Have you ever thought about how painful some of those slow-motion replays on television must be? The injuries are often brutal. The blooper reels become absolutely legendary. But what about those life altering moments that seem to be playing out in slow-motion? You know the ones…Those that replay in your mind’s eye on a slow continuous loop for decades. You’re so overwhelmed in the moment that you seriously feel disconnected. You try as hard as you can to wake yourself up from what has to be a terrible dream.
Somewhere along the line you realize that the moment is happening and that there is no nightmare to wake up from. The monsters are real. The sky is too cloudless and blue. The sounds are alternating between a deafening roar and silence. The people around you are both faceless and eternally etched in your recollection. The place around you seems familiar but foreign. In a single moment you step from the life you’ve known, planned and dreamt about into the wild unknown. In a single slow, painful, agonizing moment every thing has changed.
November 16, 2001.
I’ve spent over two solid decades trying to make sense of it. I’ve come to an acceptance of sorts with it. There have been moments every single day since then that have replayed on that slow-motion loop in my head. Some days it’s a blessing. Other days a curse. Looking outside of myself, I’m reminded that I wasn’t the only one to suffer that day. He wasn’t just a husband. He was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. He was a FATHER. We all dreamed the same hellish dream of sorts that morning. We all faced a new reality without our Kevin.
I can’t speak on anyone else’s loss. As much as I’d like to bear their burden I simply can’t. I do know the pain of losing a Father but the journeys are too different. The losses similar but worlds apart. I can’t begin to fathom the loss of a child. There are no words to help fill that emptiness. I’ll admit to being clueless at everything relating to siblings. Being an only child sheltered me from quite a bit. The friendships that he made were all special in their own different ways. Somehow he just drew you into his orbit and made you feel like you belonged there.
Every year brings changes for our family. This year has been no exception. Big losses but gigantic steps forward. I can’t help but think how differently life might have been had he not left us so soon. I’ve done my part to spoil the grandbabies as best I can but I think I’d only have “amateur” grandparenting skills compared to him. I remember a talk he and I had about the future once. We talked about sitting on the porch in our matching rocking chairs and watching our family as we grew old. That strikes a chord for me for a few different reasons…..we rarely talked about growing old, we tended to simply live in the moment and now as I watch our family grow, my favorite spot has become my front porch. In my mind he’s sitting in the chair next to mine.
Maybe he knew that his time on earth would be short. 33 years old is not old by any standard. I have a lot of questions I’d like to ask him. I also have a few “I told you so”s that I’d throw in as well. He had a list of things to accomplish…get a house, get married, have a family. Done. Done and Done. I wish he’d had the chance to really raise his children. The boys were only 9 & 11. They needed & deserved loads more time with their Dad. I am grateful for the years of love, lessons and laughter that we did have.
Today, I pray that my slow-motion replay stays focused on the funny moments. The man couldn’t jump over a ditch or mud hole to save his life. He ALWAYS ended up soaking wet. Or the time he decided to improve on the family Catfish stew recipe, what he concocted was something that the dogs wouldn’t even eat (although they may have eventually rolled in it a few days after it was thrown out). There was the year he dressed as Santa Claus for the Harvest party at church and the boys were dressed as elves. I think one of my favorites was the vacation to the mountains with my Grandmother and he drank her prune juice in the middle of the night….he thought he’d been poisoned. That’s the type of memory I want to focus on today but I know that’s not how grief works. The pain will be real and raw. It may at times feel like I’m back reliving the slow motion nightmare but I know that “we” made it through the very hardest moments. Maybe, just maybe today will be filled with reminders of his laugh and love for life that could make time stand still and for just a moment I could remember the dream of growing old together.
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