Brandon turned twelve today, and he's showing some sure signs of diminishing childhood - he is beginning to grow like a weed and he eats like he's preparing for a decades-long food shortage. We figure this is his last year of being a kid and it actually makes him sad. And it makes me sad. And Amanda. He doesn't want to grow up and we don't want him to either. He has been the best little kid I could have ever hoped for, and Amanda wouldn't know what to do with him as anything other than her little baby brother.
We celebrated at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and had a fantastic time. :)
Oh and Amanda got her braces off!
Kept this picture nice and big so you wouldn't miss out on the epic faces.
The left was taken in 2009, the right taken today.
A couple days ago Amanda and I perused through my blog a bit, laughing at some of the funny stories I told about TSA, enjoying all the pictures, and giggling at the absurdities of her younger self (and Brandon's as well). As we finished, she declared that I need to be writing and taking pictures again. The thought gave me pause as a grip of terror found its way around my chest.
My entire blog (however sparse it's been the last couple years), is a representation of some of the most difficult years of my life, our lives, and to come back here for a visit feels like I'm ripping off finally-healed scabs. I feel as if I've clawed and dug my way out of a very long, slimy, scary, dark tunnel into the most beautiful sunshine, and even coming to write this post feels a bit like I'm flirting with disaster.
Having said that, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to stretch my fingers and find the courage to begin writing about life as it is now, life with a teenager and a soon-to-be pre-teen. Maybe I just have to trust that the ghosts and ghouls of years past wont sneak up and strangle me back into the darkness in which they reside. But then again, maybe writing again will help me to revisit the old blog posts, to peek under the covers a little and bring light to the darkness.
My other passion, photography, died right alongside my blog. I used my camera maybe a couple of times in as many years, so along with revitalizing my writing, I'm hoping to breathe some life back into my photography. With baby steps perhaps I can learn to merge the old wounds with the new life and appreciate that both have made, and are making me, who I am today.
Today marks the second anniversary of your death, and true to form, it feels like yesterday. I wish I could say that things get easier with each passing year, but they don't. They just don't. To say that I need your help would be an understatement; to say our kids need their dad, even more so.
Our kids - I just burst into tears after writing those two words: Our kids - Dave I wish you could know them! They are two of the most real, down-to-earth, imperfect human beings I have ever had the pleasure to know. They are absolutely fucking perfect in their imperfections. The beauty of our family is that life is about being unique, and different, and real - and Amanda and Brandon embrace that wholeheartedly.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - Brandon is just like you. He is so smart and so filled with the most useless knowledge, I'm convinced it all came pre-installed in his brain 'cause I don't know where it comes from. He starts middle school in the fall and I have a feeling he'll blow through middle school and into high school courses. I wish you could see for yourself how smart he is, Dave. He's going to change the world one day, but for right now he's busy being a little boy with his Minecraft, his huge books, and the local swimming pool, and I'll cling to that as long as I possibly can.
Our teenager happens to be just like me. We have a TEENAGER. Amanda is 13 going on 35. I literally have to remind myself she's only thirteen. She's got my height - even you could almost look her in the eye - and she has my artistic/creative talent. The girl can pick up a musical instrument and play like she was born playing, and she very much enjoys playing her alto sax. Like Brandon's pre-installment of useless information, she was pre-installed with a keen ear for music, something that's become a bit of a lifeline for her. I wish you could see her drawings as well, Dave. So much of her soul comes out when she creates, and it is beautiful, and impressive, and so completely her. She is so smart and works so hard, and I wish you could witness her resilience - she is strength personified.
Yesterday Amanda and I went to yard sales and picked up a mattress for her. Having no other way to get it home, we strapped it to the top of the car Clampett-style. We laughed so much at how absurd we looked, but we really had no other choice. As we drove home it occurred to me that we have always found a way, and I told Amanda that our family motto should be "We'll figure it out." Life wasn't easy before your death, Dave, and it certainly hasn't been easy since, but here we are intact and stronger than ever because we have always managed to figure it out.
As a parent it's natural to question how I'm doing, but as I look at Amanda and Brandon, I realize I'm doing a pretty damn good job. It's hard doing it alone, though. So. Fucking. Hard. As the kids get older it becomes clearer how much they need their dad. They miss you so much, Dave. Now that we are living in Denver, their memories of you are everywhere. From Perkins, to the Golden Corral, to our old neighborhood, to the Denver Broncos. You are everywhere.
You and I were separated when you died, but that doesn't keep me from wishing you could be present and healthy so that you could see our kids grow. I would love for you to have been sitting with me at Amanda's band concert, or Brandon's elementary school graduation, or in the emergency room when Brandon was so sick last month. I don't care what terms you and I were on, at least when it came to the kids we were solid as a rock.
I hope you know you are missed and loved, Dave. Whether it's a grand gesture like a post dedicated to you on a blog, or a sweatshirt of yours worn by Amanda, or your bathrobe that sits on Brandon's bed, you are always on our minds or in our hearts.
Living in Denver has proven to be much more expensive than living in Cody, so I got a job doing security at the zoo. Not the most glamorous job really - all I do is make sure people obey certain rules so that the animals don't get fucked up. Lots of standing around doing nothing, but it's nice to be working again and to be around people. And don't forget the animals, the animals are pretty great to be around. Every time I walk past a creature I think, Oh that's my favorite! I seem to say that about most of the zoo. Go figure.
I am experiencing some emotions that I never expected to surface as a result of working there, and I'm hoping they will go away because dammit, they're uncomfortable. Naturally there are a bajillion people with small kids who visit, and we were no different when Amanda and Brandon were little. I have many memories of walking that very zoo with my small children, and seeing all the little kids while I'm working provokes memories that make me miss those little years terribly.
It's the ache of those happier times, when the family was still intact and we had our dogs, and we had Dad. So fucking much has changed since then. It's been a rough ride. As I sit and watch all of the little kids who are possibly in their own stages of familial innocence, I constantly wonder how my own kids will look back on their childhoods. Will they have good memories in spite of all the shit? Will they wish it had all been different? Will they hold it against me?
Those little years go by so fast. SO. FAST. I know I was mentally present and accounted for during that time, but it's such a short blip in the scheme of things that no matter how much you pay attention, *POOF*, it's done and all of a sudden they are teenagers. Amanda, who is now thirteen, is in full-blown teenager mode. There is just nothing child-like about her anymore and that kind of bums me out. I'm not ready for her to grow up.
Brandon is still my little guy, and I am desperately trying to hold onto his boy-ness as much as I can, for as long as I can. He's little and scrawny and very much still a little kid, and I'm not sure I'll be able to handle when his voice drops and his slight frame grows into a man. Once he's grown, that's all she wrote. Little kid game over.