For the last 6.5 years I have had one main purpose; making sure my kids were okay.
Making sure they have everything they need, a nice place to live, helping them through all of the hard times that they have had to face, without their Dad.
Trying to keep everything afloat on my own. Struggling through my own grief, mostly in silence, trying to put a positive spin on everything when I just wanted to scream, “this is horrible and so unfair!”
Trying to make ends meet so they didn’t feel or see the difference, financially, of how different and difficult it is to go from two incomes to one.
Throwing the football or trying to practice baseball when it was obvious that the person that should be doing those things just wasn’t there.
Attending school functions and faking a smile when it was painfully obvious that their Dad wasn’t there.
Struggling through homework when I couldn’t even do math for myself in school, knowing that their Dad would have been able to help.
Dropping them off at practice when I saw the Dads walking to the field to stay with their kids.
Talking through times when they lost interest in things or gave up on things that were just too hard because he wasn’t there.
Scrolling through FB to see the Daddy Daughter dance pictures or the sports awards pictures. Seeing the heart warming videos of parents returning home from service to see their kids who missed their parent so much while they were gone, wanting to lose it, knowing my kids won’t ever see their Dad again.
Night after night of sleepless nights, followed by mornings when none of us could even hear the alarm go off.
Injuries, ER visits, sicknesses, birthdays, holidays…. Every single day there is something that he is missing, something they were going through and just wanted their Dad.
Answering questions about people leaving their lives, after they had already lost so much, with some generic answer that made it sound okay.
I could go on and on.
But, at the end of the day, it’s not okay. There is nothing okay about two young kids having to grow up without their Dad.
It’s so incredibly heart wrenching.
I found some old videos last night.
There were videos of the kids from before 6/19/2012. They were so happy. Pure joy, innocent laughter; they were just normal and happy kids.
There were videos from shortly after 6/19/2012. There were smiles and laughter, but it wasn’t the same. I heard two little voices, making me painfully aware of just how young they were when it happened. They were trying so hard to be normal, to just be kids. But behind those smiles and laughs, I could see and hear the pain they tried to hide.
There were videos that were a taken a couple of years later. They were much more serious and somber; those little voices and brave laughs were no longer there.
Then I realized that I don’t have any recent videos. The struggles over the last several years have been so hard and so intense that not only do most people not even know about, but made me wonder if we would ever be okay. There wasn’t much happiness to capture.
We have just been trying to get by.
Just trying to survive.
Then, tonight I was hit with such a raw and real picture of all that I just described. It just hit me all at once. It was like 6.5 years of grieving and pain was being felt, out of nowhere, almost as if for the first time.
I have lived every single bit of this with these two, every single day. I have dealt with my own grief and the struggles that come with being the adult left to take care of these two people. But, although I have walked through the hard times with them, I had to be the strong one. I had to make it okay. Or at least try to, the best I knew how; all the while feeling that I was always falling short. But, I hadn’t truly allowed myself to feel the hurt that a Mom feels when they see their kids hurting. That changed, truly out of nowhere, in a moment.
All of the sudden I am sobbing uncontrollably, trying to explain to them what I was feeling, what I just attempted to describe above. I could hardly talk through the trembling in my voice, blowing my nose, and trying with everything to get the tears to stop.
You know what they did?
They hugged their Mom and just kept telling me that it was okay. They wiped my tears and told me not to cry for them. They said that they were okay.
How did those two little heart broken children grow up so fast?
Now, 16 & 18, they were taking care of their Mom and saying whatever necessary to make it okay.
Here is what I realize…
There is nothing okay about what the three of us have had to endure since 6/19/2012.
We have been through hell and back.
We have struggled through things that no one else will ever truly know or understand.
Life doesn’t look the same for us as it does for others and people can judge what it might look like to them all they want, but at the end of the day…
We are okay.
We have survived what could have broken us.
We will be better, more loving, more compassionate, and stronger people because of it.
We are going to make it.
I have to believe that there are still great things in store for us and that we can still find joy and happiness in this life that has dealt us an extremely hard hand.
Despite all the hurt and all the pain…
This is not where or how our story will end.
Love doesn’t end. Not even death can break the strong bond of true love. We may be missing an integral piece, but we are and always will be family.