I haven’t posted since Matthew’s birthday. It’s been almost two months. I intend to start posting more regularly again as well as become more engaged with my blog in general now that I’m no longer attempting to work a full-time accounting job in the evenings, so first thing’s first – a quick update on the remainder of the summer – just the things that stand out in my mind.
On July 4 we left on our road trip to Breckenridge, Colorado. Our vacation lasted 11 days, which meant we were gone over Matthew’s birthday (July 13). We recognized his birthday by driving (with Mark’s parents and sister and brother in law) up to the Continental Divide. Once we arrived at the end of the road we hiked to the top of the mountain, during which time, my lungs hurt like a bitch, so I may or may not have cussed at Mark. But we did eventually make it to the top, where we released butterflies and left a wooden token with a note to Matthew. I thought the whole “divide” thing was fitting – my heart will always be divided between heaven and earth, my life and sense of self into before and after.
It’s amazing how much has changed in three years, and the changes can be seen looking at each July 13. July 13, 2015, the day he died, was the worst day of my life. I cannot imagine a greater hell than the one I experienced that day and in the early weeks and months following.
July 13, one year later, I was about 35 weeks pregnant with Joel. The night before I was in the hospital for decreased fetal movement, and they seriously contemplated delivering Joel on Matthew’s birthday. Luckily I was released from the hospital, so we got to “celebrate” Matthew’s birthday in pathetic fashion – we visited the cemetery (where I remember standing, wondering whether Joel was dead too), and then it stormed, and we lost power, so we didn’t get to make our cupcakes for Matthew, which, who cares, because he wasn’t there to eat them anyway.
The next year (year two), we “celebrated” by having a “family day” – we spent the day as a family (with Joel) and went out to eat and then went to visit the cemetery. I was pregnant with Fredrik, and with Matthew’s birthday and helping to plan Joel’s first birthday party and being early pregnant with Fredrik, July was a particularly terrible month. I remember seeking a referral from my doctor for what seemed to be my spontaneous development of a cardiac arrhythmia, but sometime in mid-August my symptoms subsided, so I guess it was literally just the stress and grief affecting my heart.
Back to this year, I had mixed feelings about being in Breckenridge. I think it was ultimately good for me, but the days leading up to Matthew’s birthday were intense. Grief is such a physical thing, and as much as I tried to be in the moment and thankful that I could even be in Breckenridge with my two living kids, my body just would not allow this, at least not completely.
Each year, in the week leading up to his anniversary, there are flashbacks and intrusive memories (at greater strength than usual) of everything I did in my last moments with him… For example, I remember everything I ate, so much so that now I’ll often think things like, “I don’t remember what I had for dinner four days ago, but if someone close to me suddenly dies, I will.” It is strange how our complicated brains work. There is also the rumination over every little perceived opportunity I might have had to change this dreadful outcome and save his life. And then there’s also the anxiety, the worry that something else tragic will happen. So while away I would randomly freak out thinking that Fredrik would suffocate in his travel crib or that we’d drive off the side of a mountain.
On July 27 we celebrated Joel’s second birthday. This year our party included family as well as Joel’s godmother and her family. We threw a big party last year, which was fun, but this party was a bit better for my social anxiety and a bit more manageable for Joel, who is in a stage where he gets overwhelmed by massive groups of people. (I never exited this stage.) This year for his party Joel had a bulldozer cake (made mostly by Aunt Kathryn), which he loved, loved, loved!
Our summer mommy’s helper Sher left us in early August. Her last day with us was the first day we left her alone with our kids all day (go figure), which she wasn’t really by herself, because we paid for one of her friends to come over so she wouldn’t be overwhelmed. (I swear we were the best damn employer there ever was (to those we didn’t fire), the EASIEST people to work for – like, “Oh might you be even the slightest bit stressed by our kids? Then let me pay for your friend to be here with you ALL DAY so she can help grab glasses of water and milk and shit.”)
But anyway, Mark and I took this opportunity to attend the PGA championship, which was played at Bellerive Country Club. It was hot as a mother, and we walked ten miles, but it was also a once in a lifetime experience, and we had a great time, and, I must say, I enjoy golf and all things sports, really. Tiger Woods was in contention to win the tournament, but ended up finishing second. I actually found myself cheering for Tiger Woods despite the fact that most people think he’s a horrible person after cheating with the Perkin’s waitress (and many other women) all those years ago. I mostly agreed that he was a horrible person, but then Mark sent me this article, which offers another perspective, and, although it doesn’t excuse his behavior, this article really resonated with me, because grief can absolutely make you go crazy. I know this from experience.
August 31 was officially my last day with my company. One would think that in preparation for our impending significant reduction in income Mark and I would have started to make some lifestyle adjustments in August, but #nope – we spent more than we’ve ever spent in our entire lives (exaggerating, but only a little bit), because we were thinking, “This is our last month to live it up.”
Right after I quit my job I wrote a post about how conflicted I felt about the whole thing. Since writing said post, I feel… Not conflicted. At all. Like I don’t want to deal with “balancing” stuff anymore. I don’t want to commute or run to my home office real quick to answer an email or meet a deadline or return a phone call (which I generally didn’t do) or send a check file to the bank or put my stamp on a bank reconciliation… I don’t want to do any of it. I want to clean my kitchen and fold my laundry and wipe butts and build things out of playdough and push the double stroller in the fall breeze as I force the boys to listen to Taylor Swift. And when I open my computer, I want it to be to blog and that’s it. Otherwise, I’m sick of computers. There’s also the new freedoms like I could dye my hair purple or travel to another state during the week or whatever.
None of this is to say that staying at home is easy. (I’ve made it sound easy, despite the fact that most days exhaust me and drive me damn close to the brink of insanity.) It is ridiculously hard, and it’s challenging me in so many ways, often leaving me feeling completely inadequate. But I’ve accepted that this will be a big adjustment, and I’ll just allow myself time to figure it out, just as I would with any new job.
Full disclosure – I did end up agreeing to do some consulting work for my company, but it’s on an extremely limited basis. So I’ll still have my toenail in the door of this thing they call the accounting profession.
So I think this post kind of reads like one of those undesirable Christmas letter updates. My apologies. Also, I’ve included no pictures because I’m low on energy at the moment. Stay tuned for a riveting part two to this update.