Ranting

Okay. So I have a rant. But I don’t know where to start it. So bare with me on this one. It may come out a bit, well, jumbled.

Okay, so it’s no secret that there are times when the weight of being a single parent seems too much to bear. And I’ve said numerous times that it’s at these moments when I miss Christina the most. Well, it’s one of those times. And yes, I’m having a bit of a “moment”. So, it’s been a pretty good day…..for the most part. Started normal. Get the kids up. Take them to school (just Andrew this morning. Poppy took Alexys to school). Stop at Dunkin to get coffee (and a free donut today). Then to the office. Meetings. Interviews. “Got a Minutes”. Same ol, same ol. Then I had a client meeting with one of my agents. It was at 6 pm. Which means I have to battle traffic to get there. And this…….is where it all starts. I HATE traffic. Okay. “Hate” really isn’t strong enough. Loathe. I loathe traffic. It’s one of the reasons I loved working midnight shift as a police officer. NO TRAFFIC!!!!! So I get to the appointment about 15 minutes late. Which is okay, because the client “had a headache” and didn’t show. Which wasn’t horrible, because as I pulled into the parking lot of the meeting place, mother nature decided it was a good time to unleash the worst rain storm I’ve seen in a while………for over an hour. So as I sit there talking to my agent about the client that didn’t show, somebody pulls in next to me, and decides to make a run for it. But not before opening his door into my door……REALLY HARD. And then run off into the rain storm of the century. I was so blown away that he did that while I was sitting in the car, that I didn’t even think to chase him down. I mean REALLY!!?? Am I the only one that tries to NOT hit the car next to me when I get out of my car?? Especially if the owner is SITTING IN THE CAR AT THE TIME!!!!! UGH!!!! So, now I’m faced with a decision. Wait for the rain to stop to get out and take pictures, and risk the guy coming back and leaving before I get the chance, or get out of the car in the middle of a monsoon and (at a minimum) get a picture of the guys license plate. Yeah, I wasn’t taking that chance. So, while I now have a picture of the damage and license plate of the very nice person who I’m sure didn’t even notice that he hit my car so hard that it shut his door for him, I’m also now wet. I hate being wet. And as I get back into my air conditioned car, I realize that I am now cold. I hate being cold. So I turn on the heat. But since I’m wet, it just makes the car hot and…….humid. Now the windows are fogged up. Put a little side to side motion to the car and I’ll be igniting the imagination of everyone that passes by. Sigh. So I’m once again just sitting, waiting for the rain to stop, and guess who returns to their car. With a “not me!!!” attitude. Yup, THAT guy. The nice one that decided my drivers side door would look better with a little kiss from his drivers side door. Anyway, names and numbers were exchanged. But he wasn’t shy about making it known that he doesn’t believe he’s responsible for the damage to my car. Hopefully the buffer will take it out and I won’t have to worry about him.

So I leave the parking lot, and drive home. Hoping to be able to say goodnight to the kids and go to bed. And then I get a text from Alexys……..”Are you on your way home?”. “Yes, why? Is something wrong?” “No. Andrew want’s to go to bed” (red flag….it’s 8pm. Andrew never wants to go to bed at 8pm). “No. Tell him to wait. I’ll be home in 10 Mins”. “Ok”. As I walk in the door, I find out that Andrew has just started his homework. Hmmmmmmm. That explains a lot. He doesn’t like doing homework with his grandparents. So he gives them a hard time. Which means……Daddy gets to help with it. That was at about 8:15pm. He faught me till 10:30pm. He is determined. But I won in the end, and his homework got done. But it was a battle.

So where am I going with this? Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, I am quite frustrated, stressed, perturbed, and any other adjective you can come up with to describe this feeling. And it’s REALLY hard to play both parents. In situations where I get frustrated and stressed, Christina used to come in and be able to instantly calm everyone down. Especially me. Or maybe she would just take over. Give me a break. Whatever it was, she would do it. I miss that. With me, it was a hand on my shoulder and a whisper in my ear saying “I got if from here sweetie” Oh, the touch of her hand was magical. It just took all of the anger and frustration out of me. I would just melt when she touched me.  I really miss that. It’s was like some kind of energy that just drained every stress of the day. Every problem. Every concern. It would just vanish. No longer an issue. Just from her touch. It was wonderful.

And she knew this too. Most of the time she would use it to make me feel better. Other times, she would use it to make me even more mad…….like when I wanted to be mad at her. She would just come over and touch my shoulder. And I wouldn’t be mad anymore. It was really frustrating at times. But wonderful at the same time. One of my most treasured memories of our last week together was the Thursday before she passed. She was feeling strong and was sitting up. I had just finished wrapping up the duties of the evening and had crawled (literally) into bed. She looked at me and said “you look tired, how about you lay your head in my lap and let me rub your back”. I looked at her and said “it’s okay sweetheart, I’m fine. Just tired”. In her typical, stubborn way, she said “look buddy, I may not ever get to do this again. So get over here and let me take care of you”. What could I say? Nothing. So I just obeyed. And it was a wonderful, intimate moment. I loved feeling her hands on me. I miss that. I needed that tonight.

Okay, so for all my worriers out there, I’m okay. Just having a moment. All is well. God is good. Loving life. I love my kids (yes, even Andrew). They are the best. And I don’t know what I would do without them. Thanks for listening. I love you all. And as for you Christina? I miss you bunches. Needed you big time tonight. And I love my memories of us.

“If my heart had wings, I would fly to you and lie, beside you as you dream. If my heart had wings”. ~ Faith Hill

Pleasant Thoughts (and a teenager)

My Dearest Christina,
Our baby girl is growing up. Tomorrow morning at 11:26, she will officially be a teenager. It seems like just yesterday, I was holding her in the palm of my hand. And now, she’s a young lady. Beautiful, smart, athletic, compassionate, loving, strong willed. Just like you. You would be so proud of her. She’s still a good mix, but I am starting to see more and more of you in her every day. Her looks. Her personality. Her way with kids. It’s so fun to watch.

So, I started attending a Grief Share class at church. I know what you’re probably thinking, “you? Really?”. So, yes, really. Tonight was my second night. And I actually enjoyed it. Although, the video portion was painfully long tonight. Of course, I’m sure my headache didn’t help with that. I was actually dreading attending the classes. But I said I would because my pastor asked if I would be willing to facilitate a class at Lakeside. I thought it would be like the last class I attended where I end up leaving depressed. But this has been different. In fact, tonight I left with a smile on my face as I was reminded of some fond memories of us. In particular, how we used to say I love you “I love you, I love you too, I love you three, I love you four, I love you infinity, I love you infinity…..and beyond”. It actually made me smile. That was just one thing though. There were actually several things that made me smile tonight. Which I think is a good thing.

One of the things we were talking about tonight, was taking the necessary time to work through our grief. Even though it can be unbearable at times. And even though we don’t always like it, we need to do it, so that we can get to a point where when we think about our lost loved ones, it’s not so painful. And it just got me thinking. That while I still have my moments of sadness, and I still miss you dearly. I find more often than not, that during my “moments”, my thoughts generally turn to fond memories. The ones that make me smile. The happy moments. Our “I love you’s”, your smile, that look in your eye when I walk in the room after being gone all day. A kiss good night. A kiss good morning. A kiss in general. 🙂 We had a good run together. And while I wish it had been longer, it wasn’t what God had in His plan. And while I still don’t understand His plan, I have faith that He knows what He’s doing.

The kids are doing great. Alexys is still dancing. And Andrew is focusing on school (although he is hoping to start taking classes to learn how to do tricks on his skateboard. Don’t hate me, I’m actually considering it). We all miss you much. But we are doing great. We still take it one day at a time. And some days, one moment at a time. But overall, we are doing great. We love you and miss you much. Till we get to see you again. XOXOXOXOXOXO

Timing

Okay. So I admit. I’m not always the best at being on time. And my timing in general isn’t always the best. But come on!!!! This whole grief thing is the WORST!!!!!

So, I’ve been meaning to write something for a little while now. There are so many things I want to put in writing, but I just never seem to have the time. And to be honest, I wasn’t even planning to write tonight. I’m supposed to be studying at this very moment. But somehow, I just don’t think I would be able to concentrate. Then again, maybe this is my subconscious looking for an excuse not to study. Who knows. All I know is, I just randomly had the wind knocked out of me, and all I can think about right now is how much I miss Christina. And it’s the most random things that get me!! Tonight, it was an email I found from her to me back in 2010 (don’t preach, I know. And I’m sure I have some emails from before that). She had forwarded me an email from Andrew’s teacher relating to her about how much of a pleasure Andrew was to have in his class. As I read the words that she typed into the email, I could hear her voice as she related how pleased she was to be getting a good report on Andrew (for once). I could see the joy on her face as she thought about how wonderful her little boy was, and the fact that someone else felt he was a joy to be with. And even now as I think about this, I can see the twinkle in her eye, feel the heart skip a beat as I know it did for her. The butterflies were doing all kinds of acrobats as she swelled with pride. I can picture it as if I were there with her 3 years ago. I have to admit that I sometimes chuckle at the randomness of the things that reduce me to tears, and paralyze me so that I can’t concentrate or focus on anything else. Fortunately it’s late, and I can just go to bed and sleep it off.

So, anyway, as I sit here wallowing in self pity for a few moments, I can’t help but think of the kids. I know how I feel having lost my wife and best friend. I can’t even begin to imagine how the kids feel. My only comfort is knowing that the kids know that Mommy loved them more than life itself, and that she was so very proud of both of them. And as I look at them now, and see how far they have both come over the last year, I can’t help but think of just how proud she must be of them now (I know I am). Probably feeling those same butterflies she was feeling the day she wrote that email about Andrew. She likely has that same twinkle in her eye. Blurred by tears of joy at how well they are both doing. Waiting for the day when she can once again wrap her arms around them and give them a big hug. One of the last things Christina and I ever talked about was how much it hurt knowing that she would not be there to watch the kids grow up. To kiss the boo boo’s. To hug them goodnight. She agonized over this for days. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be like. What I can tell you is, the timing of this whole thing stinks. And while I understand that there is a greater plan at work. It doesn’t mean that at this moment, I have to like it. Sigh. I really dislike this part. It’s at times like this that I wish I could hold her one more time. Even if just for a moment. To see in person her wonderful smile. The sparkle in her eye. Feel the butterflies when she puts her arms around me. The heart rate get faster. The scent of her shampoo as I inhale through my nose. Feel the tingle all over as we fit together so perfectly. Sigh. I miss you Precious.

Stephen,

When you get a chance read the second paragraph of the e-mail I got from Mr. Baylor.  It feels so good to finally be getting some positive feedback on Andrew….way to go Andrew!!!

Christina”

 
Hello!


Thanks for checking….I honestly kept trying to send an email to you, but I kept getting side-tracked!   The fee is $17.00.  I appreciate that Mr. Cilento is able to go!

A side note…I am extremely happy to be working with Andrew this year.  He is such a kind-hearted boy and is so eager to do a great job.  It has taken him so adjusting to kindergarten, but is always happy and loves learning.  During tutoring yesterday he was working on the computer (Lexia) and was so excited when he was completing the answers correctly.  He was also very excited to get cards during our Letter Card Game.  Students like Andrew make teaching so worth it!

Have a great afternoon!


Justin “

 
 

Why?

Merriam-Webster:
adverb
: For what cause, reason, or purpose

So many times I find myself asking the question “why?”. Most of the time it’s of the kids (why didn’t you put your toys away, why did you hit your sister, etc). Other times, it’s a little bit harder to answer (why did Christina have to die?). Most of the time I tell myself that God has a bigger plan. And that even though I don’t know (or could possibly imagine) the reason “why”, God knows, and in His time I too will know. I like to think that as an adult, I deal with these questions pretty well (or, as well as I can). I have gotten pretty good at the self pep talks. Looking at the positive side of life. Always seeing the bright side of things. I won’t deny that I still have my moments. But overall, I’m doing okay. But that’s me.

The other day, I was trying to get Alexys to go to bed. She was giving me her typical “I can’t sleep/I don’t feel good” story indicating that something else was wrong. It took me a little while to figure it out, but I was finally able to get her to tell me the problem. With tears in her eyes, she said “I miss Mommy”. And then the question came……”why?”……”why did God have to take Mommy?”. She then started relating how “Mommy always knew how to make me feel better”. “She would play with my hair and rub my back”. I had to admit to her that I didn’t have an answer for her question. And for once, I was at a loss for words. There was a part of me that wanted to give her the typical responses (God has a plan, trust Him. He won’t give us anything that He and us together can’t handle). But then the other part of me said “that’s not what she needs to hear”. So I just shut up and let her talk. For me, watching the kids grieve, is harder than dealing with my own grief.

There are some things in life that just stick with you. And no matter what you do, you just can’t stop thinking about them. So I started thinking about the “why”. Why did God take Christina from us? Why did God take my kids Mother? Why did he take Guy & Jackie’s daughter? Why did He take my wife? All I could come up with was…..I don’t know. God hasn’t revealed this to me. I firmly believe that He will not bring me to, what he can’t bring me through. And He has strategically placed the right people in the right places to help us through this time. Which, of course, got me thinking some more (very dangerous). My logical brain had to examine this from both sides of the equation. All this time we have asked ourselves “why did this happen to us?”, “why did He take her from us?”. We look at the situation as if we are the center of the equation. But what about her? Couldn’t she ask the same question? “Why?”. Why did she have CF? Why did she have to struggle to do the things you and I do with such ease? “Why?” What if, our purpose was to be there for Christina? To make her life easier to live. Gods tool to help bring her through, what he brought her to. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to make myself look like a “holier than thou” person. I certainly don’t feel that way. I was thinking about this as I shared with Alexys my thoughts earlier today. I wanted her to know that she (and her brother) were the realization of a life long dream that Christina had. She (and Andrew) made her life worth living. She (and Andrew) were……her world. She (and Andrew) are evidence, that God will take care of those who love him. And, He will bring us through (using whatever tools he desires), what He brings us to.

Why? I don’t know. What I do know is, that if it weren’t for my kids and the rest of my family and friends, who knows what I would be doing right now. Thank you Lord, for all of your blessings.

A New Beginning

So, I was sitting one day, and I thought…….”I haven’t done anything with my blog lately”. Then, I opened it up and realized that my last entry was almost 3 years ago!!!! So then I started thinking (dangerous, I know) “how the heck am I going to catch up on 3 years, in one post”. Well, the answer is simple…..I’m not. So much has happened over the last 3 years, that it would be impossible to keep it to one post. So I will summarize (suddenly, I’m thinking of Inigo Montoya “Buttercup is marry Humperdink in little less than half an hour……).

Shortly after my last post, my best friend, and wife of (then) almost 12 years became ill. Unlike in years past though, she was finding it difficult to get better. Around February of 2011, she was put on oxygen, and we came to the unofficial realization that the time we feared would ultimately come, had arrived. Christina was finding it increasingly difficult to maintain an adequate amount of lung function, and needed the assistance of oxygen. At this point, she only needed to use it when she felt it was necessary. For her, this meant only while at home. However, she quickly progressed to needing it more frequently, and then ultimately, it became a permanent fixture with her. Even still, she didn’t let this stop her from doing things. She still went shopping. Still took the kids to school. Still maintained the house (although in a more “managerial” sense. She kept the house looking good, just used my hands to do it).
It wasn’t till the beginning of 2012 that she really started to slow down. She spent about a week and a half in the hospital toward the end of 2011. But the benefits of that stay were short lived. She quickly became weak again and needed another round of IV meds. This next round was done at home though, so that she didn’t have to stress about being in the hospital, and away from the kids and family. It was around this time that Christina’s parents moved to Florida to help care for Christina (a blessing that keeps on giving). And so began a ritual that would last for about 8 months. Between school events, doctor visits, me at work, after school activities (dance, scouts), we were VERY busy. A few days after the kids finished with school, my Mom flew in to help take care of the kids for the summer. Help which I am eternally grateful for.
In June, Christina again went into the hospital. This time for almost 3 weeks. It was during this visit that the doctor told us that if Christina did not have a lung transplant, she would die within the next 2 years. Naturally, this was a shock to all of us. Over the next few weeks, we spoke with several doctors, nurses, psychologists, and even a few pastors. Ultimately, it was decided that a lung transplant was not an option. Not only that, Christina wasn’t really healthy enough to go through with the surgery. She was sent home the last week of June, to be cared for by Hospice.
The next couple of weeks would become a roller coaster ride of emotions. About a week after she was home, I had a conversation with her nurse who told me that (based on her many years of experience) was surprised Christina was still alive. She obviously could not give me any real timeline, but felt that one year was a stretch, let alone two. She didn’t believe Christina would live longer than six months, if that. As the weeks went on, her assessments became even more grim.
On July 30th, I received a call from Christina’s nurse informing me that Christina was in respiratory distress, and that I needed to get home ASAP.  My normal 35+ minute drive took me about 15 that day. I thank the Lord for clearing the way of any traffic (and law enforcement). When I got home, Christina had calmed down, but was still emotionally drained. The nurse informed me that she had talked to Christina about the prospect of dying, and that it appeared as though she had finally wrapped her head around the fact that she wasn’t going to make it. It was at this point that Christina and I made the decision to tell the kids that Mommy was going to die. This, as I’m sure you can imagine, was no easy task. We all shed a lot of tears, and the kids had a lot of questions. Most of which we had no answers for. Over the next week, we had many VERY scary moments. Christina’s body slowly started to shut down, and no matter how hard she fought it, she just couldn’t stop it. On the evening of August 4th, she got a burst of energy, and sat up on her own. She talked with those that were in the room. And even ate some ice cream (while simultaneously telling the Pastor to “get your own bowl” when he commented on how good it looked). I fell asleep around midnight, and woke up at about 8am on the 5th. My Mom had been up all night and made the observation that Christina’s breathing pattern had changed.
The next several hours would become a flurry of emotion, and activity. Christina’s parents were notified of her condition, and they came and sat with us. Friends from church came by to sit with us. And ultimately our pastor arrived as well (after he had finished with church services). The chatter in the room went from crying, to laughing, back to crying, to quiet moments of reflection, back to laughing. I remember thinking later that day that one of Christina’s biggest fears was not the fear of dying, but that she would die alone, and that it would be quiet. Well, she wasn’t alone. And it certainly wasn’t quiet. I remember lying next to her, with my arms wrapped around her. She had her back to my chest, and I had my face positioned right above her left shoulder. I was caressing her face, running my hands through her hair. I would whisper “I love you’s” in her ear, while also telling her that it was okay for her to go. At about 1:20ish, Alexys and Andrew came into the room and they both took one of her hands. They looked at me and asked “how’s mommy doing?”. I told them that she wasn’t well. They both told her “I love you”, and about a minute later, she took her last breath here on earth.
I laid there with her for a little while longer. The kids had a lot of questions. We cried. Then I got up and started making all of the necessary phone calls. I remember sitting on my couch, looking out the back door, and seeing two Sand Cranes walking up to the back yard from the pond. These were the same two Sand Cranes that Christina used to love watching from her bedroom window. They came up to the backyard, and stayed there the rest of the day. I found it interesting, since they never usually stay there more than 15/20 minutes. It’s almost as if they new she was gone.
The rest of the day was a blur. Someone cleaned my house. Hospice and The Funeral Home came and were both VERY professional and compassionate. Friends stopped by. And then all of a sudden, it was just me. The house was soooooo quiet. There was no voices from friends and family. No hum of the oxygen compressor. Just…….quiet. And even in that quiet, with the death of my best friend, wife, soulmate, lover, still fresh, I knew that God was there. And that we would be okay. I ached to hold Christina again. But I was comforted knowing that she left my embrace, to be embraced by Jesus. She took one last labored breath on earth…….and the longest, deepest, freshest breath she has ever known at the gates of heaven. She is suffering no more. She now has a heavenly body, free of Cystic Fibrosis. And knowing that, makes me happy.
A lot has happened since that day. But that will have to wait, as it is getting late, and I need to get some sleep. I am going to renew my commitment to this for many reasons. Mostly because I find it therapeutic. So over the next few weeks and months, I’ll try to get caught up on the last year, as well as keeping you all up to date on current events. Until next time…….
………..be blessed.