A Celebration of Life

Two years ago today we celebrated Wyatt’s life. A day that was largely a blur. Foggy, at best.

I still find myself buffering memories. I allow myself to only remember so much and then I have to shut it off. I can only let so much in at a time before it becomes overwhelming.

I remember preparing for that day. I found a dress with Dodger blue. And I got Dodger blue sunglasses and flip flops to match. It felt weird to buy a dress for what was surely the saddest event of my life. I remember thinking, “I don’t want to buy a dress for this.”

But I did. And we celebrated Wyatt’s life. Because he deserved that. He deserved a celebration to remember and honor him.

As I’ve allowed some memories to flow today, there are some that stand out.

Standing in my kitchen holding my sister in law, Casey’s hands as she prayed for strength for me. Looking at her as we talked about how I was going to get through this. And I distinctly remember saying, “I can do this. I’ve already lived through the worst day of my life.”

The family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers who came from all aspects of our lives.

The endless stream of hugs from those who came.

Turning around to look across Eastside and see the sea of people who were there and catching my breath.

Seeing Shane surrounded by his friends.

Sitting between Brooks and my mom while cherished people in our lives spoke about Wyatt and our family.

The sweet friends and members of our community who put the entire event together.

This morning, already reflecting on the memories of Wyatt’s Celebration of Life, I heard this song.

Before Wyatt died, I equated it with our life. We were living a good life and I knew it. I even used it in a video I made as a collection of moments from 2013. Life was so good then.

When I hear that song now, I have mixed emotions. It hurts to think of what is gone. What will never be. But I also often see it as a celebration of what we’ve had and still have. And sometimes I think it’s a reminder of the good life that Wyatt had, short as it may have been.

As I look back on this day two years ago, it’s still foggy. There is a lot I don’t remember. But what I do remember is this. An immense feeling of love. Love for Wyatt. And love for our family. The goodness in others. The ability of people to come together for those who are in need. The kindness and compassion of our community. And a day spent remembering and celebrating a good life. A life cut short. But still a good life, that has changed my life forever.

I love you, pun’kin. I’ll miss you forever.


Double Digits

Oh buddy… You should be turning 10 today. Double digits. That’s a big deal. To turn 10. To turn double digits.

What kind of party would you have wanted? Bowling? Archery? Baseball? Basketball?

What would you have wanted for your birthday? A new baseball bat? A basketball? I’m sure you would still be telling me you needed a phone of your own.

I’ll miss your excited face this morning as you would have bounded out of your room. I won’t hear your feet hit the floor when you jump out of bed excited for the day.

I would have hung decorations on your door as you slept last night so they would surprise you in the morning.

I would have hung the birthday sign in the kitchen.

Oh, punkin… I miss you. I hate that you aren’t here to turn double digits. I hate that I don’t know what kind of party you would want, though I know at least some of the friends you would want at your party. I know they are missing you, too.

I hate that I don’t know what I would have bought for your present. I hate that I don’t have a present to buy. Or a cake to make. Or a crazy kids birthday party to throw.

It’s not any easier this year. It doesn’t hurt any less now that this is the second birthday that you aren’t here for. My heart hasn’t healed. And if I’m being honest, the pain is sharper this year. This year 2, it’s like that protective fog has lifted and it’s not there to protect me anymore. And the pain actually stings more. If that is even possible.

Happy 10th Birthday, Sweetheart. I will celebrate you today. I’ll send my birthday wishes to heaven. I hope you can feel them. I hope you can feel the hug I wish I could give you.


*This is a piece I wrote quite a while ago, in January or February.  In the few months since then I’ve cycled through this exhaustion a few times in different ways.*

I’ve grappled for the words that truly describe how I feel. Day in and day out. Sometimes it’s sad. Sometimes angry. Sometimes ….. Today the word that came to me is exhaustion.

As I was walking in the park, I was watching the creek flowing, swollen with the recent rains. Spilling over its banks, rushing downstream. And I was taken by this branch in this video. The one in the distance that is being overcome by the rushing water, over and over. It seems it is constantly fighting to stay afloat, to keep above the rising water.

That is how I feel. Like my grief and sorrow just continually overwhelm me. Constantly trying to pull me under. And it is a constant fight to stay above water. Constant. And it is exhausting.

At the next bridge crossing this morning, I came across this branch. It bobs up and down. It is continuously pulled under and then bounces back out. Only to be pulled under again. Sometimes it is pulled under a little deeper and held a little longer. Sometimes it bounces back a little higher and seems to be able to stay above the water just a bit longer. There is somewhat of a rhythm, but not totally. And again, it is constant. With no real end in sight.

This is what life feels like right now. A constant struggle to stay above. To fight past the grief. To make the choice to see the happy, choose joy, remember the good memories, just keep going. And I’m just tired. No, I am exhausted.

I guess that the creek will not stay at this stage. The waters will recede and the branches will dry out. No longer overcome by the high waters. But who can truly predict the coming storms? And you can’t stop Mother Nature.

What happens when exhaustion overtakes you?