Here I am, the three-month anniversary of Ashley passing, well at least it was the 3-month anniversary when I started this blog post. I was going to post last week on the 20th, but didn’t… Not really sure why.
I’ve continued to write, so I have material but I haven’t posted much.
There have been some technical difficulties with the host server, so I have not been able to post. (If you have not been able to gain access to past blogs I am sorry but that’s why)
But even with those issues aside, I have not been able to form these writings into a blog post that I am happy with.
But I’ve been asked by a few when I will post again? So, as Ashley would say, “time for an update”
When Ashley started chemo, her scans were spaced 3 months apart. The reason being that the chemo regimen she was on need constant monitoring. Neuroendocrine tumors are sneaky and are often present way before they are able to be detected. While Ashley was fighting the tumors we knew about, there may have been other ones trying to develop that were resistant to her treatment.
Any growth while on chemo meant she would need to change her regimen or she needed to stop the chemo. The thing about getting scans every three months is that no news is good news. This would frustrate Ashley because she would feel the same or worse and the scans wouldn’t reveal any major changes. Eventually they bumped her scans to 4 months. Which was helpful, but just means another month of waiting to see if she was doing better.
Right now, I am feeling like Ashley. Waiting another month to see if I’m doing better…
This Thursday will be 14 weeks since Ashley passed. At my three-month update, I feel have changed so much but also so little… I often feel the same as I did the day she died. It’s still very surreal.
I’ve been missing Ashley a lot lately. Lots of activities that would have been so awesome to experience with her. But I am able to “gear” myself up for those things. It’s the random thoughts, memories, or obstacles that get me.
For the first two months, I would cry every day. Now it’s not really more than once a week. I used to go visit the cemetery and have a feeling of calm or peace. But the last two times I’ve gone, I gotten really sad and broke down. Maybe it’s just the place where I feel free to let it out. I really don’t have handle on that yet.
I have more good days than bad days. But to be clear I still miss her and get sad on good days, but on bad days, it’s impossible to not be sad and hard to function.
I really haven’t been able to do anything with her stuff. It takes time and mental energy. Last week I finally cleaned off her bathroom sink and took her shampoo out of the shower. A friend asked me what I did with her stuff. I did what any man in my position would do… stuff it in the bottom of a closet. Actually If it was stuff I or the boys could useI kept it. Stuff like shampoo and conditioner, I’m have no use for that so that got put in the boys bathroom and guest bathroom.
If it was expired, I threw it out. If I knew it was expensive, I put it away and will figure out what to do with it later. (Except for the eye serum, that stuff is expensive and I ain’t getting any younger, so I’ll see if it actually works…)
So one thing off my check list.
I will run into people and they say “you seem to be doing alright.” This is an odd statement but I guess I do seem to being doing alright.
I kind of just make myself busy with positive coping activities. I surround myself with family and friends. I work out. I eat better. I go to therapy, and work on my “therapy” homework. I go to Church, I pray. I participate in the boys’ activities. I am even co-coach for Baker’s four-year-old soccer team. Now I use the word coach lightly. Trying to heard cats is more like it. Its tons of fun, but my degree in physical education and Doctorate in Sports and Performance Psychology are no match for a team of five 4-year olds. Doesn’t help that my co-coach has a broken foot and is on crutches/knee scooter. (Which is slightly my fault, he was trying to keep up with during a 5k and could handle my speed)
We have a two-week break with Spring break so I am sure all these kids will be working on their skills non-stop and will be a well-oiled-machine at our next game 4/13 😉
The thing is, I don’t think any one of the things I am doing to deal with this grief would be helping by itself. It’s all of it.
I also use Ashley’s attitude as motivation for me on my bad days.
She was in pain, she was weak, she was frustrated, she was sad. But she knew that there were people out there worse off than her and she was grateful for the blessings she had in her life.
My pain, fatigue, frustration and sadness is not the same as Ashley’s but I know she was able to get through hers and so will I.
I am in good health. I have lost about 25 lbs and gained at least 5lbs of muscle. I fit into pants that I haven’t been able to wear since I moved to Georgia. (Yes I have one pair of jeans that are older than some of my students.) I can do 45 parallel dips nonstop. I can do 20 pull-ups nonstop. I can run a 7 minute mile. I eat healthier through better portion sizes and simple snack replacements. (I’m not trying to brag but I am constantly reminded to focus on the positive… I guess being able to some simple feats of strength is a positive to me) I still cheat, but french-fries one meal a week is a lot different than french-fries every day.
I am getting better sleep. I was averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night with some nights, no sleep. Now I average 6.5-7 hours a night. I still have some sleep issues but not as often and I have some medicine to help if I know it is going to be a restless night.
I am slowly getting back into my work routine. I have been back teaching full-time and have been adding to my sports coverage.
I am more involved in Fischer and Baker’s activities and I am having fun with them. Coaching Baker in soccer is a trip and coaching Fischer’s ninja warrior team has been fun and successful. He is competing in Orlando in May because his team won their local championship.
My boys are doing well. Fischer is an awesome big brother. And Baker has a ton of Ashley’s personality in his little body. When he is sad, he is sad. But each day he wakes up a new kid. Happy and ready to have fun. (He is not a morning person, so that is so that usually happens around 9:30).
Fischer has been handling this better than a seven year old should.
Recently we went to Chick Fil A with Trish and her kids. After eating the kids played on the play set. After a while, Trish went in and gave the 5 minute warning… Another boy asked Fischer if she was his mom. Fischer said no that’s Brooks and Taylor’s mom. Then the little boy asked, “where’s your mom?”
Without missing a beat, Fischer responded. “She’s not here, she passed away.” And then went back to playing.
Trish came out and told me this, it was almost impossible not to lose it. But I was so proud of Fischer.
I have taken for granted that his friends, his classmates, neighbors, most everyone in his life and social circle know that Ashley died. And he isn’t asked where she is. I am pretty sure this was the first time that he was asked that and he handled it well.
We wrapped up and said bye to our friends. On the way home Baker said he misses mommy. Fischer lost it, then I lost it. We cried the 5 minutes home. Sat in the driveway and cried and then went in the house and hugged and cried….
On bad days, to cope I turn to her photos, then videos, then re-read her blogs, then the old letters and cards, then more photos, then talk to friends about Ashley, then talk to family members about Ashley. If a memory strikes, I write about it. Unfortunately, I have a lot of “random” thoughts more than blog material.
But when the boys are sad, I’m a little helpless. Or at least feel that way…
Hopefully all of these coping strategies will help me through the emotional gauntlet of the next weeks and months.
This week is the first birthday I will celebrate without Ashley in 15 yrs. The following week is her birthday, then Easter (Ashley loved being able to get the family dressed up and take our first picture of the Spring) then Mother’s Day, then in June, what would have been our 10 yr anniversary, then Father’s Day…
I am going to start this with celebrating my birthday with friends and family and know that Ashley would want me to have fun and feel celebrated.
I’m grateful that I am surrounded by family and friends. My boys are doing well and are healthy.
So yeah, I guess you can say I am doing alright.