Tuesday, March 3, 2015

No whammies, no whammies, no whammies……..STOP!

Greetings All,

Warm is good.  Warm is really, really good.

I will not belabor that point, nor rub it in.  But I will reinforce that it’s way better to be sad and warm and on an adventure than it is to be sad and cold and at home.

I’m not sure exactly how much anyone cares about our vacation, but I will err on the side of “those who don’t care won’t click through, won’t read, will scroll by”, and those who are reading are those who want to know.

Ok, now that we’ve got that covered, the trip!  Hopefully none of you will mind the flood of pictures we’ve been shooting.  

The trip down is a blur, as you might imagine.  Normal people might split that up into two days.  WHY?  Isn’t it better to enter a fugue state where you barely remember your own name as you drive 19.5 hours straight? 

Back in 1991 (Steve…1991?) a friend of mine and I drove down from Michigan State, and we did it in just over 17 hours.  We drove so, so fast.  We disobeyed every speed limit, held our urine to the point of perilous bursting, and ate a sack of Hot and Now Hamburgers way, way past their due date.  This time?  We had a 7 year old who had to pee, a 42-year old Dad who had to pee, and a knitting wifey who rarely had to pee. Shelley drove Michigan and Ohio.  I drove Kentucky and Tennessee.  Shelley drove a chunk of Georgia, and then I finished it up.  No long breaks, just fuel, food, pee, GO!  As the Beasties might have said (RIP MCA), No Stop Til Clearwater.

The people here have been exceedingly gracious, and welcoming, and regularly saying how the blog has made it so that they feel like they know us.  (Hi Parkwood people!)  Across the board, they have welcomed us, offered us kind things, and then left us to our family time.

First morning there, at breakfast, this fella flew in and joined us.  Apparently, my mother feeds them.  

Driving to the beach the first day, there was a bird on the roof of someone's car.  A bird.  A large bird.

We went down to Clearwater Beach the first day.  The water is painfully cold.  Anya?  Went right in, and spent the next hour collecting shells.  

Giant boots.  Why not use it as a photo shoot.

This is my only bit of bragging.  Man, oh man, I love the heat.

Random commentary about grief:  Tonight, a good friend said this to me, “I don't think there is a better way to deal with grief - just different”, and it got me to thinking about grief.

I am not sad that Amie is dead.  Her suffering was terrible, and awful, and heartrending.  To wish she was alive would be to insert her back into that maelstrom for my benefit, and I’d rather be hit by a bus multiple times a day than wish that.  I miss the hell out of her, out of her laughs and fun and energy and sisterhood, and so many other things.  I miss how she gave balance to our teeter-totter, and post-Amie, we have a radically out of balance life (for now).

But I find that what I am grieving for are the lost dreams, the things I find she will never do.

I think this is the most insidious part of having a child die while you are alive, you are forced into  drowning the dreams that you had, and searching for dry land in the meantime.  When you see a random commercial about teenage acne, about family data plans, about Disney…  you can’t help but reflect on all the things you WILL NOT be able to do with her, and it’s a gut punch of the worst order.

I commented a while back about how you can get ready and used to anything you know is coming.  There’s this brutal scene in the 1st James Bond movie with Daniel Craig (Casino Royale) in which he is brutally tortured.  

However, the torture doesn’t start for several minutes after the scene starts, and you know it’s coming.  Much like Daniel Craig (in my nonexistent experience with torture), I think if you know what is coming, you can get in front of it, get control of it, and master it.  (I’m a guy, of course I think of stuff like this).

But the stuff with Amie is different.  You can’t know what is coming on in the next ad, the next bus stop, the next page of the magazine, and that’s the most bewildering aspect of all of this.

…and here’s where the double whammy (No whammies, no whammies, no whammies……..STOP!) of Amie’s death hits me.  I feel guilty for not mourning correctly.  I know of the apoplectic grief of some cultures, where they cry for days, where they rend their clothes and rip their hair out.  I know about expectations of endless sobbing.  But I don’t have any of that.  I was sure that she was going to die in the deepest parts of my soul as soon as I saw her decline in April 2014 for her 2nd brain surgery.  

Everything since that has been dressing, preparation, and practice for the real thing.  So how screwed up is it that I feel bad that I’m not feeling bad?  Guilt is a vicious thing.  

But in the end, we’re focusing all our time on trying to get Anya to a place where she can be the best version of herself.  She’s pushing out, pushing back, and giving us extreme sass in so many places.  That’s to be expected in this situation where her best friend is now gone…and we need to help her find her new normal in every way that we can. 

When we get home, we’re starting to work with Ele’s place.  We’re going to be reaching out to many of you for play dates, for sleepovers, for adventures to distract, to comfort, and to rebuild her foundation of who she is, what she likes, and that life is good.

Ok, y’all.  I feel like I riffed on all of this for long enough.

For all you consummate carnivores out there. I wrote this entire post at Smokey Bones, in Clearwater, Florida.  I hope you enjoy that.