The most chilling, spine-tingling, horrific sounds that I have ever heard came from my two oldest boys when I told them that their daddy had died. The sounds that came out of their poor, shaking bodies felt like they lasted for hours. It felt like someone stuck its hand inside my body, ripped out my heart and was tearing it into pieces right in front of me. The weird thing is that I didn’t cry at that time. I felt like I was watching it all happen from the outside. I needed to do something to take their pain away. But there was nothing I could do. The smaller two looked on curiously, but didn’t understand. They knew something bad was happening, but how do you explain to a 4-year-old or a 2-year-old that their daddy was gone forever? To this day, the littlest one (now 3) asks for his daddy. When I say, “Daddy died”, he asks “When is he coming back home?” A couple of days ago, my 4-year-old explained to me that “Daddy made himself dead. He had a magic wand and he ‘magicked’ himself dead. But he still has his magic wand and he is going to ‘magick’ himself back to life”.
Immediately afterwards, friends, family and strangers rallied around us. The elementary school community did everything they could to help ease my older boys’ transition into starting off a new school year. (I had told them about their daddy on Saturday, and their first day of school was on Tuesday). Friends and strangers signed on to bring us meals. There seemed to be a constant stream of visitors and playdates to help keep my kids and I distracted. I couldn’t go home though. The kids begged to go home-and I knew I needed to get us there. We lived with my parents for a while and as the kids were in school, I slowly made my way back home. First driving past the house, then walking around outside of it, and eventually going inside. My brother had been at my house taking care of everything–everything imaginable and then some–to make sure we could come home. While I couldn’t bear to come back, my brother couldn’t bear to be away from my house. I received phone calls from my oldest son at school several times a day, crying. Then he realized he could still call my husband’s cell phone and listen to his voice on his outgoing message. So, he started doing that frequently from the nurse’s office at school.
Re-reading my last paragraph–I can see that my thoughts are all over the place. I was going to try to organize them better, but I realized that it is exactly how I recall the aftermath. It was all a blur–a foggy haze (and I didn’t self-medicate-with anything–so it wasn’t that)–stuff happening in between bouts of crying in between bouts of shock in between holding my kids as closely as I could and trying to will my deceased husband back to life.
At Christmas, we received several anonymous gift boxes/bags. Not just for the kids, but for me as well. Not only were the kids thrilled, but it gave me the opportunity to offer something concrete and meaningful to talk to them about the kindness, goodness, and generosity of people. I talked to them about paying it forward–and that will be a dynamic, ongoing theme in our home. Thank you from the bottom of my heart (to those that “adopted” us). It meant so much more than the toys and gifts. You provided us with a wonderful, lifelong lesson.
As I mentioned, my husband was a loyal Seattle Seahawks fan. The Seattle Seahawks organization heard about my husband and my kids. They sent my kids a handwritten note, along with some swag and my kids thought that was super cool. Thanks Seahawks-for bringing some joy and happiness to 4 sad children.