Thank you all for your sweet comments and continued prayer for us. Life for us is still a little strange. We have been resting as much as we can, partly because we are getting sick. I'm working on a cold and John has had a fever and headache for three days. Not fun. I keep hoping that John will feel better by the time he goes back to work tomorrow. And on an emotional level, we are each in our own particular place in the grieving process.
Ethan has been glad to be back in Montana. Before we left Florida, the crazy schedule was getting to him. Both John and I were away from Ethan far more than he would have liked. On the day of Ellie's service in Florida, Ethan woke up and was snuggling with me. He said "Mom, I wish I was dead." When I asked why, he said "so that I could go to Heaven and see Ellie." He often says that he misses her. Last night he wanted to look at the stars because it makes him think of Ellie, but he was sad a few nights ago when he saw a picture of her. I have definitely been able to see the pressure of the past months begin to show in Ethan's behavior. He will get so frustrated and angry sometimes over the smallest things. One of the sweetest things came out of one of Ethan's angry times. For the first time, Ethan identified Ellie as part of himself. I had told him "no" and Ethan was so upset with me. He said "you don't like me and Ellie." As the situation escalated, he said "you don't love me and Ellie." And finally, "Me and Ellie hate you!" There was a whole lot more to the situation, and I did deal with his attitude, but it was a long and complicated battle. Much later in the day, Ethan came to me and said "you are a good mom... me and Ellie really do love you." I just thought it was so sweet that Ethan would take Ellie on as a part of him. Little things like that show me that he's working through Ellie's death in his own way. On the not-so-good side though, Ethan has begun having dreams about me "going away" forever. He woke up this morning and literally ran across the room and jumped into bed with me. He was so shaken by the dream that he had. This whole thing is such a process... At this point we are trying to just keep things wide open for him to say whatever he's thinking and feeling. We try to show him that there's nothing that he cannot say. I would much rather hear the sadness, harshness, and even ugliness than see it buried in his deepest heart.
John is just plain sad. When he gets home from work, when he wakes up in the morning, when he goes to bed at night... he's just sad. The tears are always close to the surface, and he sees Ellie everywhere. We have had some nice time over these past days off of work to just be in the same room together. Since John is feeling so sick, he hasn't been able to be busy and so we have been able to just sit. But sometimes the down times can be harder than the busy times. More time to think. Yesterday I would be doing something in the kitchen and John would walk up behind me, put his arms around my waist and just lay his head on my shoulder and say "I miss her so much". It's as if all of the energy and life has been completely drained away from his body. John has echoed Ethan's sentiment many times over "I just wish I was dead." I don't take it personally - it's the only way for the pain to stop, and I know that. He says that he can hear her voice and see her everywhere he looks. I think that one of the most heartbreaking things for me to watch is how John has not only lost his Ellie, but he has had to face the death of a dream as well. John always always wanted a daughter. When I was pregnant with Ellie, he hoped that she was a girl. He told me that he would not want to keep having children just to try for a son if all we had were girls, so I asked how long he would try for a girl if all we had were boys. He couldn't answer me. Not having a girl was unthinkable to him. But on the other side of that coin, I saw John taking such delight in Ethan yesterday. He acknowledged that losing Ethan would have been just as hard as losing Ellie. Ethan is such a precious little guy, and I watched John take pictures of him and laugh at his antics in the snow. John wants to be here for Ethan and for me... it's just that the sadness trys to take over sometimes.
I, on the other hand, am living in a wierd sort of never-land. Everything is a little surreal. Last night as John watched the minutes pass from 7:43 to 44... 45... 46, and tick off the six week anniversary of Ellie's death, I felt like I was watching from outside of the window. I should feel somthing other than sorrow for John's pain. I should be crying too. I should feel... something, anything. But most of the time I don't. I thought that some of the numbness should have warn off by now and that I would be inconsolable. Today is the 15 year anniversary of Dad's kidnapping. But as I mentally mark the day, the emotions of it still sit off at a distance. Usually watching the Superbowl is my most emotional time because, that year, the 31st. fell on Superbowl Sunday and I was watching the game at the exact same time my dad was being kidnapped. John was asking me about it this morning because he was trying to figure out how the grief of losing Ellie will change over the years. I wish that I could have been more help to him, but I think that my grief process is just not "normal". When it came to losing Dad and Ellie, I have not felt the full weight of the grief. I often feel like I'm standing apart, as an observer, unable to fully participate. I just cannot go into that place of deep pain - I don't want to hurt that much. And so, I take it in very small doses. Music is my biggest trigger, so I will occasionally listen to music and look at pictures, or allow some of the memories to settle in... and then I will cry. I also tend to have a good hard cry occasionally over something very minor, and that helps to discharge some of the pent up emotions. John is wonderful about that. We were dating during the first year of Dad's captivity. Every so often, I would just lose it over something stupid. I would cry and cry like my heart was broken when the littlest thing had set me off. John would hold me and stroke my hair and say "it's ok - I know this is about your dad too." Even this morning, while John was crying, he completely understood why I wasn't as sad. There is nothing on this Earth as precious to me as the gift of being undertood. John has given me that gift from the time that I first met him, and now - even in the midst of his unbearable grief - he gives it again.
Thank you also for your prayers for Loretta. She is just so exhausted these days. It has been such a long and intense 15 months. Before we came back to Montana, Loretta moved back into her half of our little place. She hasn't been able to completely sort and unpack everything, but has been working on it little by little. She has also been dealing with some severe pain in her feet. Emotionally, Loretta mostly stays where I'm at - not letting it all in to far - until she looks at John. Then she feels the full weight of his grief. She has been an incredible help with Ethan. She provides such wisdom in how to talk to him as well as how to discipline him.
We have not yet moved over to our place. There is much finishing left to do, so for now we rest and stay at Mike and Reni's. They have been so gracious to us in allowing us, and our stuff, to overflow into their home. When John is feeling better and we have had the time we need to recover a little from the past 6 weeks, we will begin the process of settling into "home."
Thought you might like to see some pictures of my guys...
This was at the Minneapolis airport on our way home:
Some fun in the snow: