Today is July 20th which is the day that Christian passed away, two years ago, in 2011. I’m not actually writing this article today, I’m writing it about a week before the anniversary of his death. I recently learned that people have coined this day as his “Angelversary.”
I guess I’m going to begin with the overall fact that the entire month of July just plain stinks. Aside from the fact that we lost Christian in July, it seems as though our community and neighboring communities have been fraught with tragedy this month. Sometimes it seems very difficult to keep your head above water while dealing with your own grief and hearing about all the fresh grief that other families are struggling to manage. My heart goes out to all of you. One of the stories that hits close to home is a two year old girl who was struck by a car and passed away a week and a half ago. There is a fundraiser in her name today at the fire station that we will be visiting with a basket on Christian’s behalf (I’ll get to that soon). Cameron and I feel so very alone in our pain most of the time, but we have always hoped that no one else would join us. I wish that this could be true, unfortunately it is not and our love goes to the Hernandez family.
The beginning of this post is guaranteed to be difficult to read and very random as well as sarcastic because that’s where my emotions are right now. Let me address some of the comments that have been randomly said to myself and Cameron over the last two years and clarify any cloudy topics.
1. Yes we are still married. Despite the overwhelming surprised comments that we have been so blessed to receive from local distant acquaintances and psychologists, our marriage is still ironclad strong. That’s right we are superhero strong! According to multiple books about grief we stood an 80% chance of going through a divorce within the first two years of losing a child. In your face grief, BAM!
2. No we will not be moving away from Flagstaff because we can’t stand the thought of being in the house where Christian died. We also will not be exhuming his body to bring it with us. This is where we raised our sons, this is where both of their memories of childhood are, and this is where we are happy and will therefore stay.
3. I don’t care how many children you have, be it 2, 4, 6 or more…please don’t tell us that we are so lucky to have just one (whether you’re intoxicated or not), because children are so darn expensive and difficult to deal with.
4. Yes we put on a strong face at all times and smile when asked how we’re doing and then go home at night and cry. I just spent the last 45 minutes sitting in a bathtub crying while Nevan watched America’s Funniest Videos. Let me say that it was a fantastic inspiration for writing this blog and I am super excited about the guaranteed migraine that I’ll have tomorrow morning.
5. No I am not in a good mood right now, but blogs are meant to be a way of venting to others so they know that they’re not the only ones going through the same thing.
6. Yes I do think that I’m going crazy approximately 68% of the time. The good news is that this number has gone down significantly over the last two years from a whopping 100%, so I’m estimating that in a solid 54 years I’ll be back to normal again.
7. If you read number six, you now know that math is not my strong suit. Don’t worry I’ll have my nine year old son check those numbers for me in the morning when I’m thinking straight again.
8. Cameron just came home and he’s in a fantastic mood. That’s how I know we’re perfect for each other. When one of us is sad, the other one is there for a pick me up or a shoulder to cry on. We stay strong together and that’s the way it should be.
9. Depression eating is a must and I highly recommend it. I’m pretty sure that we’ve both gained at least 6-10 pounds a piece in the last two weeks. Fast food, fried goods, and soda are such good friends right now. Anything green or containing healthy minerals and vitamins is a stranger to our diet. It’s a good thing that our son is on the right track and tries to steer me in the direction of Subway every once in awhile with a disappointing look on his face. Don’t worry buddy, Daddy and I will be on the right track again starting in August…
10. Yes I keep myself ridiculously busy at all times. From the moment I wake up until the moment that I collapse in bed at night. I build non-profits, feed goats, chickens, ducks, puppies, parakeets, cats, plant gardens, install new flooring, go to swim events with Nevan, build empires overnight, harass family and friends on a continual basis with sad stories, engrave bracelets, attend Toastmasters meetings because the most perfectly cooked piece of toast has alluded me for far too long, tell Cameron and Nevan far too many times a day that I love them (and ask them if they love me too), I try to cook (emphasis on the word “try”), but I never clean, never ever (at least in my most fantastic dreams that’s true). Sitting still and thinking is never a good thing, it’s debilitating and must be avoided at all costs. This method of existence works and keeps me on the right track but it’s highly possible that one day I might keel over and sleep for 8.5 days straight…I’m just saying there’s a chance.
This brings me around to our traditions on July 20th. We have tried to come up with a few things to make today a little better (if that’s possible) or at least make other people’s days better while still remembering our beautiful Christian. A few days after Christian died, we took baskets around to all of the people who responded to his call. We realized that this wasn’t just a difficult day for us, it was a difficult day for all of our community and all of the public servants who responded and knew us personally. We fill 7 baskets with food and goodies and bring them to Flagstaff Dispatch who answered my 911 call, Summit Fire Department who were the first responders on scene, Guardian Ambulance who were the second responders on scene and transported Christian along with several firefighters and myself on board, Coconino County Sheriff’s Department who escorted us into town with lights and sirens to clear traffic, Flagstaff Police Department who had officers directing traffic at every light in town and also drove Cameron and Nevan to the hospital, and Flagstaff Medical Center who brought Christian’s heartbeat back after 30 minutes of silence and continued to work on him until nothing more could be done.
We also spend a good portion of the day at the cemetery planting perennials all around the wash that lines Christian’s grave. Our goal is to one day have the entire area covered in wildflowers and trees. Last year we were surprised by quite a few people who stopped by to say hi and remember Christian, it was a neat experience.
And finally we spend most of the month trying to remind ourselves about Christian’s happy spirit and enchanting personality. We know that he doesn’t want to see us sad and that he wants nothing but the best for his entire family. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but hey we’re doing our best and we’re mostly successful.
Recently I came across this picture of Christian, one which I hadn’t seen since it was originally taken. It’s now the screen saver on my computer because it looks like he’s in heaven, sending us messages through his headphones, and giving us the thumbs up sign because he’s proud of our progress. I know he’s always talking to us and guiding us. Most of the time we’re trying to listen and every once in awhile we get the message loud and clear, thank you buddy.
Great Job Guys!
Thank you to all of our family, friends, and community members for your constant support during these last two difficult years. You’re inspiring and fantastic and we are forever grateful to all of you.
Kari, Cameron, Nevan, and Christian