meaning and a different remembrance affects all of those who knew and loved that person.
Megan’s came and went this year with what has been typical since her death. I’m grumpy most of the day, but we do something to remember her, keep occupied, and have an enjoyable day in her honor. Cliche as it is, yes, it IS” what she would have wanted”. Multiple people ensure they post to facebook about how they miss her, and say “Happy Birthday” on her wall. Heartfelt paragraphs about things they remember doing with her, or “breathe easy” are digitally pushed to her in the afterlife via keyboard, somehow. There may have been a few less posts this year than last on that day, but still, her friends remember her birthday.
A few days later though, and facebook is silent. Memories tend to fade when you don’t have automated reminders popping up, don’t they? As far as the internet is concerned, life moves on until the next year, when suddenly it seems like everyone is thinking about her again.
I don’t have that option. I think about Megan...every...single...day. It’s a matter of HOW MUCH I think about her that changes, and August 6th was a doozy.Read more
It’s been almost three years since I last went fishing. THREE years. I couldn’t tell you all of the exact reasons why that’s the case, but I have some strong theories. There is the obvious period of time in there when Megan went into rejection, was admitted to the hospital, and ultimately lost her fight. It was the farthest thing from my mind. There have been a few Ohio winters keeping me indoors in that time span also, but that only adds up to a year and a half in total.
I did not drop a line in the water last year at all. I didn’t even get my fishing license. I was still grieving Megan, certainly, and Sarah and I met and became a couple over the spring and summer. She moved here in fall. But that still doesn’t explain why i did not take a few hours, a few worms, and a fishing pole to any one of the hundreds of lakes, ponds, and streams within a 20 minute drive of here, at least once.
As I write this though, the scent of insect repellent is all over me. My hands are grimy and have a rich bouquet of bluegill, worms, and pond water emanating from them. I’ve got a few nagging itches from either a plant i came in contact with, or a bug that decided to have a taste. A few tiny pinholes in my index finger make it slightly uncomfortable to type, as well as remind me that I should be a little less clumsy when baiting my hook.
And I’m happy.Read more
I’ve somehow made it through the past week without hitting critical mass. I won’t say I’ve had my moments, but rather, that the past seven days or so have been one big moment, with little instances of calm peppered in. Simply put, it was just a rough, overwhelming, busy, tiring week, the kind where you feel both accomplished and exhausted, and it’s hard to allow yourself into a calm state of mind.
It was the kind of week I had quite frequently through the years with Megan, generally it was the weeks she was admitted to the hospital, and our routine suddenly got turned on it’s head.Read more
Megan and I bought our home in June of 2005. For nine years, it was “our” home. I had the outdoor spaces...lawn care, gardening, the garage, and landscaping were all mine to take care of and shape into something I enjoyed. Megan had the inside. Knick-knacks and decorations, paint colors, organization, and general decor were hers.
The system worked. I’m not exactly an interior designer, and she wasn’t exactly a farmer. We both appreciated and enjoyed what each other had done with their respective spaces, and there weren’t any conflicts. We complimented each other well.
It would be all too easy to just “mothball” what she had done with the inside of the house. Her decor was pretty much set already when she died. We hadn’t been talking about doing anything in particular with paint or furniture before the transplant rejection set in, so I was content that she was happy with what she had done up to that point.
I’ve followed a somewhat standard path in my adult years. Megan and I met in 2002, married and bought a house in 2005, and had Shelby in 2007. Notwithstanding her illness and the extra events associated with it, we had followed a fairly “textbook” sequence of events. We were effectively playing the “Game of Life”, spinning the wheel, and seeing where we landed.
We took vacations, attended school events, and explored new and interesting things in our city all of the time. I worked a 40 hour week, with good benefits and insurance, and came home to my little 1/6th acre in the suburbs and mowed the lawn, had a beer, and ate dinner with my family.
The elephant in the room, through our entire relationship, was the fact that she had Cystic Fibrosis, and likely wasn’t going to make it to 40 years old.
Straddling the North Carolina- Tennessee border, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a sea of lush forests, countless animals, and high mountains. It’s my favorite place on earth. I’ve been there countless times since I was young, and until Megan died, it had never been more than a few years since taking a trip there.
I know the park well. I know miles of its trails and the chill of its creeks. I know the tourist town of Gatlinburg, just outside its western border, with all of its restaurants, shops, and hordes of people. Though the area is constantly evolving, the mountains silently remain the same, as they have for millions of years.
This is where Megan and I had our honeymoon.
Sarah, Shelby and I are in Texas this week for the 4th annual get-together of her and Drew’s closest friends. This is the second time I’ve attended, and Shelby’s first. I’ve met these people before. They are all already friends of mine, albeit not as close as Sarah is to them, but friends nonetheless.
There seem to be a lot of similarities between Drew and I. We were entirely different people, but I hear every day from Sarah of things that I do or mannerisms I hold that are “just like him”. His friends have welcomed me with open arms just the same; knowing that I’m a different person, but able to sit down, have a beer, and shoot the breeze through the night with me as if I’ve always been part of the group.
There is one thing though, an event, that both Drew and I experienced in much the same way. Meeting Sarah’s parents.Read more
Father’s day around our house was never a big production. I was usually the first to wake up in the house on any given day, creep downstairs, make myself some coffee, and watch or read the news until everyone else started stirring. I preferred it to be that way. I didn’t relish any extra attention placed upon me.
I appreciated every card or “Happy Father’s Day” I got, and every coffee mug or shirt that Shelby and Megan gave me on that day, but Father’s Day was just another Sunday to me, and I was just happy to have my family with me.
Last year though, it was different. I didn’t have my entire family. I woke up from an empty bed and walked downstairs, trying to have a “traditional” father’s day, but it wasn’t happening. I didn’t even write about it on here last year.Read more
The American Chestnut is a large, stately, useful tree. At one time, over a quarter of the eastern American woods were populated by this tree. The wood is rot resistant, the nuts are delicious, and even the oils in its bark has medicinal properties.
Nobody wanted to see the Chestnut go away, and it didn’t want to die off. Over eons it evolved into the strong, prolific queen of the forest. It provided shade, shelter, and nourishment for the rest of the woods, and it provided it’s resources for the native Americans and settlers in the areas in which it grew.
But it got a raw deal.Read more