Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My daughter's landmines

Today I got a call from Rowan's school. That is, to put it mildly, NOT normal.

Apparently, they were preparing to begin work on their annual Mothers Day project, an occasion that has, in the past, caused no difficulty for Rowan. The last two Mothers Days, she's simply made the present and given it to me instead. But this morning was different.

When her teacher called me, she recounted that as she was talking to the class about this year's project, Rowan began to get upset, and was crying by the end. When Mrs. Adams pulled her aside to ask her what was wrong, Rowan stated that she really wanted to give her present to her mommy (Aimee).

Her teacher handled it beautifully, as always. She let Rowan express her feelings, gave Rowan some options to consider, and helped her feel better. Then she called me to let me know.

Rowan will decide if she wants to give the present to me like the last couple of years, or to give it to Sarah since we'll be getting married soon. Or she might give it to her grandma Donna (Aimee's mother). Or she might keep it herself as another reminder of her mommy, and her love for her.

Personally, I don't any preference at all for which one she chooses. I trust she'll do what feels most comforting to her in this moment. And I'm grateful for the people that Rowan has around her to help her through these moments.

These landmines.

You see, I KNOW there will be more of these. As she grows and matures and develops, things that never bothered her before will begin to. Thoughts about her mother's death that never occurred to her before will. Some of them will make her sad. Some will make her angry.

And many of them will be unexpected.


This is the life Rowan faces, thanks to those who were responsible for her mother's death. A life of landmine events and holidays and conversations. The sudden longings for her mother at major life events.

No matter what I wish, there's no way to fix that. It's just part of her life and what she'll go through.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dear Aimee, Happy Anniversary. I'm getting married again.

Dear Aimee,
Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart. Today would have been our eighth, and I have no doubt that the last two and a half years would have been as wonderful as the first five and half were.

If only we could have had the chance to find out.

Rowan is amazing, by the way. I mean, wow. The kid just turned SIX. Can you believe that? But what blows me away is how smart, funny, compassionate, and sweet she is. You know, just like you were. If I was going to have to be a single dad of a child, you could not possibly have left me with a better one. :)

But I guess I'm stalling here. Let me get to the real reason I wrote this letter to you.

I'm getting remarried.

I suppose if you really can see us down here from the glorious heaven above (and I hope for all of our sake that you can't), you already knew that. Sarah and I have been engaged for more than six months now, and the wedding planning began almost as long ago. But with the wedding being now less than two months away, and with today being your and my anniversary, I thought it fitting to tell you now.

I know this is what you wanted. I remember you and I talking about this once, and you making it clear you would want me to get remarried. Maybe you knew Rowan would really want a mom (she does). Maybe you you were aware of how much more work it is to run a household and raise a child on your own. Or maybe you were realistic about how long I'd really be able to last on my own as a single parent. :)  Either way, I recall you being very firm in your belief that if anything ever happened to you, that you wanted me to remarry.

Well, now that time is upon us. And Aimee, I really hope you would have approved of her, especially as she is going to have a huge influence on your daughter.

I think I've done well, choosing Sarah to join our family. First and foremost, she really loves both Rowan and me. And she has in common with you a strong faith in God, a deep desire to care for those she loves, and a healthy dose of patience (which anyone around me needs). Also like you, she is a strong woman, not easily bowled over by life's trials or my Type A episodes.

I'd like to think that the two of you would have truly liked each other, had you had the chance to know each other in this life. And so it is my sincere hope that if you are watching, if you can see us, that you know that Rowan and I both simultaneously miss you every day, but are also happy. And I hope that we would have your blessing on the upcoming marriage and life together. Because since the day you died, I have lived a great deal of my life by the standard of wanting you to be proud of what I've done and the decisions I've made, especially the ones that affect Rowan.

May this decision fall among the ones you would have approved of.

With deepest love and affection on our anniversary,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The year of huge changes

It's been a huge year.

Around this time last year, I went to Florida for a deposition in the civil case around Aimee's death. By now, that case is closed.

Sarah and I were dating, but had been together for less than six months. As of today, we closed on a house we're buying together, and our wedding is a little more than nine weeks away.

Speaking of houses, my house looks very different. New driveway and walkways and a new exterior paint job have completely changed the appearance of the house, and a new fence and deck are being planned. By this summer, I hope to have the house run by a property management company who'll rent it out for me.

It's the house that Aimee and I bought together, and Rowan and I won't be living there anymore.
Keys - to a house, to a marriage,
to a life

Speaking of Rowan, she's coming up on the end of her Kindergarten year. She's lost a bunch of teeth, all of them within the last year. And she's gone through and processed a lot of life's upcoming changes in her own amazing way (possibly a topic for another blog post).

But not everything has changed. Aimee's mother Donna has been an absolute rock star. She's gone above and beyond to help me with Rowan. She has embraced my relationship with Sarah, despite how difficult it is for her to see me with someone other than her daughter. And she has continued to help Rowan learn a little more about her mommy each time they see each other, which is pretty frequent.

Yes, a lot has changed in the last year, and more changes are coming soon.

But some things have not changed. Some things will never change.

I miss Aimee. I feel it more strongly at some times than at others, but it's always there. Time hasn't changed it. Falling in love with Sarah hasn't changed it. I doubt anything will change it.

And the process of planning a wedding and more importantly, a marriage, have me reflecting a great deal on doing this exact same thing a mere eight years ago.

It seems like so much longer ago, a lifetime in fact. It was a life in which I'd never been married before. A life in which I didn't have any children to worry about. A life which didn't know what it was like to have someone walk through the front door and tell you your wife just suddenly, tragically died, while your three year old daughter gripped the back of your leg.

A completely different life from the one I have now. I'm living a much different life than the one I was leading eight years ago. And I am a much different person in many ways than I was eight years ago.

I am happy, for the most part. Rowan is doing so well, it's just amazing. Sarah and I are working very hard at creating a foundation for a wonderful marriage. But always in the background (and sometimes right in front), is Aimee and her death, and the undeniable impact that has on our lives.

Yes, it's been a huge year with a great many changes. But it feels like I've been through huge changes before, yes?