I finally got the courage to share one of the hardest days of our lives.
I spent the last three years of PJ’s life in worry. Worry that something awful was going to happen to him. Every time I saw an accident on television, I called immediately to see that he was safe and sound. The two weeks before he passed he was sick. And that turned into us not talking to him at all. No texts. No phone calls. We couldn’t get through. When the feared phone call finally came, I was not expecting what I heard on the other end. I wasn’t expecting it because he had always made his views on suicide known. He’s made his stance on guns known. He feared them. Maybe that was a distraction. I don’t know. His death shook me to my core, because I couldn’t believe he would do this. I questioned the medical examiner over and over to be sure that the cause of death was accurate. There was no way he would do this. But he did. He did do this.
Sometimes that day creeps it’s way back into my mind, like today. The kids and I were playing outside. It was our first week of summer, because Avery and I had been in summer school. I’d been at a birthday party and almost went to his house to check on him. Something came over me at the moment I was getting ready to turn left and head to his house. Something inside me said don’t go there. So, reluctantly, I went home instead. I tried to call. No answer. While we’re enjoying our Sunday evening, the phone call came in. My first reaction was to get the kids somewhere other than home. I was not reacting well, and quite honestly, I didn’t have a clue what to say to them. I don’t recall exactly how I reacted, but I know there were a lot of tears, screaming, and crying out in disbelief. I remember thinking I had to get them out of the house. And I remember being in complete shock. They left with a close friend, and suddenly my house was filled with people. Some of them I hadn’t seen in person for quite some time. But they came. They came for me. They were at my house consoling me, God love them. But my kids were not with me. I still wonder if that was right. They knew something was wrong. I was supposed to be their protector. But at that moment, I couldn’t put that on them.
I have never dreaded my kids coming home. But that next day, I did. I was getting ready to rip their little worlds apart. There’s not a lot worse than telling your children that their parent has died. I was terrified. But I did it. Landon cried for a quick second. Avery said, “I knew something was wrong.” No questions. We all just sat there in disbelief. And then they went outside to play with Poppy. That was it. I thought to myself that the worst was over. I had said the words I never wanted to say, and they are now playing like children should in the summer. Outside and having fun. But I was wrong. That wasn’t the worst part. The funeral wasn’t even the worst part. The hardest part is now. Right now and moving forward. Because now we do big life things minus one of their life heroes.
His death shook me, like I said. But I will never know what it’s done to my children. Landon really struggled at first. He wouldn’t leave my side. That’s passed for the most part. But sweet Avery, who always tries to find the good in every situation, struggles. I watch her silently mourn her dad. Holding back tears because she’s afraid to show them. She’s still a sweet, loving, kindhearted soul, but something from her left with him. That sweet 7 year old spirit that most young girls have, is a little darker now. And all I can do is love her. I can’t fix it. And I can’t bring it back. But I can love her bigger than the moon and I will never stop. Ever.
I feel sad for my children. I grew up as a “Daddy’s girl” and Avery did too. But she won’t know what that means as an adult. She will forget. Landon won’t have his daddy to guide him through life giving “Dad” advice. And he will really forget. He was only three.
Someday, another dreaded conversation will come. When they finally wonder, or finally get the courage to ask what happened to their dad, I’m going to have to tell them. I imagine we will get through that as well. But I don’t like the thought of it.
Like always, I look for the positive in an awful situation. The good news is, we are here. We are living. We are having fun. We are surrounded by amazing people. We are loved and we love back. We are figuring out life on our own…with the support of so many awesome people by our sides. That changes EVERYTHING. SO…LOVE ALWAYS. We all need to receive it, but it feels so very good to give it too!