I am a curious soul, and I am sure I am not alone in that. It occurred to me that if I were lucky enough to be one the people reading my story instead of living it, that I would want to ask questions. So, I posted a status update on Facebook asking just that. I asked what you wanted to know. Some people commented that it was a brave move, but don’t give me too much credit. Obviously, if I felt something was too personal or offensive, I didn’t have to answer it. Luckily, nothing was surprising or offensive (to me). So, I am going to try to answer them all. It helps to sit and answer this stuff on (virtual) paper, so thank you for participating in my own brand of therapy!
So here’s what I got:
Q: Are you afraid of forgetting Jason and feeling the emotions of love you had for him as time passes?A: Yes. I am so very glad I took a lot of pictures and videos of him, particularly with our girls. I look at them often and listen to his voice and watch his facial features move in unison with his laugh. However, I hope to live a long time past today and I know (as much as I don’t want to admit) that memories become foggy as time passes and our brains let go of some of the essences that used to be so deeply etched in the heart. I fear I will forget his quirks, his mannerisms and even what we talked about on a daily basis. But there are also certain things about him that I will NEVER forget and of that, I am certain. So, I do what I can now and try to just not forget the rest.
(Getting our marriage license)
Q: Are you angry? Do you find it hard to be strong in your faith at this moment?A: Yes I am angry. I am mad this happened to my family. I am sad for what Jason is missing and furious for what Lila and Harper will miss. I am mad that I see people alive and well (and even some of great detriment to their own community and family) who are seemingly more deserving of Jason’s fate than he was. It is so maddening that I HAVE to rely on faith. It isn’t my place to determine when it is anyone’s time. I remind myself that God is the Great Redeemer. He doesn’t write our stories. He redeems them. So, I have no choice but to keep trying to be better at being Christian. I am soooo far from perfect, it would take light a billion years to return to “perfect” from where I am. But then again, so is everyone else. Yes, it is very hard to keep faith and yet the thing that makes the most sense in the world. Does that make sense? Clear as mud? That’s how I feel, too!
Q: Did you ever believe that "everything happens for a reason?" If so, how does that quote relate to your life now?A: I don’t know if I ever bought into that. There is just too much senseless stuff happening in the world. But now that I have had time to really consider what that means, I think a better way to look at that phrase/belief system (?) is that things don’t necessarily happen for a reason and they don’t have to. Shit just happens. There doesn’t have to be a “reason”. BUT, often in life, certain unexpected chains of events can lead you to new horizons on which you wouldn’t have previously ventured or even considered. The good and the bad. Take what you can from it and write the best story you can. I am trying (trying!!) to not allow the ugly to completely blind me from the good (check back in a week).
Q: Are you scared?A: Absolutely terrified. Terrified I am the only guardian keeping these two beautiful girls cared after, fed, clothed, sheltered, safe, warm, happy and thriving. Terrified something will happen to me and leave them without either parent. Terrified that I will not be able to provide the life that I planned for them to have. The life beyond the basics. I want them to be doctors and lawyers and such. I want them to play musical instruments and attend college and be professional athletes or marine biologists. And now that is all on me. But I also think that if parenting doesn't scare you, you aren't doing it right.
Q: Do you think you'll ever get over him? Not him per se, but be able to move on?A: Ah, this question. I will never get “over” Jason. I will always love him. He will always be part of my life, even in death. But what I think you meant was about a romantic life? I am not going to give up on love, ever. I don’t know who or what will be in my future, but Jason will be there, too.
Q: Was he sick prior to this? I was wondering if his incident months prior (where he was hospitalized for that week or two) had anything to do with this?
A: He did have a surgery months prior to his death and it got infected. This was not the same kind of infection as the one that was found in his blood at the time of his death, and I have been assured that the two events are not related, but then again, I am not 100% sure. I don’t know that anyone really can be 100% sure, even if they say they are.
Q: Are you going to be able to keep the house?
A: Sure hope so and doing my damnedest. I am optimistic.
Q: What has surprised you the most out of all of this, as far as people's support and response to you?
A: I could (and likely will) write an entire post just about this. Just when you really feel like you are going to give up on humanity, there it is. I was moved to absolute shock and tears many times at the love, support, care, and generosity we were shown. People who didn’t “owe” us anything stepped up and showed compassion and caring. People read my blog, people gave time, money, their services and some still are doing so for us. I was surprised to see certain faces at the funeral come just to show their support. I was shocked at the people who drove an hour to bring us dinner. I was blessed to have family fly across the country and stay for weeks. The financial support was a game changer for us. If you gave my family ANY thing during this time, whether it was a pack of diapers, a fundraiser, a small token of affection, watching the girls, $5 or $500, I am forever grateful to you. It was a deal maker or breaker type of thing for us. You need to know that. I think of you all often and thank you for doing God’s (even if your God is different than my God!) work. Because I do believe you are. And I will FOREVER remember this when I hate people again; perhaps in traffic tomorrow.
Q: How are you? Really? No sugar coating it.A: REALLY I have good days and bad. Sure I get red hot mad at the universe often, and wonder why, of all the people, did it have to be Jason. Why now? I cry. I feel sorry for myself sometimes. BUT, I really do try to be grateful for what I have. No sugar needed. I have these two beautiful girls and I have my health. I have a home, a handful of people who love me, and I am educated, insured, and employed. Some of that comes by blessing, some comes from the work others laid down before me, and some by laying down my own. So, I get on my knees and pray and then I get on my feet and work. As best I can, every day.
Q: Are you angry at God? (I still am by the way)A: Mad and grateful all at the same time. It’s a bizarre emotion. But someone is carrying me through this. Strength comes from loving someone, courage comes from being loved. Let that one sink in for a minute.
Q: How do you get through every day? I'm not sure I would be able to function and you look like (and are) super mom.A: I honestly don’t feel like I am doing anything that any fantastic, hard-working, tired mother wouldn’t do. I know I want to give my kids the world, and I am smart enough to know that includes a happy, whole, sane mother. I believe happiness is a choice, even if it takes work. I believe I was given the CHOICE to sink or swim, even though I was not given the choice for Jason to live or die. I refuse to sink. I did not die with him that day. He wouldn’t want me to. And if I soon do, it will be while fighting. No white flags. It really isn’t just tough talk I tell myself in the mirror for my morning affirmations. It’s pretty real at this point. Do or die.
Q: Has Jason's death made you reevaluate your relationship with your dad at all?A: Yes. I was suffering after my mom died less than 2 years ago, and my dad was, too. But I didn’t understand a lot of his actions or words… until now. Losing a spouse is NOT the same as losing a parent, and I don’t appreciate that comparison when people (unknowingly and well-meaningly) make it. Just like I did myself! Shame on me. Some of my frustrations with our situation at that time now have a new light shed on them.
Q: Are you numb? Does it feel like someone's ripped your heart out of your chest?A: I do feel like my body is protecting me a bit by blocking some of the pain and allowing it to come in waves and phases. I think that is normal. It absolutely feels like someone ripped my heart out. I still stare at his clothes thrown in the laundry basket in our closet, the ones he wore that night to dinner. And then I stare at the hat he wore to the ER and I can’t believe this happened. I am still shocked on a regular basis. Is this real life?
Q: Are the people who said "we're always here for you" still there for you?A: Mostly, yes thus far. I think a lot of people just say things during a time like this because they don’t know what else to say. And with that comes a handful of empty offers of support. But, I do feel like I have the majority of the people who said they are here for me are still on my team and in my corner. I have what I need.
(Jason's best friend, Matt, invited us to Easter at his house and didn't forget the egg hunt & candy! Jason's mom was also helping Harper hunt Easter eggs)
Q: What do you do when the girls go to bed?A: Honestly, by the time my girls go to sleep, there isn’t much time left before I need to go to sleep myself. I do chores, prep all their stuff for the following day, shower, eat, and go to bed. On occasional fun days, I have a friend or sitter come stay with the girls so I can go to dinner with a friend, or I have a friend come hang out for a while at my house. If there is something I am lacking, it’s free time.
(Lila with her friend Emma)
Q: I know your house is a place full of memories, but it's also a place full of what you wanted in life and is no longer possible. Do you ever think of moving?A: I have only briefly thought of moving to be closer to family and friends. But, I work here. I do NOT plan to leave my job. I don’t have any serious plans to move as of today. However, I also have not moved a single thing of Jason’s in our house. I haven’t changed anything. His side of the dresser still houses his wallet and his glasses. His nightstand still holds his phone chargers and back scratcher. His toothbrush is where he left it. I haven’t gotten rid of, or even disturbed, a single item. So, I don’t know what the future holds for that. I do think that I will consider refreshing some rooms in our home first.
Q: Did finding out the cause of death actually bring you closure? Or is that all bullshit?A: It’s bullshit.
Ok, maybe not bullshit. But definitely not “closure”. I think that just isn’t the right word. I needed to know for the sake of knowing. But it was underwhelming, and he was still gone.
Q: If you had five minutes with Jason right now and you knew it was the last five minutes - what would you tell him?
A: That is a really good question. I feel like I would be crying and in shock the entire time, so surely I wouldn't get a word out. But if I could, I would first tell him I knew about that new mountain bike he secretly bought! And that I would have killed him anyway! Then, I would tell him how hard this is to do alone and how I miss him more than I can tell him. I would tell him thank you for letting me take so many naps and for loving us all so much. I would ask him a ton of questions about the afterlife and how he was, and he would surely not be descriptive enough for my liking and we would get in a quick tiff about that. Then I would tell him I love him and that Lila asks for him nonstop. Of course. I would tell him 5 minutes never seemed so short in my life and I would say goodbye. We never got to say goodbye.
Q: Are you guys going to be okay financially?A: It’s a little early to tell exactly where we will land, as some things are still being worked out, but I think so. A lot of that is thanks to good people who have helped us. We are so grateful to so many people in that respect. Also, Jason worked hard and we were not completely foolish. We will not be homeless or hungry (as long as The Lord says the same!).
Q: Have you seen any "signs" from Jason since he passed away?A: I did hear a song by Linkin Park that just felt like he was talking to me. It was one of those times when a song just spoke to you and you felt someone meant for you to hear it. It is called "Leave Out All The Rest" and the chorus says:
When my time comes
Forget the wrong that I've done
Help me leave behind some
Reasons to be missed
Don't resent me
And when you're feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest,
Leave out all the rest
Q: How do you deal with making sure Lila and Harper know who he is, and how do you remind them?A: Pictures, videos, relationships, and stories. Lila asks for daddy every single day. It hurts every single time. But I answer her. I pull out his phone and show her the silly video he took of himself one day whilst attempting to prove to me he made record time to the FedEx pick up location. I show her videos of him singing to her “little bitty Lila, you’re the one” and throwing her up in the air. I tell her daddy is in heaven with Jesus and that we will see him again one day. We see Jason’s best friends and his family so that they can share their own memories of Jason with them. I have pictures of him hung around the house and I will always have them out for the girls to see. I even have cards Jason wrote to me, and one he wrote to Lila on her first birthday. When the girls are much older, I hope to spread his ashes with them. Until then, he is safely in our home, with us. I will always talk about him and I hope to one day show them this blog. I won’t allow him to be forgotten. I promised him that.
Q: What is your favorite memory of Jason?
A: Absolutely any of the moments he played with the girls. I've never seen people more happy. Christmas everyday. I know it sounds like I'm just saying that, but truly he loved playing with them so much.
Q: What advice do you have for other grieving widows?
A: I'm no expert at this early point in my journey. But the best I can tell so far is don't give up on yourself and YOUR life. It would be so easy to just quit caring. But you have the gift to be here. Use it. Breathe deep. Use your lungs. Yell. Run. Use your legs. FEEL things! Feel pain. Feel pleasure. Get out of your climate-controlled state of mind. Be hot. Be cold. Sweat. Listen to loud music. Be alive. Do what feels right and believe in something, whether it's God, your kids, whatever. Something out there is greater than you.Know that, and you're going to make it.