How Could Things Be Better?
I like the fact that my family – my kids and I – are moving forward all the time. Well, (he said in his best David Tennant voice) most the time we’re moving forward.
But occasionally I’ll get asked to explain the differences between how things are today compared to how they were even three years ago.
For those new to this blog (and there are some, I know) my wife, Andrea, passed away in 2011. We didn’t expect it, we weren’t given any indication it might happen. She had a cough one day and less than a week later a seemingly resistant strain of pneumonia had taken her from us.
We are now, as of this writing, three years, three months and eighteen days since she passed away. No . . . I don’t have a daily tally, by the way, I had to do the math which is hard for me.
So again . . . I’ll get asked to compare where we are now to where we were. Depending on the day I’ll use the phrase: “in some ways it’s hard, but in some it’s better, too.”
That sparks the question in the headline up there: “How could things be better?!”
Hard as it may seem to believe, it’s reality. I know it’s hard to imagine because I hadn’t really imagined it, either. For the first year, as a matter of fact, I stumbled, fell, tripped, and was on my knees (figuratively) so often I began to think it was easier to live horizontally. I was thrust into a life that had been, a mere 24 hours earlier, a parenting relationship. That’s what it is, too. I don’t care if you’re married, divorced or just a significant other . . . if you want to be a parent it’s a relationship. I get that some Dads and Moms, even, are not involved. This isn’t about them. Some relationships are great and others are dysfunctional but they are a relationship.
Parenting, at least in my household, was a partnership. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I was selfish and I traipsed around the world for work and left my wife to care for the kids. There were also times, particularly when my middle was a newborn, when I was the only one doing the work because my wife had gotten ill. Even then, though, the decisions, the thoughts, the ideas all came after discussion – long or brief – between the two of us. We didn’t always agree. In fact there were times we fought like Ali and Frazier. (No punches, just lots of shouting) Still . . . it was a partnership.
Then three years, three months and eighteen days ago that all changed, in an instant.
I became the sole voice.
So how could it be better? It was an adjustment, sure, but things changed. Drastically.
We could be on the way to San Francisco and we’ll just decide, on a whim, to go to the Jelly Belly factory. No reason for it, but spontaneously we will. Not a stop we’d have done before, my wife got stir-crazy in the car and wanted to get from point “A” to point “B” quickly. We missed out on a lot of little adventures because of that.
Financially, we do okay. Not great, no major savings, which I need to have, but we’re slowly trundling along like we should. We ended up in a house that suits us just a little better. It’s smaller, sure, not quite as nice, I grant you. But we can afford it and aren’t in over our heads. That’s a big change. We’re musical…even those who can’t sing well are singing all the time or playing instruments.
My daughter came to terms with doing what she wanted for a career, not what her Mom wanted. That was a hard fought battle inside herself and she got there.
By no means does this mean we hated the 18-odd years that happened before this.
But I have to meet the idea of “How could things be better?” with the response “how could they not?” I have four amazing kids. I know every Dad says that, but I truly believe it. I certainly have to chastise them, prod them, guide them along and all that. I have to remind them to get along.
But we’re together . . . and we’re stronger together than when we’re apart. That’s the biggest lesson . . . and the most amazing, most positive thing to come out of our funny little tragedy.