Our Story Begins:
Each Single Step
I noticed something over the last few days. You’ll see it too, in that picture up there in particular.
My son is smiling. I get that you might think that’s a pretty normal, common sight. It might seem counter-intuitive, though, if you knew what day this picture was taken.
Sam, my youngest son (by 30 seconds or so…his twin brother likes me to say that), had an “oral interpretation competition.” Think of it like a speech competition where kids recite poems and sections of literature for judges. This, too, might seem solely unremarkable except for the fact that Sam was dying to be part of the competition even though it was held on March 26th.
March 26th is the day his mother, my wife Andrea, died.
The reason that picture is remarkable, hell the entire day on March 26th was remarkable, was in its vanilla blandness. So, okay, giving a speech in front of a bunch of people isn’t bland. Dad coming along and taking a few days off isn’t vanilla. But in the last two years we decided to avoid the stares, pity and sadness and went out of town. One year we visited my parents. Last year we went to Disneyland.
This year . . . we stayed home. My son gave a speech, smiled, was nervous, and was practically glowing when the judges told him he did a great job.
It’s something I noticed when putting together our annual video. The smiles. They’re not forced, all the pictures and videos are taken in the moment. They’re all real.
I bring this up because it’s easy for people who see a family who suffers a loss to think that, particularly on the anniversary of the person’s death, loss is all we can think about. But we’ve taken such an amazing journey over the last three years it’s not the case. Sure, I don’t have a day go by I don’t miss my wife, Andrea. But missing her isn’t the same as suffering without her. The fact we have done so many things and enjoyed so much life shows me that we’ve learned to live with living without her.
Sam was insistent that we stay home this year so he could give his speech. You know what? I’m glad we did. It’s been three years of struggle, adjustment, and change. Change, as a matter of fact, has been the constant in our home since that day, March 26th, 2011. But change isn’t bad, it can be amazing. We have a better home. We do more with less, we work hard on getting through the day sometimes. None of that is because we don’t have Andrea anymore. It’s all because we do the same thing all of you do. We live.
A relative remembered on this day my walking in from the hospital and telling the kids what had happened. That will remain the worst moment in my life so far, even worse than the few hours prior, in the hospital, watching my wife drift away from me.
No . . . our lives are blandly normal on a day that is, by all accounts, abnormal. After three years . . . I think that’s one of the most amazing feats we’ve achieved so far.
What about you? Do you know someone who suffered a loss? Do you know someone who suffered a loss . . . Do you treat them the same or do you define them by the loss?