We just recently returned from our 2nd ever beach trip without Doug. It was equally as an emotional trip as the 1st, that happened last year. I have said before, the beach holds so many memories, from vacations Doug would take with my family as teenagers, to senior week in high school together with friends, to many visits after, to our actual wedding, and then the visits as a family of 4 with the boys. And facing facts, the beach is family oriented, especially where we stay. So its like rubbing salt in the ever-present wound to go, but the boys love the beach, and I do in a bittersweet way, so we go. And in that widow mindset where your life has ben flipped upside down and turned inside out, I almost dream of us living at the beach to have a new beginning. The 1 major stipulation, our support system is 5 hours north. And what a support system it has been over the past year and a half. There are some who have stepped up and even put their own families 2nd to help myself and the boys and just typing that brings tears to my eyes. And the boys have already been through so much change but the thought of virtually running away just myself and the boys is something that occasionally occurs, if I’m being truthful. Not that it would ever actually happen, but still a thought. So this post is just a quick one to say we survived. When the boys wanted to go deep into the ocean, it is now I that goes with them, not Doug, their original beach playmate. I videoed Braddock talking about boogey boarding without Doug and since Doug wasn’t there to help him he would have to paddle himself. We are still surviving day by day, as that is all that we can do.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
I know so much of what I write about is in regards to the boys and sports, but it keeps us busy and busy is welcome in our lives. We are now finishing up our Spring season of baseball with an awesome team and awesome coach. The Moody Pirates are at the top of the leader board with another team in our age bracket, and I am so proud. This is why I am proud:
Braddock and Sawyer have no male figure working with them at home with baseball. I’ll go outside and we will casually play but nothing like practicing for real (I can’t pitch to save my soul and I purchased a pitching machine that pitches too fast). They also take no paid classes at any local baseball academy. And not that I am knocking those who do. And not that I am saying that we won’t do that at some point. But the fact the only practice they get is with their coach and team and how far they have come amazes me. They both hit well with the occasional strike out. In the batting line-up Braddock hits 1st and Sawyer hits 4th, clean-up. They both do well with infield positions (again some mistakes, but they are just 6 years old). 1 game Sawyer hit 2 home runs in a row and brought in 6 runs. Another game Sawyer made a double play defensively and offensively had the game ending hit (we won). There are plenty of other stats to report, but I’m too busy being their cheerleader on the sidelines to keep up with it all. I always say the have an angel in the outfield. I know Doug is smiling at their improvement (again, they aren’t perfect, but we aren’t playing in the MLB either). I can only imagine how they would have improved if Doug were still here to work with them at home. They loved any time they could get with him, and they love being outdoors, as he did too.
And this brings me back to seeing all the dads at the ballpark with their sons. That is still such a raw thing to watch at times. A teammate asked Braddock just last night if my brother was Braddock’s dad, to which Braddock said in his sweet little voice “no, my daddy died and is in Heaven”. I know its because their teammates are used to seeing myself and my mom and when there was finally a male figure at a game with them, it must be their dad. But sadly, that piece is permanently missing from our lives. Mother’s Day is a few short days away. And the man who helped make me a mom is not here to celebrate. I’ve said before that we weren’t big gift givers, but I know what Doug would do if he were here. He would have them sign their cards to me, then take them to somewhere like Dollar General and let them each pick out something for me. In years past I just took advantage of knowing what was coming my way, and this will be my 2nd Mother’s Day where nothing will be coming because Doug isn’t here to help the boys.
This will never get “easier”. It is just our life now. Things like a lady backing her car into mine yesterday while I was pumping gas, and the 1st person I would pick up the phone and call would have been Doug, of course. But that support is gone forever.
So, on a lighter note, here are some pictures from the boys baseball season (maybe some action shots in another blog post):
Braddock and Sawyer finished up their 2nd season of playing basketball and went directly into their 8th season of baseball (If my math is right, though they are 6, I’m counting spring and fall seasons and all-stars). It does not get any easier without Doug at their games, on the field coaching. I still think of how happy he is in Heaven knowing how they’ve both improved in both sports. Still plenty of room for improvement but I’m so very proud and wish I could share these moments with Doug. I still have those thoughts that though he is in Heaven with our Savior, I wonder if he gets sad knowing how much he is missing being on Earth. When I think about the future and everything he will be missing it is overwhelming. And still unbelieving. I still will walk into a room and randomly smell him and break down. Knowing he is never coming home.
The boys know more about Doug’s murder than I had originally thought. They asked questions the other night that I could not deflect and I chose not to lie to them. They couldn’t understand why the bad guy wouldn’t just die alone and leave Daddy and Mr. Brian alone. All tough things to talk about with 6 year olds. I told them their Daddy was a hero and they will learn more about that as they get older. I hope it softens some of the anger I already see brewing when they hear the story of that day.
They deserve to have their Daddy in their lives to be their male figure to look up to. They asked me the other day if we could fish in the back yard. Fishing was Doug’s love. I don’t know anything about rigging a rod and reel with wire and hooks and bait. But I guess if it comes down to it I will refer to my guide to doing manly things that Doug used to do, like unstopping drains in the shower, good old You Tube.
The boys also went to the eye dr for the 1st time where they were both told glasses were needed, which they were thrilled about! They had been coming home from school with frequent debilitating headaches and their glasses are to help when doing classwork, computer work, etc.
I also recently sold my Jeep. The jeep Doug and I bought when I was pregnant with the boys. My 4 Runner was great but Doug insisted I have something new with no miles to drive our new family around in. Thankfully it went to a family that I know and I feel better about it no longer being in my driveway. Doug’s friend Jason helped me in the selling process as that’s normally something Doug would handle.
So now we are about to get full swing into baseball season with our ballpark family. Planning another vacation to the beach, without Doug. I don’t see that getting any easier either. The boys have a school field trip coming up that I know Doug would have loved to be there for. HE was a big kid at heart. In a couple of months the boys will graduate from kindergarten and be moving on to 1st grade. Yes, life keeps moving. And I’m thankful that I am here to see it all. I’m just missing the other half that’s supposed to be standing by my side through it all.
at the boys fun run at school:
V-Day. sounds so similar to D-Day. It is a day that I dread. A day that is celebrated with spouses and date nights and small tokens to show love to one another. It is my 2nd V-Day without Doug. Before the boys were born Doug and I would rent a cabin in Gatlinburg and spend Valentine’s Day in the Smokey Mountains (we did this for about 5 years). We didn’t always go out and buy big gifts in our 17 years of V-Days, but its been said that in a relationship every day should be celebrated as such. To show each other your love on a daily basis. Then the boys were born and my Valentine’s grew from 1 to 3. And now that number had dwindled to 2. And I am forever thankful for those 2. But would do anything to have Doug back to celebrate with. So instead of a low key Valentine’s Sunday this year at home with all 3 of my loves, I will celebrate with a hole in my heart. I have ordered my own chocolates since Doug isn’t here to bring me something. I will visit his grave this week and have a date with him there. I miss every single thing about him. The good and the sort-of bad. The comedy and the long hours at work. The love and pride he had for his family. I still hear stories of him doting on his family daily to others. Pulling up pictures on his cell phone to show the latest pics of the boys or a silly video he recorded of them. Good gracious I still miss his silly texts throughout the day, a common one being 143, short for I love you. So 143 Doug. 143 Forever.
1 Corinthians 13:7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
This was us in Gatlinburg Valentines 2009, our last visit before the boys were born:
These 2 pics were from a Valentine photoshoot of the boys (the pic with Doug was a behind the scenes shot):
This past Friday was the Mother/Son Valentines Dance at the boys school, and here are a few pics from it. :
It doesn’t take much to remind me of Doug. I am generally thinking about him almost every waking moment of my days. As time goes by I find it harder to know that life is moving on without him. The boys are into their 2nd season of basketball and it hurts to know he will never be able to cheer them on in basketball or play with them in our driveway. I do know that he is so proud of how they are playing without having him here for support. Sawyer told me yesterday he has a girlfriend. That too I know Doug would be proud of. I can here him say “that’s my boy”. Of course then there was the recent weekend that Sawyer was sick and he cried and cried for his Daddy. It broke my heart even more knowing his Daddy would never be back to hold him while he doesn’t feel well.
I recently read the boys the children’s book “What’s Heaven?” by Maria Shriver. I thought I was ready to read them the book that was given to us over a year ago. I was wrong. I couldn’t get through it without crying. The girl in the book was also grasping with the concept that once in Heaven there is no returning to us on Earth. I think my boys are finally understanding, which is also heartbreaking.
So yesterday was an emotionally draining day. One day I will share why. Just not now. But for now I will talk about the title of this post. For so long after September 23, 2014 I refused to clean Doug’s sink that he brushed his teeth in. Maybe it sounds gross to those who have not experienced such loss, but to still see his toothpaste stains gave me something to hold onto. I have since cleaned his sink, all while the tears were flowing. Yesterday I opened our drawer in the bathroom, you know the one. That holds all randomness. And his empty can of deodorant was sitting up front. In no way should that can be up front from over a year ago yet there it sat. I saved it so that I could smell it this smell him if I needed, and I forgot I had it. Again, this may sound strange to those who have not experienced such loss. Yet I still keep that empty can of deodorant. There are just so many things I do not think I will ever be able to part with. Parting with Doug was the absolute hardest thing I’ll ever endure. So though we know he is in the greatest place of all, it is still hard to live our lives without his smile and his humor and his kindness and his love here on Earth.
Luke 23:43 – And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
These were pictures I recently found on an old cell phone of Doug and Braddock. Doug had come from work for Braddock’s nasal surgery and Braddock was so happy to have him there: