13 August 2008

Four Years Ago (Minus One Day)

Tomorrow is my fourth anniversary.

Every time I have said that to someone, I have paused. "August fourteenth is . . . I mean, would be . . . but it still feels like I'm married, so . . . well, in any case, four years ago, John and I got married."

It was last week that a friend of mine pointed out that the four-year mark was on the horizon and asked if we needed to plan a girls' night or something to mark the occasion. I was stunned to realize that the day was already here. It's not that I forgot, exactly; I'm one of those lucky people for whom my wedding day truly was one of the happiest days of my life. I simply can't believe that it's mid-August already. How did that happen?

And so I was thrust from blissful ignorance to coping with what to do, how to feel. I'll be going out for dessert with a small group of girlfriends, using a gift certificate that was given to John and me by a friend of John's when the twins were babies. We never had a chance to use it, alas, so John can be there in spirit as I stuff myself full of chocolate and wine in our honor.

Actually, to truly honor John, I should get a fruit dessert. John was not much for chocolate, but he loved fruit. I would tease him endlessly when we went out for ice cream, for as I debated the Holy Trinity of Chocolate Combos (chocolate/peanut butter, chocolate/coffee, or chocolate/mint?), John would be deciding between things like the Peach Melba Puff or the Strawberry Shortcake Smash. He was the only person I have ever met who would order a Mr. Misty Float at Dairy Queen, this thing that's like a Slurpee with soft serve in it. It was a triumph for me to bring him over to the dark side and get him hooked on butterscotch dipped cones. We ate a lot of butterscotch dipped cones together.

Ever since Maddie drew a picture for Daddy and set aside food for him and insisted that he was at home, I've been asking her, "Maddie, where is Daddy?" She always has an answer. "In the basement. On the couch, watching video. In the kitchen. He cook banana bread." I'm not one to believe in ghosts or visits from the afterlife, but part of me wonders what she sees. Lately, I myself have done a lot of double takes, seeing John's double walking down the street or flashing across the TV screen. It's unsettling, but oddly reassuring. I've felt John slipping away from me lately, but as soon as I see these John-doubles, he's immediately back for me. I imagine that he's at home, or at the store picking up a few things that we need. It's so easy for me to imagine what our life would be like with John in it, so easy because it would so obviously be, quite simply, better.

I've cried a lot lately, not full-on sobbing, but just tears here and there that are borne from pure sadness. I miss John so much, and I miss the life that we didn't get to have. I try to remind myself of the good things I have in the life that is mine, but it's not always easy to stay in the present. It's often much easier to live in the what-could-have-been, and then end up resentful of my reality.

I want John to be proud of me, proud of our four years, even though he's been gone for almost eighteen months of that time. I know he'd be proud on some level, but lately I feel like I could do better by John. He was the embodiment of a patience that I often lack, the voice of reason to my occasional impulsiveness. He wouldn't yell "Fuck!" at his kids or call them brats, at least not as often as me. He wouldn't lie awake at night, thinking about things that were beyond his control. But above all else, he wouldn't let me be so hard on myself. Without him to keep me in check, I can do a number on myself, although I've gotten a lot better.

I'm doing the best that I can, Goose, I'm doing the best that I can. I wish you were here to love me and to help me and to see Maddie and Riley, who talk about you all the time. We all miss you so much.

65 comments:

Lyndsay said...

I think it's time to introduce the kids to butterscotch dip cones!

"Happy Anniversary" seems wrong, so I just hope you have a nice day.

Kerry Lynn said...

I don't necessarily believe in ghosts either but I totally got "goose" bumps when I read that about Maddie. That really makes you think.

Once again, you've got me sobbing. I've said it before but I'm so so so sorry for your loss. You've taken the pain no girl should endure.

Sandi said...

My 8th anniversary would have been Monday, August 18.

John could never remember it.

Jamie said...

Wow - I don't really know what to say. My heart breaks for you and your loss. There are no words. Don't under estimate what your little one might be "seeing" My 4 year old daughter (she was 3 at the time) said hello once to someone that none of us could see. Two days later she found of picture of my mom, who died 16 years ago and said me "this is the lady momma - the lady I say hi too." Totally sent me for a loop -you never know - Maybe your husband is checking in on all of you. Hang in there - I won't pretend to know what you are feeling but know that there are people reading about your journey and wishing nothing but peace and love.

tree town gal said...

Thinking of you, again through tears. I'm deeply sorry, Snick. I think that it's good that you realize how hard you are on yourself. The internets see it and we send you praise and love for the parenting job you are doing, maintaining a career, staying in touch with family and friends, and for not letting it all fall apart. We are with you. Hope you take good care of yourself tomorrow and enjoy the decadent desserts.

Christina Shaver said...

I also would give a little credence to what Maddy saw. When I was a kid, I truly did see my deceased great uncle all the time. He would sit and read the newspaper while I played the piano. And I met my deceased grandparents one evening at a "party" in my bedroom. I think that children are just so much closer to what happens before/after life on earth. Anyway, for what it's worth. I hope you have a pleasant day of fond remembrances of your husband.

Sylvie said...

That made me tear up too. It is so not fair that you didn't get to have the life you should have had. Maddie knows or feels something real, it's really special.

Cheryl Lage said...

Without a doubt, John is proud of you. You've got such remarkable testimonies to you both bearing witness to that fact.

Will be thinking of you on the 14th...wishing you peace and memories that bring smiles.

MetroDad said...

So strange to read your post today. I was walking down the street this afternoon and I saw someone who was the spitting image of one of my best friends who died on 9/11. My heart jumped into my throat and I thought I was going to pass out. It just never seems to get any easier.

I can't even begin to imagine how hard it is for you to go on without John. Just know that there are people out here who are thinking of you and wishing you all the strength and courage to go on. As always, I'm sorry for your loss and want you to know that we're here for you. Your sadness is ours as well.

Clover said...

Mmm- my friends swear by Finale. They love that place. I'm jealous.

You said something re: John wouldn't say those things, or at least not as often. However, I do think he may have if he'd been the one to have to raise them as a single parent. It is so hard to parent, to keep your cool, and to be the only parent is just incredibly intense.

I hope tomorrow is nice for you. I guess. Lyndsay is right, Happy Anniversary seems wrong, but I hope thinking about your wedding day brings back many happy memories.

Anonymous said...

thinking of you - and wishing you peace - tomorrow.

(another) karen

Lynnette said...

Sometimes my teeth hurt, and I can't see through the tears when I read your posts. I don't know how else to describe it. I just don't know how you do it. Just tonight, I was congratulating myself for managing to give my twins baths, lotion-ing, diapering, pajama-ing and hair-drying them by myself (and I still had help for "bedtime"). Of course, you do that every night, by yourself, let alone the rest of the 24 hours. I don't comment much, but wanted you to know that you are such an inspiration to me. (also, I say "Fuck!" and "brats," sometimes, too...hth..) Happy Anniversary. I will have a butterscotch dipped cone in honor of you both, this weekend. (my pleasure)

GrannyFrani said...

My heart goes out to you. Sending you love, thoughts and prayers and wishing you a good day tomorrow. I agree with the others that Maddie may be on to something beyond our adult ken. There is so much we just don't know.

bold said...

He is there, with you, loving you. And he is proud of you.

Don't ask me how I know.

But trust me that I do.

tousquireste said...

it sounds like an excellent way to honour your 4 years. i am, of course, still so sorry for your loss, but like other commenters.

Julie said...

I agree that Maddie sees more than you think. She seems wise beyond her years. And if this is really something that happens, I'm certain that John is there, checking in with you and the kids - perhaps Maddie is the only one who can see him, but she seems awfully sure, a lot of the time. Where else would he be? Of course, of course, with the three of you.

Rachel said...

It's still your anniversary, not would have been, it is.

Rachel said...

I am thinking of you. I think the people we lose are always with us in some form, and I don't doubt at all that Maddie sees him. {{{Hugs.}}}

baggage said...

I'm thinking of you. I am so sorry.

Silver said...

Thinking of you. I believe that he is still with you so Happy Anniversary.

Take care

Watercolor said...

hugs

Fishface said...

Beautiful post. Brought me to tears. Hope that you continue to heal.

The Whitsitt Family said...

I hope you have a nice time tomorrow. My mom told me that after her Dad died she saw "doubles" of him everywhere, and she said I would probably experience the same thing after my Dad died. I was kind of looking forward to experiencing this, but it has never happened to me.

Emily said...

Happy Anniversary. Here's you and John, and all that you shared and all that you made (no matter how crazy they make you sometimes). I'll be thinking of you tomorrow.

Superha said...

that was so beautifully written. may your memories of john live on. hope you see his double often and that it makes you smile.

BrooklynGirl said...

Happy anniversary, dear girl. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Mama Nabi said...

Oh, sweet bizarro sister. I guess today was a day to remember our loved ones who are gone from us...

I don't care... it is your anniversary. So. Happy Anniversary. Your love was AND is truly one of inspiration. And look at what you twoo made out of love.

*hugs* a gazillion of them... and all my love goes out to you today.

django's mommy said...

Oh Snick. I feel for you- I can (unfortunately) totally relate- last Wednesday would have been our 8th anniversary. Like you said, I am grieving hard for the life we should have had, the dream he is not here to share anymore.

The answer is chocolate/mint, by the way. With chocolate/coffee a very, very close second.

bg's Little Sis said...

Thinking of you all and wishing you well, and yes, a happy anniversary, it is your anniversary. Hard hugs babe.

lots of love,
lil'sis

Keen said...

I'm so sorry, thinking of you and feeling sad along with you today.

Thanks again for sharing a John story--I love hearing them. I've never even heard of a Mr. Misty Float. Why order that when you could order a Blizzard?

For what it's worth, I'm insanely proud of you. I also hate the "I don't know how you do it" comment because, duh, you have to. But you do such an admirable job and you're such a loving mother to your two wonderful kids. I don't think you realize just how much I've learned from you.

Lots of love to you, and I hope your day is a peaceful one.

Menita said...

For your day, dear.

Anonymous said...

I am a regular reader at your blog and I honestly think you are doing a great job with your kids. I also want to believe that John is watching you all three and the kids can feel his presence.

I don't think you already wrote about your wedding day here. If not, Why don't you put it down today? I am sure it was your happiest day and why not write about it? That could bring lots of smiles on your face as you write. I hope the twins would love to read about it when they grow up..

LeeCR7 said...

Just wanted to say that your post today was beautiful and, of course, sad. I've seen my grandparents in dreams, many times when I was really worried about something, and it always calms me. I wouldn't be surprised if your daughter really was seeing something. Even if she is not, it is wonderful that she has found a way to keep her father a real presence in her life.

Hope your day is a good one.

Christine said...

Snick, don't be so hard on yourself. As I'm learning, every parent yells and says "fuck" at times. Happy somewhat anniversary, and make sure you do something you want to do.

Becky said...

I have tears in my eyes from reading this. Life can be so unfair....

DEBRA said...

As always your posts me move to tears. I was struck by one sentence in particular and I think there's truth in it for any of us going through hard times...staying in the present. We can't change what is past and the future is not here, all we have is what is in front of us right here right now. I too hope you have a peace filled day...

Debra

shmo said...

So much can happen in just four years.

(sigh)

Watch for that extra smile from Maddie and that extra squeeze in Riley's hug - those are surely John's anniversary gifts to you.

Giovanna said...

Happy Anniversary Snick!
May your day be filled w/wonderful memories of John.
Hope you see a GhostJohn to put an extra smile on your face today.

What A Card said...

Thinking of you today...

The McMommy said...

I believe Maddie sees him.
Because if children are really born from heaven, then they are closer to having been with God than we are..
That's what my heart tells me, at least...
Thinking of you.

G-Dawg said...

You are such a brave woman, mother, and wife. I am amazed at how you are keeping John alive for yourself, and for Maddie and Riley. It's very sweet.

Reading your blog really reminds me of how blessed I am with my husband and my family (sisters/parents), and to not take them for granted. Thank you.

OTRgirl said...

What might have been. Sigh.

I do like that he got you to be less hard on yourself...

silene said...

Thinking of you, and sending you hugs and good wishes on your anniversary.

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary.

bostongirl said...

What a poignant post. Thinking of you so much and wishing you yummy dessert. Finale rocks. Take care of yourself.

Sabrina said...

Happy anniversary - when love is the answer - the questions no longer matter. Take care. SabHop

Karyn said...

hugs to you, snick. keep doing the best you can, 'cause it's mighty good indeed.

Fairlington Blade said...

Oh, Snick, I feel for you so. Having twin toddlers has brought out the worst in me (and, I hope, also the best). You've done well for Maddie & Riley and done John proud.

I'm sitting in an airport waiting to get on a plane so that I can see T and Z and Keen. I know it's not easy when one parent is away and must be next to impossible when that parent' can't return. You are in our hearts and thoughts and prayers. Best of luck.

Paul

Whitney said...

Thank you for sharing the most raw, real, excrutiating truth that you are feeling. John is very proud of you, I'm sure.

Kerrie said...

Oh Snick...my heart aches for you and the little ones...for the what-should-have-beens.

Wishing you a day of peace...hoping you can find a way to include ice-cream. Perhaps a "dessert first" dinner is in order..??

Sweet Maddie...I love that her Daddy is still very much here on earth for her. Does Riley talk about John too..??

I have screamed "Fuck" at my daughter in the past...mainly out of sheer frustration. About the worst that came of it is that she repeated it back to me when she was about four. She was angry with me so screamed it loudly and then ran, quite shocked at her audacity, back to her bedroom. It remains one of my funniest memories of her.

Be gentle with yourself...take care.

Rob said...

Snickollet,
I've been reading you blog frequently since the CNN article several months ago, but have never commented. You are doing an amazing job with your twins! I admire your writing and it always makes me think.I also am so sorry for your loss.
I am a mom to a 7yr old boy and a three yr old girl. They have lost both their grandmother(my mom) and their great-grandmother in the last 2 years.While their ggram was 97, Mom was only 64. I believe they both have a "window" in heaven to see our family, and that is what I tell the kids sometimes.Maybe it is corny, but they can understand it.

Chocolate can sure cure some sorrows, but not all! My answer would be chocolate/mint!

Keep writing!

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary, Snick... I've been lurking but haven't commented until now. Your postings are moving, honest, and beautiful, and they've really touched me. Your family got dealt a very bad and unfair hand, but please know that you're not alone... Today I'm wishing you peace, healing, strength... and ice cream. Hugs to all........ ~Melissa (another Boston-area mom) ;-)

Lori said...

You both made the decision to have your children fully aware of the outcome. That you'd, at some point, be a single mother. I didn't know him, I don't know you, but I believe that he had faith in you to raise your children. I don't think he'd fault you one bit for yelling "fuck" or for any other thing you critize yourself about.
And re: seeing daddy. My grandpa passed away when I was around 2/3... One day I kept running around the house. Hiding behind chairs and under tables, all the time shrieking in delight and laughing. Mom asked me what I was doing- playing hide and seek with Grandpa was my simple reply. And she had no doubt I was.

karen said...

i wish you a lovely, peaceful day.

Rosepetal said...

Oh yes, you are doing the best you can and from where I stand you are wonderful. I admire you immensely.

I am sorry for the full life you didn't get together. Maybe Maddie is indeed the one who can see him.

Anonymous said...

You might already know about this website. I just found it recently. You might enjoy checking out his journey through the loss of his wife and parenting a newborn without her...

http://www.mattlogelin.com/

LCT said...

Thinking of you, my friend. Sorry I've been so out of touch. Maybe we can talk on the phone soon? Until then, sending love your way.

Nina said...

I hope you have a beautiful day, with lots of fruit.

winecat said...

You are doing the VERY best you can and you should be very proud of that fact.

I totally believe that Maddie sees John! He's there with you, Maddie is the only one lucky enough to see him. If you can try to get down some of the discussions they have before she grows to much into that big kid world.

You're doing the best you can, repeat it like your mantra. Happy belated anniversary. You share the day with my friend of 30 year's birthday.

Kathryn said...

The best you can is a very good best indeed, Snick...I'm certain that John is indeed proud of you, not just on your anniversary but every day. I hope the day was manageable, with even some good bits (including ice cream)and that Maddie's sense of John's presence is comforting to you both.
Hugs and admiration, as always xx

mlg said...

Happy anniversary. Since the twins and I share the same birthday it is fitting that your anniversary is the same day as my kid's birthday.

I am sure John will be with you tomorrow. I can't imagine he would miss it (not that he would miss any other day either). I hope for you that in the course of your day you have at least one moment where you are sure that he is right there, right then.

alessandrastarr said...

Happy Anniversary!

Amy said...

I lost my mom when my oldest was 4 months old. Both my kids would look at something over my shoulder and wave, talk, etc. when they were little. I don't believe in ghosts either, but I do think they were talking to my mom. I try not to think it over too carefully, but just enjoy it!

gwendomama said...

my daughter told me that elijah was on the clouds watching us. she put pictures for him that she had drawn out in the yard so that he would be able to see them.

and guess what? elijah was the child i never ever said fuck to OR called a little brat.

sainthood rocks.

hcb said...

Happy anniversary from hcb and the Pickle! Holding you in the light from way out West...