It’s been a while…I think I opened my blog to public for a bit. I’m unsure how long it will stay that way but I felt like writing a post today.
As the holidays are here once again, we are on our 6th Christmas without Doug. Those who have never lived through our loss may assume that our grieving period is over and life is just fine again. But here’s the thing…Doug was a massive part of our day-to-day lives, and he still should be. My grieving is primarily focused on the boys these days and all that they have lost and are missing out on. There is no replacing Doug. He is their dad. He was the perfect dad to them. They will never get that back. They are struggling so much more now as newly turned 10 year old boys than when they were almost 5 year old boys when he died. As I feared would happen. I obviously won’t go into details here as I don’t feel this is the place, but I just wanted to put in here that this is where we are right now. There is only a handful of people we love that know the full extent of what they are dealing with on a daily basis. And that is because those handful of people are our true support system and are those that I can trust.
So yeah, most of my sadness is for the boys. Here is one detail I don’t feel I have ever shared here, I don’t remember a lot in those first days but I remember that day they confirmed it was Doug and I looked at my dad and asked “what about the boys?” Their worlds were shattered at not even 5 years old.
Yes we still talk about him of course. Just days ago one son brought up the moment that myself and Doug’s brother were at their preschool and we took them with the director to the office to tell them. His memory of that day was so accurate. Things I had forgotten. Another detail that I hadn’t shared to this extent yet, I don’t believe. I waited to tell the boys until the day after Doug died. I felt like I needed to wrap my head around what was now our life. And I also wanted to give them one more day as normal children who’s lives weren’t turned upside down in a matter of moments.
I remember driving them home the night Doug was murdered. Still in shock is the best way to describe it. And that night I tucked them in our bed and I stayed on my laptop listening to songs that reminded me of Doug (the music lover) and cried as silently as possible while the boys slept next to me. There are still days like that night where I try to silently cry when a memory of Doug hits. As their sole parent, the boys deserve me at my best. They don’t always get my best, but all I can do is try each day.
This year there is a thing “all the popular kids are doing”, and its to create a family cartoon Christmas portrait. I decided to do ours and include Doug. Because he’s still a part of us.
“They say death is final, but it isn’t. For the people left behind, the pain feels like it never ends.”
Whilst checking out at a store today and the boys are grabbing at any and all candy and gum (“y’all don’t even chew gum!”) and I’m swatting hands away, I notice a mature lady watching with a smile. Braddock, Doug Jr., also notices her. He smiles back and asks “Are you having a nice day today?” which makes her light up. She answers and says “you are so handsome” (I think because he’s smiling and friendly to a perfect stranger, and he is handsome 😉) and he says thank you. Their convo continues. She compliments his manners. They say bye as she leaves. This made my frustrations from mere minutes ago seem stupid. This lady also reminded me how fast they grow up. A lot can be learned in a few minutes at a check out line.
I don’t write on here often anymore for public posts but felt the need to do so today. Yesterday was another one of those days…yes a holiday. It was Mother’s Day…here is where I am blessed. I have my mom still in my life. I also have my sons, the 2 reasons that I am a mom, who are both happy and healthy (and happy is a relative term because Sawyer had a very emotional time Saturday night over Doug not being here). But here’s what I don’t have on Mother’s Day. I don’t have the father of my children alive to help them shower me with gifts (they are 8…I know they can’t go shopping themselves). I’ve never been big on gifts, but one year along with the crafts Doug took them to Dollar General for them to pick out stuff for me. SO many moms shared similar stories of their blessed day from yesterday. I don’t have the father of my children to keep the boys quiet so Mommy can sleep in. I don’t have the father of my children to keep them while I spend the day to pamper myself, not that pampering myself is even on my radar, but many mommas had that yesterday. I don’t have him to take us to a family meal at my favorite restaurant to celebrate the day. I don’t have the father of my children alive. Period. End of. So yeah, Mother’s Day is still a rough holiday for me. Next up will be Father’s Day and what would be our 15th wedding anniversary in June. The hits keep coming. But they have to because I am living and pray each day to continue being alive and healthy for my boys. And thankfully each day I am here though it’s an extra punch to the stomach on some days. I think of a dear friend today who is a young widow facing the 2-year anniversary of her husband’s sudden death. It brings the feelings of what that anniversary for me feels like. Its not just another day. It’s the day Doug was taken from us and the day our lives were truly forever changed. I know it’s hard to understand for those who have not experienced great loss. Its also hard for those to understand that I’m not “over it” yet. Again, they have no clue what this feels like. And I truly hope that they never do. There is no “getting over” this type of loss. In widow speak we say moving forward, not moving on. Moving forward because if we do not we become stagnant. My sons deserve more than that from me. But that doesn’t mean that there still aren’t tears for what we’ve lost or still aren’t those trigger days. Today we are on our countdown for the end of the school year, the end of the boys 2nd grade year. Just another moment Doug isn’t alive to celebrate.
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Just 2 recent pics of the boys since I don’t post on here often (they had their 4th season of basketball this year…their 4th season without Doug):
So June is a tough month…the month of Fathers Day and our wedding anniversary. Some years they will land on the very same day and some years just days apart like this year. There is not a day or hour that goes by that I do not think of Doug, but June is a harder month than most. Who am I kidding? I think they are all still gut-wrenching to live through. That I keep on living and witnessing our sons growing and achieving and I continue to have birthdays and grow older and he is not here for any of these things or to celebrate his birthday (which was 9 days before mine). We often talked retirement together, not how we’d survive as a family of 3 without him. So back to June…the month of many others’ anniversaries and weddings occurring and people celebrating father’s day with the father of their children…and then there is us. Tonight I decided to read the board that many were able to sign at Doug’s funeral. Many were not able to because it ran out of space. I had several moments where I read from people that I don’t even remember seeing at his funeral. Clearly they were there, but that day was a foggy day for me. And something I saw from those who had known Doug for so long repeated on the board over and over…his nickname “huggy bear“. I’m pretty sure his football coaches at good ol’ CCHS called him that. The reason…Doug was a hugger. He would hug anyone and do it well. Its ironic because I am the opposite; I only hug those I am very close to. But as I type this with tears in my eyes I remember that nickname well. And oh my goodness how I miss his hugs. Its been 2 years and 8 months and some days since I have had one of those famous hugs.
Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
So this morning about 1am it came to me…Google. When in doubt, Google it. I am referring to my solution to keeping this blog. I really hadn’t thought about it much or I would have already found this solution. BUT there is so much I still want to share and document in blog form to keep for memories that I searched Google in the wee hours of this morning. The answer: I can password protect my blog. This means I will probably be the only one to read it because legit, who wants to ask someone for their blog password? If asked, I will share. I have a word document full of life notes and a composition notebook with the same. But this blog was meant for the boys long before Doug was taken from us and I want to continue it for them. Sure life is completely flipped now, but I want them to have something to look back on. I am continuing to write a book, but whether that book will see the light of day or not is the question. It may, in the end, be my therapy of sorts and something I will put away for the boys eyes only. In the next few days I will finish the process of adding a password to twicethekisses.com, once life slows down and I can take those steps. I guess this is kind of like a goodbye post for my blog to the general public. Those who may have any interest in our lives. Not that we are that interesting.
But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength. 2 Timothy 4:17
What a perfect verse for today. A perfect verse for everyday. He is what gets me though everyday. And my 2 perfectly imperfect children. One whom acts so much like Doug it makes me laugh and cry as I type this. My reason for living and breathing is for our 2 boys. I’m still unsure where I am taking this blog in the future, but I felt like today was a day I needed to write for the blog, so here I am. Of course so much has happened since I last truly posted, I am unsure if I could even touch on it all, or if I want to on my public blog. What I will say is Doug is thought of constantly and talked about daily in our home and so very loved, and that will never change. I don’t want the boys to forget any memory they have of him from the 1st 4 years of their lives. I recently found the thumb drive that contains videos from after they were born, and the boys and I are slowly watching those videos. I will watch and if I feel they would like to see it I show them. One I watched alone and smiled the entire time. It was of Doug playing with them and just laughter and giggling. I laughed while initially watching it. Then I showed the boys. They really enjoyed watching it, but as I sat back and watched them watching the small memories they will have of their daddy, it gutted me. Doug was a daddy any kid would be lucky to have. And I am just so completely heartbroken they only got 4 years with him. Of course I was robbed of my future with him as well, but for them to be so young and still struggling to grasp that this is their life now… The boys still dream about Doug, and this makes me so happy. My memorial wall in our dining room is expanding in pictures in honor of Doug. And of course there is still the attachment issues. They told me the other day that they didn’t want to leave me for college, that they wanted to stay home with me and go to college. I’m not sure this is a normal concern for a 7 year old. But little do they know if they end up going to Auburn (which would make Doug so very proud), I am moving to Auburn with them. So anyway, there is so much happening in our lives and struggles and things I just don’t want to pour into my public blog as of now. Just know it is not one bit easier now, 2 years and 5 months later. Not one bit. But we get by each day with Him on our side. I feel it. I feel us covered in prayers. And I thank God for those in our lives.
So that is all for now, a semi-vague post that doesn’t really share much of the past months of our lives. I will end with our Christmas card from this year, another as a family of 3.
I am currently at an impasse. Big word, right? I Googled to make sure I was spelling it accurately. I want our lives as private as possible. Yet I want this blog to keep as a journal of sorts for the boys in the future. But there is no way to set it to private. And I see the stats on daily views and its insane. It doesn’t tell me exact people who view but at times the number is daunting. Its just me talking about our life. But I don’t think our lives should be wide open to anyone who clicks to my blog.
And then there is also my project I am working on. Writing a book about Doug and our life together and having his story out there. So often news reporters wanted extended details, and I was not ready to share. But I think I am now. To show what a truly great man Doug was. I am even thinking of self-publishing because it isn’t about earning money on his story. He knew my love for reading and we had spoken of my love for writing as a child, and he said I should write a book. Not knowing there may be a want for a book in the future for myself, Doug, and our boys.
For now I will close with this post that I shared last night on Facebook:
Real post for today: As I’m fixing one of my 6 year olds bicycles tonight it really hit me that “I didn’t sign up for this”. “This” being both mommy and daddy. “This” being repairing things that Doug used to do. “This” being doing it all alone. We survive each day but man. “This” was not in our plans.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
I did not post on the 23rd, the day of the 2nd anniversary of Doug and Brian’s death. Someone very close to Brian said its almost like we are to celebrate their murders. I can see that side of things. I also see the other side that we are honoring their legacies by remembering them on such a horrific date. I love fall season, but now it is a bittersweet time of the year.
2 years ago yesterday we were burying Doug. A husband. A soulmate. A father. A son. A brother. A best friend. I could go on. Not 1 person in Doug’s life was prepared to bury him that day, I am certain. I still cry when I read the passage below by his dear friend Bryant Hall who ended up reading it at Doug’s funeral because to me it was perfect (as well as what Jeremy Breland wrote and read). And of course with our 17 years together there is so much I could say about him as well. Like when we were out on 1 of his last birthdays with the boys in the car and he insisted on pulling over to help an elderly couple change their tire (not the 1st or even 3rd time he’d helped a stranger change a flat tire). Or when we were on the phone and he was on his way home from work and a car accident happened right in front of him and he told me he needed to pull over to help in any way he could (again not the 1st or even 3rd time he’s tried to help in a car accident that didn’t involve him). Again I could go on. Helping came naturally to him. I can say with certainty we buried an amazing man 2 years ago.
IF I have shared this post of Bryant’s before forgive me but its worth sharing many times:
Jeremy asked us to write what we remember about Doug to be placed in a book for Doug’s boys so they can know how loved their father was. It is a big task and I …will leave things out, but I will try.
I remember meeting Doug in middle school when we were both friends of Jeff Green and Doug had the locker under mine. I remember we were driving in his Nova to go swimming when the brakes went out and we still went swimming. I remember working at fox’s pizza. He made us a special pizza with double crust and double sauce and he dropped it on my CRX and we still ate it. I remember after work we would drive through the high school parking lot to scare the people who were making out. I remember him working at UPS overnight and he would say he couldn’t do anything Sunday night, and we still did things on Sunday night.
I remember he had more best friends than most people have casual acquaintances. I remember his wedding and how excited he was. I remember the door to his house in Pinson was always open. I remember his swimming pool and custom Harley motorcycle. I remember how excited he was to move to Cullman and his massive Dodge truck. I remember he found Tiffany’s old Dream Phone board game and he insisted we sit in the floor and call imaginary boys to find out if they liked us. I remember our trip to Gatlinburg and being snowed in and sitting in the hot tub during a blizzard until the hot tub broke and we were driven back into the cabin. I remember him buying a house in my neighborhood. I remember he cut my grass when he knew I was having a rough time.
I remember how excited he was to be having twin boys. I remember he always had plans for their future, how one was going to be the sports star and the other was going to be the academic. I remember he would drag out the raggedy old inflatable waterslide every warm weekend until we could no longer patch all the holes in it.
I remember the time he was the funniest person I knew. I remember the time he always gave selflessly. I remember the time he told me he loved me on the phone while I was working and made me say it back to him. I remember the time he told me he loved me and he was serious. I remember the time I was so broke I couldn’t fix my car and he came and changed the starter lying in the gutter of Morris Avenue. I remember fishing with him and I remember was always ready to do something new. I remember he loved great music and film. I remember the last time I saw him. I remember we made plans to get together. I remember the next time I will see him, and as always, I am looking forward to it.
There are things I look back on and would have done differently in regards to his funeral. I just was floating in the widow’s fog and wasn’t fully thinking things through. One of his best friends who he loved like family was Jason Hendrix, his best man in our wedding. In my fog I left Jason off as a pall bearer. Without a doubt Doug would have wanted him as one. These are just things we didn’t discuss at our young age so the answers didn’t come easy when the time did come. I can hear a joke that with Jason’s size they wouldn’t have needed anymore pall bearers. I have apologized to Jason and of course he understands, its just not something I can forgive myself for as easily. Other things that happened that I would have done differently…the plan was an open casket for all. But once I saw my Doug, I realized I wanted that to be family only. So the place began to fill up with wonderful people waiting to pay their respects, and I said we could end the family portion early to help crowd control. I slipped out to the ladies room, and when I returned his casket had been closed. No final goodbyes. That was a knife to the chest. In my right mind I would have requested it to be reopened so I could have a brief moment, but in the end I know that wasn’t Doug there. So I try not to be too hard on myself with that. There are other things but that is all that I will type in this post. Of course my keyboard is covered in tears reliving that day 2 years ago. A day that should have never happened. What I do know is Doug is in Heaven reunited with all his lost family members and I also know that he is with me and the boys daily. Many days I receive signs proving it. I have images from the anniversary of his death, but those may go in my next blog post. Until then…
And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
This is another one of those hard “seconds”. The second year the boys have been at big school and not had their daddy there to hold their hand or calm their anxieties. The boys started 1st grade on August 10th. I decided again to keep them in separate classes, which is harder on me but I think better for my boys and their teachers. I am told how much faster paced 1st grade is than Kindergarten. Lord, please grant me the patience to handle this school year and every school year that follows. With the early wake ups, early bed times, homework, sports, meetings etc. its a lot to have on the shoulders of a sole parent.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
In reading book upon book relating to grieving and the widowhood process, the general conclusion is for most of those with this pain and heartache, year 2 is far harder than year one with the absence of their spouse. I can say undeniably that is the truth in my case. It really hits home that he isn’t coming back. Each holiday or birthday or anniversary that rolls around for the 2nd time is like a punch to the stomach. Sounds dramatic, buts its the truth. People seem to think that the widow is doing so well by year 2, because she is living and keeping the family they created together and functioning. What really happens is those around us move on with their lives (as they need to do) and yet time seems to stand still for us with the gaping hole in our family. So this year the boys’ 2nd Fathers Day without Doug here and the 2nd time our wedding anniversary came and went without Doug to celebrate with seemed extra gut wrenching. June 21 is what would have been our 13th wedding anniversary. I never dreamed that this would be what our anniversaries would consist of…Doug in Heaven, me here, looking through our wedding photo albums with tears of sadness. But that’s exactly how June 21 was this year. 2 days prior on June 19 was the boys 2nd fathers day without Doug. So we visited and decorated Doug’s graves for these events. The boys painted & weatherproofed their crosses for Daddy’s graveside for Fathers Day. I added the ❤ emoji balloon because they love emojis and also for our wedding anniversary. I also added the You and Me sign which means so many things, the least of which is a favorite Dave Matthews Band song of Doug’s, that he would sing to me. And also added a new Auburn floral arrangement. We followed a UPS truck all the way to the cemetery entrance.
Painting their graveside crosses, the UPS truck we followed to the cemetery, etc.
Happy Father’s Day Doug
Thanks to a dear friend for editing these 2 wedding pictures.