I spent the weekend trying really hard to finish up the song I’m recording for the anniversary project. It’s not like it was easy, I needed to re-do a bunch of audio tracks, a bunch of little things that needed tweaking and then I had to broach the uneasy subject of asking my daughter – who cried when she heard the rough demo of the piece – if she would record a background vocal for the piece. She did it like a trooper, on-key, beautiful, and now when I hear it I get goosebumps listening to her voice coming out of the background. I know it’s my own piece and you probably will hear it as a simple song, nothing too amazing, but for me it was a really difficult thing to get through. I just kept pushing it in order to make sure I finished in time to get the video cut.
But I have been thinking a lot, which I know is dangerous, mainly because it’s hard not to think about what’s happened in the last year. Our whole lives changed almost a year ago and it could easily have meant we crashed and fell to the ground struggling through our days and nights. I cannot state with enough conviction how much we relied on the kindness and generosity of others in order to survive. In those weeks right after Andrea passed away I nearly didn’t make it, I really didn’t think I could go on. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t really eat. I just sat there in shock for days.
The kids were the first thing that kept my feet on the ground, not sinking into it. They were able to trudge forward, breaking down occasionally, small things getting to them more than the big things. Then there was everyone else. My parents lived with us. I mean completely, utterly, in the house, coooking (when we ran out of lasagnas) cleaning and taking care of the kids and me. My Dad helped me to make the right decisions when I didn’t even know what to do. One of my best friends – better even now than when Andrea was alive – had come initially to help with the kids while Andrea was in the hospital. She ended up staying and helping us get her settled for eternity. To give you perspective, (I never put names in this blog unless they’ve given permission and I don’t like getting their privacy broken, so I won’t give it in this case, either) I went to high school with this woman. When I started dating Andrea, she knew every perspective and detail about my life before we even dated for very long. She married me anyway, which either says she liked what she was told or she wasn’t too bright, and I know she was really smart.
This woman was one of Andrea’s best friends. When I couldn’t wrap my head around clothing Andrea for the casket she took Abbi, my oldest daughter, and the two of them took the horribly difficult task in stride and – though slgihtly teary-eyed – bought amazing things for Andrea to wear. She stayed with us through the funeral and, even though I know it must have been one of the hardest and most difficult things she’s faced (though not the hardest, I’m sure) she stayed as long as she could handle it and then left. I’ve ended up far closer and more thankful to her than ever and now hold her close to my heart and will forever.
Now we have a house that is really nice that we’re leasing. I have a job that is treating me really well. The kids are in school and seem to be adjusting. A year ago I couldn’t see us getting by or making it. Even my mother, whose faith is very strong, said “I know you have a plan up there, but my goodness I really hope you get to it soon, I don’t know how much more he can take.” But now I see those days, those horribly, insane, awful days and nights and realize that I lost my best friend – and nothing dulls that loss, the missing love, the missing presence, none of it – but I did gain something that help me and the kids to cope: amazing friends that I look more as family now. My parents, our friends who help me with the kids when I’m in a bind, my sister-in-law, who treats me like her own brother, and Andrea’s college friend, now very dear to my heart. These were all people that I loved before, but I treasure them now.
I’m changed. I know that, but there’s nothing wrong with being rooted to the ground now. I love these people, more than they’ll ever probably know. I owe them for helping me to stand on my own two feet. As I get closer and closer to the day she died, I know I can make it because these people are around me, even from long distances, and holding me up.