Hanging In

I've gotten a few emails lately from people checking in on me. All of them have noted my lack of blogging as of late. There are several reasons I haven't posted much. First and foremost is that there just aren't any words. It is all too overwhelming to capture. There is also a practical reason for my infrequent blog posting. I don't tend to spend a lot of time in front of my computer unless I'm working, and I haven't really worked for a couple of months now. I'm easing back into work today and in front of my computer. Most of my blog posting comes when taking work breaks, so perhaps the pace will pick up a bit now.

It is impossible to answer the "How are you doing? No, I mean how are you really doing?" questions. I normally say something like, "As good as could be expected", "We are getting by", or the ever-popular "Okay". Nathan died two weeks ago yesterday. I really am glad he isn't suffering anymore, but in general I don't think my pain has subsided at all (and I don't expect it to have subsided yet). Mostly I just miss him. And "miss" in this context is such an inadequate word. I walk around with this terrible sense of wrongness. And I still feel a lot of guilt/pain/confusion/etc over the decisions we made and care we gave over his last few weeks (If anyone remarks in the comments about what a great job we did or about what great parents we are, blah, blah, blah...then I am likely to disable comments forever on all posts to this blog.
That is the last thing I want or need to here from anyone.)

Yesterday I did some basic putting toys away in the basement. Our basement triples as my office, a playroom, and a guestroom. Over the last few months it had gotten completely out of control. I wept as I sorted toys. I would remember playing with a particular toy with Nathan. Or I would pick up something I know he had an attachment to. The worst was when I ran across his wallet laying on the floor. He received cash gifts over the years and had a good chunk of change saved up. In June it was obvious that if he was going to enjoy that money it was time for him to spend it, so he took his wallet and we went and bought Playmobil toys. He had five or six dollars left after the shopping spree. I'm sure no one is ever really ready to "go through their loved one's things", but I know I'm not anywhere close yet based on the exercise of just sorting toys in the playroom.

Today is Julia's first day of kindergarten. She is adorable and excited. I think she will thrive in school. I know she needs the routine and the activity. Our home environment hasn't been all that healthy for her as of late. I was really happy taking her to the bus stop, but also sad that Nathan wasn't returning to school. Julia had always counted on her big brother showing her the ropes of the school bus. I feel bad for her a lot. There are so many things I want to just be completely happy about sharing with her, but so many of those things have to be bittersweet because of Nathan's absence.

I'm not really sure how Julia is. I try and give her lots of opportunities to talk or work things out, but she generally avoids the subject. I noticed her erasing Nathan's saved profiles from computer games they shared. She just shrugged and said that he didn't need them anymore. I was worried about that trend, but she has done some things lately that I find encouraging, like including Nathan in pictures she has drawn of our family. I want her to grieve and to do so age appropriately, but I don't want her to try and forget about her brother. I'm sure she never could though. What a terrible thing for a child to deal with. I don't know how to act based on my crazy emotional state. What sense can a child make of it?

We have been flooded with cards and letters and just a whole lot of love. I can't thank people enough for their support. It really is amazing. Thanks to everyone who was at Nathan's memorial service, especially those that traveled or held down the fort at home so that others could travel. I'm still a bit in shock over how many people came from great distances to show their love and support for our family. Many thanks.

So...I'm here. I'm hanging in there. I'm doing as well as can be expected. And I'm okay.


Matt Dick said...

I've been reading lately about dealing with trauma. People are beginning to recognize forgetting as an important tool in dealing with grief and trauma. In fact it's looking now that the incidents of post traumatic stress go up when counseling is made mandatory to soldiers. Turns out the metaphor of stress as a boiling pressure cooker is just wrong -- it doesn't need to be "worked through" or "talked out" in most cases. The majority of people will forget or get fuzzy about details over time, making an eventual reckoning easier to deal with.

I'm not 100% sure how relevant this is to your post except that I'm guessing Julia will talk about it if she needs to but her silence may not be an indication of an inevitable breakdown, it may just be the best thing for her.

I know this is hard, I just don't know what to say except I love you.

Katie Altmann said...

Thinking of you a lot. Thank you very much for posting. We care about all of you a lot. My words all seem inadequate, but I wanted you to know you are being thought of and cared about greatly.

with many thoughts and prayers -- Katie

Anna said...

Luke, you write so well.

Jill O said...

Thanks for checking in Luke. I am glad to hear anything from you, just to know you are still out there. I love ya Lucas.

SoccerMomofTwo said...

I have followed your family for some time. I have no words of wisdom or advice or whatever... just wanted you to know that there are those out "there" thinking of our family.

curly said...

Sending hugs, thoughts and prayers.

shadowfax said...

I spent a couple of minutes in your basement, and I noticed a particular toy that caught my attention as uncommonly cool. I was almost on the verge of pointing it out (in my typical slightly-too-excited tone) when I suddenly remembered/realized it was HIS. The realization hit me like a blow. As I recall we both hightailed it out of them basement right quick.

Seeing that toy made me imagine him playing with it, and that detail, that connection made me realize the awful wrongness of his absence more than just about anything else the whole weekend. So I understand exactly what you mean, to the limited capacity I can from this distance.

And FWIW, I am glad that you can describe yourself as doing as well as can be expected. (You might want to go ahead and make an acronym for it: DAWACBE.) Still thinking of you guys a lot.

platespinner said...

i am so very sorry.

-a cancer wife