One of the ways our loved ones chose to bless us in our grieving was to give us money to take a family holiday. We were already planning to take a quick weekend trip so that Jason and the boys could run in the Spartan Race in Westlock this past Saturday. Normally, we would combine that with a weekend stay at relatives, since Jason's mom and my dad are only another two hours away.
But, in light of recent events, we decided to take advantage of our "time away" option and stayed at the Fantasyland Hotel in West Edmonton Mall for three nights following the race.
This is the first we're-not-visiting-family "family holiday" we have had in eight years. And possibly our longest such holiday ever.
Jason and the boys had fun running in their respective races on Saturday morning. It was more difficult for me. We have been doing family "Spartan Race" weekends for two years, now. This is the first one where I have had to wait alone.
The first year, Levi had a terrible impetigo infection on his face that required us to go to a local hospital for antibiotics before we came home as it kept getting worse, not better.
Last year, he was having a hoot watching Daddy and his brothers run, and hanging out with the family for the day (other than that pesky tooth trying to bust a gum.)
This year, there was no Levi, but reminders that he wasn't there were everywhere--a three-year-old boy with Thomas the Train sandals, dads playing with their kids, my own boys goofing off without him, the stroller I wasn't pushing around while so many other parents were.
Since I was also working on very little sleep, it was a very teary morning for me. But the boys and Jason all had fun.
Jude and Noah both ran the full 3-mile course the adults did for their race--the youth were just required to do less of the obstacles. But they all got just as muddy!
Jabin's "Kid's Course" was also the longest and most challenging one we have seen yet, with more and better obstacles than before. Still pretty easy, though--I think it was only about 1/2 mile.
While we were at West Ed, Jason and the boys went to the World Waterpark one day while I went shopping. We also had a couple of pretty relaxed days just hanging out in the mall together.
But there were small children everywhere, which constantly reminded me of Levi.
I actually did okay on my day alone shopping until I got into a conversation with a couple of excited first-time moms in the Gap Kids lineup. I saw their largish baby bumps and the adorable teensy outfits in their hands and made a comment about how cute the outfits were, which got us talking. After I asked them about due dates, etc., they asked me how many kids I had.
I choked up before I could even answer.
I explained my way out of it, and apologized, and wished them the best before making a hurried exit (thankfully, it was my turn at the till by then), but my day went from a 6 to a 2 out of 10 in a hurry. And it never really came back.
I really gotta figure out how to handle conversations like that.
Jabin was Daddy's shadow all weekend, barely leaving his side. Since they were the first ones up every morning, they went for a walk of the mall together while the rest of us snoozed--which, in a mall that size, is quite a hike!
We are thankful for this weekend away, without expectations and with time just for us. But the constant reminders that we were missing someone certainly coloured many of those new, fun memories blue.
Not to mention, I never really noticed how geared things seem to be towards a family of six. Half a dozen cinnamon buns. Half a dozen cookies. Our family was set up to work with those numbers before.
Now? Jason says I should eat the extra. I'm not sure my waistline agrees.
Thank you to those that blessed us with the means to take this time away.
Now, four weeks after it happened, it's back to figuring out what "real life" is supposed to look like in this sad, new, "minus one" world.