I had someone tell me recently that I seem far more positive lately. More thoughtful, more upbeat. What I don’t think these folks realize is that I am not normally dour or down or depressed.
I occasionally go back to the original point of my writing in here every day – well, most days. I needed an outlet. Music is a big one, but with the kids and no drummer or bass player, gigging every weekend didn’t seem like a good option at the time. So I started writing. It was an exercise at first. Then it was a history . . . of the story up to the current day and the love story that took me there. Now it’s changed again. Now I talk about being Dad.
That’s the change, I suppose. It’s not the Dad that’s lost someone and is all behind the 8-ball and misses the love of his wife every single day and cannot function. It’s fun to see that in the movies. Dad is depressed, son lives with him, they hate everything about where they are now and pick up stakes and just . . . move. Sure. That’s financially feasible. I couldn’t do this. I have 4 kids. I already moved houses. I made my oldest change schools. I’m doing that to the other 3 next year. All of these were hard, logical, financial choices with the hopes of creating the least amount of damaging impact on the kids.
You have to understand, I didn’t want them to face any of those hard choices. I didn’t. The reality is, though, that reality kicks in and you’re stuck with picking up what pieces are left behind after they have that first impact of reality. The change in Abbi’s school took about a semester. Maybe a bit longer, in fact. She’d gone two years to a private high school with Andrea’s income financing it, though we were more than a little strapped. I lost her income and we lost that school, it was that simple. The amount of money it cost to send her there was about the same as tuition for many universities. I couldn’t swing it.
The first semester all I did was pick up pieces. Abbi was upset, sure, and so were her friends. What made that harder, though, was the fact that we now live in a connected world. The distances are infinitesimal now due to email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Oovoo. In years past, you moved and you tried to make friends and you maybe wrote a letter or called your old friends if you had time. Today, Abbi was bombarded with messages about how much her friends missed having her there at school every day. There was no severing tie. Every day I had to pick up a piece left from the crash of reality hitting her. Fortunately, I saw the pieces get smaller and smaller as each impact grew smaller. Now she’s in the drama classes and has a circle of friends who brought her lunch because she was sick at home.
Hannah didn’t have that massive of a shift, but she had the impacts. Grades hit her hard. She nearly failed last year – the first year of middle school. Her pieces were like boulders of her life trying to lift and carry them around. I knew she missed her Mom and she needed more from me than I had to spare. Then she hit puberty – in a big way – and the pieces were more jagged. Today, she’s got a few bad grades and I pick up pieces still but they’re far smaller. She kept her best friends and hangs out with them and plays guitar. They all help pick up pieces.
Sam and Noah – though not one singular package – had their own things. Noah couldn’t control his temper. He retreated into his imagination, which isn’t like most kids’ imaginations. Nothing dangerous or twisted, more adventurous and different. He analyzes and writes and draws with little athleticism. Sam, on the other hand, is active. He broke his arm. He runs and jumps and plays. When a school grief counselor handled them incorrectly they both grew moody and depressed. Sam retreated and wouldn’t talk. Noah got angry and got in trouble. Both of them had pieces far bigger than their bodies could manage break off in the emotional turbulence. But they are also more resilient.
So now I see pebbles and stones and no more rocks or boulders on our road. I bring up the rear, picking up the pieces still, but I’ve caught up a bit. I see beyond today, which is hard for me because I had to take things a day at a time.
So yes, I’m happier. Yes, I’m more positive, but that’s not a change. It’s a return. It’s the influences of my surroundings and people around me and the care of others. Mostly, though, it’s seeing that I don’t have to carry so much any more. Like the aging of a solar system, the number of impacts diminishes.
Sure, we get them still, but they are smaller. We see them coming.