Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Life in Technicolor

      If my life were a movie, this would be that point towards the end (after the big dramatic climax) where you have a bunch of different scenes melded together with little or no dialogue. Some fabulous Mumford and Sons or Death Cab for Cutie song plays over this barrage of images of the kids and me learning to live again, moving on, going forward.... to show the audience that "they're gonna be ok".
Sometimes I kind of feel like that's what every one's expecting. Maybe because they've seen this movie one too many times. Or they're tired of not knowing what to do with me, make of my situation, what to say - so enough already.... Let's cut to that epilogue scene.
I do wish we could move on that easily - like in a movie, but then again I feel like that's almost disrespectful. I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be doing.
     The above was taken from a conversation I was having with a friend on facebook. My friend said to stop thinking life like it was a movie, which has to come to some sort of conclusion. Maybe, my friend said, you could think of it as a TV series that doesn't get canceled - a bunch of little conclusions that eventually get you to where you wanted to go, but nobody expects that's where it will wind up. In this particular season a lot has happened and fans are pissed!
     I thought that was a neat way to answer me - and it was personal to our family (who happens to love TV).
     Later, during this same conversation I was saying how Sarah and I were cleaning and we put on some Linken Park. Soon enough we found ourselves kinda screaming the lyrics... then later that day we had to drive to base. When we drive, she always chooses the music and she put on a couple of MCR songs (My Chemical Romance, a guilty pleasure of both of ours) and the volume kept getting a little louder, as did our "singing". When we got to our destination I remarked how we hadn't done that in a really long time. Things have been a little more solemn. More Mumford and Sons'ish - but, whatever "that" just was, it kinda felt good. She said that she was kinda sad that it seemed ok to do that kind of stuff again, but at the same time it felt really good, she missed that side of me. I said that it sucked that we were moving on, but that I really missed those times screaming bad lyrics with her, too.
After I relayed that story my friend said, "I feel like tonight's was a really good episode"
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     I recently found out a couple different friends of mine are expecting babies, you know - one of those couples that you've been waiting to get together all season and have a baby. After that conversation (above) with my friend, I was thinking about how that will be one of those great tear-jerking episodes where I get to hold a baby and feel like life is going on, sure there will still be drama, side-plots, antagonists, and set-backs, but the previews of that episode make it look like all might just be ok for a minute.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


     I stood in the shower for a long, long time this morning.  Trying to figure out how to put into words the day-to-day war raging in my head.  To explain why I can’t seem to handle much more than just ‘existing’.  People try to be kind when I tell them I cannot take on anything else at this point, or when I try to tell them I am sad.  Sometimes they say the perfunctory responses of how God will see us through, or I just need to pray, or that they will be sure to pray for me.  Others will tell us they’re just sure Rob (sometimes referred to as our guardian angel) is looking down and smiling.  I have to be honest – I don’t believe in ghosts.  I don’t believe that when people die they become angels, or that they can look down (or back, or up, or sideways) to see us.  And sometimes those other responses just seem empty and trite.  I know you don’t know what to say and that you’re just doing your best to let us know you care – because it’s a lonely, lonely road we’re walking and it’s hard to understand, I thought I would try to give an example you might be able to relate to of the deep grief we face every day.          

     When Noah was little he once made me a present, for mother’s day or my birthday, out of clay.  He worked for weeks on this project at an art class.  He was so eager for the day they would bake it, get it back, and paint it.  He painted it, purple because he knew it was my favorite.  When the day came to bring it home, he carefully wrapped it newspaper and he held onto it tightly on the ride home from art class (he didn’t’ want me to see yet).  Walking up our driveway he stumbled and the clay piece dropped and shattered, I never got to see it.
   Imagine Noah’s heartbreak – now imagine being his mother in that moment, right there, on the driveway.  That fleeting moment of absolute helplessness where nothing I say or do can fix it.  I cannot make it better.   Because Noah was very young, his mind was soon onto something else and by the end of the week he’d all but forgotten about his creation. Yet, in that that instant, sitting on the pavement with him, my heart was completely broken for him as we sat there, both in tears.
    It is like that EVERYDAY for me.  Maybe not every second of each day, but at least more than once.  I am powerless, defenseless. 

   Ordering Sarah’s cap and gown this week for her graduation in June was one of those moments.  I am so unbelievably proud of my daughter, and I know Rob was, too – She is ready to take this step and God is guiding her to a bright future, I am not sad that she is growing up – but this is the first really big milestone we’re achieving that he should be here for, and isn’t.  The first of many that I will carry alone.  Not just for Sarah, but for all three of them.  I can clap hard enough, cheer loud enough, love big enough, but I’m already so tired, so very tired and it’s only been 4 months.  Four months today.

winter running

Saturday, February 2, 2013

time and home

“It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger, but then I'll admit
I'm just the same as I was
Now, don't you understand
That I'm never changing who I am”
                                                               (Imagine Dragons, “It’s Time”)

I have come home at last! This is my real country! 
                                                                I belong here. 
This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now...
Come further up, come further in!” (CS Lewis, “The Last Battle”)

When you think about home what kind of images do you conjur up in your head?   I don’t mean the kind of home that CS Lewis describes; when we will travel further up and further in at last, but the home that you know here.  Is it a place?  Is it a feeling, or a sense?  

     You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone…….. You'll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it's gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. Maybe it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I don't know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place. “ (from the movie, “Garden State”)

  I’ve been struggling, still, with feelings of being caught between the two worlds of my existence - trying to reconcile those separate worlds into one that is acceptable.  In wondering why I can’t seem to get a grip and why, sometimes, it seems as though I can barely cope, I've come to realize it’s because we have no home.  I picture the kids and I out in space with Mrs. Whats-it looking down on the shadow of “IT” for the first time.  Knowing earth will never look the same again, it will never be the same home now that we know what we do, displaced indefinitely. (Madeleine L'Engle's, "A Wrinkle in Time")
   As military families we make our home where ever that next base is - even those of us who do not move very often - we set up house, get involved, welcome new families, say goodbye to those moving on.  In doing this we form an incredible “idea” of home rather than a physical address - it is where ever the 5 of us are, together, and not so much a location on a map.  
   The 4 of us are trying to figure out that new home.  Not where we’ll put our stuff when we move to Wisconsin, but when we find that sense of home that feels safe, familiar, and less lonely.  

    I was talking with Kraig the other day about some of the ‘old stories’ and he was mentioning that he hasn’t really been able to listen to a lot of the music that he and Rob loved - which was a huge part of their lives and friendship.  He said he was too much of a pansy-ass to face the memories that it brought back.  I related that I can not even be in the same room when the 20th Century Fox theme plays before a movie let alone even begin to think about watching a Star Wars movie.  A fine pair of pansy-asses we are, Kraig also lost a sense of the home in losing Rob because of the decades they knew one another. 
   We are searching for our new idea of home.  It includes people that knew Rob, and people just meeting us who have no conception of what we’ve lost.  We feel a little like an untethered string- each his own, but at least tethered to one another as we float.  Forever changed, but still the same - and how do you reconcile that?  Time - I’ve heard again, and again, and again.  It just takes time.  I don't’ think there’s enough time.

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave (wave) is stringing us along
Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm gonna make this place your home
Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm gonna make this place your home
 (Phillip Phillips, “Home”)