I Knew Your Wife

rosesWith Mother’s Day 2014 closing in on us – and to be honest once again I am doing my best to avoid the day as much as possible with the girls – I’ve heard a couple of times this week from people, “I knew your wife.”  It’s been a long time since I’ve heard that.

What has been different this time, it’s from people I am just meeting for the first time.  It’s not to say Risa didn’t have a social life and I was always there.  It’s more the timing of life.

First coming during the week leading up to Mother’s Day is coincidental if you believe in that, and its a little symbolic if you believe in that.

But also, when we move here our kids were very young.  By and large we met the families of the kids our kids played with – and many of the parents I am still friendly with (in the acquaintance way) even though my kids are no longer friendly.

It’s a fringe use case to bump into parents of kids my kids interact with today who I have not met who knew Risa.  A moment where I have to stop and think.

It takes me several tries to get comfortable with moments like that.  It took me more than a year to be able to answer in social settings that I was single without going into more detail than necessary.

Much like Mother’s Day – I try to avoid moments like the ones I encountered this week when people came to me and said, “I knew your wife.”

I know the nice woman in Starbucks did not mean any malice when she walked up on me after over-hearing a conversation I had with a friend to tell me she knew my kids and knew my wife.  The same for one of the softball coaches who was just trying to connect the dots for me.  And to be honest, I appreciate it…I just don’t know what to say or how to react.

So, here we are closing in on Mother’s Day.  My mom (who no doubt will read this) is doing OK and I wish I could be more effusive about celebrating her day.  But maybe I’m just not there yet in my life, or maybe I don’t want to find out where my kids are in their acceptance of things.  I’m not sure…

But for those who knew my wife, thank you for being a part of our lives.

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8765 times 2

8765 – the number of hours in a year.  In two years its 17,531.  Sometimes it feels like there are hundreds of minutes in those hours.  Other times, it feels like only seconds go by as the hours tick off.  Either way though, two years ago today my wife passed away and time is the constant to measure just how we are doing two years later.

When applying time to the lives of my girls and I, on the whole we are doing OK.  And that’s a good thing.

Sure we miss out on a lot-but we also share in some very unique things and we have memories that allow us to keep Risa’s spirit alive.  As I was telling a friend who lost her sister recently it doesn’t get easier, it really doesn’t.  What happens though is life and we manage to wake up and make today a better day than yesterday and hold out hope that tomorrow will be better than today.

Sure, I’d love for 10.0 to take school more seriously.  And yeah, I wish I could have been there to keep 12.5 from turning her ankle last weekend.  But by and large, those are small issues that we will over come-one day at a time one moment at a time.

So, into the next block of 8765 hours we will go.  We’ll share milestones this year, heartaches this year and good times this year.  We know we are keeping Risa’s spirit alive by simply doing the best we can and fighting for all we want-which is how she lead her life and we honor her that way.

I am not a huge believer in fate as a driver for all things that happen today.  A friend was telling me over the weekend that she believes if life had turned left instead of right, if I didn’t run that stop light this morning on the way to the train things would be different.  Perhaps they would be.  I really don’t have that answer, and I’m pretty happy with my life so I don’t have to worry about the zigs and zags it takes.  Instead, I’ll enjoy the ride, and hope there are fewer 180-minute hours in the next 8765.

And don’t forget, Dad the Single Guy’s new book “The Beginning of the Middle of the End of the Beginning” available now on Nook and Kindle.

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52 Weeks +

This is one of those posts that is a few days late.  I’ll say because of the demands of being a single parent during the holiday season.  The cynic in me will say it’s a series of thoughts I’m trying to avoid.  Reality is it’s probably somewhere between.

So we’ve marked a year since Risa passed.  With the unveiling next week, I intentionally did not call a lot of attention to the day with the girls, but the subject did come up during the weekend-and we talked about it a little.

What struck me though was the familiarity that the weekend took on.  While the memories of that five days last year is vivid to me like it all occurred yesterday-I could not help the moments of deja vu over the weekend.  From the hustle of the holidays to spending time at the temple’s Hanukkah party to the discussion with the Rabbi about how I wanted to handle the next solemn moment to the flurry of emails and texts from family about “stuff” that was coming up it really felt like I had already done all of this.

But this time, if I were looking for differences it wasn’t that tough.

While marking a year of mourning and transition, I can also take a moment to look back and see real success.  Tangible moments that make me think we’re on the other side of this part of our lives.  Yes, we have memories and even moments of pain and self-doubt.  But by and large, 52 weeks later the girls and I can truly say we’re doing alright.

One of the worries I have is someone on the outside looking in and seeing us a year later not in a traditional sense of mourning-but rather in a state of recharging our lives.  It’s something each of us in the house do in our own way.  9.0 looking for new things (violin like her mother, art projects) to be interested in.  11.0 becoming an increasingly independent young lady (with a pretty cute childish streak) or me trying to figure out what’s next…and then the voice, “It’s only been a year.”

Well, for us, it’s been years.

So yes, we mark the calendar solemnly.  Sunday we will go to the grave side and unveil the headstone (even that has not been a simple as it should have been).  No one here has forgotten-and like Risa did 13 years ago when she was told she had a brain tumor-none of us has let this moment define us either.

And that may be the lasting tribute each of us can give to our wife, mother and friend.

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Unveil, Reveal, Once Again

Lost in the shuffle-but not on me-of the girls coming home last weekend was the emotional tug that my uncle’s unveiling caused me-and some personal embarrassment for not being ready for it.  So now I am on the clock, I have 13 weeks to get my world lined up so we can do the unveiling for my wife and make sure the girls get through it alright as well.

Readers of this blog probably know of my penchant to plan and over-plan at times.  So that I was kind of caught off guard is not great.  And now I have to dig in and come up with at least an outline for how to get through the unveiling for me and the girls.

For Jews, the unveiling is not a religious event and frankly it is not even necessary.  That said, we will do one and figure out a way to make it work.

Since before my father’s death when I was in kindergarten, I’ve always had a tough time going to cemeteries.  I know there are people who find it cathartic.  Who can go weekly or monthly and talk to the grave.  That’s not me.  For me, there is a sense that the cemetery is a place I do not belong.  It’s tough to describe.

When we did my brother’s unveiling, my older brother and I were supposed to share going through the short service.  I did not hold up my end, I was so tied up I could not even speak.  When we buried my wife, I made sure to keep my eyes almost straight ahead, not wanting to see the graves of my father, brother or other family members.

I guess first to figure out how to get through the service-then figure out how to get the girls through it-then figure out how to handle the rest.

For the folks geeksters who read this blog, I look at this like a decision tree.  I kind of know the top and bottom, and now just have to figure out what is in between.

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Uncovering the Past to Look to the Future

It's time to take on the walk in closetOne of the tasks I have not really taken on is going through my wife’s stuff and sorting out what stays, what goes and what gets donated.  My only real point of reference on this is a faded memory after my father died when I was young, and my mother and my father’s brother spending the better part of a day behind a closed bedroom door.

I think the only reason I am able today to go back and realize what was going on is because I have a more vivid memory of disparate items coming out of the room to keep my brother’s and I entertained.  I’m also fairly sure all of this took place within weeks of my father’s passing, although much like the faded memory it’s not clear-but calendar timing is not really an issue.

In my case, the reality is the stuff is not really in the way and honestly is such a tangled mess I am not sure how to truly deal with it.  Six full garbage bags later and I am able to at least open the walk-in closet door and can take a look around and kind of know what is there.

At least the start of the process was not nearly as emotional as I was expecting either.  Not sure what that says about me-although I do have some thoughts.  Is it possible that the emotional part drained out after the long process?  That’s what I am going with for now.

There was a bunch of stuff I found that I had not seen in quite a while-two full books of $.37 stamps.  I’ve since found out it now costs $.44 to mail a letter.  I uncovered the original set of keys to our house, the locks were changed very early on.  There were more than 40 pairs of shoes, most in boxes and some look like they were either never worn or worn once.  I also found some old pictures painted by my grandfather and Risa’s father.

The shoes and clothes I need to think about how to handle.  Some of it is good stuff, and some of it  may be beneficial for the girls at some point.  And some of it-like 13 years of MRI’s and medical records at this point I just plain don’t need.

The easy decisions were made.  The tougher stuff is still to come.

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