You know what?
Bob died 5 1/2 years ago. And here I am, going along; I love where I live, I love who I live with, I love what I am doing, and yet the thought that I will never talk to Bob again, never hear his voice, can still take my breath away.
I recently took all three boys camping with a girlfriend and her two boys. Camping was one of those things, like biking, that I was afraid I would never do after Bob died. Bob was always the motivator and organizer of our camping trips. My contribution was to carry all of the sleeping bags, the tent and the bins packed with camping "essentials" to the car so Bob could pack it all up.
I was about as much help once we got to the camp ground. My idea of appropriate camping food is whatever comes out of a box and doesn't require a dish that needs to be washed. Bob enjoyed making elaborate meals while camping, involving the whipping of eggs and the need for things like buttermilk and cumin.
I could never live up to all that.
I feared the boys would not grow up knowing the joys of camping. No sleeping in tents listening to the cicada's sing, no starting fires in the morning and sitting around the fire at night roasting marshmallows, no wishing on the first star to come out, no catching frogs outside the outhouse.
No great outdoors.
It took me over a year to figure out that I didn't need to cook full course meals to give my boys the great outdoors. I could camp without buttermilk and fresh eggs and Idaho potatoes. I could camp "Irene McGoldrick style". Grab a box of cereal and some Poptarts, stick a brat on a stick, cook it over the fire, and call it a day.
That I can do.
And that is what I did, until I met Mike, who likes the more complicated meals around the campfire. So now I am back to my "carry out the sleeping bags and tent and place them by the car for packing" routine.
But this past trip was just my girlfriend and I and we took the boys off road biking for an afternoon. We found ourselves following the boys as they negotiated the trail with different levels of enthusiasm and skill. We tried to warn the serious riders as they blew by us about the 5 young children up ahead strewn about the trail. Only 2 of our group ran into a tree (one was me thank you very much) and Arthur got pushed down a small ravine in an attempt to keep him from getting run over by one of the aforementioned expert riders.
On one of the more level parts of the trail I had a moment to think (in between my mantra of "look where you WANT to go, look where you WANT to go") about how proud I was to find myself in this situation right now. I felt good. A cool bike trail, a fabulous camping weekend, the boys having a great time in the great outdoors.
There was a time I couldn't even imagine being able to put the bike rack on the car.
"Look at us, Bob," I thought to myself. "Look where we are, look at our boys ride this trail."
That's when it happened.
The realization that Bob and I won't ever admire these beautiful blond haired boys we created. We won't stand shoulder to shoulder, leaning towards each other, watching in awe as our children learn a new skill or discover a new fact about their world. This realization felt like a tree branch had just run into my ribcage, my breath came shorter. (it could have been the biking, we were going up a hill by this point) But then, there were tears.
Damn it, and I was having such a good time.
When will it end? The grieving, shouldn't I be done with it by now?!
Man, grief sucks! It really does. It is hard work, and anyone that tells you it just takes time is mistaken. It takes courage and perseverance and resilence and patience. Patience!
By the time we were back at the cars loading up the bikes, the kids hopping around excitedly reliving their "near death" experiences and munching on pretzles dipped in Nutella, I had come to another realization.
There is something worse than grief. Having never had anyone worth grieving for, that would be worse.
Now that would really suck.
Thanks for checking in-