Hello Friends. Happy Sunday. Or peaceful Sunday. Or maybe just “Sunday”, if that’s all you can handle from where you are at in your healing process. I absolutely get it.
So, yesterday was a rare day where I didnt have any grief counseling sessions booked, didnt have to facilitate any groups, and didn’t have to go out and go anywhere in general if I didnt want to. So I texted my brother, who lives less than 10 minutes away but who I rarely see because of both of our crazy schedules (mostly his and his kids multiple sports schedules). I asked him if the kids had games. He said that they both had games, one was at 10am and one was at noon. Although the games were about a 45 minute drive for me to attend, they were both in the same town so it would be easy to go from one to the other. So while my husband Nick had his own plans for yesterday doing some work around the house, I decided to go and stand with my brother and watch my niece and nephew play their sports.
First up was Brian. He is 14 and playing on both JV and Varsity football. (and baseball, but yesterday was football.) He looked like a young man in his uniform, since he is at that age where they seem to suddenly grow up in 16 seconds. He looks just like my brother now, which is both very cool and very strange. Brian’s team had not won a game all season. Yesterday they won 30-0. Brian was phenomenal. He had four sacs and a really incredible touchdown. It was so much fun following the game, literally, as my brother and I jogged up and down the length of the football field following each play. Afterwards, I got to see him with his school friends and noticed how well-liked he is by everyone. It made me feel good for him that he is having such a positive experience in school. Next up was Jillian’s soccer game. They did not win, but she played really well and had some pretty nice defensive plays , kicks, and blocks. It was so nice watching her with her friends as well, and seeing her start to gain confidence when she made a nice play on the field. During Jillian’s game, my brother and I got to talk some more, and I also got to talk with his ex-wife, my sister-in-law, Jen. It was really nice because I am not a part of their daily lives and it was great to do some basic catching up with them and whats going on with the kids.
It was a great day. And then, on the way home, I got really emotional thinking about Don’s death, how much he loved Brian (Jillian wasn’t even born yet when he died), and how much he is missing today. I thought about how tomorrow is Don’s birthday, and how he would have been 58 yrs old but will instead be forever 46, and how much he would have LOVED seeing Brian get those sacs and score that touchdown. My mind went into what I like to call the “Endless Loop” – the what-ifs, the questions without answers, all the things that might have been, if he hadn’t of died. Would we have had children of our own, like we were talking about doing in those last couple years? Would we have moved back to Massachusetts to be closer to my family? Would I be a part of my brother and his kids daily lives, because our kids would be cousins and they would be close and they would be friends? Would it not be such a struggle to even see my niece and nephew or my brother? Back when him and Jen were still married, Brian was young, and Don was alive; we all saw each other WAY more often than we do now. This is true, even though Don and I didnt even live here. We lived in New Jersey. But we made a lot of weekend trips to Massachusetts, to stay with my parents, to come out for holidays or family functions, or to visit just because we felt like it. There were family vacations and events, there were more weddings, babies, and just fun things.
Now, Don is dead, my brother is divorced, and Jillian is a new addition that Don never even knew. My parents have moved to Cape Cod (2 hours away), and all of us seeing each other at the same time is a huge challenge. It rarely happens. I dont know how much of this has to do with the after-effects of Don’s death, and how much of it is just life changes that would have happened anyway. All I know is that I get really sad sometimes when I see my brother and his kids, because I wish things were different – closer. And sometimes it is still sad for me to think about never being a mom, and Don dying before he could be the best dad ever. I still cling to the few pictures I have of Don with Brian when he was just about 2 years old. Those photos are a small glimpse into the kind of dad that Don might have been. He looks so happy and so natural in the role, in those photos. It makes me sad and happy all in one breath. Bittersweet times a billion.
Happy Stardust Birthday, Don. I miss you so much, and also, you are missed in our daily lives and you are missing so many things that you would have loved. I’m not sure that reality will ever sit well with me. There is not much I can do about it, except let myself be sad for as long as I need to be, and try not to go down the road of endless questions that will never have answers.
Thanks for reading.