For the last six and a half years, I have had one main purpose — making sure my kids were okay.
I made sure they had a nice place to live and have helped them through all of the hard times they faced without their Dad.
I have tried to keep everything afloat while struggling through my own grief. It has been hard to put a positive spin on everything when I just wanted to scream, “this is horrible and so unfair!” I have tried to make ends meet so they didn’t feel or see the difference when you go from two incomes to one. I have tried to throw a football without the skills, attend school functions alone with a fake smile and struggled through homework that my children’s Dad would have been able to do much better than me.
I have dropped them off at practice where I saw the Dads walking to the field to stay with their kids.
I have walked them through times when they lost interest or gave up on things that were just too hard because he wasn’t there.
I have painfully scrolled through Facebook to see the Daddy-Daughter dance and sports awards pictures.
I have watched the heartwarming videos of parents returning home from service to see their kids who missed their parent so much while they were gone, wanting to lose it, knowing my kids won’t ever see their Dad again. Night after night of sleeplessness, followed by mornings when none of us could even hear the alarm go off.
Injuries, ER visits, sicknesses, birthdays, holidays. Every single day there is something that he is missing, something that they were going through and just wanted their Dad.
I could go on and on.
But, at the end of the day, it’s not okay. There is nothing okay about two young kids having to grow up without their Dad.
It’s so incredibly heart-wrenching.
I found some old videos last night of the kids from before 6/19/2012. They were so happy. Pure joy, innocent laughter. They were just normal and happy kids.
There are videos from shortly after 6/19/2012. There were smiles and laughter, but it wasn’t the same. I heard two little voices, making me painfully aware of just how young they were when it happened. They were trying so hard to be normal, to just be kids. But behind those smiles and laughs, I could see and hear the pain they tried to hide.
There were videos that were a taken a couple of years later. They were much more serious and somber. Those little voices and brave laughs were no longer there.
I realized that I don’t have any recent videos. The struggles over the last several years have been so hard and so intense that it made me wonder if we would ever be okay. There wasn’t much happiness to capture.
We have just been trying to get by. Just trying to survive.
Then, tonight I was hit with such a raw and real picture of all that I just described. It just hit me all at once. It was like six and a half years of grieving and pain was being felt, out of nowhere, almost as if for the first time.
I have lived every single bit of this with my children. I have dealt with my own grief and the struggles that come with being the sole parent. Although I have walked through hard times with my kids, I have had to be the strong one. I have had to make it okay or at least try to, the best I knew how. All the while feeling that I was always falling short. I hadn’t truly allowed myself to feel the hurt that a Mom feels when they see their kids hurting. That changed, out of nowhere, in a moment.
Suddenly I was sobbing uncontrollably, trying to explain to my children what I was feeling. My voice trembled, the tears flowed.
You know what they did? They hugged their Mom and just kept telling me that it was okay. They wiped my tears and told me not to cry for them. They said that they were okay.
How did those two little heartbroken children grow up so fast?
Now, 16 and 18 years old, they took care of their Mom and said whatever necessary to make it okay.
Here is what I realized…there is nothing okay about what the three of us have had to endure since 6/19/2012. We have been through hell and back. We have struggled through things that no one else will ever truly know or understand.
Life doesn’t look the same for us as it does for others but at the end of the day…we are okay.
We have survived what could have broken us.
We will be better, more loving, more compassionate, and stronger because of it.
We are going to make it.
Despite all the hurt and all the pain, this is not where or how our story will end.
Love doesn’t end. Not even death can break the strong bond of true love. We may be missing an integral piece, but we are and always will be family.
I was married to the love of my life, just shy of 13 years. He was my “boyfriend” in 5th grade. I wrote “Joni Roberts” in my notebooks and cheered for him when he played basketball at recess. We went to the prom as friends in 1997, our senior year in high school. We started dating seriously in the summer of 1998. He asked me to be his wife in February of 1999 and we said “I do” on October 2. We had a son in October of 2000, and a daughter 22 months later in August of 2002. We went through more than most could go through in a lifetime but never gave up on each other. In June of 2012, we were in a horrible car accident that claimed his life. In an instant, I was a grieving 33 year-old single mother of two grieving children who are now teenagers (16&18.) I now walk through life without the one that was to be with me forever. Today, I am doing everything I can to be strong, to raise our two children, to take this grief and use it to fuel the purpose for the rest of my days here on earth. ONE DAY AT A TIME. I love and miss my best friend every day and that won’t change until we are together again. I am choosing to try and live my life in a way that would honor him and make him proud.