Do you ever just feel like you can’t anymore? Can’t what? I’m not entirely sure… you just… can’t. I’m there. Today. Tonight. In this minute. I feel like I’m on the verge of bursting into tears or bursting into getting angry, and I don’t really have the luxury in this moment of doing either, so I’ll write and hope this offers some sense of release.
So what happened to get me here? Nothing. Everything. I’m sad. I’m overwhelmed. I’m anxious. I’m happy. I’m tired. I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’m feeling proud of myself.
Some of you who have been following this blog of mine for awhile know Mother’s Day is the start of the “sad season” for me. Mother’s Day was my last happy weekend with Brian. I was six months pregnant, Izzy was three, Hudson was one, I was madly in love with my husband, and he treated us to the most incredible Mother’s Day celebration up at Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oahu. It was magical. I close my eyes and smile thinking about it. And then I feel this awful dread; anxiety rising from the pit of my stomach, searching for an exit, until it finds one – my mouth. It exits my mouth in the most blood-curdling scream you can imagine, as exactly one week later I crumple to the Emergency Room floor, receiving the news that Brian was dead. He drowned.
Mother’s Day each year is followed by the knowledge that one week later, Brian will be dead.
Mother’s Day was last weekend, which means, that pit of anxiety, those depths of despair are inside of me, and I feel like searching for an exit. I’ve known it was coming, I anticipate it every year – this being the 4th anniversary of his death – and each year I try to run from it. These last few weeks I’ve included tactics like traveling, working, freelancing, writing, coming up with business plans, trying to spend every waking hour with the kids, friends, or strangers needing help with projects or work. I’ve been mildly successful with the “run from your feelings” approach – until last night. Last night a friend took me to a gun range to try shooting. Side note: I’m terrified of guns. I have serious trauma from guns, and people holding guns. I didn’t anticipate how much this would affect me, until we walked into the room and were confronted with the sight of ten people holding, and shooting guns. What did I expect from going to a gun range? I’m not sure.. but I certainly didn’t expect to feel paralyzed with fear. And yet, that’s what happened. So, why did I go? I don’t feel like I’m adequately prepared to keep my kids safe if someone were to break into our home. What are the chances of that happening? Not high, and yet, the longer it’s just the kids and I together, the longer I realize I am the only one who can keep them safe. Brian used to have a gun. I felt safe knowing he was there to keep us safe. Gun or not, he felt the responsibility of keeping the kids and I safe, and would have died trying. I feel that same responsibility now, the weight of the world on my shoulders, and know I need to feel like I’m fully capable of protecting my family if something were to happen. That is a strange tangent, and not necessarily relevant to this story, except to say, I was already in a heightened emotional state going into today.
This morning was fine. Everyone was happy and cuddly and cozy. We went to Home Depot and bought all of our garden supplies – everyone picked out the fruits and veggies they want to watch grow this summer in our backyard – and then we came home. And then everyone and everything made me incredibly upset/frustrated/annoyed/angry. My daughter decided she wanted to make pancakes for a snack. I asked her if she needed help. She’s almost 8, she’s incredibly independent, and I trust her to do things like use our little griddle to make a pancake. I was working on a writing project when I hear a ‘whoosh’ and look up to see a giant white cloud of dust taking over my kitchen counters, floors and general EVERYWHERE space. “I’m sorry mama!!!!!” was all I heard. She had spilled nearly the entire Costco-sized bag of pancake mix on the counter which then spilled over onto the floor. Ten pounds worth of pancake mix now dispersing its way through the air of my kitchen. I closed my computer and walked over to where Izzy is now crying hysterically, apologetic as can be. “I’m so sorry mama!!!” she says again. “I didn’t mean to! It was an accident.” Every ounce of my being wanted to scream. I was fuming. This was why I asked her if she needed help. Now I have a giant mess to clean up before I can do anything else. And when I say giant, I mean giant. I should have taken a picture. This will be funny someday, right? “Get the broom.” I said to her, as calmly as I could – she knew I was upset. We cleaned it up. She had managed to get some in the glass bowl before dropping it, so I finished making the pancakes and came upstairs while the kids ate.
I’m going to take a bath and give myself a reset. I can feel myself being overly anxious and upset and I need to calm down.
I haven’t been in the bath for five minutes when all three kids come upstairs and start arguing in my room. Izzy comes into the bathroom where I’m in the tub, and reaches for one of the false drawers on my vanity – and get this – it pops off. It literally pulled right now. Why the fuck did she pull on it? I don’t know. Why did the nails it was nailed in with not hold it in place as my seven-almost-eight year old pulled on it? I don’t know. Why did I immediately want to cry and scream and run away from home in that moment? I don’t know. Izzy started crying. I started crying. She apologized. I apologized. One more thing for me to figure out how to fix. I have enough of these already. This stuff is hard.
I took a minute to gather myself – yes, still in the bathtub – and explain to her that I am very sorry for losing my composure. That I feel the anxiety and sadness of this next week, and the fact we’re going back to Hawaii for dadda’s fourth anniversary, and that I’m really sad, and that everything seems like a bigger deal than it really is. She said, “ok.” She understands it, but she doesn’t “get” it – and that’s ok. I hate this for her. I hate this for me. I hate this for all of you to have to read about it.
May 20th marks four years since losing Brian. June 1st is Hudson’s sixth birthday.
June 19th is Father’s Day.
June 26th would have been Brian’s 40th birthday.
July 21st is Izzy’s eight birthday.
July 31st is Addy’s fourth birthday.
August 4th is my thirty-ninth birthday.
So, these next few weeks – during this sad season for the kids and I – if you see us, talk to us, run into us somewhere, please be gentle. Please know if one of us bursts into tears unexpectedly for no seemingly good reason, it’s because we’re all a little emotional over here. We’re still doing great, we have a lot of really beautiful things going on in our lives, everyone is healthy and so smart, well-loved, and growing into such beautiful people, but we’re also missing the other member of our family who isn’t here on these very special days with us. They are happy occasions, yes, and we are so happy and thankful to celebrate them with each other, and with all of you, but they're also reminders that the years are continuing on and he's missing out on all of this. We're missing him. Whew. I feel better. I mean, a little bit at least.There will likely still be a few tears tonight, but I don’t feel like I need to scream anymore, and that feels better. Thanks for listening. xo