What do you do on an anniversary of the saddest day of your life? There is no answer and nothing to ease the memory of the somewhat ‘warm’, to Minnesota standards, December day. The light snow and smell of the cool air rushes back the memories of the stabbing pain. Today hurts like any other, but the sting on December 3, 2011 of that sharp blade to the heart is so fresh in my memory. I feel it like it was only moments ago, but somehow the instant sting lessens and the numbness, rehabilitation and scarring remains every day. I try to hold onto my memories of Grant and create new ones with those I love so dearly. Since day one of the month approached I thought about how I should spend this sad day. I desperately wanted to sleep through it as I did days following the horrid news. I remembered hysterically crying myself to exhaustion to the point where I slept hour upon hour; Waking from another nightmare and crying myself back to complete exhaustion in a constant cycle. I re-lived the news in my dreams so often I couldn’t even count. My eyes were so puffy I could hardly see and I swallowed so much air through my gasps that I made myself sick. I got to a point of being so weak I couldn’t cry anymore and my whales of cries became tearless… I cried out every last tear in me. I hear sometimes people think I am so strong. I’d like to say that is true. I am actually weak… Really weak, but you can only cry so much. I remember by the time Grant’s wake approached almost a week after his passing I couldn’t even cry. I was so weary and I just couldn’t do it anymore. As time passed I had to teach myself not to cry; How to get through a story without the tears rushing down… How to get through a song… How to eat french toast as I did moments before I heard the news… How to see his smile and smirk in pictures… How to hear his voice and laughter… How to dream of him without sobbing myself awake.
I woke on December 3, 2013 with a few tears as I reached for my phone with the reminder of the date at the top of my screen. I wasn’t going to celebrate the day, but I wasn’t going to ignore it either… I was going to live it. I picked up Mom and we brought B-Dub and Ashton McDonald’s and ate lunch with them. Of course, the hot lunch menu option when we arrived was french toast… I think I have only had french toast once in the past two years and with my first bite I remembered I swore I couldn’t eat it again. The aroma of maple syrup is something I will never forget… We all have scents that conjure up memories with a vivid force no other sense can match… Mine is maple syrup.
Following lunch Mom and I picked up Benny and Greta to go on a non-planned adventure. Let’s see where the day takes us and head towards St. Paul. We told the kids we were going to a magical place and we did… I didn’t know how magical at the time. We ended up seeing the ice rink in rice park and with one mentioning of it Benny wanted to try it so badly and I wasn’t going to stop him. We tied up the first set of skates ever to touch their feet. This was a big moment for them; a milestone in their life. I held Benny’s hands and was his full support as he stepped on the ice with determination. He was going to do this and I could have not been more proud. Just like how I feel in my grief; with each fall you get back up and keep going. Sometimes you stumble and sometimes you fall hard. With practice and time you glide with more grace, but you do know that you might plunge again and that is OK. Even the best skaters fall and the better you get the more complex things tend to get. I had to remind the kids that they were going to get better and better with more practice. They would know what to do as they learn… My reflection of the day helped me realize that falling in life can’t make you give up on the rest of the adventure. The adventure may be long and some days I wish I had a river I could skate away on, but the adventure is easier when you have the hands of family and friends holding you up.