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.
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: