I’m not asking you, I’m writing to tell you. I suppose the title should say, “How WE’RE moving on.” We’ve rested (some), we’ve grieved and continue to do so, we’ve established a bit of a rhythm, we’ve begun to sort through “things” (both literally and emotionally), Rachel has written 1.2 million thank you notes, I’ve written none, I’ve mowed/mulched, we both write, Joe and Bella are busy and ok, we’ve begun to move on.
“But how are you?” you wonder and think. I have to remember that you all are not with us every day. Back in the day a clear scan would send most of you though the roof with excitement. For a while I didn’t understand it. I mean, clear was much better than not but the overall prognosis was the same. I explained that to my sister Cathy and she explained on your behalf (not sure if she ran this past all of you or not), “You have to understand Jay, we feel so detached. We’re not there (she lives 4+ hours away) with you. You can see that Trey is fine. We cannot. You see him all day every day, we do not. We just sit, wait, and pray. It’s pretty much (other than our posts) all that we have. To hear on a scan day that for at least right now that he’s ok is like a huge pressure relief and we rejoice.” It made a lot of sense to me. The same is true now. That being said, we’re really doing just fine.
A good cyber (for the most part) friend of mine messaged me just a minute ago and asked me how we were doing. I replied, “We’re doing just fine.” I described it as: overall…ok, all things being considered…really well. Rachel and I talk about how we’re doing almost every day, I check in with Joe and Bella (emotionally) at least once each week and we go from there. That’s about it. I did want to share a few specifics with you in how each of us are doing.
I go through every day and do what needs to be done. I rest whenever I can to avoid negative emotions leaking out all over someone. I get my sledgehammer moments. The other night there was a commercial where “Let it Go” from “Frozen” was played. I hadn’t heard it since Trey passed. Tears filled my eyes and I had to purposefully breath. Then, there are gentle reminders of Trey as well. Last night I noticed the moon. Trey always always knew where the moon was. I realized that I will always think of Trey when I see the moon. In a way, it’s kind of like if he were on t.v. and I would see him there. I, almost out of respect, give him an internal head nod saying, “I see you boy.” Not sad, no tears, just a reminder. An affectionate intimate reminder.
Rachel will continue to tell you how she is from time to time but I will tell you that she is (as you know) incredible. She spent the day yesterday (the impetus being Thanksgiving…we’re hosting) getting some touch up painting done in Joe and Tre…Joe’s room (we deal with that stuff all the time). She then tackled the task of going through about 3 million books that needed to be sorted (no easy task for a book lover like Rachel). One pile went to the library. One was put aside to give away. One giant pile somehow ended up in the keep category. Finally, a small pile went into the “Trey’s favorite” collection (to be put/kept who knows where). She did it. She survived. It was tough but so is she. Overall, she is strong and real. I love her.
The kids are…well, kids. Early on, Bella let a lot more out than Joe. Lately, I have begun to just check in with them on an individual basis to make sure that everything we’ve told them (however you feel is ok, it’s not ok to pretend or stuff your feelings down…but it’s normal to do that, etc.) is still fresh in their minds. I told each of them of my “Let it Go” and “moon” moments on the way to school this morning (I drive them separately so we get a little alone time each day). I model to them how I’m doing so that they have something to follow. I have also talked to Joe about having a guest spot posting on this site to let people know how he is. Bella, I’m sure would jump all over it as well. The idea being that they both want to be “famous” like every other kid in the world today. In so doing, they would be encouraged to go through their emotions and have a release for them. I’m not sold yet, but I think it’s a good idea.
I would be remiss if I did not let you know about a wonderfully horrific moment I had with Joe the other night. Bella wasn’t “feeling well” at school and came home “sick.” Parenthesis added because we very much wondered if she was just tired and needed a break, later in the day she did kind of tucker out and although she was symptom free, she seemed to be just under the weather. So, at bedtime I checked in with Joe. He had been to Jiu Jitsu and we had encouraged him again to use it as a time to “get it all out” and give all that he had (he, like lots of 11 year olds has a lot of pent up energy going on. How much of that is emotional…who knows?). I told him that just as we encourage him to “fight hard” at Jiu Jitsu that my fight was for him and Bella. That he could trust and feel secure that every day I was swinging away doing all that I can to make sure that they are ok. When I realized that he had glazed over and I was simply talking to myself in his dark bedroom I stopped and asked, “Make sense? You ok?”
He replied, “I’m worried.” I asked him to tell me what he was worried about. He said, “Bella” and began to cry. Stunned for a minute it then hit me…real hard. I said to him, “You’re worried that she’s not feeling well and going to sleep. Trey wasn’t feeling well and he went to sleep. Only…he didn’t wake up.” He cried harder.
At that moment I wanted to say to him, “Joe, Trey had cancer. Trey was suffering. We knew that it was possible that we would lose “the race” against cancer. Bella is just tired. She’s fine. They are totally different circumstances.” By the grace of God I did not say that. Instead, and I praise God for this, I did something else. I held him…and I teared (he and Bella apparently don’t like it when I cry so I just gently tear, still showing sadness but being very much in control and strong). Inwardly, I was sobbing with and for him. I finally did say, “that is so scary isn’t it?” and held him some more. After our “moment” we did go over all of the above and talked about how anything can happen at anytime (I always use super random things as examples “A gargantuan sheep could fall out of the sky and land on anyone of us at any time” and things like that. I went on to explain that that is one of the main reasons why we want he and Bella to get along and let typical bicker nitpicking stuff slide (you know, that every sibling does with each other). I told him how proud I was of him for sharing with me and how strong he was. I prayed for him and kissed him goodnight, rejoicing to God that we had that moment and that I mourned/was afraid WITH Joe, not telling him that he was wrong to feel those things. If but for just one moment, he was not alone in the loss of his brother.
So, that’s how we are. Rachel and I are perusing the idea of heading back down to Austin to tackle some of the big hurts we experienced over the past month…4 years. Nothing is set in stone but there are obviously some things we have to deal with and some expertise we need to continue to help Joe and Bella. We trust them (the folks at the Center for Relational Care where I learned pretty much all that I know about emotions/feelings). There is a certain amount of trust, intentionality and expectation we have with them that will enable us to “go there” without worrying about our inner monologue getting in the way.
Many many of you have let us know that you are thinking of us and praying for us. We hear you and appreciate that very much.