Wednesday, July 4, 2018

"Cold is the night without you here, Just your absence ringing in my ears"

It has been thirty-six days. I've found myself saying things like "we are excited about ____" or "we will be there". Lots of we's still. Do I say that Jordan died thirty-six days ago? Do I say that she passed away? I stumble over my words often. The syntax of death is a bitch.

There is this duality of life right now.

I am desperately clinging to moments. Moments rooted in joy. Seeing my children smile around a campfire with smores all over their faces or tasting a freshly baked cookie. Moments rooted in simplicity. The feeling of the breeze on my face or the feeling of the earth beneath my bare feet. Moments rooted in the present. Zeroing in on the feeling and sound of a tattoo gun as it works its magic. Choosing to experience instead of trying to capture moments. Sure I'll forget them without a photo. But I need that rooting of the present more than anything else right now.

I need that rooting because sadness is real. Guilt is real. Anger is real. Loneliness is so real. These are just the ones that have names. There are others. They can be subtle. Sliding into my day through someone's comments or a note I come across that Jordan wrote. They come uninvited by kicking in the door (I don't even lock my doors). They can be experienced in a brief moment or they can absolutely cripple me. But always when I'm driving. My God why is driving so sad? I feel sorry for anyone that notices me driving right now.

And the silence! Oh, the silence. The one thing that used to comfort me, allow me to think and bring a calm to my life. I absolutely cannot make sense of it. It is so welcome and so hated. The silence is deafening. The silence brings me back to the reality that I'm a mess and that this is all just starting. But the silence is the true place where healing will begin. For now, all I want to do is fill the silence with cussing and screaming.

I'm trying my best to just acknowledge all these feelings. I'm trying not to assign them these subtle meanings of "good" or "bad" (It seems semantics is a bitch too). There is just no neat box with a ribbon on it for the things I'm feeling. I can't stuff them in the boxes I already have. They don't fit and I don't need another fight I'm not going to win.

So here is to feeling all the feels. Acknowledging the pain. Allowing happy in. Embracing what is given in each moment.

I invite you all along for this ugly and honest journey (no promise on the frequency of updates).

-Brack

Snoring and drooling while sitting up.
If you have never had a cold Chick-fil-A sandwich with a beer you are doing life all wrong.

First ever attempt at a braid. It has to be all uphill from here right?

There was a dance party when I told them we could buy Cheeze-its.

Benton on his first legit mountain biking trail.

This family brakes for cheese.

Bottom of the Astoria Column.
164 steps later at the top of the Astoria Column.


These kids love some ice cream!

Safety first when manning the outdoor grill.



Sunday, June 3, 2018

"The stars are mapless, They have no purpose, Without you here"

We had to say goodbye a few times this week.

On Tuesday morning Jordan's parents got to spend some sacred alone time with her in the bedroom while she slept. Jordan's breathing became shallow and weak. Jordan's mom woke me from a nap upstairs and I came down to check on Jordan. For ten minutes or so we sat alone in our bedroom. I held Jordan's hand, ran my fingers through her hair and whispered in her ear while she slept. She took one last breath that seemed more like a deep sigh and with that she was gone. Joe, Kim and I wept together for a while. We pulled ourselves together the best we could and started making phone calls.

I went and got the kids from school and we sat down on a bench in front of the building. I held them close, looked them in the eye and told them that their mother had died. My sweet precious kids cried in a way that I've never seen them cry. Before that moment I wasn't sure my heart could break anymore. But at that moment it hurt in a way that felt like it would never be whole again.

We walked home together. Benton normally rushes ahead but he decided to hold my hand in that moment. I'm not sure if it was for me or for him but I appreciated it. We went into the bedroom together and sat with Jordan. We sat in that awful and soul-crushing space together.

We were joined by friends that have become family. We cried, we cried, we laughed a little, we cried and then we cried some more. When the funeral home was on its way out we all gathered in the bedroom around Jordan. We shared some funny stories about Jordan and had a few more good cries.

Then we said goodbye again. This time as Jordan was taken from our home. There was immediately a sense of emptiness there. Our home physically felt empty. I felt empty too. Empty emotionally. I found myself concentrating on my breathing. As if my own body wanted to be gone too if I hadn't caught it and kept things going with another breath.

After we sat around feeling sorry for ourselves we ended up at one of Jordan's favorite spots in town. We did something simple that felt right and that we have done hundreds of times. We shared a meal and some beers with friends. A simple act that attempted to put some normalcy into a day that had been spinning out of control. I drank a pint of the same beer that Jordan had shared with me just a few days before. I may have even mustered a smile as I took in a whiff and a big swig of this delicate and beautiful beer. After our meal, the kids played in the sand on the bank of the Columbia River. I dug my toes into the sand and made sure to get them wet in the frigid water. I tried my best to take that moment in fully in between catching my body and reminding it to take in oxygen.

That night I took the futon mattress out of the playroom and plopped it down in between the kids beds. I got to experience a little of the kids being silly at night and I loved it. It was the same thing I am typically marching up the stairs to scold them about. That night it was so lovely and needed though. It brought me some joy seeing my kids loving on each other in that way.

Over the next few days, we weathered the storm of emotions and the list of things that needed to get done for Jordan's memorial service. I've done a pretty good job the last eleven months for reserving my ugly cries for moments when I'm alone. But now it appears the train is completely off the tracks. In the last few days, I've cried while checking the PO Box, while picking up glue at the hardware store, while on the phone with the dentist, while making breakfast, while eating breakfast, while parking my car, while talking to my neighbors, while driving and lots of other times.

Then came Friday. Jordan's parents, my parents, my sister, the kids and I gathered at the funeral home in town to say another goodbye. Parker and I went first. Then everyone else trickled in and out of the room. Taking turns leaving pictures, notes, drawings and a few Gerber daisies with her. When everyone was finished I went back into the room and shut the door.

Just the day before a friend shared a wonderful thought with me. She shared that she hoped that I would be able to acknowledge all of my senses and not ignore them or become numb. I didn't have to enjoy my senses but greeting and acknowledging what is happening in each moment is so powerful.

So as I was standing with my wife one last time I took the opportunity that I was being given. I held Jordan's hands and I shared the warmth of my body with her. I touched her reddish/lobster colored nail polish that was still smooth on each finger. I rubbed her arms and legs one last time. You could feel the slight stiffness there. Her skin didn't bounce back the way it does when it is full of life. You could also feel the weakness in her muscles. The strength that the tumor robbed from Jordan's body showed in her legs the most. I put my hand on her chest expecting to feel the same rushed heartbeat that has been normal since her surgery last July. I ran my fingers through her hair, I kissed her on the forehead and I whispered into her ear just as I had done on Tuesday. I took her hand and put it on the back of my neck. I took her fingers and ran them along the stubble on my face and neck. Something that she used to always have the sweetest smile on her face while doing. For the first time in several months, Jordan looked tranquil. She wasn't struggling with a body that had given up on her anymore.

The other night as I was staring at the ceiling and waiting for the kids to stop being silly so that we could try and sleep Parker said something profound (This is quickly becoming the norm from her). She said: "Daddy we don't have one anymore. But we have three, three is a good number". In her own little wonderful way after all the goodbyes we said this week she was choosing to say hello to a new beginning. I love that kid.

A toast to Jordan with Parker and Gary.

A beautiful ending to a long day on Tuesday.

Donuts and hot chocolate!

Acknowledging all her senses!

I'm so glad I have these two to remind me that each day is a new one to be embraced.