8765 Times 3 Plus The Circle of Life

Risa on her wedding day with her sister and mother

Risa on her wedding day with her sister and mother

There are 8765 hours in a year.  In the three years I’ve been widowed, 26,297 hours have ticked off.  Recent events though have made me realize, my life isn’t so bad.  Yes, its challenging at times but as the girls and I mark our third year without Risa and the passing of her mother (their grandma) at 8765 times three plus the circle of life we’re doing OK.

Maybe it’s the time of year that all of this occurs in – the holiday season filled with symbols that make the images of 2010 so vivid.  There was Thanksgiving at our home, a very quiet day with the girls.  We hosted Thanksgiving dinner again.  It’s become an impotent part of our time together.  We know where we are.

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Back then I got the call that Risa was starting to decline.  This year the call was different but the message was not.  A member of the family was approaching the end.  This time it was Risa’s mom Grandma Eddy.  As events unfolded I wrestled with how and when to tell the girls, the message similar to the one delivered years ago.

There we were at our temple’s Chanukah fair, where we were the day after Risa passed away.  This year, instead of talking to the rabbi about Risa, the discussion was Risa’s mom.

The irony of the moment was not lost on me.  Somehow, it seemed to make sense to keep things as normal as I could of the girls.  Let them go through their day, be with their friends and celebrate the holidays.  The moments that we remember.

There are 8765 hours in the year.  8765 times 3 plus the circle of life this year.  It’s a moment we’ll share (again), but it’s also a reminder that all in all our lives are not so bad.

Risa and Grandma Eddy are gone, but not forgotten.  We carry their memories each day.  They are part of us 8765 hours a year – hopefully for many years to come.

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Ever Feel Like You’ve Done This Before?

Sitting here tonight-with the unveiling tomorrow morning I can’t help but think, I’ve done this before. The whole process of trying to keep it together and think two or three steps ahead to keep everything on track.  Managing myself.  Managing the girls.  Managing the expectations.  Managing the moments of anxiety.

And much like there was a year ago-when there was a night to kill, both girls spent time with friends-trying to keep it low-key and informal.

It’s probably not an inherited trait as much as it’s a learned behavior, but much like their dad, my girls are not great at patience and anticipation.  Keeping them distracted helps.  Keeping me distracted helps too…

All of this is going to unfold early tomorrow morning-and frankly that of and in itself has been an issue off and on over the last six weeks.  And I understand why.

But I also know that delaying things will not help any of us have a better day on Sunday or Monday.

So, into what should be a cold Sunday morning we’ll go-similar to the cold Monday morning we went into a year ago.  With a great respect for our friends and family we will do what we have to do and do it with respect and reverence…but we’ll do it on our terms.

Because yes, we’ve done this before and we know what works.

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And Officially Into the Holiday Season

With Thanksgiving 2011 now in the rear view mirror it’s safe to say we are officially into the holiday season.  Four weeks of mostly torture between the parties and events, shopping and in NYC the constant buzz of tourists stopping mid-sidewalk and looking about in awe.  But perhaps the most telling thing to me this year about the holiday season has been the constant buzz of 11.0 about Black Friday.  (Although she has never experienced the shopping mall crunch-she certainly has an opinion).

This is also the season that is really tough on me personally as well as in my role as a single parent.  I am about the worst shopper ever.  Pretty much right up until the very end, holiday shopping was something I counted on Risa to really manage.  From making the list, checking it twice and knowing what would be nice-I am lost.  I have my list and sort of plan.

My plan is basically to be about 80% or so done-which I am.  Although I still have to wrap the gifts and get some cards and in some cases do some shipping.

Add on in a few weeks the marking of a year since Risa passed away and the unveiling tied to that and put some extra stress into the usually stressful holiday season.  And because it would not be enough to just have extra stress-the unveiling event has become a stressful event for me on several layers.

There are people I know I can count on to help me through all of this-but ultimately I have to make sure the girls and I get through the unveiling and the holiday season.

So, officially, here we go-tis the season, right?

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A Lemonade Moment

Mixed into the hustle and bustle of the weekend that was came news that the mother of two girls my kids went to camp with this summer passed away after a long battle with breast cancer.  That’s a lot of similarity to my house-and I spent a lot of time on Friday trying to figure out if or how I would tell the kids about this bit of news.

One of the nice things about the camp they went to is the family feel that it has-and the way they sustain it through the winter.  Barely a month after coming home the girls have been in touch with many from camp, I’ve been on the phone with the director and assistant director-it’s more than just a business venture for the camp.

And reality is that is part of what sold me that this was the right place to send the girls.

Then came the news-and a flurry of email activity among parents about how to coordinate a gift from the girls.  In the background to that was my mental tug of war over how to handle this.  I could easily send a card from the family and contribute for the gift-but that’s not how I’ve handled any of this with the girls and there was no need to make a change now.

First I told 8.5.  The younger sister was in her bunk and they were friends.  She handled it well, and even volunteered to be there for her friend if she needed someone to talk to.  It’s not an exclusive club-but at that age knowing you are not the only one is important.

Then I told 11.0.  In her case, the older of the girls is a couple of years older, so 11.0 knew her but they weren’t close.  Still my daughter wanted to extend the offer to be there for her friend-as someone who has gone through the affects cancer can have on a family.

For me, it’s a proud moment-albeit tinged with sadness.  I never wanted what my girls went through to define them-the same as I tried not to let my father’s death when I was young define me.  Rather, I want their experience to be part of their person-and for them to be able to use what they lived through and what they survived as a way to help them in life.

In this first test-I would say they did a great job, and I am proud.  I”m just not sure if I can tell them just how proud I am.

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