I live on a street and in a city that doesn’t exactly tend toward the younger demographic, so I can’t say that I was surprised to see an ambulance just across the street this evening. What did surprise me was the response I had and also what my kids ended up saying.
I was immediately contemplative. That’s my new favorite word because it’s not accurate to say I’m sad, but I’m certainly thinking — deeply. I’ve seen ambulances on the road since October (and pray for the person and their family every time I do), but this is the first I’ve seen one parked on my street. It really hit close to home (pun intended). In less than a year, three times I had seen those lights flashing in my driveway as I struggled to make sense of what was happening at the time. I couldn’t help but anguish to see them again, even though it wasn’t for us this time.
Was it the same men across the street who so feverishly tried to help my wife? Would they remember me or my wife or my house if they looked over and saw me standing in the doorway tonight? I certainly wouldn’t know any of those faces in a crowd. I can’t imagine what it must be for them to have those possible reminders of what they witness in their line of work. “This is the street/That’s the house where such-and-such happened.”
Brady was awake and aware of the first two visits we had, so he also knows the ambulance in the driveway, and he thought about Mommy tonight, too. I’m not sure what he or I said that inspired Halle, but she somehow got excited thinking “Mommy come home!” No, Dear, she’s not coming home. She went “Home,” but she’s never returning home to us. And once again, I was reminded that it’s harder for me on their behalf that their mom is dead than it is for them that their mom is dead. And it crushed me that Halle was thinking about her coming home, even if she doesn’t really understand what she’s saying.
Thank God for the ambulance and the paramedics who help so many people.
My sweet, spunky, fireball of a little girl turns two years old today. Happy birthday, Halle Charis.
You are so much like your mommy, and it’s so wonderful to see your personality coming out more with each day. I’m so thankful to God that I got to have a daughter after having a son, and I’m even more glad that Mommy got that, too. She was so hopeful that you would be a girl; and you are all girl just like Mommy. You already love shoes and clothes, and Brady assures me that your favorite color is pink because “you a gerl, Ha-yee.”
Just like Mommy, you’re able to light up a room with your smile and personality and make people happy just because you’re around. You are so good at making people laugh in the most unexpected ways. And you always have your little projects, and do not like people to get in your way of finishing those projects. I have no doubt you’re going to use that about yourself just like Mommy did.
I love the way you know just what you want, even if it does result in you yelling at me when I don’t get it for you. You just want things to be efficient and you always know a better way for things to get done.
You’re adorable and such a joy in everyone’s lives, and Mommy would be so happy for all the ways you’re so like her. As much as I wish she had more time with you, I’m so thankful for the 18 months of your life that she did get to spend with you. Your middle name means “grace” and it was Mommy’s favorite thing about God. It was His grace that gave you to Mommy. After three miscarriages, we weren’t sure we’d ever get to have another baby, and it’s clear that you are the exact child God wanted us to have.
We love you so much, and I can’t wait to continue watching you grow (as a person, at least, since you don’t exactly grow too much physically, my little peanut). I know you’ll make me and Mommy so proud.
I love you, Sugar.
Photographs were a big deal to Stephanie. They were so important, in fact, that her “push present” for having Halle was family pictures, and that was all she wanted. Thanks to a friend of ours, we have some beautiful pictures from that time. I’m so glad for her always working for us to take and have lots of pictures because now I have so many memories to look back on during our life together.
I keep finding reason to revisit our collection of pictures. Usually, it’s to remember how Stephanie put the house together for things such as Christmas. Unfortunately, I find it absolutely gut-wrenching as I scan through the images of her. I always think that this will be the time that it won’t crush me, but I’m always wrong. I often end up finding something that I didn’t even remember. For instance, last night I found some images that she used for birthday/Christmas gift projects she made for me. It was great to see those things again and remember, but it also ripped out my heart as it always does, to be reminded that it’s all over.
But pictures were always important to her. When everything first happened, I had no intention of sending out Christmas cards this year because I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing just three of us in the picture. But, soon after, I realized how much I wanted to do those things we’ve always done even as painful as it would be. And, I don’t want to lack pictures from this year because of my grief; that would just cause me more grief years down the road. So, today I had that same friend I mentioned earlier come over to take pictures of me and the kids. Some of the pictures even included a framed photograph of Stephanie. Sending out Christmas cards this year is also kind of my way to praise God for His faithfulness through all of this. I would be giving in to defeat – even if in some small way – to not do something we’ve always done and something in which Stephanie always took great joy. And she always took great joy in our family and sending out that picture to show how good God has been to us. I don’t want this year to be any different.
As hard as things can be with the kids, they of course make life an absolute joy, as well.
Brady is the sweetest little boy ever, and he has such incredible compassion and always has. He always knew how to be good for Stephanie when she wasn’t feeling well and he would cuddle her and tell her it was okay. He’s doing the same for me. I mentioned in my previous post that I suggested we watch a movie and eat popcorn, then started crying soon after. While still in the bath, he put his hand on my arm and gently rubbed up and down in order to comfort me. After getting out and while I was cleaning Halle, he gave me a great big long hug from behind and told me how much he loved me. He also constantly reminds me that he loves me and Mommy and Halle (and sometimes even the dogs). And he affirms that “Daddy’s the best and Mommy’s the best and Brady’s the best and Halle’s the best. We’re all the best.” Like I said, he’s such a sweetheart.
One morning this past week, he had grabbed a framed photo off of Stephanie’s dresser before I got out of bed. It was a picture of her and I from our honeymoon. I didn’t realize he had taken it until I came out to find that it was properly standing up on the couch where he was playing. He told me that he wanted it there because he missed Mommy. That borders on being one of the hardest things, but it’s good to me to know that he understands as much as can be expected (and then some).
And then there is Halle. She is just like her mother in so many ways. One of those ways is that when she is in a good mood, it bursts forth out of her like sunshine and you can’t help but end up in a good mood just watching her. My baby girl can make me laugh so hard just from watching her bounce around so happily. She babbles excitedly and has such personality and always knows what she wants. It’s a great deal of fun to ask her questions just to see her shake her head with conviction either yes or no.
And I know that God loves these little children so much. For all the grace I feel that He has given to me, it is exponentially greater towards them. I thank Him for that. And I thank Him for the best two things in my life: Brady and Halle.
I’m finding that almost everything I know to do with my kids is because of what their mother knew about them and did with them. I know how much my kids loved those things and don’t want them to stop by any means.
One thing we would do after Halle went to bed was to pop some popcorn and put on a movie that Brady could watch and the three of us would cuddle on the couch and watch. One night last week, I told Brady during their bath that we could do that if he wanted. He was very excited and couldn’t wait. As soon as I mentioned the idea, though, I started crying quite a bit. It ached to think of the times we all did that together and how we can’t have that again.
Something else the kids love and I was sure to do last week because of good weather was to go to the zoo. Stephanie loves animals, and was so glad to get a zoo pass last Christmas for this year. (Sadly, due to the seizures, she was never allowed to drive and couldn’t go nearly as many times as she wanted.) Again, I knew the kids would love to go and thought it would be good for all of us to get out. I guess it’s good that I didn’t realize beforehand just how painful it would be to be there. Otherwise, I might have been tempted not to go at all. I almost kept expecting to see her walking next to me every time I looked over.
I’m sure these moments will continue. Stephanie always would do those things that the kids loved, even if she wasn’t up to it. It’s easy to remember what the kids enjoy. It’s not until after I start those activities that I realize how painful it is for me. What makes them “the worst things” is because I’m not going to stop just because it’s hard for me, and it’s a mixture of enjoyment I get for my kids along with the pain it is for me.