Sunday, April 17, 2011

Field Advantage

I noticed the other day that my normally upbeat and happy 15-year-old was sullen and quiet. When we got to talking, he said that it really bothered him that his dad never got to see all the accomplishments he's achieved since attending High School. My son, like his father, is a gifted musician, and this year in school he joined Concert Band, and Marching Band. He also tried out, and was accepted to Competitive Jazz Band, as well as trying out and being accepted to a Rock Band Academy. But I think Marching Band bothers him the most, because he mentioned during this conversation that his dad never got to see him on the field, in his uniform, playing his sax, and being part of a winning band (I'm proud to say our local High School Marching Band has won the State Championship for the past five years in a row). These kids work hard and it is quite an accomplishment. I thought about it for a moment, and told him that I understood how he felt, because even when I first started coming to see his Marching Band shows, I was sad too because Bobby was not there next to me, watching our son doing something he loved. I think it actually took me four or five shows before I was able to get through one without crying. Two of my friends, who also have children in Marching Band would tell me at every show, "Bobby's here...he is here". So I told my son what they said and that I do believe that his dad goes to his shows.

At that very moment, something occurred to me, and I told him that actually his dad has a huge advantage over me at the shows. My son asked me what I meant, and I told him, "When I'm watching your show, all I can do is sit and watch from the bleachers. Where do you think Daddy is?"

He thought for a moment. "On the field, with me?"


He smiled. And I know that he believes it as much as I do.


When I was a little girl, April was always my favorite month. April held the promise that spring was on it's way, and not far behind, summer. It was the beginning of the 4th Marking Period at school, and that meant school was almost over. But most important, at that time in my life, it was my birthday month. My birthday was always marked by a big party with my relatives on one day, a small party with my friends on another day, and going out to dinner with my family on "the actual day". So really, my birthday was usually celebrated three times during the month, not just once.

Of course, as I got older, April no longer held the magic that it once held when I was a child. My birthday was no longer over-celebrated as my mom had stopped the big parties when I was about twelve (except for my Sweet 16). Instead, my birthday celebration in my teens was hanging around with my friends, and dinner with my immediate family. In my early 20s, it was going out to a bar, dancing, and again, hanging with friends.

The year I turned 28, April was wonderful. I had already been with Bobby for nine months, and he spoiled me on my birthday. I no longer cared nor needed to be "out" on my birthday, cuddling with him on the couch in our apartment was more than enough. It was also my second year as a teacher, and once again, it meant the beginning of the end of the school year, and I looked forward to my summers off.

It was just the two of us until my mid thirties. April became "Mommy's Birthday Month" according to my children, and it was then celebrated with cake, cookies and gifts that Bobby let the children pick out. I got lots of plastic flowers and home-made gifts, and one year, the boys insisted on taking me to Build-A-Bear for my own birthday bear. They got joy out of my birthday, and I got my joy watching them.

The April that I turned 41 was difficult...Bobby suffered his heart attack, fell into a coma, had a triple bypass, but emerged feeling better and healthier than he had before the attack. So that April was really was the month he looked Death in the face and flipped it the bird. We grew even closer together that year as a couple, as well, which I thought was really impossible, because we were close to begin with!

For the years following the heart attack and my forty-first birthday, April became "no big deal". My birthday came and went without a large celebration, since my kids became teenagers. When you are in your forties, your birthday no longer holds the wonder of when you were a kid. Presents become obsolete, and, at least in my case, it becomes very difficult for me to even think of what I "want for my birthday", because materialistically speaking, I have everything I need or want. But despite all this, Bobby always found a way to make my birthday special, even if we were at work all day and driving the kids around all evening to various activities.

Then two years ago, April held horrible news...Bobby had cancer.

One year ago, April became the dreaded month of the year. Bobby passed away in April. It will always be the month he passed away, even as my own life goes on.

April is no longer my favorite month of the year. And while it still does hold the promise of spring, and the approach of summer, my favorite season, I just cannot get passed the fact that it is also the month he passed away. It will never again be the same.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Another Day

As the one-year anniversary of Bobby’s passing approached, my kids and I were on pins and needles. What would happen that day? How would we feel? Was it going to be horrible and would I not be able to make it through without crying on my bed all day? This went through my head, as similar thoughts went through my childrens’ heads, too.

We decided to make plans for the day, to remember him. I took the day off of work, and my younger son opted to stay home from school as well. My older son, who is in high school, wanted to go for half day. So we picked him up from school right before his lunch period, and headed to the cemetery. We spent some time with Bobby, then went to his favorite pizzeria and had his favorite pizza.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), our little celebration of his life could not last all day because my older son was playing in a Jazz Band Competition that night and my younger son had a Boy Scout meeting. I also had a Physical Therapy appointment. “Life” took over, and did not allow any of us to flop on our beds and cry all day.

So the day came and went; we got through it; we survived. And I can honestly say that it is not the actual day that bothers me, but the fact that it signifies that my time away from him is getting longer and longer. It puts the image in my mind of two people on two different boats, holding hands, and as the boats drift away, the hands have to let go, and the outstretched hands get further and further apart as the boats drift in opposite directions.

I am no longer within that first year, which in some ways became sort of "comfort zone" for me. I’m now into the second year. What happens now? What does the second year mean? Does it mean anything at all? It’s so unsettling.