Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rowan asks her first "Why?"

"Daddy?" The voice of my daughter is coming from her room. It's about 7am last Saturday morning, and I do not want to be awake yet. Rowan has other plans.

"Yes, sweetheart."

She gets up out of her bed and comes into my room, climbing up into bed with me. This is often our Saturday morning ritual, which is a compromise of sorts. I get to stay in bed a bit longer, and Rowan comes and snuggles with me. I'll take it.

After lying quietly for a few minutes, I notice that she's brought with her a laminated photo of Aimee, which she's now holding up and looking at. Turning to me shes asks, "Will you make mommy talk?" She does this every so often, and it's her way of talking to mommy, which she does sometimes when she's missing Aimee particularly badly. Usually she tells 'mommy' about stuff going on in her life, things she did at school, activities we've done, whatever. Today she other things on her mind. Oh, and for me, taking the role of mommy has never gotten any easier, but I know Rowan needs this, so I gladly do it.

Me, as Aimee, "Hi sweety!"
Rowan, "MOMMY!"
"How are you, my precious peach?" That was a common nickname Aimee had for Rowan.
"Good. (Pause) Mommy?"
"Yes, sweety?"
"Why did the boat have a leak?"
Oh shit. I wasn't expecting to have to answer questions like this for at least a couple more years. And the truth is, I don't even know all the answers to all the questions she might ask. But I do know the answer to this one. And I can't really tell her, along with many, many other things I can't tell her at this stage in her life. So I quickly improvise.

"I don't know exactly why, sweetheart. But I wish there hadn't been a leak in the boat."
This doesn't seem to satisfy her, but she doesn't press the issue. The conversation turns to more mundane things for a moment, and then,

"Why didn't the scuba people save you?"

Here too I have a fair amount of information about what the crew of the boat did and did not do in the moments leading up to and after the boat sank. Answering her question with complete honesty is going to lead to more questions, and they're also ones I don't want to answer at this stage in her life. Again, I scramble to say something that answers her question in an appropriate way. And I'm still talking as if I'm Aimee, which makes this all the more surreal, considering how Aimee would feel if she were really here to answer these questions herself!

"There were a number of people who did try to save me, sweetheart. But it was too late. I'm sorry, hon, I wish I could still be with you."
Rowan seemed to accept that and after a second's pause said, "Hey mommy, wanna see my new bed?"
"Sure, honey, take me to your room and show me."

Rowan hopped out of my bed and trotted off to her room, still holding the picture of Aimee, and I could hear her explain to 'mommy' about her new bed, the sheets, and comforter I got to go with it. And as she did so, I laid in my own bed and took several deep, slow breaths, and figured the day had to get better from there.

I know this is just the beginning. There will be more questions. And they'll get more complex as she gets older, and simple or incomplete answers won't be enough. As she matures, I do want her to know the truth about what happened to her mother, but I also want to make sure she gets information she can process at her age. That could mean that some of the things that I have already processed and moved on from will be things still to be faced far into the future for Rowan, and I may have to drag some of that back up in myself in order to help Rowan through it. I have to be prepared that as she grows and gains in understanding about the world, she, at some stages, may even find some blame in me, and be angry with me. Maybe she'll feel like I should have stopped Aimee from going on the scuba trip. Or maybe she'll think I should have gone too, and that I could have saved her if I'd been there. Whatever happens, I know that if she does get angry with me at some point, I'll have to just accept that for a time and help Rowan work through it.

All I can do is the best I can.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is "I'm sorry" enough - another perpective

Last week when I published the post titled "Is saying 'I'm sorry' enough?", I got several comments, both on the blog and via social media, thanking me for what I said and with some people expressing their own agreement. But there were a couple of people who felt differently, and fairly strongly so. I reasoned that there may be more who felt this way, so I asked one of them, Laurie, if she'd be willing to write a guest post and share her perspective on this amtter. Here is what she had to say.

Up until Pat wrote his article, Is saying "I'm sorry" enough?, I had never said anything to anyone on how much I dislike the phrase, “I’m sorry”. But given Pat has been through a similar situation as myself I couldn’t hold my tongue anymore. I explained in general how the phrase had become a pet peeve of mine. Pat mentioned many people were like him they found solace in “I’m sorry”. However my response was unique enough among those that he received he thought I might not be alone in this perspective and asked me to write on my perception.

Laurie with her father
For me when something tragic and unexpected occurs to someone you know there are a handful of ways you can react. Your reaction can be over the top dramatic, crying, and sobbing and carrying on, it can be stoic, or it can even be bewilderment. However, whatever your reaction is to the tragic news one of the worst things you can say in my book is say, “I’m sorry”. Why is it this little phrase bugs me so much?

This phrase bothers me because it has become the catch all phrase people use when they don’t know what to say but they think they should say something. This little phrase, “I’m sorry” is used regardless and constantly to console someone from the loss of a set of keys to a bad day at work. “I’m sorry” is said with the same casual civility one would use to say good morning, or hello. There is generally no thought or emotion behind it. “I’m sorry” has become a filler phrase.

A filler phrase that I heard at a constant rate immediately after my Dad drowned in a boating accident in 1997. After the first 50 times I heard it I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs. These people didn’t cause Dad’s death, why are they sorry? Did they capsize the boat? Did they make the river freezing that gave him hypothermia? No! So then why the hell are they sorry? I knew they were saying it because they didn’t know what to say to me or to my family but they felt they should say something.

Maybe for the rest of the family it was enough solace that people were sorry. For me I would have preferred people say nothing and pat my shoulder or give me a hug. Granted a hug from a stranger or acquaintance is rather odd. A hand shake and a kind word or antic dote about Dad would have been enough. For the most part many folks did just that, but many of the acquaintances that knew my family for decades but didn’t know me well fell into the “I’m sorry” category. So when you hear of some tragic event that befalls someone you know whether they are a good friend or an acquaintance take a few minutes before you respond. Whatever it is you choose to say make sure you are sincere and sometimes the cliché actions speak louder than words are never more apropos when tragedy strikes unexpectedly.

Monday, August 20, 2012

What I prayed tonight

Earlier tonight was rough. Rowan was having tummy pain and I had a hard time finding something that made her feel better enough to go to sleep. I was finally successful at about half past 10.

A couple of hours later I was getting ready to go to bed myself (trying to get more than 3-4 hours of sleep these days). As I let the dog out to do her business, I decided I needed to spend a few minutes outside under the stars, talking to God. Here is what I said.

"God, thanks for Rowan going to sleep. I pray whatever was wrong with her tummy is gone now, and she gets a good night's sleep (so I can too). I really love that little girl.

It's in moments like these when I miss Aimee, not only because she would have handled this, but because she would have known how to. If she's up there with You right now, please tell her I love her and I miss her. Tell her that I always think about all those times when she said she felt confident that I could raise Rowan if anything ever happened to her, and that I try to prove her right, no mater how lost I sometimes feel.

I hope I appreciated her enough when she was here. I think I did, I know I thanked You for her frequently and I worked to show Aimee by words and actions how much she meant to me. But if I fell short, please also tell her that too. She was an incredible gift from You.

I never wanted You to take her away from me.

And Lord, please tell her I hope she understands that I'm starting to look for someone else who can come into our lives. It's not that I didn't love her that much. In fact, in some ways it's because of my great love for her that I want to move on. She showed me what a wonderful, amazing thing a great marriage was, and I miss that. She taught me about the importance of each parent to a child, and I want a mother for Rowan. She opened my eyes to all the ways I could be a good husband and father, and she did it without saying much, but through her great example, and I really long to have a partner like that again, but as a wife and as a fellow parent. I miss loving someone like that.

Tell Aimee that Rowan misses her too. She says it a lot more now than she used to, and she cries more often. But she also seems to know that she can come to me and cry to me and that she's safe with me. Let Aimee know that as much as Rowan can be right now, she is happy, even in her grief.

So Lord, help me be a great father, especially now. And when I go up to Rowan's room in a few minutes and lean over and kiss the top of her head as she sleeps, I'll pray to You again soon, this time for her health and well-being and her future.

Thank You for listening to me.

In Jesus' name,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Is saying "I'm sorry" enough?

"Pat, I am so sorry. I know that doesn't really help anything, but I don't know what else to say."

I can not begin to tell you how many times I heard some version of this, especially the first few months. And pretty much every person who said it felt like what they were saying was almost bad, because it felt so inadequate. You want to know something? When you're standing face-to-face with someone you care about who's lost a dear loved one - spouse, parent, child, best friend, etc - there really aren't any words that are adequate. Words by themselves can't express the magnitude of our pain and grief, nor the pain our loved ones feel for us.

But while I can't speak for everyone who's lived through this, let me just say that for me, saying you were sorry was enough. Words by themselves feel inadequate, but they are powerful, especially when they convey the emotions we feel. Does the phrase "I love you", by itself, truly and full express how you feel about the person you're saying it to? Of course not. When I tell my daughter I love her, those words don't explicitly mention the sacrifices I've made for her, gladly and willingly, or the sacrifices I will make in the future with equal willingness. Those words don't spell out the awe-inducing level of commitment I have to her well being, or the lengths I would go to in caring for her and protecting her. And yet we all understand that when I tell my daughter I love her, I am expressing all of that and more.

So when someone you care about is facing tragedy, do not hesitate to tell them how sorry you are for fear that your words are lacking.Words are lacking, and you can't help that. But letting someone know you share some measure of their pain by saying those words is far more powerful than the words themselves.

And for every single one of you who said, in some form or fashion, that you were sorry for my loss, thank you. I appreciate it very, very much.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

From my other sister, Samantha

Today I'm posting an entry from my sister Samantha, who shared her reflections and thoughts about Aimee's death. (You can find the posts from my sister Shannon here and here.) 

Samantha and Aimee,
October 2011

This post has been very hard for me to write. Not because I have a lack of words, but rather too many. The life and death of such an amazing woman and her impact cannot be summed up easily.

With all sincerity I will say Aimee is one of the most beautiful people I have ever known. I loved her tremendously. There was no effort in it. I was always so excited to see her and just being in her presence gave me great pleasure. Aimee was particularly special to me. I am very reserved with people. Yet from the get go when Aimee and I talked, or gave each other “a look”, it was clear. I loved this woman! She was full of life, love and just the right amount of “one tough cookie”. I can’t help but smile through my tears as I remember her.

The last time I saw Aimee was on Thanksgiving. We did the dishes together and joked around. That memory is the hardest for me because I truly enjoyed our time together and it would be the last time I saw her. I admired her hair color and she said she would send me a message later as I was going to dye it the same color. A few days later she messaged me with the color name and joked that it was “top secret”. That was the last time I talked to her.  Patrick and Aimee headed for Florida and I kept up with them on Facebook expecting to see them again around Christmas. They were having fun and I didn’t have any worries. My own Facebook status the night before Aimee died stood out to me AFTER the events that took place. I had no inclination or bad feeling and am not implying that. I post Scripture a lot but the night before was James 4:14.  

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog--it's here a little while, then it's gone.”

- Life is short no matter how many years we live. Don't be deceived into thinking that you have lots of remaining time to live for Christ, to enjoy your loved ones, or to do what you know you should. Live for God today! Then, no matter when your life ends, you will have fulfilled God's plan for you. ~Jos~~

The next day came that phone call…. My mom “you need to sit down”.  Me crying out, “it must be a mistake! No!” The kids and I were taking family Christmas pictures when I got that call. I tried to get away from the kids as fast as possible being suddenly aware that my reaction was probably scaring them. I was in absolute shock. It was mostly a blur after that. I remember crying out to God. I remember trying to reach my husband who is deployed in Afghanistan and having no way of reaching him except to wait for him to call. I was thinking “I need my husband to comfort me!!!” and immediately realizing in absolute horror that my brother must so desperately want the comfort of his dear wife but she would not be returning to him, ever…. I wanted to go to Florida.  I wanted to fly down immediately to be with him. I kept thinking of my brother thousands of miles away from home dealing with this. I wanted to hug him desperately. I don’t know who told me that it would not help as he would be back by the time I got there. Either he did or my mother, I don’t remember.  That was one of those moments when you feel completely helpless to do anything. I prayed a lot! Time seemed to stand still. At the same time I knew I had to hold it together for those around me. My kids were all very upset about their Aunt. I couldn’t sleep at all. When I got to my brother’s house I sobbed in the car before I went in and then composed myself before entering. I went over to play with Rowan and she saw I sniffled. Immediately she said “I will get you a tissue!” When she brought it to me I said “I just have a little stuffy nose hon”. She looked at me and said “my mommy drowned and it is sad” in a very sweet way. Heartbreak… “Oh God” must have uttered from my heart a thousand times that day and the ones to follow. I went upstairs while my sons played downstairs with Rowan. I watched my brother, Justin, Caroline, my mom, my sister, and other people coming and going as if it was in slow motion. Surreal is the only word I have for it. So much pain... The memorial came and when my brother and Bart sang “Aimee’s Song” I sobbed uncontrollably.

I couldn’t sleep at night as I kept thinking about how Aimee died. When I closed my eyes at I would imagine her frantic to get out of that boat. The desperation to see her little girl and her beloved husband kept replaying in my mind. My husband gave me the advice to “Focus on Where she is, not how she got there” and I have ever since. I do not let my mind wander to that boat. The fact is I do not know what happened in those last moments. I wasn’t there but God was. I had to remind myself that God is good, to trust Him and to rest in Him.  

In all this is my deep love for my brother and Rowan. How my heart breaks for them. How much my heart breaks for my brother….  No matter how old we are he is still my “big bro”. I see him go on, move through the days and I look in his eyes and wish I could reach out and take it away. I know I do not understand exactly what he feels and I also know there is absolutely nothing I can do or say to take away his hurt. So again I am reminded to look to God and pray. And again I rest in knowing that God is good and He is with my brother and Rowan, I can see it. I find peace in knowing that our beloved Aimee is with the Lord and I will see her beautiful smile once again and it will be for eternity. As real and painful as these sorrows are now I know there will come a day when it will all be a distant memory and my brother will once again embrace his Aimee without fear of loss. Rowan will know her mommy.  And in that day, I will smile at the sight of it all.  Yes, God is very good <3

Friday, August 10, 2012

The biggest piece of Aimee to go is gone tomorrow

Goodbye, old maroon Toyota Corolla.

Aimee's car has been the biggest tangible object of hers still around. It caused some tears when Rowan and I first arrived home from Florida. Justin and Caroline used for the month they stayed here after Aimee's death. Then is sat in front of Donna's house, a constant, silent reminder, for the next seven months after that. A couple of weeks ago, Donna finally brought it to my place, so I could clean it up and sell it.

A potential buyer came by yesterday, decided to take it, and is picking it up tomorrow.

The somewhat infamous maroon Toyota will be gone. (Infamous because the interior of Aimee's car looked like she was homeless and living in that car. With a hairy dog that shed a lot. The exterior wasn't much better.)

I never was much attached to that car. I used to tease Aimee about it and she's give me the evil eye and say that her car was a "right par-ful drivin' m'chine" in a mock redneck accent (she was from rural Indiana, after all). But Donna, who expresses her feelings more through tangible objects, cries every time she thinks about Aimee's car being gone (I jokingly offered to sell it to her to leave in front of her house, but she laughed and said her neighbors wanted that eyesore out of the neighborhood). And Rowan is attached to it as well. Until Aimee's death, Rowan spent much more of her first 3 1/2 years riding in that car with her mommy than she did in mine. Several times in the last couple of weeks, she's wanted to just go sit in Aimee's car. And since I took it to get the oil changed today, I took Rowan to school in it. Her voice broke this morning as she told me she was going to be sad when mommy's car was gone.

I consoled her as best as I could, and tried to shift her attention to things of Aimee's were keeping, like her wedding dress (which Rowan LOVES). That seemed to significantly improve her outlook, but I suspect there may be a few more tears between now and tomorrow.

No matter what, that car is one of the last, and certainly the biggest piece of Aimee that we still have.

And soon, it too will be gone.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dating again

OK, so you had to know this topic was going to come up sooner or later...

As time has passed, I have begun to look to the future, and focus less on the past. And one way that I'm looking forward is thinking about beginning to date again.

First, let's cover something very important. Most members of my and Aimee's immediate family, especially Aimee's mother, are supportive of me getting on with my life (in a dating sense of the word). In fact Donna has been encouraging me to begin dating again for some time, although she hasn't been pushy about it.

Aimee and I were often silly together. It
was one of the best parts of our relationship.
So back to that weird place I'm in. On the one hand, I am and have been quite lonely since Aimee's death. A normal reaction, I'm certain. Furthermore, I LOVED being married. I'm certain having the wife I did had a lot to do with that, but I miss terribly that level of love, affection, play and so on that made such an intimate relationship so special. And I have no doubt that there is someone else out there with whom I can share that again.

There is also Rowan (lest anyone foolishly thought this was all about me). She has steadfastly expressed, repeatedly over time, that she wants a mommy. She said as much to me again the day before yesterday. (In her Disney Princess level knowledge of life and 'love', she doesn't understand why this request can't be filled in the fairly immediate future. Don't I just go to the Royal Ball and dance with Cinderella or find some random sleeping princess and kiss her?) I want Rowan to have a mother, and not just any mother, but a great one. Further, Aimee and I were so adamant about treating each other with love, kindness, and respect at all times, but especially in front of Rowan. Why? We knew that we would set up her expectations for what her own marriage should look like. Without the right partner to model that with for her, I feel like some valuable lessons may get missed (though I admit this is a little bit less of a concern, as I feel there are some lessons along these lines I can teach her in other ways).

And finally, I can honestly say that I do have the capacity to have feelings for someone else, though growth of any relationship will have to take time.

But then there's the other side of things. I'm worried that getting into a relationship with me any time in the near future might be something like dating someone with a serious illness. You know they'll probably recover someday, but you also know that you're probably not getting them at their best, fullest ability right now. That doesn't seem completely fair. How do I balance being available to someone, and being open with them about who I am and how I feel, but not burden them with someone else I used to love (and in many ways always will) when I have tough days? And trust me, I'm not self-delusional enough to think that tough days are over (ha!) or will end after a few more months or after the one year anniversary or any other marker. I'm guessing tough days will appear, though with less frequency over time, for many years to come.

All that to say, I'm thinking about it. I haven't been on a first date in almost nine years. Of course, dating back then was a lot simpler, since I was just looking for someone for me. Now I'm looking for someone for both me and Rowan (at least eventually). And marriage, if and when that day comes again, is a long way off no matter what. I want to make sure that I'm pretty certain about a potential spouse before I really begin to get them much involved in Rowan's life. The last thing I want is for Rowan to get attached to someone and have it not work out. Another significant loss in her life, especially of a person she might see in a mother role, is something I'd really like to avoid. She took it hard enough when her first post-Aimee babysitter took another job. Daddy life and dating life will stay separated for quite some time.

There's one more thing I consider. Life is short and unpredictable. I now know that all too well. What if in fact I do only have weeks or months left? Is it good for me to stay alone, unhappily so, just because some people might think I should? Should the opinions of others even be importnat? I think not. I need to live my own life, and I can't worry about what people who aren't living my life think about how I'm doing so.

So, I don't know exactly when, but I do plan on moving into this next phase of life again soon. For my sake and ultimately for Rowan's as well.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Church picnic: Trauma SERIOUSLY revisited

As you may have seen from yesterday morning's post, it was my church's annual picnic, and I wasn't really all that excited about going.

I went anyway, but as it turns out, I probably should have stayed home.

Not that long after I got there, as lunch was winding down, I was standing in the playground area, keeping an eye on Rowan. At some point, I noticed that nearly everyone on the beach at the side of the lake was standing up, looking towards the water. Initially, I didn't think much of it, assuming someone was racing kayaks or something else that people found interesting, until a second glance told me that no such activity was going on.

It was about then that a flood of emergency vehicles started showing up.

It didn't take a genius to put 2 and 2 together. People were staring at the water, and emergency crews had just arrived - someone was drowning or had drowned.

I felt a pit in my stomach.

As the minutes added up, I learned bits and pieces... a teenage boy... they couldn't find him, though they were pretty certain he was in the water, and had been for some time... was there with his sister...

Photo from KOMO 4 News
As the crews worked to find him, which they eventually did, our church gathered to pray for him and his family. Up to this point I had been intentionally keeping from Rowan what was going on, and was successful. But as we joined the group, Rowan sensed the sadness and started to whimper with fear. I'm sure she heard a few words that triggered it: under water - drowning - death.

I felt the trigger too, and at this point started to lose my composure. I knew the best thing was for Rowan and I to get the heck out of the middle of the prayer group, and I took her back to the playground. As she jumped on the equipment, I sat down at the edge and just completely lost it.

I mean, completely.

I sobbed like a baby, like I hadn't done since the first week of Aimee's death. I kept trying to get it under control, but I couldn't. At some point, several minutes later, I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I tried again  (unsuccessfully) to gain my composure. It was no use. My hands were soaked, as was my face. And still it came, until finally, I was able to get a hold of myself and get myself under control again.

I looked up to find a gal from sitting next to me with her hand on my shoulder. She and her husband were two of the first friends Aimee and I had made at the church, and we'd continued our friendship over the last few years. I was glad she was there.

And although this didn't occur to me until later, I was also glad that Donna had not come with us.

I'm not sure exactly what triggered such a powerful reaction. Maybe it was simply the thought of the loss of another life due to drowning. Maybe it was the thought of what his family would go through. I don't know, but it was really strong, and shook me really badly.

According to this news report, published several hours after the incident, the teen was actually still breathing and in the hospital. However, it also said he was underwater for about 30 minutes. While I'll continue to pray for a miraculous recovery, I just don't see how he'll live after half an hour without oxygen. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The dreaded church picnic

Today (8/5) is our annual church picnic. Typically I really enjoy these. There's a ton of really good food, lots of great people from the church, and it has been sunny every time I've gone (supposed to be near 90 tomorrow).

But these "family" gatherings are tough. Like birthday parties for Rowan's classmates. It's impossible for me not to notice other families, especially at a church like ours, where the majority (or so it seems) are two-parent families with a happy mom and a happy dad and happy kids. I certainly don't begrudge them. And the people in my church are among the most sincere and genuine people I've ever met, and so it's not some big sham. Which makes it harder. I'm surrounded by lots of happy (whole) families.

It's really hard for me to see these families and not REALLY feel, down to my bones, that which I am missing. The hole in our family feels magnified significantly in these settings. My loneliness wells to the surface too, normally kept predominantly quiet until after Rowan goes to bed each night. In other words, it's depressing.

I'm seriously considering skipping it.

The things is, this is unlikely to change much until I start dating again. Other aspects of this loss will (hopefully, probably) get easier over time, but I don't think this one will as long as I'm single.

Oh, and one other thing. Unlike the last few years, when Aimee and I would trde off watching/playing with Rowan so the other could eat, relax, and spend time chatting with friends, I'm flying solo, which means ALL I will do is watch and play with Rowan. And I can do that in my air-conditioned house.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Letting go of Aimee... Literally

It's October 25, 2003. I am pulling into a Park-n-Ride in Kirkland, WA, meeting a group of people who are planning on hking to the top of Mt. Pilchuck. There's an old Fire Service fire lookout tower at the top, and it's said to provide amazing views of the landscape for many miles in every direction.

As I find a parking space, I spy a very cute girl getting some things out of the trunk of her car. My hope that she's going on this hike is answered, and shortly thereafter I meet Aimee Richmond.

Through some clever manuevering, I manage to make sure we're in the same carpool, and I sit next to her in the backseat, attempting to get to know her. She's friendly, though maybe slightly guarded. During the hike, I stay with her, chatting with her as the day goes on. At the top, there are indeed gorgeous views, and I take a number of photos. But my attention never wanders far from this girl I've met.

Within eight days, I take her on our first date. Within a few months, I know I love her, and I tell her so. Within two and half years, I marry her, and I say these words:
"Til death do us part."
We "parted" on December 18, 2011.

A photo of Mt. Rainier I took from Mt.
Pilchuck I took on 10/23/2003. I didn't
feel like I knew Aimee well enough to
take a picture of her that day, but I
wish I had.
The second part of that "parting" will come this Otober 25, the ninth anniversary of the day we met. I plan to hike Mt. Pilchuck once more, and scatter Aimee's ashes there amongst the beautiful mountains that she loved so much.

Her wishes actually spelled out that she wanted her ashes scattered at the ocean. But she loved the mountains, and as Donna ponted out, she didn't know whe she wrote that that she was going to die in the ocean. Scattering them on the mountain that brought us together just seemed appropriate.

Although this has been my plan since shortly after Aimee's death, the thought of actually 'letting go' of Aimee is tough. During separate conversations with both Donna and Justin, we all expressed that there is something 'final' about that act, even though obviously Aimee's death was pretty final on December 18.

In my mind's eye, I've tried to imagine the actual act of scattering what's left of Aimee's physical body. It's surreal and heartbreaking at the same time.

A number of years ago, I went skydiving, despite a very keen fear of heights. At the moment of truth, I was terrified, and I had no idea how I was going to make myself actually jump out of that plane some 13,000 feet above the ground. Yet I did it. I sense that this experience will be much the same in that regard. I have no idea how I will make myself actually empty that box of ashes on top of that mountain.

But somehow, I will do it. I will let go of Aimee.