Thursday, June 21, 2012

Adjustments

We've been home for a couple of weeks after spending a few days being completely lazy at Christopher Lake.  We had no agenda, no expectations to live up to.  We slept in late, played in the (cold) lake water on the warmer days, and watched mindless, silly television shows (like America's Funniest Videos, Wipeout, Just For Laughs Gags, and Corner Gas) on the cooler days.  We watched "Milo and Otis" and remembered how Kol had laughed at the animals when he saw the movie the first time.  It was wonderful to just "be" - to not have any agenda, or list of things we needed to do.   We even got to visit with some old friends on the last couple of days there. 
 
It's a month today since Kolbjorn died.  I don't know how to describe the adjustments we've been forced to make in that time, without Kol.  I'm shocked at the complete range of emotions we've experienced - pain and sadness, relief, guilt and surprisingly, moments of joy.  It's certainly not what I expected.  My dad is the only other person that I've been really close to and lost.  It's so much more painful losing Kol than it was losing dad.  I've cried more tears than I thought possible. 

While we were at the lake, it was easy  to accept that Kol wasn't with us, that he had died.  We had had 2 years to get used to the possibility that Kol might die, and although I never really believed he would, we still had been forced to face that as a possible eventuality.  Maybe it was easier to accept his absence because the lake was never really Kol's element.  Whenever we were at the lake, Kol would disappear into a book and watch as much T.V. as he could get away with.  He liked swimming and playing in the sand, but whereas the girls would spend all day at the beach, Kol got tired of it after about an hour.  Maybe it was easier to accept Kol's absence because it didn't seem real yet that he was dead. 

It was tough coming home again.  Grocery shopping was surprisingly tough - and it wasn't because of the 3 people who stopped to give us hugs and ask us how we were doing (in  the 15 minutes we were actually in the store.)  I cried when I walked past the mangoes.  Kol loved mango sauce.  Then I saw straws and even reached out to grab a bag - I remembered that Kol had used up the last of his favourite green straws when we were working so hard to keep him hydrated - and then I realized that we wouldn't really need bendy straws much any more - and we still have other colours.

One day, maybe about a week and a half ago, Annika was standing in the hallway outside of the bedrooms, and was really fussy.  Mari was with her and at first tried to guess what Annika wanted, and then tried to distract her.  Mari is really good at knowing what Annika wants, and at distracting her if necessary, but this time, nothing worked.   Finally Mari got exasperated and asked "What do you want, Annika?"  Annika leaned against the door frame to Kol's room, and said, "Kol".

We've been trying to keep busy and get on with our lives, and aside from the constant ache of missing Kol, we've been able to get decisions made and to start being productive.  I pretend to garden.  I've had a herb garden since a year or two after we moved to Outlook.  It did well for a couple of years, but it's been neglected recently.  I haven't had much interest in gardening or yard work during the last couple of years.  This year, I've had an incredibly strong desire to get outside and get not only the herb garden, but also the flower beds somewhat rejuvenated.  After I went and spent way too much money on herbs, I found an article about health benefits of gardening which talks a bit about how gardening works as a treatment for depression.  Maybe I instinctively knew what could help me heal.  Or, it could be just like other years, where I have a big burst of energy in the spring, only to lose interest in the summer.  I enjoy buying and planting and planning, but not so much the upkeep. The girls have been joining me outside this year, helping me weed the flower beds. 

Kirk walked in the Spring Sprint on June 9th.  He walked 5km in the pouring rain with his dad.  Birgitte, my sister and brother-in-law and I walked a little way, but Birgitte's feet got sore quickly in her (actually Kol's) Star Wars rubber boots.  We went back to the park, and stood in the pouring rain waiting for him.  ( To be honest - the rain really wasn't that bad, though - we did all have rain clothes on - and it wasn't cold at all, and although it rained constantly, it wasn't really "pouring".)  It was tougher that I expected, though, to see others there who are still fighting brain tumours. Not only was I concerned for them, but I have to admit that I was jealous that they were still alive to fight when Kol isn't.

The following weekend - last weekend - we took part in the Relay for Life here in Outlook.  It was hard being at the Relay this year.  We knew it would be tough, especially after the sprint, but I had no idea how hard it was going to be to be a part of the Relay.  Kirk, Julianna and Mari were on a team, but all of us sat with the team, cheered them on and walked.  Annika got lots of stroller rides.  It was especially tough hearing someone else give "Survivor speech" that Kol had given last year, and seeing all of the luminaries around the track "in memory" of Kol, rather than "in honour" of him.  Kol should have been there.  I know both Kirk and I felt Kol's absence so very intensely that night.

Then came Father's Day.  Our first holiday without Kol.  We made a big deal out of the day - got Kirk lots of cards  and surprised him with a trip to Saskatoon - for supper, and to replace the pair of jeans of his that I cut up while we were at the lake.  It was a good day - good that we kept busy and tried to fill it with fun.

Birgitte had her 7th birthday this week.  Again, we strongly felt Kol's absence.  Kol and Birgitte were such good friends, and Kol loved parties, and doing things for his sisters.  We still had fun - Birgitte's grandparents all came for lunch, and her aunt and uncle surprised her with a visit in the afternoon.  She also got a very special phone call from her godparents. Birgitte loved being the center of attention.

I guess life goes on - but the pain of losing Kol is becoming more intense.  It's getting harder to accept, rather than easier.  Our tears are much closer to the surface.  All of our emotions are, actually.  I'm sure this is a temporary part of the grieving process, but that doesn't make it any easier to accept.  We all have holes in our hearts - shaped like Kol.  It's starting to feel real that he's not here with us, and that he never will be. 

10 comments:

  1. Kristine and DerekJune 22, 2012 at 6:40 AM

    Kristen, thank you for sharing. You have all been on my mind over the last month in a big way. The honesty of your post is humblIng. We would love to have you over sometime soon. If your going to be in the city and have some time, let us know and we can maybe do lunch or supper and give the kids some time to play.

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  2. What a beautiful writing. The pain will eventually fade, maybe the missing but definately not his memory. Take care, and remember we are here for you.

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  3. Thinking of you. Your writing speaks volumes of your love for Kol. I am happy Kol had a family who loved him so much. Elizabeth Haapala

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  4. Thank you for sharing. I think of you, Kirk and family often. Hope to see you sometime this summer, but if not, I will be in Outlook numerous times in the fall with Victoria at LCBI. She mentioned to me that you had told her to come and visit anytime! Thank you so much for that and we will come to visit. Love to all of you!

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  5. almost everything you have described, I have felt as well and I am sorry that anyone else has to feel it. I too was "jealous" of the people still fighting the disease or people whoses children had a cancer with better cure rates. I still lament why, at Relay for Life, we don't have a survivor.....I also garden. After Jonathon passed away I checked his room every night before I went to bed out of habit and was upset every time I did it. Sometimes I think that right after he passed away, I was on autopilot...kind of a survival instinct so we could get through the funeral, etc and then after, day by day, it sunk in deeper. It's very, very hard to lose a child and I wouldn't wish it on anybody but I hope, maybe, it will help to know that everything you feel is "normal" for what you are going through. I know it helped me......I even tried convincing myself that he was on a trip! (survival instinct again, LOL) The first of everything is the hardest and then slowly it gets a tiny bit better because you just get used to it. You don't get over it - and I hate when people say "how long did it take you to get over Jonathon's death?" - you get used to it. I love reading your blog and I hope that through your blog more people understand the absolute heartbreaking pain of losing a child and how it affects the whole entire family. So glad you are continuing to write! I am listening!

    Stacey Sereda

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  6. Continuing to think of, and pray for your family!
    Shelley in SK

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  7. Love you guys. Still praying for you all. God bless from Bo, Miena, Mette & Davin

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  8. Best wishes and lots of thoughts to you all from us in Norway <3

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  9. My thoughts are with you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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  10. Hi. I am continuing to hold your family in my heart and to pray for all of you. I can only imagine what a wonderful boy your son was and how terribly you must miss him. Love to all of you!

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