Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Things I Miss

I miss having a reason to buy Golden Oreos.

The boys prefer Chips Ahoy, but not you, Addie. You couldn't stand chocolate (unless it was a Tootsie Roll, which, let's face it, isn't really chocolate at all). So it was Golden Oreos for you.

I miss hearing the sound of the package ripping open. I miss how you'd twist off the top of each one and lick the frosting.

That probably sounds silly, trivial actually. But it's something I think about quite often - along with a thousand and one other things I miss about you.

I miss our morning talks. We didn't have a lot of time, but the time we had was ours. Dad would leave with the boys and I'd have about 15 minutes before I needed to leave for school. There we'd sit, you reading the back of the cereal box. Me scrolling through Facebook and working on my peanut butter toast. So maybe not the talks so much. More just being there together.

I miss watching you put your hair up in a pony tail, smoothing out all the "bumps."

I miss seeing the lamp on in the window when I pull out of the driveway. Again, a simple thing. But a lamp on means you're sitting in the chair waiting for the bus.

I miss the homemade cards.

I miss that Ag Day t-shirt you always wore. Here I bought you the latest and greatest from the Gap and you opted to wear the free t-shirt you picked up in third grade.

I miss mozarella bites. The ones you always had me buy when the Schwan man visited. He gave us a bag after he heard you died. It sits unopened in the freezer and the Schwan man hasn't visited us in months. I suppose we weren't the best customers in the early days of our grief. We couldn't hardly make a decision and we certainly weren't in any shape to buy any frozen goods. And now, I just don't think I could place an order without the mozarella bites.

I miss how you'd yell "manners" when you saw a bright yellow car or truck tooling down the street. Isaac still does that every once in awhile.

I miss seeing you get off the bus and run up the driveway. I didn't get to see this too often, but when I did, you always had a smile on your face.

So carefree.

I miss Good Luck Charlie and Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. I hate to admit it, but your brothers have been deprived of some quality television because I don't know which number to plug into the remote.

I miss running my school projects by you. You know, the ones I was going to have my third-graders and fourth-graders do. You were always so good about that. Those kids are fifth-graders now. Almost ready for middle school.

I miss Marcel the Shell. Remember that video? Dad doesn't think it's nearly as funny as you and I do.

I miss shopping for you. Sometimes I'll torture myself by going through the girls section at Target. I try to figure out what you'd want. What you'd wear.

I miss hearing you ask me for a guinea pig and a hamster and a rabbit.

I miss hearing you read an ad for a guinea pig or a hamster or a rabbit verbatim off Craigslist.

I miss seeing you walk around in your faded pair of Nebraska flannel pants and polka-dotted robe (with the hood pulled up all thug-like).

I miss putting a towel down on your pillow so it wouldn't get all wet from your hair after a shower.

I miss signing your planner and your fold-ables.

I miss your friends.

I miss making waffles. In fact, we haven't had them since you died. That was a family thing. Everybody had their part. Eggs. Oil. Powder. And me pretending to beat on the pancakes like a drum.

I miss the extra laundry.

I miss having you there in the background. Just sitting there. On the computer. On the iPad. Chiming in with a comment (or a comeback if needed).

I miss calling you on the phone every day on my way home from school. I miss asking you about the favorite part of your day. I miss your answers.

I miss looking in the rearview mirror and seeing your face.

I miss hearing you yell at Isaac when he'd pull your hair.

I miss your patience. And I wish I had some of it.

I miss the schedule. The hustle. The bustle. The here. The there. We just don't have anywhere to be now.

I miss your laugh.

I miss the way you fit in my arms. Sometimes I sneak into your closet, take a shirt off a hanger and just hold it to remember how little you were.

I miss waking you up in the morning.

I miss tucking you in at night.

And a thousand and one things in-between.

I miss the good mornings, the goodbyes, the good nights and the I love yous.

But most of all, I miss you.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My 'Middle' Child

I'm not sure how the whole birth-order personality thing shakes out in your house, but in ours, Addie has always been the textbook example of the first born. Reliable. Conscientious. High-achieving. And constantly seeking the approval of authority figures. I guess that would be us.

She was quick to tears if she ever felt she did anything "wrong" or didn't get things right the first time. Take long division, for example. Oh the tears that were shed at our kitchen table as we worked and re-worked the step-by-step process necessary to get the right answer. This was just days before diagnosis. I could sense her frustration and tried my best to reassure her that it would be OK. This involved sharing a few stories of my own mathematically-challenged self and explaining that mastering long division was just going to take practice, repetition, and time.


I didn't intend for this post to be about time running out on long division and life. This is a post about birth order, so let's stick with that.

Like I said, the oldest child description fit Addie to a T.

Addie and Tripp at the pool.

So where does that leave Isaac?

He's supposed to be the rebellious, polar opposite of his older sister. In some ways, he is, but he's also kind and considerate (most of the time). And I don't think it's fair for anyone to expect the middle child to all of a sudden take on the personality traits of the oldest child just because the oldest child has died.

And yet, there are times when I do a double-take at the things I've seen in Isaac since Addie's death. There are times when I hear a voice, gentle and sweet, explaining why we don't need to scream when we aren't the person picked to put the spoons on the table. I'll turn around expecting to see Addie and see a 5-year-old boy instead. That is not to say that there aren't times when Isaac is the one doing the screaming, but the years he spent living with and listening to his older sister have made him who he is. And that's someone who can sweetly explain to his little brother why things are the way they are one minute and remind him that he's a weenie the next.

And that's OK.

Partners in crime-fighting?

Loving brother.

So Here's a Little Something I Should Probably Work Through

Today I was mad.

Mad at the automatic door on my Chrysler Town & Country. Mad because it automatically opens, but refuses to stay open for more than a half-second. So there I stand out in the bitter cold watching the rickety door pop and grind to a close.  I watch my boys mouth the words "stupid door" from inside the van. Words I'd normally scold them for using, but they've heard me say these words roughly twice a day for the past year and a half, so yeah, not a battle I'm willing to fight.

Today I was mad at Siri on my "smart" phone because she kept telling me to try back later. Mad because up until two months ago I had done just fine using the same dumb phone I'd had for four years. Mad because I'd come to rely on a computer-activated voice to do things for me that I could just as easily have done myself.

Today I was mad at the woman who may or may not have mistaken me for the boys' grandmother at the Children's Museum. I'm still holding out hope that maybe she was referring to my sister-in-law when she instructed Isaac to smile at the camera so mom or grandma could take a picture, but it's highly unlikely. My sister-in-law is 5'2" tall and looks young for her age. I, on the other hand, do not.

Today I was mad at my jeans. The $20 pair that was supposed to be my January and (possibly) February jeans. You know, the cheapies that were supposed to tide me over until the baby weight fell off. It's not exactly falling off, but the jeans sure are. And not because of any significant weight loss. Mainly just because they're made of that hideous stretch material and they're just...ill-fitting. I literally have to hoist them up every time I stand up. And now they're going to be my March jeans. Ugh.

Today I was mad at a sweet little old lady. Mad because she commented to Isaac how hard it is to be the oldest child when he was trying to whine his way into sitting in the shopping cart along with Tripp. Obviously she meant nothing by it. I knew that. So I pretended not to hear.

Today I was mad at the $5 flower we bought at Michael's. It fell apart in Isaac's hands within 30 seconds of pulling out of the parking lot. He felt awful. It was Addie's flower. One he was going to send up with a balloon on her birthday.

I chose not to go back to the store (you know, the van door and the ill-fitting jeans and all).

Instead, I chose to just stew for awhile and tell Siri how much she sucked.

Until we pulled up to Target.

It's there that I explained to Isaac that I wasn't mad at him. Or the van door. Or my jeans. Or little old ladies.

I'm just mad that Addie's not here.

And sad. So sad.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kids Say the Darndest Things

If you're a mom, then you've certainly collected your fair share of kidisms through the years. Some make us laugh. Some make us cry. Some make us cringe. It's been my experience that those that make us cringe usually take place while waiting in the checkout line at Wal-Mart, but that's another post entirely.

One of my personal favorites took place in my very own bedroom about three or four years ago. Addie and I were snuggled under the covers watching the 10 o'clock news. It probably wasn't a school night. OK, so maybe it was. Don't judge. Anyway, Rob McCartney was reporting on the latest in a series of robberies. He referred to the suspect as a "serial robber" to which 7-year-old Addie looked at me puzzled and said, "Who'd want to steal cereal?"

It's not as if my steady stream of facebook fodder ended with Addie's death.

If you've had the pleasure of experiencing the dynamic duo that is Isaac and Tripp, then you know they keep life, umm, entertaining.

"Mom, " Isaac said after a particularly trying day. "I just keep forgetting to be good."

Well, they keep it interesting anyway.

Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Exhibit C
But the conversations that flow freely at our house might be a bit different than the ones that take place at yours.

The topic of death is a frequent guest at our dinner table. So is God. And Heaven.

You might think that's pretty heavy table talk and I'm sure it raises more than a few eyebrows when these things come up when we're out and about, but really it's not - especially when you have a 3 year and 5 year old involved. It's just...

Normal, I guess. Well, normal for us.

There are those that make me laugh:

"Mom, are there TVs in Heaven?"

"Mom, does Addie have an iPad?"

To which I answer, yes.

Yeah, I know, I'm probably going to get in trouble for that, but it's not like I was given a guide book for this.

"How did Addie get up into the clouds?"

You've got to believe me when I tell you I actually explained this one in a way that would make my Sunday School teachers proud, but I'm not sure Isaac and Tripp are buying it just yet.

"I think she probably used a rope or something," Isaac said.

There are those that make me cry. 

Like this one I overheard the other day as the boys paused in a fight over who got to spit toothpaste in the sink first:

"Isaac, when is Addie coming back?" Tripp asked.

"She's not," Isaac answered matter-of-factly.

"But when is she coming back?" Tripp pushed.

"She's not."

"But when..."

"She's not coming back because she died!"

That's when I decided to step around the corner and into the bathroom.

And that's when Isaac, not wanting to believe what he had just told his little brother, asked me, "How many minutes until Addie comes back?"

And then there are those that, well, I don't know what they make me do:

"Mom, I wish we could all go to Heaven so we can be a family again."

What do you say to that?

Someday, buddy. Someday.