Monday, June 1, 2015

Get a Move On

Sheldon and I (and Cooper) have moved!  We found a larger house in San Antonio, not too far from our last, that we plan to have as our "forever home."  It's a beautiful four bedroom home with a sunroom, an open kitchen/living space, formal dining room and a large yard with lots of mature trees.  Deer roam the neighborhood and the community is special -- picnics, events, a park, a pool, etc.  We couldn't be happier!

It has been busy and stressful, of course, as all moves are.  And the process of going through all your things and making a move tends to bring up some emotions.  I think this happens for most people -- Sheldon even has said some of the clothes in his closet aren't really to wear, but are memories on hangers -- but it has hit me hard sometimes.  I've had a lot go through my mind even without facing the objects that are packed with a sentimental punch.

It's been five years since I first arrived in Austin, sans cats, for a three-month getaway to help me bounce back from losing Brian.  I remember painfully and distinctly sitting on the patio of my East Sixth loft place, bawling my eyes out while I blogged on Memorial Day weekend of 2010.  I felt guilty that I wasn't home, felt dread about dealing with the ongoing process of getting a headstone in place for Brian, and knew that the issue of being far away from his resting place would always be a struggle (even if I had stayed in Des Moines, that was 2.5 hours from where he is buried).

This May, I got to toast the five-year Texas milestone with my good friends Erin and Chad, who moved to Austin that summer too (Erin and their cat stayed with me in that studio apartment for about a month).  They have just moved to another apartment in Austin, which I'm anxious to see, and they recently visited our new house to take a break from their moving process and see our new home.  They are some of my best friends and it's bittersweet to reflect on what we've been through together and what brought us so close.  They are a tie to my Iowa life, a large string in the tapestry of my life that winds through many places and past many faces.  I'm lucky to have them here and that we all took the leap of faith to Austin together, even though I ended up moving a bit further south when I fell in love with Sheldon.

As we move into our final family home, I feel as though I'm moving one step further away from my first family home - the one I shared with Brian.  I miss that house still, and that life.  I still grieve for those losses, and this move has stirred up the emotional waters, muddied the surface of my life.  I've thought about how many moves the cats have been through, and well they have handled it, and how grateful I am that I won't have to put them through the whole rigamarole again.  I wonder if they remember the old house and the first man we called "Daddy."  I wonder what kind of memories are being made in that house now and whether the family that I sold it to still lives there.  Did they keep the bar in the basement?  Do they use the front room as a dining room and play games around the table?  Do they socialize and play yard games?

And then there are the things.  I recently unpacked the box that had the guest book from Brian's visitations.  There were so many names; I didn't remember that many people being there.  I think it was all such a blur at the time - but several times I thought to myself, "I didn't realize they were there."  I was overwhelmed with gratitude to see the names of all those people from different phases of our life, and reminded of how lucky I was to have such a show of support.  I remembered too how strong Brian's impact on this world was - how many people loved, admired, respected, and needed him.  Hundreds of names filled those pages...hundreds of people who lost something, and many who lost almost everything, with his passing.  It was immensely painful to think of that aspect.

I still had the large poster board full of pictures of our life together, all pictures of him, that we put together and displayed at his services.  Probably a good hundred pictures -- us on vacations, at weddings, him with friends and family, at concerts and so on.  Some of the pictures had fallen off over the years and the display had been sitting in our office for the past few years, losing pictures here and there like a tree losing leaves in the early fall.  I had been trying to keep it all intact, but my efforts weren't doing the job, and I also didn't know where to display this oversized tribute to my lost love.  Where does that fit into my home and my life in a place where I'm the only one in the house who knew Brian?  Where most of my friends that visit (except Erin & Chad) know him only from stories?  And how to move such a thing (again)?  I have been wresting with the idea of taking the photos off the board and putting them somewhere else, and I finally took that step a couple weeks before the move.  The whole time I felt sad, guilty, and also had some good feelings thinking about all the fun stories and memories behind those pictures.  Right now, the pictures are stacked up in a Ziploc bag in my top desk drawer -- there for me whenever I want to thumb through and remember.

It seems like that is what's happening all over my life -- the trappings of my old life and of Brian's life are put away in secret places for me to visit, or forget about.  Those moments and that life are further and further away from the present in the timeline of my life, and the ties to those times and places are stretched thinner and thinner, and grow fewer in number.  The old gets pushed aside for the new, over and over.  It's always most acute during a move.

I still have some large things from our life together -- our bedroom furniture (now in the guest room and Cooper's room), our dining room table, Brian's car that I started driving after he passed.  I have sentimental things too -- my engagement ring from Sheldon made with diamonds Brian and I wore in our rings, my tattoo, Brian's class ring.  But with every move, the number of tangible reminders shrinks and there comes another life milestone that is one more mile marker away from the starting point of my journey in adulthood and love and away from my first camerado.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Next Generation

So I haven't blogged in forever, but for good reason -- this little guy keeps me plenty busy!  Cooper Matthew was born Sept. 22 at 1:30 pm.  He is five months old now and keeps us on our toes.

I never would have thought five years ago that I would be here now -- a mother, a real estate agent, remarried, living in south Texas, you name it.  All unimaginable to me at my lowest point, and all proof that we never can tell what lies around the corner if we are willing to look.

I have to say -- losing Brian has impacted me as a mother.  I'm sure all moms worry about harm coming to their little ones -- you don't dare speak of SIDS, though you read about it and take every step you can to prevent that awful fate.  I don't know that this particularly is on my mind more than it is for anyone else.  But I do think about the fact that life isn't guaranteed at any age -- that he could leave this world before me, at any stage in the game -- even as a grown man.  I think I have a deeper appreciation and understanding of what Brian's parents must have felt and gone through with his death, though I pray to only understand that in the abstract sense and to never know that pain personally.  

Cooper is a very good baby.  He generally is a happy kid, and a decent sleeper (that part gets better and worse in phases).  Still, even the best baby is exhausting.  We are not young parents by any means, and we are adapting to the never-ending cycle of eating, spitting up, poopy diapers, changing clothes, entertaining the kiddo, etc.  We have talked about stopping with one child...but I know I can't do that because...what if...?  That has weighed on my mind.  Not only Brian's family, but my friend Gabby's family were both two-child families that have lost a grown son.  I don't want to stop at one and become childless in the future as a result.  I know the odds of such tragedy are slim, but I also know the reality is there.  These are the kinds of thoughts you don't bring up at Mommy & Me yoga, but they are the kinds of thoughts I have when the discussion of future children is on the table.  To be clear, this isn't going to make the choice for us, but it is a piece of the puzzle. 

I hate even putting these fears and thoughts into writing because if anything ever happened, I would feel like I brought that about with these words (a strange mental disconnect, but not uncommon amongst people in my shoes).  Yet I feel like I have to put this out there because I know I'm not the only one in this situation, and sharing my journey might be helpful to someone else.  

But for now, the reality is that all is well.  I have a happy, healthy baby boy who is close to sitting up, who has discovered he can get his toes in his mouth, who is starting to have favorite toys, and who is in need of my attention at the moment.