Live, Love, Laugh
(PIC: Christi and Traci, Sept. 17, 2005. Little did we know then that in one short year Traci would be a pallbearer at Christi's funeral and would give a lovely eulogy about her "little friend". I think they both look smashing in this picture! It's hard to believe how quickly it all went down.)
When I reflect upon Christi's "journey" I believe that she taught me a few main lessons, specifically the three "L's". This would be how to live, how to laugh and how to love. On Friday morning, the second "Angelversary" of her death, I tried to wrap myself around her teachings instead of the heartache that seemed to be enveloping me. I knew I had a doctor's excuse to be out of school through Tuesday, but I really felt ok except for being tired and some stomach pain. Christi wouldn't have wanted me to stay home and to cry over her death, but instead to live my day doing what I love to do so I went to school telling myself to give my students all of the love I could and that something funny would undoubtedly happen which would remind me of Christi and make me laugh.
As the 9:00 hour approached, I was busy teaching, but occasionally I checked the clock and told myself not to as soon as I realized I had let my mind do that. It's like your right back "there" when it "hits". Thankfully, due to a misunderstanding about who had the laptop computers signed out for first period, another teacher and I quickly decided before class to just share them and therefore at 8:58 I was busy helping my students shut down their computers and carry them back to the other teacher's classroom. That distraction wasn't planned, but it was great. I looked in the hall and it said 9:02 and I thought to myself, "I made it, now quit looking at the time and thinking." While I believe Christi's death was a gradual shutting down of her body over time, something about that time - 9:00 AM - is something I can actually pinpoint and know. I checked my phone at lunch and was touched to find a couple of text messages sent around 9AM by sweet blogger/friends. After school it was comforting to come home and read my email and to see the cards that had arrived in the mail from people remembering Christi, a couple of donations made to her memorial fund, "Tasty Cakes" arriving from Philly friends, a candle being lit in Florida and an 8 AM Mass being said in NYC. I think as a "angel parent" what one worries about is of people forgetting their dead children. Friday's display of love reconfirmed to me of what compassionate and thoughtful people there are in the world - THANK YOU!
After my teachers' meeting in Columbus late Friday night, I was finally hungry. (I'd just not been able to eat much, or normally, prior to then due to last week's operation.) Shayne drove us up and down High Street trying to find a place with an outside table and where he could just pull over and help me get out since I still wasn't walking the best. Finally, we found the perfect spot! We sat at an outside table at a cafe enjoying a late dinner on High Street, definitely living and loving as I believe Christi would want us to be. When we were told we were at a "gay bar" I was laughing to myself thinking Christi must have sent us there to lighten our evening knowing we'd been reflecting about our life with and without her. My deepest thanks to everyone for helping to get us through a challenging time!
I really don't know how he did it, but Shayne spent Friday volunteering as one of the parent chaperons on Shayla's fourth grade field trip to the Heritage Village set up at the Heritage Festival, just like he did for Christi's.
(PIC: Christi's 4th grade field trip, 2005, age 8 - nearly one year to the date of her death) I noticed a text message came in at 8:48 a.m. which said, "This is really hard, isn't it?". However, it sounds like they both had a fabulous day on the field trip. We didn't believe Shayla needed to know that it was the date of Christi's death so we didn't tell her. When she's older, she'll know, but we didn't feel there was a need to bring her down too. We were already low enough ourselves!
Shayla also had a most wonderful overnight spent with her great Aunt Marty (and her Godmother) on Friday. When we came back after the OSU game on Saturday they were out riding horses. Our sweet relatives/friends also have four 3 week old kittens in addition to the two dogs so Shayla was in all her glory and said we didn't need to come back and pick her up so soon. They made a pie for us to share from the apples on "Christi's tree". Aunt Marty and Uncle Jeff planted an apple tree around the time Christi was born. Never had apples appeared on the tree until two days after she died. Wild! They turned that little garden area into their "Christi Garden" shortly after her death and we love it as it's the spot where Christi used to stand and watch the horses, or sit and sketch them. We thought the pie tasted especially wonderful on September 20th.
I feel like I am almost completely healed! I'm still slow, sluggish and having some tummy pain, but it's like I'm 90% better! I didn't feel the best at the game yesterday, still walking slowly with my stomach still hurting, but finally able to eat some. Therefore, after the game we went to a little restaurant that we hadn't been to in years, but that we love - and Christi loved too! It is the bar in Waldo ("G & R's") that serves their famous fried bologna sandwiches. (I know, I know, "Where's Waldo?" hee hee.) Being out of the heat, I was finally hungry and decided I'd see if the surgery was a success or not. With caution and yet risk, I ordered their famous sandwich, onion rings and peanut butter / chocolate cream pie. I don't think I ever had a better tasting meal (smile)! Now my arteries may be clogging, but my stomach was totally fine and it was wonderful to eat foods I've not been able to eat for so long! Thank you, dear Lord! (Now it's back to my diet, hee hee!)
This morning Shayla really took our breath away. While we were both sitting and getting some paperwork done, Shayla brought up a new toy from the basement and started playing with it on the floor without saying a single word. It was sent to Christi in mid-September 2006 at CHOP and Christi longingly eyed it, but was never able to play with it. She'd ask for it, but then didn't have the energy or strength to even touch it, much less play as it would sit at the foot of her bed. I hadn't been able to donate that toy and therefore I tucked it away in the basement not really knowing what to do with it. Somehow, today, Shayla found it. Shayne and I both stared at each other when we saw what she had because that toy would have been a favorite of Christi's and we knew Christi wanted to feel better and play with it so bad, but just could not. Now I have to believe Christi wanted Shayla to go find that this morning and she's having a ball playing with it. Wild!
Christi and friends after lunch on the 4th grade field trip
Shayla and friends at lunch