We have just passed the nine month mark. Nine months since Myron died. I cannot wrap my head around it. I cannot bear to think that in only three months we will be facing Christmas. How is it possible to think of Christmas and feel dread? I am at a loss as to what to do, how to celebrate. Do we stay here? Do we try and leave? What do you do when there is no place you want to be.
The past month has been increasingly difficult. I knew the fall would stir things up. It was easier to pretend in the summer…he’s at work, on a trip, at a meeting. Now, as we struggle to implement even a fragment of our previous routine, it only serves to highlight where he is not. He is not here. The kids are feeling it, though to some degree trying to ignore it. Some have been reliving the accident, re-processing it and its details. Some are having nightmares. Some are quieter, even a little angry. Some are purposely trying not to think of daddy…it just hurts too much.
And yet they are living life where they can. It amazes me, their determination to keep living, their need to stay positive, their belief that good will come again. It comes from a well that I just cannot drink from right now. So they drink for me.
We had our trip in to meet with the leg-extension specialist for Bryn. It was a gruelling day, 13 hours in total. We were given new information: the length difference is larger then what could be measured from the outside, more than 3.5 cm rather than 2.5 cm (2.5 = 1 inch); secondly, the knee is compromised as the knee cap is displaced and the bottom of the femur not sitting properly. As we already suspected, her knee will not work properly the way it is now; and thirdly, the growth plate at the bottom of the femur appears to be damaged. This is still being investigated. We are probably looking at a leg-extension surgery which will require the surgical implantation of an Ilazarov frame, a large, outer series of metal rings that hold the bones in place with metal pins going from the outside of the leg, through the skin, muscles, etc and into the bone. The leg is re-broken and by twisting the pins four times a day, the bones are forced apart in minimal increments so that the body can fill in the space with new bone to make up the difference in length. It is imperative that the pins sites be cleaned every day (would take approx. 1 hour) and the gapping done at the same times every day which means waking her in the night and early in the morning to do so. It is a huge undertaking and although we were thankful to get the preliminary process started, it hit me the next day what we were facing yet again. What she is facing. The weight of it felt heavy, I have to admit, and I so longed for Myron’s help, his strength and perspective at that moment. But I have to focus on what this could mean for her. Five months in the frame and a new physio regime that would add on another year before she could dance and be free of all this. I see the determination in her eyes to get it all back. But at times, I also see the fear.
It feels monumental to start all over again and yet there is hope. I know so many are living with the reality that there is little hope for healing and as we walk this walk I am struck as I have been so often in life at how little I know of the pain of others. How often I have thought of those dealing with pain and death, hoping and praying that it would never reach into our home, never steal any of our joy, our peace. And yet, as for countless others, it did.
I have been struggling to write anything these past weeks. It is difficult to find different ways to say, “I am hurting. I am scared. I want my husband.” I am at the stage where I am nervous to say too much, to burden others with my pain, to ruin their days or make them uncomfortable just because they happened to ask, “How are you?” I want desperately to have another answer ready, something that will uplift them, uplift me, and yet all I feel is longing and despair, and a burning need for my husband, my friend, my children‘s father.
People have said, “I guess you have no choice, you have to go on.” They are right, I do need to go on, if only for my children. But I do have a choice. My choices began sitting in the gas station when I had to decide if I was going to dissolve into hysterics or pull it together and minister to my children who were lying in pieces all over the floor. The choices have continued every moment of every day. Do I do what I want to or what I need to? Do I go on or give up? Do I take another step or turn and run? There is no such thing as having no choice, at least not in my mind. And that is in part what makes this journey so exhausting. The constant need to keep choosing. The reality that decisions that were once meaningless because they were easy, are now monumental. The only thing I actually have no choice about, is that I do have to make a choice. Every day.
Right now I choose to remember. Not eloquantly, I do not have the energy for that. Just silly memories. My kids reminded me the other day of some daddy stories. “Remember when dad used to make me go for training runs for baseball,” Lauren reminisced. “I hated that. One night he insisted I go with him and I was so mad because I was too tired.” Yes, you weren’t happy until you thought of a plan to make it interesting. She poured some salad dressing into a container and ran out to the road in the dark, hiding it behind the wheel of his truck. Then when they were getting their shoes on she began complaining that her stomach hurt. Myron kept telling her she’d feel better once they got started and wasn’t giving in until they reached the truck. She had let him get ahead of her, pretended to double over, grabbed and dumped out the bowl onto the road and showed him where she had thrown up. He was so sorry and kept apologizing over and over until she started laughing and told him what she’d done. He laughed then made her run the route twice.
I remember almost giving him a heart-attack when we were living in Yakima. I convinced him to take us on a shopping trip a few hours away. Grumbling (Myron hated shopping and detested the VISA bills that followed it even more) he drove us down and morosely followed us around for a while before taking the two younger kids off somewhere to play. Lauren, Bryn and I continued on in the mall when the girls got the brilliant idea of playing a trick on poor daddy. At every store we asked for two to three extra shopping bags until we had twenty or so extra ones. We spent a few minutes stuffing them together until each of us appeared utterly laden down with full bags and then hauled them off to our meeting point. When Myron saw us coming down the hall with our enormous quantity of purchases he almost keeled over. We let him gasp for air while talking a mile a minute about all the wonderful sales we had found and then let him in on the bluff. I seriously think it took an hour or two for the shock to wear off.
Our all time favourite, though, was the time Bryn was eating chocolate when she was four and how it looked disgustingly like something else on her fingers. We hatched the fantastic plan to freak out their father at dinner. Sure enough, part way through supper, Bryn excused herself and went to the bathroom. She came out minutes later with a brown finger which she held up in front of daddy’s face and said, “Look daddy, poo!” She then proceeded to suck it off.
I will never forget the look or the colour of his face at that moment as he stared in pure horror. Bryn held it in for three or four seconds before announcing gleefully, “It’s just chocolate, Daddy! We got you!” He could barely finish his meal. But really, he deserved it.
Just ask his poor mother. She had a group of ladies in for tea one afternoon when Myron was still living at home. Myron visited for a few minutes than excused himself to go to the washroom just a few feet away where he had hidden a large jug filled with water. Leaving the door open to increase the sound effect, he began pouring the water into the toilet. And pouring, and pouring. And pouring. The chatter got quieter and quieter as time went on until all the ladies stopped talking and just sat listening. Finally someone said quietly, “Joan, are you sure he’s alright?” Well, that was debatable, wasn’t it.
When Myron wasn’t purposely setting us up, he came up with plenty of ways to keep us laughing. While most men suffer the event of their vasectomies in quiet and relative anonymity, Myron announced his. World-wide. He was told by the doctor that the patients were encouraged to bring in a CD of their favourite music to be played during the procedure. Apparently, it served to soothe the men during what Myron claimed to be the “worst two minutes of my entire life”. Myron thought this was brilliant, went on to the internet where he was a regular on numerous international music chat sites, announced to the world the time and date he was going under the knife and asked for musical selection suggestions. We received quite the list but our favourite was “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”. No, Myron didn’t keep much a secret. He liked to laugh at himself and he didn’t mind admitting his mistakes. It was one of the hundreds of things I appreciated about him.
I needed to remember tonight. It hurts. It makes me cry. But it also makes me smile. For a moment.
I’m struggling. Struggling to bear the pain. There are moments when I think that maybe time has made a difference, that maybe its not quite as difficult. That may be true. But it is also not any easier. And maybe you have to be walking this journey to know how accurate that paradox is. There is a panic that I feel thinking about having to live with this pain for the rest of my life. What if it doesn’t get easier? What if it is a life sentence of grief and torment? And I beg God to please continue to nudge the hearts of those who have been praying for us all these months. Not because we deserve it, but because it has been the thing that has made the difference, the love and prayers of this community of healing. And so I humbly ask anyone who is listening, please keep praying for Lauren, for Bryn, for Taeryn, for Karson and for their mother. And I thank you for it.