Sunday, May 23, 2010

Henry's Hustle

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.

10 comments:

Snickollet said...

I'm both sad and pleased that you had a day like that.

The emotional unexpectedness of it all is so much to bear, isn't it?

Thinking of you, as always.

Anonymous said...

When my husband died, almost five years ago, I had days like that, too. Not many, mind you, as I had two young children looking to me to be strong, but those days were there. And I needed them. I compared myself to a burn victim. Unlike you, I'm no medical professional, but I understand that burn victims have to go through a process in which they slough off the dead tissue to allow healing to begin. I saw those horrible days as my emotional sloughing off. Terribly painful...unbearable it seemed. By then sometimes it made way for some tender new skin to appear.

rlbates said...

Wish I could have been their to give you a hug or whatever.

Sybil said...

Dear Dr Smack, I am so sorry you had such a bad emotional filled day. But you know I am sure that we all get days like that...fortunately few and far between....It is all part and parcel of this letting go thing ...
It was not a bad thing the middly saw you, I am sure even she has the odd feeling about her brother and perhaps never shows it for fear of upsetting you, now she will see that it would not be only her who can upset you and encourage her perhaps to speak to you sometimes when she feels sad...
Much LOve Sybil xx

Anonymous said...

You're allowed.

A day like this is not too big a reaction to what you've been through.

...tom... said...

...

Two great comments (to me anyway) here already.


you said...
"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."

...:minism:... Hopefully it was good . . .no, _great_ chocolate.



Another day, another step (or ten) on your life journey. Too many of us suffer the ennui of everyday life. I suppose you might long for those days...


{{{virtual hugs}}} as always...


...tom...
.

Katerina said...

It all seems completely understandable. And, dare I say it... healthy. Or natural.

Also. You haven't failed anyone. I cannot fathom attending an event like this without losing it completely, completely.

radioactive girl said...

I can completely understand it. I think sometimes when there are so many different emotions going on all at the same time your body just can't deal with it all and sort of breaks down and that crying that you can't seem to control is the result.

I know for me, during all my cancer stuff I was strong and tough and you never would have known anything was going on. I think that's because I had a "goal" to focus on. Once I felt "safe" I broke down over something medical that seemed tiny and minor and I felt like an idiot but really it wasn't just about that little thing, it was about EVERYTHING and how there was just so much I hadn't dealt with.

I hope you felt better after the big cry. I'm thinking good thoughts for you! And I wish I could give you a great big hug!

Anonymous said...

As you pointed out, you were never able to lose and yet you needed to -- anyone who suffers a loss (especially a child) needs too. I think maybe, subconsiously, you finally felt able to and perhaps it is all finally sinking in. It all just seems to be like a bad dream for so long and then one day you realize -- it isn't just a dream and the wave a pain crashes against you.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand what you mean when you say you feel like someone is missing during family outings. I lost my sister to cancer 15 years ago and whenever we have family dinners I still look around the table counting heads bc I have that deep gut feeling like someone's missing. It takes me a minute to realize why I'm getting that feeling. It's hard for me as the sister...I can't imagine the grief of a mother. May God give you the patience and strength to persevere.