For some people, the Christmas season is their most difficult grieving season of the year.
Not me. With the passing of Noah's birthday on February 26 (on which he turned 14, believe it or not), I have been descending pell-mell toward the slope of anniversaries that bring up bittersweet memories of Levi.
- March 23 - the day he joined our family. His actual, if not legal, "adoption day".
- April 2 - his birthday. He would be six this year.
- June 3 - his heaven birthday. This year marks as many years gone from earth as he was on it.
As I mentioned recently, I've had a fairly stressful 2018 already. I did it to myself with this crazy travel schedule. But one of the hardest parts about it has been that it hasn't given me windows to process things. What things? Well, much of anything, really.
Last weekend was exceptionally stressful.
It was supposed to be a more relaxed weekend in comparison to the jam-packed schedule I've given myself on some other signing weekends—only a multi-author event at Audreys Books in Edmonton on Thursday, and a book signing in Edmonton on Saturday, with time on Friday to catch up with family, take my friend's girls out for a movie night (and to give her a night off), finishing up with a leisurely trip home on Sunday. After all that, the weekend would still give me an extra day to hang out with my kiddos, since they had Monday off of school.
The plan was for Jabin to come with me. He'd been begging, and last weekend (with it's extended school holiday) was the perfect time to let him.
So we set out, as planned, on Thursday morning. Unfortunately, an hour south of Peace River, my car stopped moving.
Correction: It stopped moving forward. Backwards worked just fine.
Fearing the worst (a new tranny would probably cost more than the value of the vehicle), I tried not to panic that I needed to go northwards for an hour to get a rental vehicle before I could again begin the five-hour-plus journey south to Edmonton, and I was supposed to be there in five hours.
Did I mention that I was the organizer of said event?
While I was on the phone with AMA trying to figure out what all my options are and having a tow truck sent to rescue my car, I was texting my husband so he could come rescue me.
Y'all, I married an amazing man. But he still surprises me sometimes with how very wonderful he is.
Of course, he took half a day off of work to come pick me up. Only, instead of driving me back north, he started driving south. And ended up driving us all the way to Edmonton.
Long story slightly shorter, he ended up spending the entire weekend with us to save us the hassle and expense of having to rent a vehicle. All he brought with him was the clothes on his back.
Silver Lining: With how busy I've been lately, I haven't gotten to spend nearly as much time with my husband as I would like. Last weekend? That was bliss, and something my sad, overwhelmed heart desperately needed.
Not only did I get to hang out with the world's most perfect man for the weekend, his sacrifice ensured that I made it to the event on time so I didn't let the other authors down.
We still got to see the people I had planned to see over the weekend.
And we came home with a puppy.
While I spent five hours in a bookstore on Saturday, Jason and Jabin went looking at little (or rather, "humongous", as that is the size of dog we prefer 'round here) furballs. It wasn't quite last-minute—Jason and I have been discussing getting a puppy since last fall, with the idea that we should do it before Sunshine becomes so senile that she would be useless in helping to train it.
But, since the very fact of Jason's presence in Edmonton last weekend was unplanned, the puppy-shopping trip was, also. Which meant we weren't exactly prepared to bring a puppy home with us.
No matter. We got one anyway. He's adorable, he's a Siberian Husky, and his name is Hiro.
For us, "Hiro" also reminds us of two of our favourite geek-show characters:
Hiro Nakamura, the loveable Japanese master of time and space from the show Heroes:
And Hiro Hamada, the genius boy protagonist in Disney's Big Hero 6—a movie that always reminds me of Levi because of the loss in the show, how resourceful Hiro is (just like Levi), and that it was one of Levi's current favourites when he died. I'll never forget Levi's Baymax impression. (Which is why I now have a Baymax keychain.)
Perhaps it is no wonder then that yesterday, in a sleep-deprived haze induced by getting up in the middle of the night to take out the puppy all week, and an exasperated daymare of puppies-are-worse-than-toddlers flashbacks to when we first got Levi (three days after he began walking and 10 days before he turned one), I called Hiro "Levi".
And then had to fight back tears so I could pretend nothing was wrong for my piano student.
The grief doesn't really end. It's been so much easier to bear this year. (And, of course, that makes me feel guilty—there is always some part of my brain that feels disloyal by going on and living my life. No, it's not right, and no, I don't give in to it. But the guilt is real, folks.) But in this season of spring renewal, I will forever also be reminded most acutely of my biggest loss.
Thankfully, God has also sent reminders of joy and life and love to keep me moving forward. Such as my husband rescuing me from the side of a snowy highway.
Or the homeless man who found Jason's wallet in a parking lot in Edmonton last weekend, tracked us down through the UFA cardlock phone number, and mailed it back by collecting bottles to pay for postage. (Yes, we sent him money as a thank you and to cover costs. But he didn't wait for that.)
Or the puppy that is nothing but mischief in fur, needs constant supervision, and I'm pretty sure will be the death of at least one of my winter boots. I love him to pieces.
Heroes. Hiroes. We all need reminders of the good and wonderful parts of this world at the best of times, but especially when we are walking through a dark part of it.
I'm so thankful for mine.