Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Can See Widows And Orphans Through My Tears

    The title of this post was taken from the song The Cave by Mumford and Sons.

     September 11, 2001 began as a normal day for me. I spent that morning at home with Sebastian, and I was pregnant with Tyler. Mike was working 7-3 and I worked 3-11. We didn't have cable TV or satellite so I had no idea of the tragic events that had taken place that morning, until my brother called me around 12:30pm. I thought he was joking, but I turned on the radio and listened in horror. I remember our little family praying for those who had lost loved ones, and for our country as a whole. Fast forward ten years. I listened to interviews from some of the widows and widowers from that day, and they all spoke of how their lives were viciously changed, and how the life they were living now was not one they had planned for. Where will my own life be ten years from now?
     I'm posting today, and probably won't post again until next weekend. I have a crazy busy week coming up and I'm struggling to find balance in my life right now. However, I did have a few thoughts that I wanted to share. I found several magnets at Barnes and Noble a month or two ago, and I've had them hanging on my fridge ever since. The first one is a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke.

"I beg you... to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer."   

What an amazing quote! I want answers to my questions now, especially the why questions. I often don't think about the fact that I may not be ready for them, or maybe I have an answer, but I'm so focused on a "big" moment that I miss the subtle answers I'm given. The next quote is by D.M. Dellinger
"You are unrepeatable.
There is a magic about you that is all your own..."
This sounds like the kind of things I told Mike all the time. He was always so hard on himself, and didn't believe in himself the way I did. Of course he would then get mad at me, because I'm just as hard on myself. I miss having him here to tell me these kinds of things, even if I didn't believe them myself. I've always been shy and unsure of who I am. It's just how I feel. 
     A dear friend and coworker let me borrow several books on grief. I've only read one of them so far, but I've read it ten times. It's actually a workbook from a conference he attended entitled "What Color is Dead? How to Talk with kids about Death." The author is Darcie D. Sims. Here are some of the big things I picked up. 
"Children are not rubber balls! They do understand loss on their own levels of developmental processing and are capable of intense emotions, even if they do not express such emotions. Children do not hurt any less simply because the surface area for experiencing pain is slightly less than that of an adult."
"Funerals are the bridge between good-bye and hello. Good-bye to what used to be and hello to what is now."

"Understand that children and young people will continue to deal with the losses/changes they experience as they grow and mature. They will NOT GET OVER IT, but they can learn to GROW THROUGH the grief and discover that LOVE NEVER GOES AWAY."
"We DO NOT LOSE people. They DIE, BUT THE LOVE WE SHARED WITH THEM CAN NEVER BE DESTROYED. They are a THREAD IN OUR FABRIC, an ongoing influence in our life. We choose how that influence will be addressed, but we will continue to have a relationship with everyone who has made any kind of impact on our life. It is neither "pathological" nor inappropriate for any one to think, speak or relate to someone who has died or left us in any manner." 
I love this book! Thanks Jim, I'll read the other one soon and get them back to you! Last but not least, the 14th marks the fifth month since Mike passed away. I try really hard not to focus on the day, or to make it a big deal. I want to focus on his life and not his death. It's harder than it seems, and while I don't emphasize it to the kids, it's always on my mind. We do talk about Mike often. Tyler asks all the time if we can just sit and talk about him, and we do. So, while I've posted this on FB I hadn't posted it here. This is a copy of what I said at Mike's funeral.
"I feel the need to share some thoughts and funny moments to help me remember this day as not one of just mourning, but a time to remember all the good.

Mike's favorite job was not working at Westvaco, although he loved the people he worked with. His favorite job was being a dad. He loved his children more than anything else in the whole world. He was the kind of dad who loved being there for every part of their lives. He often changed more diapers than I did...however that might have been because he didn't have a sense of smell.  He loved watching his children in everything they did and especially in their different sports. He would practice soccer with Sebastian and cheer him on at games. For Tyler's gymnastics he might have been the only dad to know what a kip or a back hip circle was. He sewed costumes, did most of the Christmas shopping, and made sure all their video game needs were taken care of. Then he would enjoy the video games just as much as they did. He shared his love of music with them and it's evident by the Metallica sticker that Sebastian wanted on his laptop. Mason can often be found bobbing his head to the songs Mike played most often.

He was a fan of everything Star Wars and now even Sebastian knows more about it than I do. Mike was an artist that enjoyed sharing his gift when he knew it would make someone smile. He wouldn't take many requests from other people, but he would always take the time to create whatever I asked of him.

Mike and I have been together for almost 15 years. To say that Mike and I had our quirks would be an understatement. Mike always hung up his car keys, and I always lost mine. One day as I frantically searched the house for my keys Mike stood back and laughed until finally I realized they were hanging from the ceiling. I often told Mike I could dodge the raindrops and he understood my fear of mayonnaise. Likewise, I knew all of his favorite bands and supported his need to collect everything Star Wars, or Nine Inch nails related. He lived through his music and I often knew how he felt based on the music that he chose to play, and he knew the same about me.

He loved me for me and I'm not sure anyone else could do that. No one else would have taken me to a They Might Be Giants concert because it was my favorite band. No one else would have known every word to every song, and later admit that they had a good time.

I watched Mike grow from a handsome young man with hair longer than mine, into an incredible husband and dad with a receding hair line. That's okay because he often pointed out any gray hair I had.

Mike had a great love for his mom, dad, sister, brother and extended family. He often commented that he hated how busy life was, because he didn't get to see them enough. However, I hope it comforts you to know that you all were often the topic of conversation in our home. He loved you even if he didn't get to tell you enough.

I keep telling people I'm just not sure how we are going to function and move on without him. How do we pick up the pieces? However, there have been times when I can almost hear Mike whispering in my ear a favorite quote, as if he's trying to comfort me. As we grieve the loss of this amazing man, and wonder how we are going to make it, he would simply quote Yoda and say "Do or do not...there is no try."


Beverly said...

Wonderful post , Mel ! Your words today , helped me , so much ! Hang in there ! Love ya !

Melanie said...

Thanks Beverly. Love ya!

DonnaReid said...

Melanie, I love reading your posts. They put a smile on my face while I'm reading them (and these days that's not an easy thing to do.) I just finished reading the post about the concert you went to with your son. Did the band play Presidents? I also enjoyed the part about Mike and your differences and how you balanced each other because my husband and I were very opposite but our differences complemented each a lock and a key. Since he died I have had no one to keep me grounded (it's not pretty around here!) Thanks for sharing your life with us!

Unknown said...

This is a great post. Those quotes are amazing and certainly a comfort to you and to anyone who comes across this blog who is going through something similar. Also, thank you for sharing what you said aboue Mike at his funeral. It's nice to get to know a little part of the man you love so much.

Angela said...

I remember having a conversation with Mike just a short time before his death. I was running in to the bathroom,running late for something, and he was there to pick up the kids. I said hello to him, and SOMETHING prompted me to stop in my tracks and say more. I then said, "By the way, I really appreciate you drawing those pictures for the student in my class to help with our situation. I am so impressed with your artistic abilities!" and I went on to say I couldn't even draw stick figures well, etc. etc. His response is something I'll never forget, (paraphrased) "Well, I could never do what you guys do day after day. I'm impressed with that." (meaning teaching). I'm just so glad I had that short conversation with him and expressed my gratitude to him when I had the chance.

Melanie said...

Donna - Thank you. They did play that song for him :) it was amazing. Something Sebastian will never forget. I hope you are doing well.

Katrina - This is my way of keeping his memory alive.

Angela - Thank you for sharing. It made me cry, but they were happy tears. You don't know how much that means to me.