Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Memories

  • Was the best lookin high school football player I ever laid eyes on:

  • Our first date at a burger place...I ordered a cheese burger, fries, a shake. He ordered soup, salad, and an iced tea ;)

  • Did Grover's Near/Far interpretation dangerously well

  • LOVED to get dressed up!

  • History buff

  • Taught me the art of jelly flipping on a stop on our way back from Chico

  • loved to call me Margaret

  • loved to go camping...even WITH the kids ;)

  • driving home from movies, and having him(in his truck, I was in my car) scare off the car that tried to run me off the road

  • always up for a last minute road trip to San Francisco,Monterey, Chico, Modesto, Napa and Washington State

  • loved Disneyland...soooo many trips

  • loved him some veggies!

  • was a little sad I didn't invite to my candle he came...and won all the prizes

  • called 'dibs' on L's brand new baby when she came to visit

  • wore reindeer antlers to the elementary school's Christmas show

  • some of my fondest memories EVER are of carpooling to work together when we only had one car

  • deep sea fishing with him in Maui for our 10th anniversary

  • taking the girls fishing and bought them their own rods and tackle boxes

  • loved taking the girls back to school shopping for supplies

  • named my phone# SWEET PEA on his cell

  • painted my toes when I was pregnant and couldn't reach them any more

  • always wanted A LOT of kids...the more the better

  • Joked that if we ever had a boy, he'd like to name him Ticonderoga (like the pencil)

  • LOVED my pregnant belly

  • after his first spine surgery, I was 37 weeks pregnant. He was still in the hospital for several days, and on one day insisted I climb onto his hospital bed with him and cuddle, so he could wrap his arms around me and my pregnant belly

  • not scared AT ALL of a lady in labor

  • almost got to deliver Nat, and DID deliver Emi

  • seeing the look in his eyes when he held his babies for the first time

  • flowers. never took a holiday or birthday. He must have brought me flowers several times a month spanning our courtship and marriage 1997-2010

  • I loved the ocean and never the sand; he loved the sand and never the ocean

  • Didn't have the time to read Purpose Driven Life when he was in paramedic school, and so ordered a copy of it on CD so he could listen to it on the trips back and forth to Fresno

  • Couldn't wait to get our vows renewed right before he left for the Marines:

  • had the softest feeties EVER

  • One mother's day, he and the girls spelled out I LOVE YOU MOM in chocolate candy

  • loved to garden with me and the girls

  • he and my mom called each other "lambie" :)

  • always excited to go to the back to school and open house nights for the girls

  • ran fire calls where there were people he knew who had died/were dying. He felt honored to be able to help, or at least provide a listening ear to the family (suicides, car accidents, old age)

  • Favorite movie: The Notebook

  • always cried at Kevin Costner movies

  • was not above letting his girls comb, style, and moose his hair

  • could successfully dress his girls AND braid their hair!

  • insisted when he came home from boot camp, that he'd lost enough weight to fit into my jeans... and then he went on to prove his point. And he was right. (At one point in time, there was a 100 lb difference between us)

  • was the one to always repair my clothes(loose buttons, small tears, etc) and iron my work work shirts and pants

  • his favorite flowers were daffodils

  • one year on his birthday he strutted down the hallway naked, and informed me that THIS year for his b-day, he would don his b-day suit

  • loved OLD country and opera

  • Was absolutely the BEST cuddler EVER

  • Had the best little half smile (That's his crazy aunt, btw... we dis owned her after these pics):
.......................................♥ ...................................................

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ONE: Part I

One year ago I had been down in Santa Monica with Dad, helping him with another round of chemo. I had left Bitty in the very capable hands of Stacie, despite Bitty's recent bout with pneumonia. Dad and I arrived safely home. And the next day I too came down with an awful case of pneumonia. I was literally bed ridden for a week.
One year ago on Easter I was on the mend, but still pretty sick, and really tired. Stacie drove the kids out to Gramma's to spend the day with Gramma and Grampie and James. I just wasn't up for it. When Stace returned she said James was sad I wasn't there. Later that night James called and said the kids were ready to come home. I said I'd send Stace. He said he'd really like to see me if I felt up to it. I told him I didn't. Just as Stace was about to leave, I had a change of heart. I slipped on my slippers and drove up there. It was good to see him. He looked healthy, and there was light behind his eyes, something I'd longed to see for a very long time. He always gave the best hugs,and kissed me on the forehead. It was starting to rain and so we shuffled the kids into the car, hugged and kissed once more, held a gaze, and off I went.
One year ago today, was my first day back to work after being in Santa Monica with Daddy, and then getting pneumonia. It was a Tuesday. I dropped the girls off with Gramma in the morning (it was spring break) and they had a full day planned with Gramma and Alicia and James and would be heading off to the aquarium soon. Kissed the babies. James wasn't up yet, and went on my way.
I was glad to get back to work and do something tangible, and that had immediate recognition and progress. I was grateful to be feeling better,and grateful to have a job and little pep in my step. I'd been in meetings all morning, and was finally back in my office, when the front desk clerk (who I wasn't particularly fond of) came to my office and said there was a fireman there looking for me, she thought. There was some confusion in my last name. At first I was excited, because I have a friend from high school (a fire man) whose mom works upstairs. He must have been home from Texas. He was always good for a practical joke (acting like he was an enraged patient and demanding to speak with me,etc... and then ending up in a giant bear hug.) I walked with her to the front of the building, and didn't see anyone. I looked around, and then she pointed out the front door to the parking lot. And there was a fire truck. And obviously not from Texas.
A fireman in his dress blues was leaning in the truck, actually it was a command vehicle. When he turned I could see it was Chief Kevin. That was odd. But I had known Kevin for years, and really liked him, and James was so glad when Kevin was named the Fire Chief. I honestly thought "oh how nice of Kevin to drop by and visit. I haven't seen him in a while."
I walked outside (again with a little pep in my step from feeling better and now from being visited by a friend.) He said he had some bad news. I was speechless; I didn't know what else could go wrong in my life, and didn't think for a second it would be this. He said "James passed away this morning." I was so confused. My James? I was in shock. Like in slow motion I turned and looked behind me, and through the glass windows of my building were all (20+?)of my co-workers standing, staring, gawking. I looked back at Kevin and said 'what?'....... .

'I'm so sorry Meg."


One: Part II

Something just wasn't right. Jackson went in to check on James.
While the kids were running around the living room getting ready for the aquarium, Jackson had the weight of the world now on his shoulders. After a minute of confirmation, he comes back into the hallway, and closes the bedroom door behind him. Gram asks "is he ok?" Jackson shakes his head no. "What do we do now?" To which he replies:" Take the kids to the aquarium."
I don't know much more of the details than that. All I know is that Jackson should be hailed as a hero for handling the situation and his nieces, so calmly and thoughtfully. As should Gram. Most of what happened that day, has been left unspoken. But Gram and Alicia took those girls to the aquarium for entire day, not knowing exactly what had happened, only knowing that James had died, and the girls needed to be out of the house. ...


Kevin takes me in the fire truck to drive up to the house. If we hurry, we can get there before the coroner takes him away. If we drive slow, we can be sure to not cross paths. No. I want to hurry. I want to see with my own eyes. I feel like I need to see James and see his physical body before his spiritually leaves for good. It was something I was positive I wanted to do with my mom too. (When we knew she was close to death, I had decided that absolutely wanted to say goodbye to her once she had died. I had just gotten 'off shift' being with mom about midnight. I had time to drive home, see James, cry about being so close to losing my mom, whine to him about something else petty, push him away when he tried to hug me, and THEN I get the call from dad. When he got home he did a couple things and then checked on mom. And she had died. And back James and I went back down the mountain to their house. I walked in that house, prepared to see my mom's body for the last time. I got as far as the kitchen and lost my mind. James came up behind me, and said "You don't have to do this." Dad then asked James to double check mom, as he's trained also as a fire fighter and paramedic. And he did.No problem.Relief. My Marine is home. I can lean on him.) That said, I still feel I should have seen mom.
So, yes.
Get me there before the coroner leaves... please. I couldn't do it then. I must be strong enough to do it now.
We didn't make it in time. The unmarked white van we passed about 5 miles from home should have clued me in.
What are you supposed to do when your husband dies? Grieve- I know. I get that. But... like beyond that...when you come up for breath between crying fits. When there are 5 minutes between sobs and 5 minutes before friends are over to be by your side. For those first 5 minutes... what do you do? In the hurricane of death, there is a secretly quiet, peaceful place in the eye of the storm. There's nothing you can do but be.
Soon Stacie was here. She said I needed to call for back up. This was the time. She said I needed to call B and ask her to come. I said I won't have to ask. I can't remember if it was by phone call or text, or combination, but I got as far as telling B James has died, and nothing more. And she told me she was on her way. THAT'S what friendships should be made of: the unspoken.
My inner circle of very close friends (who live close) were here shortly after. They brought food and wine and their presence. They brought with them the acceptance of sorrow and no expectations. They brought with them their strength, so I didn't have to be alone when I told my girls their daddy died this morning.

ONE: Part IV

There is more to share, but this is a good first effort for me. In summary, these are the things that no one should ever have to face. But I did. And I lived through it. I AM living through it. I survived:

  • the prying eyes, words, questions of others

  • the first 5 minutes

  • telling his father that James had died

  • picking out my husband's casket, plot, and funeral outfit

  • having his Marine lieutenant show up at my front door

  • writing his obituary

  • 21 gun salute

  • moment of silence, followed by tones at the fire depart in his honor

  • flags at HALF staff for MY husband

  • designing his head stone

  • waiting for MONTHS for the autopsy results

  • first set of: anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and the one year marker

  • finding alternate activities for my big girls the night of the father daughter dance

  • Emi's questions about if daddy has been in heaven long enough and is ready to come home

  • weeding through his clothes, boots, books, possessions

  • figuring out how to start and work a damned lawn mower without him

  • trying to find closure...this one is still a work in progress.

I have a lot of good memories of his life, and our life together. I'm working on another blog post of some of my favorite memories. But that's still a few weeks out.