40 days in: Letter to Jason

We were so happy. Every time I tell the story of June 7th, I always start with “we were so happy.” Moments before you died, I was having a conversation with Miles, as you know, about how we were all going to live until we were 110. An hour before you died, Ruth and I were remarking on the beauty of quiet pools and winding rivers. We were so lucky. Five hours before you died we were talking about how amazing it was that our kids were so amused by Lyrik you said you were” grateful that they had different men in their lives.” The morning of June 7th, I woke up before you, which you know is a rare occasion, and I looked at your sleeping face and Elvis lips and I smiled and… I was so happy.

The first couple weeks, I stood only when someone held my hand. I spoke only about what we had been through -staring blankly, terrified when conversations turned to what the three of us would be walking into –without you. I moved, but only because I had to. You were dead, but I was alive and so I was breathing, blinking, crying and feeling…but only because I had to.

The last two weeks have been more of a solitary journey for me. Friends and family still present, still checking in and helping, but when they leave or the call ends I can stand for longer periods of time by myself. And the time I’m alone with the kids or alone with my thoughts, doesn’t feel as endless and haunting as it did in those first 30 days.

It’s so strange, but 40 days later the ache in my heart is so much deeper than it was just days after June 7th. Maybe it hurts more because I allow myself to wish — to hope that you and I can sit down at the end of this and laugh and cry about it together; to wish you were here to help me comfort the boys- to give both heavy heads a place on your shoulders and to cover their whole backs with your hands when you pulled them in; to wish you were here to tell us it is all going to be ok; to wish we knew with certainty that you were ok.

My dearest wish, Jason is that you might stick around in this world for a little while just to see what our little nugget children are up to…their accomplishments, their love for each other, their laughter over farts and only you know what else… Miles is keeping up with the older kids at camp this summer. He rode a school bus for the first time! He’s drawing and he’s getting really, really good! He says, “you know who would be really proud of me? Dad.” And I know he’s absolutely right. Chase has been Miles’s protector during summer camps and when he sees one of us crying he’s right there rubbing our backs and then quickly making jokes to cheer us up. He’s swimming in the deep end at the pool this year and jumped off the highest diving board-no fear! He’s the first one to tell a story of you and the most insistent that we never forget-even when it’s hard to remember. And I hope these things you see.

40 days later, when I am quiet and the day is almost over- I allow myself the most selfish wish of all- that when you told me “you love me so much that when you die you want to come back and be with me all over again” that that love holds some weight with the Gods and you could choose this life- right now–not the next life or the life after that. That I might keep you here in some way- a balloon floating above us, tethered to the wrist of a young girl too afraid to let it go… that I might wish it hard enough and one day I’ll find you there, still swimming in the most beautiful place, on the most beautiful day, when we were so happy…that I might never let you go…

But when I allow myself that wish, my love, everything around me fades to a cold, colorless grey and the sorrow that follows the realization that you and I can never be again the way we were that day or those years, brings me to my knees. And so my love, I beg you watch over the boys and pray to God they feel you there for as long as you will stay. But I ask that you forgive me as I work to untie the string around my wrist. I hope you don’t feel forgotten when I turn up the music and dance and laugh and sing. I pray you don’t feel frightened that your life with us is forgotten when I smile as new memories are created. My love, my heart, my strength- my most selfish wish must now be that you’re not saddened by my relief when I unloose the knot and someday, set you free.

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Starting from scratch

I’ve started this blog over a hundred times.  Handwritten notes crumpled on the kitchen counter, email drafts at work, various google doc drafts- all saved for a day when I can piece them together and make sense of the story I’m trying to tell. I’ve had a difficult time finding a place to start when it’s all happening around me.

So maybe the best way to start this is to begin with who I am in this moment and in this moment, I’m a newly widowed, single mother of two boys ages 11 and 6. Today marks the 8 month anniversary of the death of my boyfriend of nearly 8 years. Jason and I met in March of 2007. My oldest son, Chase, was 3 years old at the time. After a little over a year together, we had our younger son, Miles- born on the same day, at the opposite time as Chase. They are almost exactly 5 years apart…

Jason died on June 7th, 2014.  He drowned in front of us at a local reservoir and waterfall.  Sucked in by the undercurrent of the falls, he was bashed against the rocks and emerged moments later, floating face first down the river, toward Miles (age 5 at the time) and myself. My son, Chase was also sucked into the undercurrent of the falls and spent over 30 minutes fighting to save himself, not knowing his stepfather had drowned next to him.  Friends of ours were there that day with their daughter and daughter’s friend. They fought with us, for us and for their own lives, as well.  There’s much more that happened that day and the days following and posts about those first few days and months will come. For now, I have to be satisfied with just an introduction or else I’ll get lost in every detail and if I let that happen, the past three paragraphs will join the rest of the unfinished blog posts I’ll never have the time to piece together…

Ultimately, this blog isn’t about that day, anyway. This blog is meant to be about how we rise together. How my children and I move on, clinging to and then staggering from the ledge where he left us. This is an expression of our struggle to find peace in the face of tragedy and hope against all odds. This is about finding our smiles. This is our story.

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