Shades of Gray

Get your minds out of the gutter people–not THOSE shades of gray.

About two weeks ago, my son came home from school with a rash. It came on very suddenly and he had no other symptoms. I figured it was just an allergic reaction to something. The next morning, the rash was significantly worse. But still, no other symptoms were present. I drove myself crazy wondering if I should keep him home from school, take him to the doctor, etc.  I figured it was likely the doctor would say it was a virus and there was nothing that could be done.  But, what if?  No easy answers.  All shades of gray.  (I ended up taking him and it was a good thing because he had a bacterial infection in his skin!)  But my point–I kept wishing that were more black and white answers in life.  Parenting–no matter what anybody tells you–all shades of gray.  My career choice–nothing black and white about it.  Should I sell my house?  No right or wrong answer that I can see.  That’s when it occurred to me that the one thing–the only thing–that is black and white–is life and death.  In dying, there are no shades of gray.  You’re either dead or alive.  So, why am I having such a hard time accepting the fact that my husband is dead?  It should be very clear.  But, it’s not for me.  Most days, I still don’t believe it.  I have to keep his clothes and his toothbrush because he will need them when he gets home.  Maybe I don’t like black and white after all.  I refuse to accept it.

My birthday recently passed and the anticipation was dreadful.  I didn’t want to be home.  I didn’t want to be away.  I didn’t want it to be my birthday.  I kept thinking of all the birthdays I shared with Jake and how he always tried so hard to make them special for me.  Two years ago on my birthday, I was dieting around the time of my birthday (which I often am because  summer is around the corner).  That particular year, I was doing a “NO SUGAR APRIL (except on my birthday)”.  So, I planned it all out myself.  Exactly what I wanted for dinner and the precise ice cream cake I wanted.  Jake wanted to give me a break so badly that year, he wouldn’t let me pick up the kids, the cake, dinner–none of it.  He kept saying he had it all under control.  However, he picked up the ice cream cake first–before the dinner, before the kids–so the frozen cake was in the car for a very long time.  When he came home, I asked if the cake needed to go in the freezer, but Jake kept brushing me aside with “Don’t you worry about anything.  I got this”.  Well, as you’ve probably already guessed, the ice cream cake melted and I got to have ice cream soup on the single day that month that I was letting myself eat sugar.  I’m not going to lie here–I was PISSED off.  I had so been looking forward to that ice cream cake–dreaming about it even!  I never stopped to be grateful that Jake was bending over backwards, trying his hardest to make this day special for me.  I was so focused on the stupid ice cream cake.  It became a story we eventually laughed about.  But oh–to be able to have a do-over of that day.  That’s all I want.  A do-over.  Of that day, and so many other days.  I want to jump up and down and kick and scream for a do-over.  Please.  I’ll do anything.

When my birthday came around this year, all I could think about was “This is the first birthday of the rest of my life of birthdays without Jake”.  I tried hard to suppress that thought.  I knew it was negative and no good would come of it.  My birthday was low-key and I insisted on no cake (and not because I was dieting or avoiding sugar).  We had decided to take a trip to the southern Oregon coast and stayed in a “vintage” house right on the ocean.  The views were incredible.  I happened to look out the window and catch that split second in time when the sun was setting over the ocean.  It was stunning.  There were so many beautiful colors–not a single shade of gray.  That’s when I realized that I wanted to see the world through those colors from that point on.

When we got home, I had to unpack and re-pack immediately to leave for a work trip the next day.  As I did, my youngest son walked into the room.  Check out this gem:IMG_0994

This is my “baby” boy.  He made me sit down and watch him while he put on a show for me in this…special outfit.  I stopped everything I was doing and watched him.  I found myself truly and genuinely smiling and laughing.  I mean, look at all those colors!  Yes.  This is the way I want to live my life.  Because one thing is exceedingly clear.  I am still living.

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