Thursday, November 8, 2007

New Kind of Normal

I have put a lot of thought into if/how this blog should continue to exist now that Duncan is gone. I went through an entire week of, "That was Duncan's blog. Maybe we ought to just stop writing." But, more recently, I am thinking, "This darn thing has turned out (unexpectedly) to be very meaningful and therapeutic for me too. And, after all, the 'Arthur Adventure' is FAR from being over. So let it live!" And, finally, today when I sat down to reconvene with the first entry since Duncan's death and, furthermore, since I became anxiously aware of just how many people tune in to this blog on a regular basis : "Jeez, what in the world do I say?"

But I figured, I haven't sweated what to say in the past, so why sweat what to say now? As is my general rule of thumb, I'm gonna "let it all hang out." So if you're in a rush, you might want to wait until you can settle in and hibernate in your PJs after dark... which these days is at about 4:30pm... cuz this entry might be a doozy.

Many of you know that Scott and I celebrated our 3rd Wedding Anniversary the day after Duncan's Memorial service. That morning Scott and I met Duncan at Union Cemetery and carried him to his grave. We had some incredibly beautiful moments of talking to him in the sunshine under an umbrella of colored leaves (we chose his grave to be near a gorgeous ash tree). We had really struggled with how to let that morning unfold... Have a formal service? Invite close family? Ask a pastor to reside? It seemed right and fitting for only Scott and I to lay our little guy to rest. It was precious and good. The display of pink and red flowers in the form of a heart, which were given by Dr. G and the Heart Center at Children's, were placed over Duncan's grave that day.

Aunt Jo, Mom's sister who lives in Florida, was at home watching little man Jackson. She arrived the day before the service and stayed until this very morning (What a gift to have her here. More on Aunt Jo later). The Arthurs then met up with Jeremy Oravek for lunch. JO, as we call him, flew in from Phoenix, Arizona to be with his buddy Scott (I'd like to think he came to be with me too, but those two have quite the connection). It felt so weird to be hanging out, enjoying our cheeseburger and barbecue chicken wrap at Champs and laughing about general pleasantries with an old friend when just hours earlier we buried our son. And this sentiment continues to pop up... Why should we giggle when something so life altering just occurred? Why should we get gussied up and go on a date? Why should we talk about anything BUT Duncan? It's strange. There's nothing but time in front of us. And it has to be filled with something. But it feels strange to fill it up with normal things, much less fun things. But then, what else would we fill it with? It's tough to explain this feeling.

So, in light of this not-knowing-what-to-do-with-our-time-nor-how-to-be-in-it dilemma, Scott and I decided to spend our anniversary together... alone... away. Aunt Jo watched Jackson overnight and after lunch with JO, we hit the road for the Hocking Hills to The Glenlaurel Scottish Inn. I brought everything but the kitchen sink, my pumping parts, and my swimsuit. The latter, as it turns out, was not a true necessity. Our little cottage's hot tub was bordered by high walls (if you know what I mean). And, despite our surroundings by the most modern luxuries, I learned quickly how prehistoric women got the milk out when they had romantic getaways away from the kids. I don't recommend it. (Apparently, the "let it all hang out" mood I am in includes TMI). How do I describe our time at Glenlaurel? It was sweet and sad. It was delicious and dreary. It was beautiful and backwards. It felt good and bad, right and wrong. I would get an eyefull of the kaleidoscope of colors from trees in their peak Autumn prime and I would feel inner warmth. Nature's beauty always does that to me. It would make me feel happy, like there was nothing wrong with the world for that moment. And wow, was God there. I think He lives in the Hocking Hills, with its serenity and peace. But just as I would begin to tear up looking at the clear blue sky, tears of a different kind came too.

Scott and I were amazed at how, when you let your emotions do what they want, they can slide back and forth without preparing you. And we shared with each other that sometimes you could sort of feel the sadness work its way up your throat. And at a certain point in your throat, you could have a conversation with that sadness. You could either tell it to stay below a certain point and not move its way up (still feeling sad, just not making a mess of you) or you could approve it to take over your whole face - eyes welling, snot flowing, voice sobbing. So there is some choice in the matter. And - let me tell you - when you are in a cottage with no need for make up or clothes (robes will do just fine), and you're with your bestest friend in the whole wide world, there's not a whole lot of need to hold it back. We mainly greeted the sadness right on up every time. We shared so much. We just talked and talked and talked. And we spent at least a half hour opening up cards. Actually, we have spent about a half hour opening up cards every day since Duncan's service. It is an incredibly humbling thing to feel as loved as we do. And to think that people are giving and giving and giving - you name it: their prayers, their cards, their flowers, their food, their donations to the Heart Center, their time - without even an ounce of expectation that any of it will be given in return. It totally disregards the human instinct of reciprocity. And it is as close to the love of Christ as I can imagine. I would not want anyone to go through the pain of our past couple weeks, but I sure do pray that everyone someday feels as loved as we have as a result.

So our anniversary was unusual but very much tied Scott and I even more closely together. One thing is for sure, he and I are in love. Thank the good Lord for that!

Jackson awaited us when we returned. He is a joy. I have decided that what I do not feel is "emptiness," because of him. I am grieving two things: Duncan himself and the idea of a life with twins. I miss Duncan in so many ways. The places I think about him, picturing his face or his toes or his fuzzy hair, are in the shower (what is it about "cleansing" when the water washes over me?) and in bed at night before falling asleep. And I feel lost without having 2 babies. While my Girlfriends Club (Becky, KK, Carey, and Beth) were in town, they showered me with love on Sunday by going into Operation Girlfriend mode: tidying the house, stocking the fridge, preparing those fantastic picture boards of out journey that was displayed at the visitation, decorating for the Fall, making that fantastic adult beverage with lime and mint whose name is escaping me right now, and setting the mood for a night of warmth and peace. One of their roles was to quietly remove all the "doubles" in our home. Thank goodness that was done for me. It's just sad. It was early December, almost a year ago, that I learned and grew attached to the knowledge that I was going to be a mother of twins. So I miss Duncan himself, and, in addition, I miss being a mom of two.

But - where I was going with that last paragraph - what I do not feel is emptiness. I feel an absence, but not total emptiness. While it is hard enough to remove one of the cribs, I do not have to close the nursery door altogether. And that has been what has saved me... our little Jackson is a bundle of goodness whose presence prevents me from feeling loss in its deepest sense. Plus, who couldn't smile sincerely at Jackson's gummy grin? Who wouldn't find joy in his playful energy. Simply put, he's irresistible.

The past week seems like it's all gooked together. A lot got done. All four of us (Scott, myself, Jackson, and Aunt Jo) headed to Lousiville for my high school's ten year reunion this past weekend. Aunt Jo spent some quality time with Grandmom and Grandad while Scott and I had a night out on the town with old buddies from Manual. Aunt Lisa, Uncle Brad, Jessica, and Drew were on Jackson duty. (And pun intended.... they got a good diaper change out of him).

The days since have been filled with projects around the house. My dear aunt must be kin to Becky Smith, because she has two best friends: order and organization. These two are acquaintances of mine, but I wouldn't say we're tight. As you can imagine, Aunt Jo got me in good shape. We reorganized closets, rethought out how to use spaces, moved furniture, rearranged the nursery, found an insullation issue in the attic, rehung all of Scott's clothes (needed a woman's touch), etc, etc. Not to mention the fact that the dishwasher was always run and emptied, the tea was always made, the bottles were always steralized, and the washing machine was always running. What would I have done without her? And then, on top of it all, she treated me to some pampering yesterday (manicure and pedicure). Nice. Now she's in Florida, already returned to her husband and daughter. I already miss her.

I am a bit scared, to be honest, of how I will react to a quiet home. This afternoon is the first one without anyone but Jackson and myself hanging out since Duncan died. I am eager to be alone, because I know I need to do some reflecting and journaling and praying and processing. But I am also scared of it. As Lynette responded today when I told her on the phone that I was looking forward to getting bak to normal ; "It'll be like a 'new normal'" Wish me luck.

So I'm about typed out for now. And Jackson has been a very cooperative little sleeper while I indulge myself in this entry. But I am just now observing his little blue blanket moving in the swing where he lays (for the moment) peacefully. I think nap-time is over.

Please know how thankful I am just that you care enough to check in with this blog. Thanks to everyone. Enjoy the pics.

Scott, Becky, Myelf, Beth, KK, Theresa, Jackson, and CareyVisiting Duncan... the ash tree is to the left
Jackson in the fall leaves
The Arthurs with the pumpkin Carey brought from Circleville
"King of the Pumpkin"

Scott gazing at the marvelous colors of the Hocking Hills
Our time at the GlenlaurelJackson in his "Sugar Baby" Halloween costume

High School buddies: Layla Ray, Julie and myself at the 10 year reunion

Scott and myself at the reunion


devaneygirlstill said...

Tricia, just reading your post somehow makes my heart feel better. Your family has not been a moment from our thoughts and prayers and just to see you type and know you are there is just so good.
Your Owl sisters will be over in full force on Sunday and I (along with many others) cannot wait to give you a huge hug and see that sweet face of Jackson's.
We love you. So very much.
Emily Devaney Replogle

MissRebecca said...

Tricia - you are truly such an amazing person and I am so truly honored to call you a fiend and sister. You and Scott's amazing faith has made me consider the nature of my own faith and for that I thank you. I also thank you for having the strength to post and share. You overwhelm me with your stregnth.

Finally - thnk you for bring Duncan and Jackson in to the world. Jackson will always be a twin and you will always be a Mom of twins. You have now one earth baby and one angel baby. They will always have that connection to one another as well.

I love you so much and cannot wait to see you and rake some leaves on Sunday!!

I have prayed for you and your family and He has truly answered my prayers in hearing what you have to say. Love to you, Scott and Jackson. Love forever to Duncan.

MissRebecca said...

MissRebecca - Becky Devaney Stapleton :)

Aunt Lisa said...


I'm glad you decided to continue the blog. You have quite a gift at this. We love being able to keep up with you.

Love you, Aunt Lisa

Joy Strancar said...

I'm always thinking of you, Tricia. Glad to see that you will keep writing your blog. It has to be a great therapy for you.
I hope we can get together with you all soon!
Love, Joy

Lynda said...

Tricia, thank you so much for continuing. We have thought about you a lot, and prayed for all of you. You will move forward with a different kind of life as Jackson grows and thrives and you help him remember his brother. You'll realize that life is easier without a very sick child, and that there comes a time when anyone who is very ill needs to die. It's part of life, and the realization that life is fragile will help you cherish all you had with Duncan and all you have now. Continue to live and love fully, and Duncan will always be a part of that.

Loveto you all --

Lynda Bernays (FHC)

Lepus said...

All my love to you guys. Hope to see you soon!

aubregary said...

I must say that the "New Kind of Normal" entry just warms my heart. You two really are the strongest people I know. I admit that I am weeping as read the entry as I also am a new mom of a 5 month old and can feel your loss in my heart. The pictures are so wonderful of Jackson, he is SO adorable you want to eat him up. I continue to pray for you and your family and admire your strength and faith. Our thoughts are with you. Love, Aubre, Gary and baby Noah