Fight Like Mike
Forewarning this is a somewhat sad post about grief.
Once again I have been overwhelmed by your love and support these past three weeks.
I am so sorry I have not been able to thank you all individually yet or on some days even reply to your texts. I start emails and can’t get through them. And I think the next hour will be better and I will have more energy to reply but truthfully, I continue to feel exhausted from doing what feels like very little. I am
Amazed at the strength I witness in others who have to go to work through their grief. This is harder than I ever imagined.
Missing Mike , has become my new full time job.
And it is making it difficult to do much of anything else.
Yesterday morning started at 430 am as I woke up to this nightmare again after having had the best ,most vivid dream that Mike had met me on a vacation. He was back to the 185 lb strong , healthy , free from pain guy I once knew. He was his old self and when I told him he looked like he felt better he just said - I do , but let’s not talk about that tonight( sounded pretty familiar ) . I was so excited to have him back , I could actually feel him in my dream. It was so real.
And so when I woke up I was completely heartbroken again.
The weight of sadness continues as I make a cup of coffee and wish so bad I was making him one too.
And this is just the beginning . I then know I have another long day powering through while missing him with every step.
Faith is born of struggle.
I heard this statement said by a priest on the today show the Saturday before Easter.
The kids and I talked about the suffering and struggle we are going through each day in missing Mike.
I told them we have to believe our faith will be stronger one day.
Although right now I am having an internal battle. On so many topics.
I’m finding myself questioning every cardinal that flies by or stops on our bird feeders.
Is it you really you, Mike ?
Telling me to keep going , or is my subconscious ? ( as our friend Terry and I talked about )
I need proof right now.
Because more than anything
I need to hear your voice.
I need to hear you say , “ you got this Snookie !“
( promised him I would never tell anyone he called me that🤫 )
But I need desperately to hear your voice, to hear you say ,
“ I love you. It is me. I am always with you. And you can do this. “
I desperately need you to hug me and tell me “ it’s gonna be ok “.
I want to believe it’s him.
But right now I’m left wondering.
Because the missing him is so intense. I am missing him so bad my stomach hurts and I feel like I need an IV of ginger ale .
When I finally made myself go for a walk last week ,a cardinal sat on our front porch for at least a minute, staring at me as I walked outside.
I am starting to think it’s better to just believe it’s him. Because not believing leaves me even more paralyzed in grief. And that will do none of us any good in the long run.
I know it’s always going to be a choice. To believe or not to believe.
A choice to choose light. Instead of the dark.
A choice to choose to step back into life. Instead of dying a living death each day with Mike.
I also know it will take time to get back to choosing light and life each day.
Right now I have been listening to this song on repeat , it describes my grief better.
Like the song says,
Close my eyes and think of you
Go to sleep and dream of you
We don't get to be here long
Though my heart may be in pieces
My eyes are still set on you
And though I can't keep it together
I know that you'd want me to
Oh, I'm swimming in the grief
And there's no anchor that could hold me down
I don't want any relief
'Cause I don't wanna let you go right now
Close my eyes and think of you
Go to sleep and dream of you
We don't get to be here long
I gave you the best of me
Loved you more than anything
But we don't get to be here long
I know you found the promise land.
But I’m still here.
And I’m missing you.
I am missing you ,Snookems.
I am continuing to keep swimming for you , but like the song , it is in the grief that I am swimming.
I don’t want relief ,
because I don’t want to let you go.
But I won’t quit swimming, too many people won’t let me quit. I also made a promise to you , I wouldn’t quit for Jake , Celia, and Graham. They are too full of life. They have ALL of you in them. All of your fighting spirit and are getting back up smiling each morning.
At the end my day I lay there wishing so bad I was still scratching his back until I fall asleep. Then he can change the channel to shark tank or moonshiners still on record with new episodes unwatched from last Friday night. Like Celia said , I felt safer with him here. Always.
Instead I am learning to be grateful for our new room . It has turned into a floor of mattresses , pillows and blankets. 😜🤷🏽♀️🙄Yet somehow they all end up in the bed. And sometimes I will stay close to them and sometimes I can’t take one more kick to the gut and move to the floor . 😆and the only thing on the tv is the next funny kids movie.
Many of you ask how they are doing . The kids truly seem to be coping in the best way they can. Days are better for them. Nights are hard when they are tired. Many nights we lay down in tears and cry out missing him and wanting him back.
But I am told all of this is normal.
I tell them that.
I tell them we will feel stronger in time.
But we loved him so much so it will hurt so much.
Graham is blunt. Daddy died. Daddy is a cardinal. Where is heaven ? When Celia was upset one night , he yelled please don’t talk about it. It makes my body hurt ( he couldn’t have described it better , my entire body hurts ) He did tell me one morning when he woke up, he had a dream about daddy and he didn’t have his walker anymore 🧡
Celia is outspoken. Talks about him all the time. Cries out loud and lets me and everyone know how much she misses him . With encouragement from an angel friend who has walked this road before me , Celia has made a jar to write down everything we know , love and remember about him. Some days I love it and some days it just makes my body hurt more like Graham. She is taking care of us all with mint water, the hot glue gun , and baking cookies.
Jake is quiet. And has had a few break throughs. But mostly he quietly tells me when he sees a cardinal. He watches me closely , and sits right by always. He asked for a watch I had given mike for his 2nd transplant birthday and I also gave him a cross mike used to have in his truck in college. I watch him hold on to them and find comfort in them in quiet moments.
I have received amazing letters from you all. Many of you have shared stories with me about your own loss and I am so grateful for each of them.
One letter from a dear nurse friend has given me hope and I want to share a little about what she wrote to me.
She shared some of her story that I didn’t know about.
She lost her mom to Leukemia when she was 4. She became an oncology nurse and was one of the very first nurses we met on Mike’s first day of 6E. She took the best care of Mike.
It reminded me of the good that can come from this awful disease. That compassion and faith truly are born from struggle and suffering . Her own struggle is what had led her to care for Mike. Suffering and hope had come full circle.
It really hit me hard in the best way.
I read the heartfelt letter to Jake Celia and Graham.
And will continue to read it to them in really weak moments , when our bodies physically hurt. To remind them of what can come from suffering. Compassion , strength , and most importantly love.
There have been so many letters and amazing words sent about Mike. To me and the kids. Even their sweet little friends have written letters and drawn pictures. Some from people I don’t even know. I am taking my time soaking in the tears that flow from each one. It’s a gift to be reminded of all the good he was to so many.
Thank You. You are bringing hope and light in moments , more than you realize.
You have brought lanterns and lit our driveway, sent the most beautiful flowers and cards , brought donuts, Stained glass, memory trees and plants , food , neck massagers and at home spa treatments ,footballs , toy and candy boxes, cards , paintings, put ribbons on mailboxes, life is good signs , cooked us dinner , made bread and treats .
You have simply just text me daily. Or listened to me cry on the phone or on a walk .And on and on and on.
Grief has a bad way of making everyone feel like they are not doing enough , please know you are doing enough.
Doesn’t matter the size of the gesture, each has helped. And each has given me a glimpse of light.
Also thank you from the bottom of my heart for your donations in honor of Mike. I promise to you , like I did to him , we will put all your gifts to work in the most meaningful way to help others suffering.
I continue to feel grateful for our families and Andrea who have had to take on the heaviness of my sadness over the last three weeks. They made my first birthday and Easter without Mike days I will remember in a special way.
I want to share this one story that keeps me going back to trusting God even when he feels very silent at the moment and I am too tired to think about praying.
Some of my second moms came over last week after my birthday to
Bring me a gift.
We all stood 6ft apart in our yard on this beautiful sunny spring day.
Graham and Celia helped me open the big package.
It was a painting from my favorite new artist Deann Hebert. It was a beautiful cardinal.
And sweet Graham immediately said “ that’s my Daddy”.
But the incredible part was that they had ordered the painting a couple weeks before Mike had passed away and before my story of Celia and the cardinal .
They just guessed I didn’t have a cardinal because it was her new series of work.
In the last months , I asked Mike several times to tell me how I would know he was with me after he was gone , but y’all know him , he would never talk about dying.
I finally excepted it and thought my faith was strong enough to find a way to feel him with me after he was gone.
However right now I am struggling to feel strong in my faith without him beside me believing in me. Not that I have given up on faith or hope just that it feels questionable and silent. Mike was my anchor. He made me feel I could do anything.
I had goosebumps in that moment hearing these moms tell me the story of the painting . They made me believe that maybe these cardinals are Mikes way of letting me know he is with me.
I felt peace enough in that moment that maybe I can keep believing in life.
That maybe he is still with me even though I can’t hear his voice and feel his hugs.
That maybe faith really is born from suffering.
My heart is with each of you suffering during this time and always. I have been thinking about our friends Drew and Ramon who had his transplant a week ago. An isolating life event as is and can't imagine during this isolating time the entire world is experiencing. Thinking of those who have lost their jobs or are working so more don't lose their jobs. Who are front line workers at the grocery store, bus drivers, to doctors and nurses. Those who have lost their lives without family near. It feels some days are hard to find hope in a hopeless day, in a hopeless fight.
But Mike never did that . And his fight each day felt so hopeless.
We must keep believing in life together. To pull each other through.
The words below were on a card from a beautiful necklace steph gave me .
I taped them up above the sink.
I am not that girl right now. But I hope and pray to be her one day. Grief goals 💪🏾💪🏾
Fight Like Mike,