I had a rough day yesterday. The worst in a long time.
Last year, to honor Henry, our elementary school put on an all day carnival, with the aim of fundraising for pediatric cancer research. They raised $18,000 for Alex's Lemonade Stand, truly amazing and remarkable. The teacher who dreamed up and spearheaded the effort received an award of recognition from the county, which he deserved.
It was a very difficult day for me. It had only been a few months since Henry had died. I hadn't gotten past feeling like one of my kids was missing whenever we went somewhere. I choked back tears much of the day, and found myself exhausted by it. Immeasurably grateful, but exhausted.
After the event, we were dumbfounded to find that they intended to make it an annual event. Heartwarming barely begins to describe it. We were truly honored.
The second Henry's Hustle was yesterday. I mentioned a few posts ago how even as I am amazed and humbled by the dedication and generosity that go into this, I dread these events. All the emotion is back, the loss is again fresh, and the publicness (is that a word?) of our loss is very very uncomfortable. I've felt the tension build a bit this week, and expected an exhausting day again.
We ran over to the school to drop off some items. I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion. The sheer volume of people who had worked on this event, given their time, effort, and money was remarkable. When that flow of emotion started, I couldn't stop it. I had to run home with my middling to pick up a few more items, and started crying in the car on the way home. She saw me, in the rear view mirror, and her excited and happy face fell to see me crying. Her disappointment aided the snow balling. By the time we got back to the school, I told her I would join her in a moment. Once she was gone, though, there was nothing holding me back. I sobbed in the car for a half hour before I told my husband I couldn't come.
I went home and cried, uncontrollably, for ninety minutes. The tragedy of Henry's death. The love and warmth of that community. The loss after loss after loss that my family has suffered over the last two and a half years. My guilt over not even showing up to this event that all these people who didn't know me had created. Most of the time I didn't know what I was crying about, it was all jumbled up.
Finally, I was able to compose myself. I made it back to the school, and out of the car. The girls were having a blast, there were kids EVERYWHERE wearing Henry's Hustle Tshirts. There were friends there to support us. It was amazing. And overwhelming. After sobbing on the vice principal's shoulder, I pulled it together for twenty minutes, and then I was done.
I ended up back at home, alone, crying, drinking wine at 11 am and eating chocolate to calm my nerves. What a high point for me.
A dear friend and my extended family came and took care of me, and I spent the rest of the day completely spent but unable to sleep.
I'm not sure what to think about it. It's bizarre to me to think about, but that's the most out of control I've been since this whole thing started. When Henry got sick, I couldn't lose it. He needed me, Mr. Smak needed me, the girls needed me. All through the treatment, the horror, the relapse, his death, the grief, I've never lost it.
Maybe I needed to. Maybe it was time. Maybe I wasn't strong enough to lose it before, maybe I was too afraid I wouldn't make it back.
I wouldn't mind if another day like yesterday never happened again. But somehow I felt like it needed to.
And today, I woke up feeling great. We took the girls hiking today, and I was able to take in the beauty of what was around us without feeling sad, without that often-present afterthought about Henry not being here. It was nice.