Snippets of our week...
Thanks for all of the concern... We have been very busy these past days. It has been nice to see people, but I have noticed that the more time passes, the harder things are getting for me. I have been just exhausted at the end of every day.
On Wednesday I was able to see a bunch of people at New Tribes. It was wonderful just to get to hug people and physically "lay eyes" on some of the many people who have been praying for us. Ginger and I also spent much of the day working on preparations for the service. We then sat down and watched some video footage of Ellie. John and I went out that evening with Chad and Janeene and were able to fill them in on some of the details of the past year and a half. I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed getting to sit down with them, face to face after missing them for so long. Needless to say, "tired" is an understatement for how I felt at the end of that day!
On Thursday I went to Ellie's school and they allowed me to go from class to class and share a memory book of Ellie. It was wonderful to have a chance to interact with the kids! I love the way that kids do these kinds of things. When you give them the opportunity, children are refreshingly candid and honest. They aren't afraid of the word "die" and never hesitate to ask what they need to know. We talked about Ellie's treatments, her death, and the memorial service. In one class we talked about Ellie's favorite verse, and in another class, the kids shared memories that they had of Ellie. It was just beautiful. I think that I needed that day as much as they did. After that, I was totally drained and spent the next couple of hours with a friend, being fed - physically, emotionally and spiritually!
That evening we went to dinner at Mom and Gary's house. We ended up out around the fire pit roasting marshmallows with the kids. Chad, Janeene, and Jenn were also there with all of their children. Little Emma slept in her mommy's arms and baby Zeke enjoyed the festivities quite happily from Grandma's lap. The other four - Mady, Libby, Elijah and Ethan regaled us all with riddles and stories. It was hilarious! There were some of the funniest, nonsensical riddles and sentences that you would ever want to hear, but all were awarded with applause and whoops. Towards the end of the time, Ethan finally came up with a doosey of a story. It started with "Once upon a time, my Ellie and me went into a scary forest. Then we heard a wolf howl." This was all said in a very hushed and scary tone, when all of a sudden both Mady and Libby let out a simultaneous and spontaneous "aaaaaoooouuuuuuuuuuuuu." It took some time before the laughing (from the adults) died down. Ethan was finally able to continue, and the story was quite interesting. There was also a bear sighting, and bad guys attacking. At one point, Ethan and "my Ellie" rolled up into a ball and got away. They were defeated several times by the bad guys, but finally fought their way to victory!
Yesterday I went shopping with Ginger to prepare for Tuesday. We had a lot of fun shopping and getting pedicures. We ended the time by looking for a dress for Maddie. I started realizing that I was having trouble looking at all of the girl clothes, but kept trying to focus on the small sizes instead of the ever present racks of size 7-12. I kept telling myself that I could separate this - we were shopping for Maddie and it had nothing to do with Ellie. But I kept seeing dresses that Ellie would love... or hate... John called me on my cell just as I rounded a rack of clothes and saw the exact same blouse that Ellie wore on several occasions in New York. All I could do was stand there stroking that shirt and sobbing into the phone. I had the thought that I should get away from there, but stood rooted to the spot, not wanting to leave that little tangible connection to my Ellie.
Last night, before putting Ethan to bed, John was kissing Ethan's head as they lay on the floor. I heard John say "You are my only one. The only one that I have left." Ethan said "yeah, because Ellie died and went to Heaven." And then he said "if I died, then you guys would be all alone and you would be sad." To which I added a little silent "shoot me now!"
John has found that he can't seem to cry hard anymore, but is constantly just welling up with tears. I am finding that after not crying much at all, I am constantly just welling up... we both have finally made it to the exact same point at the same time! We have been going in opposite directions for so long, but today Mom and Gary kept Ethan so that John and I could get away together. (This was after I went and had a long massage and facial, thanks to a couple of sweet ladies who gave me money to do something special for myself.) John and I went out for lunch and then just browsed through stores in the mall. We loved being together, but I can't even count the number of times that we had to wipe the tears from our eyes. There was a little girl at the table next to ours at lunch... a beautiful fountain... a crystal Tinkerbell... the Metropolitan Museum store... a carving of a little girl with short brown hair... We wandered around with the oddest sensation - it was a peculiar combination of joy in being together, but having a gaping hole in our hearts. At one point John said "I just want to laugh and cry all at the same time." And that is how it felt. We held hands as we strolled through the stores, and wrapped our arms around each other on the escalators. We had such joy in each other's company, but one of us would look at something and then nod to the other and our eyes would instantly flood with tears. It made us wonder how many other people we pass every day who are walking around with the bottom having fallen out of their entire world - and no one ever knows. It reminds me of a quote from a movie that we recently saw... "We are the walking wounded. We are handicapped without the benefit of a great parking space." I'm sure that these feelings will dampen with time, but it feels like, after wanting it for so long, we just got "normal" handed to us on a platter and we don't even know what to do with it. This was not the normal that we wanted.
So... we got home in time to get ready for a party that was being held at our old house. I was dreading the first sight of the house, knowing that it would be hard to see it again. The last time I saw it, was in May when we were home from New York for a week. I had fully planned on living there again. But then I never went back. We walked up the driveway and I could see the lights glowing from the windows... my windows. But not my windows anymore. I loved that little house. We put our hearts into every detail. I stepped into the front room and took one quick look around, then went right back out the front door as fast as I could go. As I cried my eyes out in the car port, I just couldn't wrap my head around the pain and confusion. I thought I could cry it out and then get on with the evening, but I couldn't get past it. It was just one more loss and was the one that sent me right over the edge. I have no desire to ever live in that house again without Ellie, but somehow loosing the house felt unbearable.
So... that's a recap of parts of this week... It's not that it's been horrible. It's been special and good, but also very hard.
Thank you to all of you who are staying involved with the memorial on Tuesday even though you can't make it. It just tickled me so much to read about how some of you will wear bright colors for her. Just so you know - in case you're wondering - Ellie's favorite color was blue. She liked blues of all kinds, but her VERY favorite was aqua. She liked purple and pink as well. I also thought that you might like to know that in the last weeks of her life, Ellie watched the movie "Night at the Museum" probably 100 times. There was something about that movie that Ellie absolutely loved. And when she began to weaken to the point where even watching movies was too much work, she loved to have it on in the background. She knew all of the words. So if you want to get a feel for her sense of humor, you could watch that movie. She would recite the British man's lines verbatim - with accent - and loved every scene with Jedidiah (the little cowboy). Ellie got so tickled over the part where Ben Stiller and the monkey slap each other. Once when she was in a lot of pain, Ellie said "would someone please slap the monkey?" and then, as the pain worsened "would someone please knock the monkey out with a hammer?" That movie became such an integral part of the last weeks of Ellie's life. To us, it is her movie. Also... I am planning to put a little something on the blog for those of you who are unable to make it to the memorial service on Tuesday, so please check the blog that morning (or anytime that day). I will try to give you a little memorial as well!
Thank you for your love and care for us. You amaze us with your thoughtfulness!