So Many Hands

One year ago I woke early not knowing what to do.

I suppose I paused outside Elena’s room to see if it had all been a dream. Last night I talked to my father-in-law about this. Tom says he sometimes still wakes hoping it’s all been a nightmare and that she’ll be returned to us.

It’s been a year. I’m ready to wake up.

Kim and I hadn’t slept much that night a year ago. We were in a bit of a fog that would last for weeks. From the time Elena started to turn blue and we knew we had to rush her somewhere life was a bit of a blur.

I went up to my computer and started this blog. I’m not sure what moved me to do it. Maybe nothing more than therapy for myself. Maybe a way of telling friends and family some of the details they would need to know. I started the blog and wrote the initial post. For the next few days I would wander back up to the keyboard and add a thought or two.

I had to tell someone and I didn’t know who or how.

The doorbell rang. It wasn’t yet seven and Kim and I both headed downstairs to see who it was. We’d called a few people the night before. We didn’t yet know that the story had been on the news and that Boulevard teachers had been calling families late the night before.

It was Patti with coffee for us and bagels. For most of the week we only ate when someone reminded us to. For Kim the reminder had to be strong and persistent.

We lived in a weird state of living through that week and watching it like we weren’t even in the room. Who were these people with so much loss? It was us – but there was also a numbness as one person after another came to visit us.

Do you know that trust exercise where you close your eyes and fall back and trust that someone will catch you? That’s what we did for the next few weeks. As we fell backwards and forwards people caught us and helped us back up.

I don’t know what we could have done without them. Without you.

People flew in from thousands of miles away. People wrote to us, called us, or just stayed where they were and said a prayer or thought good thoughts. People linked to the blog and soon people we’d never known were leaving comments of support.

Catching us as we fell backwards.

There were details. So many details to attend to. When? Where? In what? How? Who? So many details.

People are still catching us when we falter and helping us back up. You are. Wednesday the people who came to our house to remind us that they understand this isn’t over for us.

There was something unexpectedly difficult about a year. We had gotten to the point where we could get through our days still remembering Elena but also living our lives as they now are and then bam. A disconnect.

I don’t know what Kim saw this week. I saw images from Elena’s last day. Our conversations while she lay on the couch watching tv. Her calling me on the phone whenever she wanted me. Me helping her to the bathroom and her feeling better. Kim coming home. Kim telling me Elena’s color didn’t look right. Me carrying Elena to the car to go to the hospital. Kim driving off with her. Me driving Maggie to the ambulance and standing with Kim as our baby died in the back of the ambulance – neither of us knowing that that’s what happened. Kim riding off with Elena in the ambulance. Me dropping Maggie at Mary Kays and frantically calling anyone I could think of who might help. Me rushing into the room to see how she was doing and finding Elena dead on the table. Me sitting with Kim in the room watching our dead daughter.

That made the anniversary tough.

What made it tougher was all of the things Elena didn’t do in the year since her death. I don’t have the strength to list those. From soccer, to second grade, to a trip to Disney.

And so Kim and I spent the week falling backwards and people appeared out of nowhere to catch us.

I trust they always will. You will. And for that I am grateful.

Published in: on February 23, 2007 at 9:04 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. People are precious. Increasingly, beauty asserts itself above the churning feelings. You made her life richer; she was secure in your love.

  2. I have to say that I’m glad if any of us was able to help you along this past year, Daniel. It seems to me like I did so little personally compared to the gifts of insight and memory this blog has given me over the past year.

  3. I don’t know you, but I think of you and your family every single day. I’m glad writing this blog has given you some amount of comfort, both in the writing, and through the comments you receive. You are not alone.

  4. I just returned from a special Jakob-dad outing to see some live music. You might have heard of the mandolin/fiddle player. – here’s a particularly inspirational track for me today: – Has It Ever Been This Good – on my way in at midnight:30, Jakob psyched to actually see midnight, how cool is *that*? He, of course, was long crashed on the drive home but pleasantly awakes to ambulate himself outta the car and directly into bed. Getting him to change his clothes is the challenge. I checked on Ethan, who wasn’t in his own bed, but rather in bed with mom… a rough night on Ethan with only one parent there yet two kids. Reading satisfactorily to a kid with a squirming *walking* totally 4×4 powered 9 month old Fire Dog… a real parenting challenge. I spooke to Ethan before picking him up and let him know I was home and that I missed him, and that I was gonna pick him up and carry him to his own bed. Tucking him in, I asked him he had fun with mom tonight… “We *couldn’t* *even* *read*”. 😦 That’s heartbreaking. Reading. Writing. Rythmatic. A day without without all of ’em is an incomplete day.

    After all the chickens are tucked safely in their beds, I gotta get to work… I’m going to the conference of the year, IMO, next week – – I’m the man of week it seems, being invited to give a keynote and teaching a volunteer all-day class for library coders to come up to speed on Lucene and Solr. Away from my family. An entire week. I’ve cut way back on the road trips to be a home more. Its simply more satisfying to be with them. Quantity time, quality happens.

    {{{HUGS}}} Daniel – I’ve had my hands full doing exactly what you’ve been doing. In fact, I consider you a mentor of sorts. A great father. It’s so difficult to be everything to everyone, yet you do so well at it. Inspirational.

  5. Dan, your openness and vulnerability are a brave and rare thing in today’s world. Needing others is at the core of what makes us human, but somehow this is perceived as a weakness. It’s not. It’s a strength. Your example is an inspiration. Thank you again for sharing. It’s helped me (and others I’m sure) to step back from the day-to-day mundane aspects of life and remember what’s important — people. My heart continues to go out to you and your family for this devastating loss. May we all never forget Elena.

  6. Dan, I’m glad that you’ve been able to take comfort from those you don’t even know, like me. We still pray for you, Kim, and Maggie.

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