August 23…one month after

// March 19th, 2010 // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

Tonight we had a family dinner for my birthday. Steve’s absence was palpable. It seemed so quiet without Nick and Steve just being Nick and Steve. They always spread so much laughter wherever they went and tonight that was obviously missing. We have so much as a family and are very close but a certain amount of our joy is gone, perhaps never to be fully regained in this life.

For a few minutes tonight after dinner I felt angry. Not at anyone in particular. Just angry at the situation. I miss him so much, sometimes I just want to scream. No. I don’t want to, I need to, and sometimes it just boils out from my gut. Sort of a mutation of a scream and a moan. It happens when the realization washes over me again, like today on my way to Costco to shop for tonight’s dinner. As I drove along the familiar streets I was thinking about the few items I had to pick up and for a moment I had a contented, peaceful feeling as I thought about my family coming over for what has always been a happy celebration ~~~ a birthday dinner. When I realized Steve wouldn’t be there the pain of knowing seized me at my waist tossing me forward. I tightly clutched the steering wheel and screamed, as I continued to drive down the curvy road.

This was our first family dinner here since Steve died and I dreaded it, though I knew we had to do it. We have so many “firsts” we have to get through in the upcoming year. It hurts so much to do the things we’ve always done, now doing them without him. It feels like somehow we’re being unfaithful to him, though I know that to stop living as usual would be the ultimate insult to him and to his memory.

Dave picked up his Aunt Ada and brought her to dinner tonight. Nick said that though he’s glad to see her it’s also hard because the way she moves reminds him of Steve. During his last several months Steve aged rapidly, becoming an old man before our eyes. His muscles atrophied, shriveling to a bare whisper that hung loosely on his bones. His skin turned a pale grey and his face became deeply lined and craggy. The last shred of his independence, sitting outside for a solitary smoke, was taken from him in his last four days as he lost the strength in his hands to ignite the lighter, and, on a few occasions, to even hold the cigarette between his fingers. It’s also hard to see Ada, because Nick knows that all too soon we will lose her, too.

As quiet as the house felt to me tonight Ada, who never had children of her own, made an ironic comment to me as I drove her home. She said “There’s always so much liveliness with you. You always have children around.” And so I do. I don’t think that will ever change. These children link us to the future, they provide continuity to our lives as we pass our traditions to them, and they show us that time truely is passing as we witness their growth without noticing our own aging.

I like it that way.

PS ~ From today I can safely say that we have regained our joy! Though we still miss Steve at our family celebrations and in our daily lives, God has been faithful to His promises to us to turn our sorrow into joy. He continues to add to our family in ways we never dreamed possible. Annett (Steve’s widow and now our daughter) remarried a wonderful man who we love like a son. Jon is everything Steve would have wanted to step in for him to raise Christopher. And last September Jon and Nett added a granddaughter to the family, Shelby, just one day before Amy and Jeremy added a grandson, Jaxon. Our cup truely does run over!

One Response to “August 23…one month after”

  1. Amy Ketchum says:

    I had four posts to get caught up on. I want to e sure to ready every time you post one so I don’t ‘fall behind’.

    However, I have to say, I can hear the ‘joy’ in your PS. The ‘joy’ which was lacking … no not lacking … under cover in your posts.

    I am glad it’s back and that I get to share in it! ;o) Love you mom!!!!

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