Today was almost all family time..made a immensely helpful phone call on the way home with a woman a long ago friend connected me with.. its amazing what just asking for help can turn up..
Since it was Tony’s last day off of work with the modified schedule, I told him to decide what sounded like fun. He said the San Francisco zoo.. we didn’t get to see the whole thing last time. It was a great choice. It gave us time to be away.. with cooler weather and do some forced nap time for the kiddos. I took Jennifer to the Oakland zoo once when I was pregnant with Jonathan. . so I feel a tinge of guilt over never taking her to this zoo..
Walking out I noticed a sign about donors.. I have never really looked at those kinds of things before. .. and I thought $20,000..$ 100, 000 and higher. People care.. about all sorts of things people care. It just gave me a boost about Unravel.
Right away we saw a butterfly… and again .. and again.. I pointed it out to the boys every time. Then finally whispered to myself “I wonder if she sent it”. Never saw it again.
We had those caterpillars from Easter and 2 weeks ago they turned into butterflies. We kept them out on the counter so the kids and I could watch for the changes.. and really get to enjoy them as butterflies. When we did it with Jennifer I hung it up in the play room.. this way was much better.
When they hatched out.. no longer a caterpillar but a butterfly.. with the chrysalis still hanging.. empty… it hit me how much this is a good way to prep them for visiting her at the cemetery. We talked about how they looked as caterpillars.. now so different their old caterpillar friends wouldn’t even recognize them and how the chrysalis that housed them was just a shell.. the butterfly that came from inside was the true being .. Much like Jennifer. Her soul. What made her the girl we remember was on the inside.. her body just a shell. We talked about how once the butterfly has flown away we can still look at the chrysalis and remember them.
Jonathan was really intrigued and it seemed to resonate well with him. We gave them watermelon and watched them for a few days. The night before the 5k I knew it was time to let them go. We all went to the backyard.. and the first thing I saw was a “wisher” a dandelion floating in the sky. A huge massive one. I grabbed it and held onto it. First thing we did was put her stone in the ground. The one that a brother of mine got for everyone in our family.. to have her with us at every family function.. no matter the house. The idea means so much to us.. the boys put one out my parents.. and Jonathan and I look at the one at my sisters every time we go there. I had been waiting for the perfect time.. and that night was it. We laid it out between 2 rose bushes we were given as raffle prizes from a local fundraiser. And behind it a dragonfly.
We all got together by her stone and made our own wishes.. some silent some aloud. And as a family minus one we blew it up to heaven.
Then we let the butterflies go. I remember so vividly that day doing it with her. One of my favorite pictures of her.. headband in the middle of her forehead.. huge grin.. in pajamas in the middle of the day. Not the ones she had slept in.. but ones she randomly changed into. .. Its in a frame in the kids bathroom.
She was the only one that a butterfly landed on .. and it hung out with her for awhile. This time Nicholas got one to stay on him.
Today after the zoo I was inside and Tony and the kids were in the backyard. Jonathan was so excitedly calling for me to go join them. He had the smallest most beat up wisher proudly in his hand. He had us all gather together and make a wish and blow it up to heaven.
I had forgotten we had done that together.. but obviously it is something that really resonated with him.. We struggled to get that little thing up in the air. I told him we could leave it on top of something high and it would be carried by the wind.. but luckily we got it over the neighbors fence.. I saw it sink to the ground again..the boys didn’t.. and I am sitting here now hoping so much that it has made its journey to our girl.
The whole time at the zoo today I had a slow, silent, constant ache in my chest.. my missing her. There is something in the way I felt today that was comforting. My hurt for her was at a level my boys could enjoy me.. but palpable enough I was always aware of it.
I watched Charlotte pet the goat.. and I remembered how much Jennifer always liked petting zoos. How she was kind and gentle. How in Disney World right outside the petting zoo she threw up so violently. The start of the uncontrollably shaking in her legs. Where her vomiting was so strong it took over her whole body. A completely different kind of throwing up than I had ever experienced.. something a pray I never have to again..
Cancer pukes I thought.. I felt so bad for her.. for us..
in reality it was worse.. the beginning of her steep downward turn.
I wonder if it’s what killed her. slowly starving..
My hurt for her is our relationship.. and I need it. My pain makes me a better more present mom.. as long as I save the over powering times for when I am alone.
They think about her though.. my boys.. each in their own way.
Nicholas brought up walking with sissy.. as his favorite part of the day. That she is there.. in a pink dress.. no wings. But she does have pockets.
Jonathan is so like me. He has his necklace now.. and he touches it.. rubs it for comfort. And it seems to work for him. I wonder what he is thinking in those moments.. I wonder if I should ask once in awhile or allow him his private time with her memory.. especially if part of it is in his sub conscience.
I know its not always though.. sometimes I can see him calming himself through this connection to her.. Today he had his last swim lesson for a few weeks. For whatever reason he got really scared. So much so that he couldn’t contain it and cried. .. just a little.. but true genuine scared tears. He took a minute on the step and rubbed the necklace.. his expression doing it reminded me of Charlotte getting her pacifier.. a relief and melting of tension..
Thats a real struggle we have.. trying to navigate when to talk about her.. and when not to. I know they are comfortable talking about her with me.. but I never want them to feel like its expected either. Jonathan talks about *missing* her.. a lot.. Tonight when it was just him and I for a few minutes at the table he talked about *her* for the first time that I can remember. That she used to give him lots of kisses and hugs.. I reminded him how many he gave her.
..and then we talked memories.. simple easy memories.
I struggled to come up with them though. she lived 6 years 3 months.
Much of them a blur for me.. full of newborns..
I am so thankful to whoever invented the camera.. without my photographs I would be lost.
I feel horrible to admit that.. how desperately few stories I have of her. And its a huge piece of my fear with other people.. such a limited amount of stories to tell..
will others grow tired of hearing the same ones over and over again??
yes some will. .. i want to say not everybody.. but i am really truly scared of that.
In some ways, all she is anymore is stories and memories..
videos and pictures.
a tiny bit of ashes. ..
and all of my heart.