|Lucy, 2014 & Jarod, 2005|
When the thought hit me the tears rose, unbidden, and I struggled to keep my smile in place as I wiped them away. I was in the front row and Lucy could see me. Her brow furrowed a bit in the middle of “B-I-N-G-O.” This was no time for grief. Get out of here, I thought.
I’ve long loved the song “Blink” by the band Revive. It seems to sum up parenting so well.
Teach me to number my days, and count every moment before they slip away,
Take in all the colors, before they fade to gray.
I don’t want to miss, even just a second more of this.
It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash,
It happens in the time it took to look back,
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time,
What is it I’ve done with my life?
This was not a year I wanted to freeze. This was a year I wanted to survive. This was a year I wanted them to survive. It was a year for creating a new definition to normal and walking through grief. And yet it was another year of their childhoods that flew by in a blink. They are now another year taller, another year older, and another year closer to leaving my nest.
This week I also saw the end of an incredible blessing. It was the final day that Jim gave Jarod a ride to school. Kraig died in the second week of this school year leaving me with a school day conundrum (among many others)—how to get all four kids to three schools by 8:00? I have no idea what Rapid City was thinking with that scheduling nightmare. Before he died, we thought we had it figured out: I’d drive or walk Lucy to Kindergarten at the end of the block. The middle schoolers would walk to the other end of the block. Kraig would drive Jarod on his way to work. Easy. Except now….
It was an incredible gift.
He’d arrive each morning with a smile and take a moment to teach our dog to sit and not jump on him. He’d give me a fatherly hug and a kiss on the cheek and ask how I was today, looking into my face to see the answer as well as hear it. If he could see it wasn’t a good day he’d assure me it would get better. If I could only muster an “ok,” he’d assure me in his gentle Texas drawl, “That’s alright. Ok’s better’n not.”
He’d hug my girls and wish the boys an enthusiastic good morning. He’d tell Lucy how much he loved her, acting as another grandpa when her’s are so far away. He never judged my messy living room. He’d wait patiently for Jarod to gather his things. We’d chat about our pending days or he’d share random bits of advice from his years as a father. As Jarod grabbed his coat, Jim would ask if he had everything—instrument? Cell phone? Water bottle? And then he’d wish us a good day and take Jarod to school.
I sit here today typing and feeling a little melancholy that a few of these things are ending. And yet I feel as though we are battle worn and starting to heal. I will miss Jim’s morning visits. I will miss living on the same street as two wonderful schools that I’ve developed such good relationships with. And I’m sure there will be more days when the thought, Kraig’s missing this will rise in my heart. Graduations and weddings and concerts and plays—all these things seemed to rush at once into my mind today as I saw my tiny princess with a flower in her hair singing her heart out in the front row.