Thursday, March 29, 2012

Getting it from both sides

Lately I'm getting it from both sides.

Over the past couple of weeks, Rowan has become more and more open about Aimee's death, and the fact that she misses her mommy. We talk about it more, look at pictures more, and have even started watching some of the video from the Florida trip over the last two days (more on that later). I'm glad, because I don't want Rowan to bottle it up, but it's also hard. I hate to see Rowan's obvious sadness, and the occasional comment or question I just don't know how to respond to.

On the other side, Aimee's mom is becoming a basket case lately. It's COMPLETELY understandable - Aimee's birthday is coming up soon. As a parent, I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to face the birthday of a child you lost prematurely and for no good reason. But it means that EVERY time I've seen her over the last week, she's cried. A LOT. And clutches me and cries into my shoulder or neck. I know she's heartbroken, but taking on and trying to help her through her grief while ALSO trying to help Rowan, well, it's really wearing me down. Especially when you consider I'm far from chipper myself.
Donna and Rowan planting
flowers last summer

The latest episode was last night. Donna wasn't even supposed to come by, but she'd picked up some flowers for Rowan (very sweet of her) and stopped by to give them to her. The previous night she'd asked me about video of Aimee, and after she'd left I'd located our video camera. There are several videos we shot in Florida, some of them a lot of fun, and there are parts where you not only see Aimee and hear her voice, but a couple of places where she's laughing with this pure, joyful glee at the silliness happening in those moments. Rowan and I watched a few last night (at Rowan's request, once she saw the camera), and then again tonight. When Donna arrived, I asked her if she wanted to see a few of them.

She did.

And she sobbed. She grabbed me, dug her fingers into my shoulders and sobbed into my chest. All I could do was hold her.

I don't think things will get better for Donna until after Aimee's birthday. And like I said before, I totally get it. But good God it is hard to be an emotional support for her, and for Rowan, and deal with my own shit that lately has threatened to drive me crazy. Maybe that's why the anger has finally started to really hit me. I spent most of the day today just livid, and not at anyone or anything in particular, but just ready to scream or break something.

Rowan and I are going to get away for a few days. Probably couldn't have come at a better time.

Besides, I need Donna to get a better handle on things before my and Aimee's anniversary comes along. As much as Aimee's birthday is hard for Donna, our anniversary is the date I'm dreading.


  1. I know some families call the wedding anniversary the "birthday of our family" and celebrate it with the kids and cake and stuff. Can you and Rowan get away on the anniversary date? Even if it's just a day off from school/work to go to Childrens' Museum(s) and a waterfront playground and Menchies and other things that would bring Rowan joy?

    I have no idea what it's like or if I'm proposing something quite unwelcome and offensive (I hope not), but I wonder if in those moments of experiencing Rowan's joy (and having fun yourself) if it's easier to picture Aimee in (since you have plenty of those moments of being with Aimee in those moments of joy).

    Not so much as a distraction from what the day means (but honestly, that too), but as a way to honor the day and start some new traditions to keep the day meaningful in this new chapter?

  2. Great advice from James. I have friends who would volunteer at a mission or plant trees or do something special as a family to celebrate the memory and the joy of the person they miss. I just read the book by John Ramsey called "The Other side of Suffering" about dealing with the well known loss of his child JonBenet but also of an older daughter due to a car accident and then his wife Patsy due to cancer. This during a time when his family was under suspicion of committing a crime, and he lost his job, reputation, savings etc. It was a very moving book with lots of references to bible verses and how the painful days and memories were filled with loss but later on were filled with the happy moments. Each anniversary of a memorable or special day will be difficult as well fateful December 18th - to instead make a day in which something is "created" versus just the "loss" felt. Wish I could do and say more that is helpful but I haven't gone what you are going through and don't want to presume anything

  3. Ugh... wow.... That must be just overwhelming when you add the grief of others to your own. I'm really glad you and Rowan are going to get some time away, and I'm praying that it's restful and refreshing, as much as it can be.

  4. Oh Pat, continued prayers for you and all your family. I really admire how honest and open you're being with your emotions. Good for you! And as it's been said before, I'm sure in many ways (not yet known) you're helping so many others deal with grief and loss through your openness. I pray time will start healing some of this pain and your mind can focus on the happy times with great joy. Even though I haven't seen you for years (!) I know you're doing a wonderful job raising Rowan. She's a fortunate girl to have you. I hope you have a great getaway together.

  5. (personally Pat, I think you have every right to be angry... at any body and everybody, at any thing and everything!)