Dec 16, 2016
“Are things getting back to normal?”
No. No, they are not back to normal.
I usually refer to things as a new normal. We have to learn how to live without Ghon and how to do things on our own. That’s not normal for us. But there is no way forward without dealing with the change, and along the way, accepting the change. Normal for my kids is having their father around.
Normal was Ghon getting the kids ready for school. He made breakfast for them every day but Friday. I packed lunches the night before, often making cute little bento-style boxes of food for them. Now, I try to convince myself that it’s OK they eat breakfast at school 5 days a week because at least they are eating breakfast. They help pack their own lunches, with my guidance of course. I haven’t made a sandwich all year. Not that they liked much more than PBJ anyway, but still. Last loaf of bread I bought sat and started to get moldy before I even opened it.
Normal was Ghon making dinner 1-2 times a week. Meal plans and intense grocery shopping by me every Saturday morning. Now, I shop for what we need when we need. Buy stuff that sometimes gets wasted and more often thrown in the freezer before it can. I try to remember what it was like to come home from work and Jonathan’s taekwondo classes and make dinner. What did I make? What did the kids do while I made dinner? What time did we eat? I long to cook more in my amazing kitchen. But we eat out too much. It’s faster. It’s easier. No dishes, no later meals, the kids eat rather than pick and complain about the food on their plate. I think about the things I’d love to make and know they won’t eat it – so what’s the point?
Normal was turning up the thermostat when I was cold. Worrying about getting more wood off the pile and to the house is not normal. The kids and I are doing OK, really, and wood isn’t our primary heat source, but it does take the edge off of our colder living room. I will ask for help from some people. Sometimes it pans out, others, it doesn’t. Sometimes, I just won’t ask. I’m a big girl and can do this. I stand on the wood pile, tossing logs into the wheelbarrow and proclaim how strong I am. I tell Ghon, “see, I can do this. You didn’t think I’d be able to figure this out. I got it!” Then choke back the tears.
Normal was Ghon often not doing family trips with us. His retail work schedule and occasional anxiety didn’t afford him the same opportunities to go places on the weekends. And if he did have the time off, he preferred to do things that were relaxing to him. Which involved farm work, taking pictures of other people, being outside, or, resting. His ankles or back often hurt. Now, let me clarify that this didn’t mean he didn’t like to be with me and the kids, but our ideas of fun were different. And yes, I would get angry when he spent his time with other people; helping someone with their issues or doing a photoshoot with a model that was going to be free, but ended up costing, or would last an hour and I knew that meant I wouldn’t see him all day – it always lasted longer. I was jealous, and it hurt. I felt like we mattered less, and hated that these people got more time with Ghon than the kids and I did. I tried to look at it from the perspective of how he was so helpful and cared about others – but for me, it was at my expense, and it hurt. So when the kids and I do things now, like going to see Ice! At the National Harbor in Maryland, it really wasn’t a big deal for me that he wasn’t there. Normal would have been me doing it by myself anyway. But what wasn’t normal, was me coming home and not showing him all the pictures I’d taken. Driving home, I thought, “oh, I can’t wait to show Ghon the lightshow and tell him they had a Brian Setzer song in the show.” Then, I realize, the only sharing I’m doing is on Facebook. That, is not normal.
Normal for me is routine. And yes, we have a schedule. Taekwondo 3 nights a week, dance class, Girl Scouts, basketball and cheerleading, Sunday school and church. But getting to that place where we have a little time, that place where I don’t get distracted and stay up at night, that place where I don’t always feeling like I’m forgetting something – or that something is missing – that place is a lot harder to find. Sure, we could do less – but the kids ask to do these things, not me, and only ball and cheer is new. I’m not intentionally cramming more onto their plates either. Every time I feel like I get something right, something going, I realize something else suffers. Fortunately, it is just things, and not our well-being.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Yes, Mr. Frost, I’m taking a less traveled road. And it makes a difference. Sometimes it’s OK. Sometimes, it just sucks. But I didn’t choose this path. I was thrown on it. Road blocks, hazard lights and spike strips kept me off the path I was on. But for me, for the kids, we’ll navigate it. As I told Jonathan one night, when I think he just wasn’t sure of the words, it’s not fair. It’s just not fair. I can’t define what is though. Is it ever fair to lose someone you love? No matter what age you are or how many years you’ve been together? I can’t think of a time when death is fair. Except that we all will die. In that way, it is fair. We just wish that it wasn’t us left behind.
I’m tired. Perhaps more exhausted than normal. But I can’t just curl up in a ball and do nothing. There are days I want to - but that’s just not normal for me. So I’ll push on. I’ll keep the kids active and encourage them to express their feelings. I will continue to talk about Ghon and tell them stories. I will not let him die in their memory.
For us, a life without him is just not normal.
For us, a life without him is just not normal.