Four Months Later
Today is four months since Keith passed away. It feels like it could be years. And yet, I still have regular flashbacks that make it feel like he’s still here and still sick. As much as I miss him and find myself in disbelief that I’m having to parent alone, without my teammate, I am so thankful that he isn’t suffering any more. That sounds so cliche, but I can’t describe it any other way.
I realized lately that I haven’t taken much time to write updates on our daily life. There are some really hard days that end with all of us in tears, but mostly we make the most of each day.
Libby is pure joy. It took her 2.5 months to smile regularly, but now she is constantly smiling and babbling. She truly doesn’t realize we can’t understand a word of it. She likes to think she can sit up on her own and only uses me to balance on when standing. She also has very strong opinions about having slightly wet diapers and needing to get out all her words for the day. She adores Caleb and trusts him immensely: when she’s upset and he tries to console her, she instantly relaxes. A favorite activity is watching the animals dance around on her swing and talking to the baby in the mirror. She’s got Keith’s mischievous grin and his huge smile. I love her endless rolls and those chunky cheeks!
Caleb is his same precocious, tender, and hilarious self. He loves playing “chalk and bubbles” outside and recently acquired a new bike that he is obsessed with. Someone also gave him a ride on “digger” that he hasn’t quite figured out how to use the peddles for, but that’s only a matter of time. He got his first real skinned knee last week, but prefers no band-aid since he says it “feels funny” and then laughs hilariously. He still loves reading books and has found that he really likes puzzles and letters. The train obsession is going strong, but not quite as intense, so I’m thankful for a break! He does talk about Keith quite often. He asks if Daddy will be at places where we are going. He asks if Daddy would like this new movie we are watching. He knows how much Daddy loves him and fondly remembers building trains and tunnels and tickle fights with Daddy. Whenever he hears acoustic guitar, he yells, “Yay! Daddy’s music!” Some people get unnerved when he talks about Keith a lot, but it’s a huge comfort for me: I would rather we talk about him than Caleb’s silence be a sign of his forgetting his dad. It is quite an honor to see this little boy blossom; his old soul is a comfort to me and his silly humor is a relief. Today, I thought I was changing a full diaper and it turned out he had hid a rock he took from the construction site in his diaper; he had clearly forgotten because he was just as surprised as I was when we opened his diaper! Our house is constant entertainment.
I am well, considering. There are still days when life seems like a bad dream: losing your husband young and with two kids is something that happens to other people. Whether I like it or not, it’s happened to me. I don’t always know how to get from morning to evening each day, but I do know that I want my kids to grow up with happy memories from this time, even if it is a huge struggle for me. Having two small kids in the midst of my grief is a challenge, but it’s also a gift. Their smiles and innocence are so refreshing and seeing them grow and develop helps to mark the passage of time. Running has been a gift too: I would have bet money that I would never say that in my life. I’m not sure why training for this half marathon has been so much more positive than any other time that I’ve ran or trained, but it really is. There is something gratifying about achieving a goal as simple as a run in the midst of the toddler/newborn chaos. I’m also choreographing two pieces for a performance in June, so it is nice to have some creative projects.
The hardest thing about the last four months is learning to be independent after spending so many years learning to be part of a team. Keith and I had gotten really good at making decisions together and resolving conflict. We had fun together and felt safe with one another. I never realized how secure he made me feel or how much I depended on his opinion or listening ears. I miss his giggle and the way that he could always make me laugh. It is painful not to have my best friend in my daily life any more.
But then Libby smirks or Caleb freaks out when food touches his clothes and hums while he is focusing on something and I’m reminded of all the wonderful things about Keith that they won’t ever let me forget. It helps to have those little reminders.