Monday, June 30

Lost

I can't think of a title for this blog post. Since I last wrote, I have been busy with various family activities, and with dealing with the children. It's the week of the 4th of July, and I'm struggling a lot with the approaching holiday. The 4th of July has been one of my favorite holidays in recent years, mostly because it immediately follows the anniversary of my marriage to Ammon. In years past, we have celebrated both holiday's with a gusto, which I wrote about here, here and here. I remember distinctly how I felt writing this post--so full of love and blessings that I thought possibly that the warm feeling in my heart would break loose and consume me if I wasn't careful. I remember feeling so grateful for our simple, beautiful life. Today, I'm struggling greatly with those memories. They should bring me great peace, and someday, maybe they will. Today, however, they just make me ache for all that has been lost. I know that the roller coaster of grief is unpredictable and lengthy, and no matter how much I long to pass the ride over, it simply isn't an option. I wish that I could simply skip over all the firsts that this year will hold. In quick succession over the next few months I will experience my first anniversary, birthday, and Jeremy's first day of school without Ammon. All these milestones--and he's not here to experience them. On Saturday I was grateful to be able to attend the baptism of my nephew, who is in the states for a visit between his father's assignments overseas with the state department. I was sitting in the room waiting for the baptism to start, feeling slightly lonely, when I looked over and witnessed the time honored tradition of the father and the boy who is being baptized being photographed in their white clothes. The look on Ammon's brother James--a huge grin, pride evident in every line of his face-- complete undid me. Not wanting to ruin what should have been a special day for Nicholas, I had to leave the room. In the foyer, I cried bitter tears. Everywhere I turn, it seems, I am reminded of something else that is missing from my life. I long to find love again. I want the deep, abiding affection that I shared with Ammon, and I won't settle for anything short of that. Everybody tells me that I shouldn't be thinking of dating this early out, and maybe they're right. Part of me is bitter, and wonders who are they to offer advice to me? Who are they, who get to go home every night and share a bed with their spouse, who never have to feel alone, to give me advice about my love life? Who are they, who have never walked even a moment in my shoe, let alone stared down the rest of their life with sadness in their hearts and an ache in their chest? I long to hold Ammon in my arms, to cradle his head in my lap and run my fingers lovingly through his hair. Being robbed of that right--it makes me sad in a way I can't even articulate. Everybody keeps asking me what I'm planning for the 4th of July. In all honestly, I wish it would go away. I want to crawl into bed and come out on the 5th of July, and forget that this week ever happened.

I miss Ammon.

Wednesday, June 25

Optimism

Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the freedom of days mostly unfettered by 'have to do' lists, but populated heavily with lists of 'could do', or 'want to do'. Maybe it's that Brooklyn has started napping consistenty, and I feel as though I'm hitting my stride as a single mother. Of course, maybe it's something else entirely. Whatever the reason, I'm feeling optimistic again. The sunshine looks brighter than it used to, and I feel more capable than I have in nearly three months. I was officially accepted into the university of Cincinnati yesterday, and have very few roadblocks between my current state and being a full-time student. I'm starting to get excited about all the new opportunities a good education can offer, and about the wide open vista of my life. I still miss Ammon--I miss him with a tender ache that I know I will never fully relinquish. However, I'm finally starting to achieve a sense of freedom that I have been lacking. As happy as I was with my previous life, and as much as I would love to be able to turn back the hands of time, my future is still unwritten. I can choose from any number of directions, and I am solely responsible for the direction I go. Who knows where the next year will take me? This time in 2009, will I even still be living in Cincinnati, or will I be somewhere else entirely? Will I have met somebody else to share my life with? Will I still be single and striving to heal my wounded heart? I don't know. The point is, though, that I'm open to the journey. I look behind me and see pain and heartache, but I also see a life full of joy, love, and happiness. I look ahead of me and choose to see more of the same.

Sunday, June 22

Trapped

On Sunday night I invited some good friends over for dinner so that I could justify cooking the large roast in my freezer. I had a hankering for a nice roast, with all the fixings: real mashed potatoes, gravy, and homemade rolls. Heather and Doug happily obliged, and came over after church to experience my culinary creations. It's the first time since Ammon died that I've prepared such a nice meal, and it felt pretty good to get my hands back in the kitchen. During the meal, Brooklyn had graciously given up her high chair to Heather and Doug's little boy, and I had placed Brooklyn on the floor next to me with a cracker to munch on while I ate. After a few minutes, Brooklyn started to fuss. I looked beneath me, and was startled to observe her presence directly beneath my chair. To the best of my estimation, she managed to crawl underneath the rungs, and was then trapped below the seat. Her attempts to free herself were pretty cute to watch, and I'm glad that the camera was handy. I'm sure she'll forgive me someday for leaving her trapped for a few minutes so I could capture the perfect shot of her predicament.



I know there has been an overabundance of Brooklyn pictures lately, but I have been intent on trying to capture her babyhood. I'm worried that in the fog of my grief, and in the stress of everything closing in on me now, that one day I will look back and have forgotten these days with her. Every day is so precious at this age, and I don't want to miss anything or have it erased from my memory.

Swinging

What is this contraption, Mom?
Why aren't you subjecting my brother's to this treatment, Mom?
Hmm. Black rubber. I wonder what it tastes like.
Tastes like chicken!
Hey! I like you! Can you push me now?!

How do I do it?

I've been asked several times by friends, family, and acquaintances how I'm managing, suddenly being a single parent to three. My answer? I put the little buggars to work, that's how!!


Saturday, June 21

How to eat a Cicada


This is a cicada. They're a plague here in southwestern Ohio, one that emerges from deep below the ground to serenade us approximately every seven years or so. It seems appropriate that our first year as 'Ohio-ans' that this would be an emergence year, and also that we live in one of the harder hit areas. Never heard of a cicada, you say? Go here to read all about them and their mating rituals, and even hear a snippet of their song. Personally, I find the cicadas to be an annoyance, and a particularly loud one at that.

The kids and I met their cousins at the park on Saturday, and I was in a rather devious mood. We were sitting on the grass beneath a tree enjoying Icee's, and Janelle, the kids 13 year old cousin, was plucking cicada's from the trunk of the tree we were sitting underneath. She would grab them by the wings, and bring them over to torment me with their loathsome ugliness. In a fit of mischief, I told Jeremy that if he would eat one cicada, I would give him five dollars. He immediately discarded the idea, but I decided to up the ante and appeal to the sensibilities of my adventurous fiver year old. I told him that if he would eat one cicada that I would buy him a Transformer. It took him several minutes, and much goading from his cousins, but he actually did it. When it came right down to the swallowing of the hideous bug, I couldn't watch. His faithful cousins escorted him about 20 yards away, and witnessed the ingestion of the creature. Tomorrow, we venture to Wal-Mart to purchase the promised Transformer. At least he'll have a story to tell his kids, right? "Hey kids, let me tell you about the time your grandmother bribed me into eating a disgusting, noisy bug...." I'm sure they'll eat the story right up. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Friday, June 20

Brooklyn Crawling

video

I tried to upload this video with my previous post, but I couldn't get it to work. This isn't a really great video of Brooklyn's improvised crawling method, but it's cute nonetheless. She doesn't do the actual hand and knee crawling, but she tucks one of her legs up underneath her belly, then puts the foot down and uses it as leverage to propel her body forward a little bit. She does it over and over again, all across the room, and stop often to sit up and look around. I was surprised to see that she learned how to go from her tummy to sitting up before she started her modified crawl. I remember that it took the boys forever to learn how to do that, and I would get exasperated with having to constantly sit them back up. Anyway, enjoy!

Thursday, June 19

Almost There

I wanted to post a couple pictures of the kids, and what we've been up to lately. On Monday Joanna and I met at the Eastgate Mall and took the kids to the soft play ground. I took a few pictures, and some of them were just too cute not to share.

Isn't this the sweetest smile in the world? It's so hard to get a picture of Brooklyn smiling--she seems to clam up as soon as I pull out the camera. Even though the pacifier is in her mouth, I love how her eyes crinkle up and her whole countenance brightens. She is certainly a light in my life.
Kadon was being goofy standing on top of this ladybug. I actually had a better shot of his silliness, but his head movement made the picture blurry. I can't believe how tall he's gotten all of the sudden. It's like my little boy has suddenly sprouted, and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.
Unfortunately Kadon's head got cut out of this picture, but I still think it's a cute shot of Jeremy and I.

Tuesday, June 17

Grace

This song is on my playlist at the bottom. It seems fitting.

I'm on my knees
only memories
are left for me to hold

Don't know how
but Ill get by
Slowly pull myself together

Theres no escape
So keep me safe
This feels so unreal

Nothing comes easily
Fill this empty space
Nothing is like it seems
Turn my grief to grace

I feel the cold
Loneliness unfold
Like from another world

Come what may
I won't fade away
But I know I might change

Nothing comes easily
Fill this empty space
Nothing is like it was
Turn my grief to grace

Nothing comes easily
Where do I begin?
Nothing can bring me peace
Ive lost everything
I just want to feel your embrace

Sunday, June 15

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy,
I love you so much, and I'm writing this letter just for you to see when you miss us. I know you love playing Lego's with me so much and you should have worn your helmet. I really miss you so much. You're the greatest Dad on earth, the best I've ever had. I like playing Lego knights with you, beads and dice, and castle battle. I love you coming to Angela's house and working. You're a good son to my Grandma and Grandpa, and I love you so much no matter what you do wrong. You're still my best Dad in heaven.
I have been playing Lego's, and building big ships sometimes. I've also been going to Angela's, and played one of Tanis's games that was really fun. I've been drawing cars, and I drew a rocket car, and a weapon car, and a girl frog car. I drew another rocket car with wheels instead of a jet. I have also been drawing pictures of church and at primary. I have been having lots of fun.
I want you to know that you're still our Dad in heaven, and you have earned your favorite present, this letter.

Love,
Jeremy, 5 (so you know I haven't had a birthday yet)

Dear Daddy,
You're my best Dad in the whole world. You're my good Dad. If you were here I would play games with you. I would help you to build a house all day when I get big. I had a birthday a long time ago, and we had Christmas a long time ago too. I will send you a letter, and I want you to send a letter to me, because you're my Dad, and you have to do that. You don't get angry at me. If Jeremy hits me, I do not hit him back, and you don't hit me either. Daddy is my Dad forever. I'm going to send him this letter, and Mommy and Daddy and me and Jeremy and Brooklyn and Jazz are going to send a letter too. I don't want Jazz to rip my letter.

Love,
Kadon

Dear Ammon,
Today is Father's Day. I asked the children to dictate letters to you, and even though Kadon's came out a little bit disjointed, I know you're still enjoying it somewhere. You would have been proud of us yesterday, I took the kids to a BBQ in Indianapolis all by myself. I packed the kids up in the car and we struck out with our Mapquest directions. I was pretty apprehensive about getting together with the other widows, people I've never met before, but it went really well. Jeremy swam all day, you wouldn't have believed how wonderfully he did. Kadon and Brooklyn both clung to me pretty much the entire day, but it still managed to be a good day. We had planned to stay the night there and come home this morning, but around 6 o'clock last night I decided that it would be easier to leave at bedtime and let the kids sleep all the way home, rather than attempt to make the drive with them awake this morning. I laughed a little bit as I loaded them up, because I know that's something that you would never have allowed us to do.
Today the plan is to visit you at the cemetery after lunch, and then get together with the extended terHorst/Thompson family, along with your parents, and celebrate Father's Day. I am glad that there is something planned, but it only dulls the ache of missing you today a little bit. I wish that you were here with us today, babe. I would love to have prepared a nice breakfast for you, and spent the previous weeks thinking up cute little things for the kids to do for you today. The kids shouldn't have to visit their father's grave for this holiday, but you already knew that. I know you're somewhere near, still keeping us company. I wish it wasn't so hollow for all of us, but I know you're doing the best you can to get through this, just like we are. We miss you, babe. The kids miss you. Be patient with us as we stumble through this life without you, okay?

Love,
Me

Sunday, June 8

Wash and Wear


I estimate that for about the last ten years, I have kept my hair long and lustrous in order to please the men in my life. My only other serious boyfriend before Ammon, and then Ammon for the last 8 years. In protest, I made the decision to go ahead and cut the bulk of my hair off. I don't think I've had my hair this short since I defied my mother around fifth grade, and refused to let her cut it anymore. It's off the back of my neck, and the stylist promised me that with a little gel I should be able to simply wash and go. I feel like a new woman, that's for sure.

Saturday, June 7

Riding a Bike

Last summer I asked Ammon to teach Jeremy to ride his bike without training wheels, but after watching Jeremy ride around the parking lot a few times, Ammon decided that Jeremy wasn't quite ready yet. After securing a promise from Ammon that he would take the time to teach him this summer, I resigned myself to another year of training wheels that break occasionally. Last week, Jeremy was asking again about learning to ride his bike, so when I made plans to go to Dayton on Friday, I called Russ to ask if he would be willing to come to Angela's house and work with Jeremy on the bike. After dinner, Russ and Jeremy went out, Jeremy donned his helmet, and the lesson began. Jeremy did pretty well, and was only a little wobbly. My heart broke a little bit, though, watching them. As wonderful as it is that Jeremy has a grandfather that is more than willing to sacrifice his back to push Jeremy around on his bicycle, I know that it's a rite of passage for Jeremy. It's a rite of passage that only a father should enjoy, and one Ammon and I had been plotting for sometime.

As grateful as I am that Russ took the time to work with him last night, Jeremy's father should have been the one holding onto the bike seat, not his grandfather. How many more of these painful rites of passage is Ammon going to miss?

Wednesday, June 4

Travis and Christina

I'm much delayed in posting photos from the last month, so I'm going to post a series of pictures today.

I already wrote about Travis and Christina visiting the week after the funeral, but here are the photos.

This is Christina, lounging on the blanket next to Brooklyn. I was astounded at how long Brooklyn was content to sit on the blanket and play with toys. We were out at the park for several hours, and she was an angel the entire time.

They were only here for part of a Friday and a Saturday, but we spent a good portion of the afternoon on Saturday at the park in my apartment complex. Here Travis posed for a photo with Brooklyn, who they had never met before this trip.
Jeremy and Travis have always shared a special bond, and at this point Travis had been working with Jeremy to get him to hang from the monkey bars and work his way across. Jeremy has had much success with this in the past, but this day collapsed into tears, saying he was scared. It broke my heart to know that the real source of his tears was a simple longing for his Dad. I know that it's a poor substitute, but I'm glad that Travis was there to hold Jeremy in his arms and comfort him. I often have to remind myself that my kids aren't always crying about what they say they're crying about. A five year old and a three year old aren't articulate enough to say "I'm sad because I miss my Daddy, and I just want to cry for a while." Heaven help all of us get through this.
Kadon was watching the interplay between Travis and Jeremy intently.

Wreckage



I didn't end up getting a good shot of the damage done to the front of the caravan, but here is Russ and Mary attempting to secure the hood down so that I could safely return to Cincinnati. Russ was leery of opening the hood on the van to assess the damage the collision had caused, knowing that it was entirely possible he wouldn't be able to latch it shut again. Once I showed him I had tie downs in the back of the van, he conceded to check it out, but then had to spend several minutes trying to bend the hood back into conformity and secure it safely to the body of the car.

Laura

Mother's Day weekend, I was blessed enough to have two good friends who worked in collusion to get Laura out here. My friend Emily has a husband who travels on a regular basis with his job, and when she got wind that I really wanted Laura to come visit me in Ohio, she and her husband generously gave the accrued airline miles to Laura. Laura then made arrangements to have care for her two children from Thursday until Tuesday, and we spent a really nice weekend together. I was grateful to have her here on a weekend that could have potentially been very painful, since the one month anniversary of Ammon's death fell on the same Sunday as Mother's Day. It was hard to see her go, and I miss her a lot, but I'll always be grateful that everyone made sacrifices so we could share that time. Sadly, I did manage to finish off all the chocolate that was purchased while she was here.



New Van

This is a picture of our new van, complete with gray, rainy skies in the background. We've had severe thunderstorm warnings last night and today, with a tornado sighting about 20 minutes from our house. Apparently for this time of year and area, it's pretty normal, so we're not nervous.

The van is a 2001 Chrysler Town and Country, and the boys love that it has a power sliding door and power back hatch. Mom loves that it has power locks and windows, a feature that was sorely lacking in the caravan. The other favorite feature is the DVD player mounted on the ceiling. We're living it up, now!
video

Brooklyn's Bathtime

On Saturday I took the kids to the pool at our apartment complex, and all three kids had to end the evening with a bath. Lately I've been trying to push the boys bedtime back to 7:45 at night, because I've had a hard time getting everything done during the day that I need to, and still get them to bed at 7pm. Plus, I figured that with summertime upon us, and the neighborhood kids out of school for the season, 8 is a much more reasonable time for them to be inside and resting. They've enjoyed the extra time to play with their friends. Anyway, I took some pictures of Brooklyn in the sink before she went to bed that night, and I think they're pretty cute. Now I officially have pictures of all three of my kids getting clean.





video

Tuesday, June 3

Another Death

Last night I found out about another tragedy in our church group. A lady that serves in the children's organization with me as a teacher to one of the 12 year old classes lost her husband yesterday in a work accident. I know he was a heavy machinery operator, but have no details beyond that. They had four children ranging in ages from 5 to 14, two of them from a previous marriage for her, and the younger two they had together. When I heard the news last night, all I could think was "I know exactly how she feels". Today I'm reliving the hours and days immediately following Ammon's death, and it has sent me into a tailspin emotionally. Why are all these bad things happening, and when does it stop?

Monday, June 2

Swimming

I took the kids to the pool at the local YMCA today. It was fun, even though Brooklyn refused to get into the water above her knees, and I had to yell at the boys repeatedly to stop running. I'm grateful that the baby pool is in a fenced in area, which gave my boys much less opportunity to evade my eyes. Tomorrow I'm planning to go out to lunch with some girlfriend's, which should be a lot of fun. Slowly, I'm trying to resume some sort of normal life. Now that the shock of Ammon's death has worn off, and reality is starting to set in, I fear that if I sit still too long, I won't be able to get up again. Tears are always a moment away, and a particularly poignant memory will reduce me to sobs in a moment. Really, I'm kind of a roller-coaster to be around. I wish I could get off this crazy ride.