Last weekend, we planned a family day at Wonderland…it was a rare day that Paul wasn’t working and we were all looking forward to a great day together. We had even talked the boys into going on their FIRST roller coaster!
We packed our bags, hid our snacks in the backpack, spritzed with sunscreen and headed out the door! We were so thrilled to have a sunny day together, that we just couldn’t stop taking photos and laughing. When it was time to split up to take the boys to their favourite rides alone, we each went off with one of our sweet sons to have one-on-one time. The best part was to meet up and share the news of what we had done. Later, we would switch and take the other son to make things fair and even, of course! I didn’t even get a bit jealous (well, a small bit) when Paul became the “it” parent for the day! I had no problem letting him be in the limelight and ride the roller coasters with them- rides are totally NOT my thing! I loved seeing my three boys together, since the boys have been missing Paul. I loved to see them light up around their amazing dad and see him light up right back! I even got to hold Paul’s hand several times- a moment I still treasure all these years later.
There were times that I wanted to capture it and freeze it forever- the four of us, hand-in-hand across the sidewalk, walking through the busy crowds of the park. We only let go to maneuver around a person or a pole- it just felt right- like a perfect fit. It was during those times in particular that I was incredibly aware of the absence of the stroller, the absence of our third son to make our family complete. I had such intense feelings all day of immense joy followed by the deepest sorrow, thinking each minute of Zackie and how the day would have been different with him there. While we were having the BEST family day in a long time, we weren’t a complete family and the loss was glaring to me. I was hit with tremendous pride and excitement as I watched the boys on the rides, realizing that we were able to enjoy a day as long and hot as this one, because we didn’t have Zack with us. His sensitivity to humidity, weakened immune system, feeding issues, and susceptibility to germs, made days like this impossible when he was alive. To enjoy a day like this, one of us would have stayed home and been with Zack, while the other was out taken photos to share later. Sadness coupled with guilt, followed me for the day, as I saw stroller upon stroller, a million sets of twins, and other children with special needs surrounding me. That part of my life has been gone for a year and a half, but I still long to change just one more diaper, push that stroller, lift my son out of his seat to see something he’d love- even if only one more time. I miss that so much each day….it was on this incredible day that I felt it the most.
During the best times in the day were my times alone with each of my precious boys. With Ty, we had such an amazing time together- doing what we each love to do…discuss Dinosaurs! My almost-9-year-old let me hold his hand, put my arm around him and snuggle in close during the awesome “Dinosaurs Alive” movie. I was in heaven. I had really missed that closeness with him and I’ve felt it coming back over the lost few weeks. Several times during these types of moments, I also realized that if Zack had been with us, this likely would not have happened. I think Ty might have also appreciated that it was just the two of us since there were no distractions. In those moments, I felt that Zack had maybe given us that time together again- and I was so grateful.
Jayden and I went down the water slides alone together about 10 times and rode a train as he gave me a tour in his “Australian” accent (might have been more Indian/Italian, really). He had me laughing out loud with his silly expressions and crazy sense of humour- just what we needed on this family day. I also got the sense that he was looking at the strollers and he really spoke a lot about Zackie that day. I’m not sure if he was feeling my sadness at times or if he was missing him too.
I know that anyone who has lost someone close to them, probably has experienced the roller coaster of grief- the highs and lows that are often separated by mere seconds. The incredible joy and laughter, followed by sadness and loss.
While I don’t think I’ll ever get off this roller coaster- some days, it is worth the ride, to just feel those highs again.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE UPS AND DOWNS OF EMOTIONS OR LOSS???