You know it.
I know it.
Mark Zuckerberg knows it.
I feel pressure to write something profound; something epic and commemorative for the anniversary of the night we lost the kids, but I am unable.
So many were impacted by the fire: The first responders who smashed through windows risking their own lives to save the children, the firefighters who fought the fire, the coroners office employees and field staff who had to retrieve Ben, Sam and Maddy from the destruction on Ham Hill Road, my friend Jill who watched over the kids at the funeral home, the detectives, the neighbors, families, friends, reporters, teachers, and strangers.
That night was an event filled with grief. Losing all three children, especially the way they left us…will forever be a lifetime of grief Brad and our family.
So many of you have been sending us messages this week.
I can only imagine just how hard it must be to reach out to Brad or me, I’m sure. It’s equally hard to know just how to respond as well. Common courtesy in our culture dictates a certain fashion and order to our condolences, to our grief. To our loss. You want to say something because saying nothing is worse, right?
When you ask, “how are you?” we know you mean something like, “Good God, my heart is destroyed for you. I can’t look at you and not breakdown myself. I hurt for your crushing and paralyzing life…I couldn’t do it…how do you?”
When we respond with, “Fine. We’re…hanging in there,” we really mean, “Every damn day is a psychological roller coaster. Traumatic grief, child loss and trying to move forward with daily life; all of it makes it hard to simply care…and yet, here we are somehow making it happen; who the knows how…and here we are.”
We’ve learned some impressive self preservation skills this last week. We both compartmentalized so much, we’ve created spaces in the day like little boxes, filled with to-dos and checklists. We open up each box and climb in, head down, staring at our lists, listening to the clock tick forward.
The sobs, the tears, the panic and anxiety…well, it’s all just waiting for us on the calendar each year now; thankfully this year it’s a Saturday.
We aren’t holding public memorial or ceremony. We’re spending March Fourth together in private. Yes, I capitalized March Fourth because it is a new holiday for us and it deserves the respect we should never have to give it. Fuck you March Fourth. Fuck you very much.
I have planned a comforting day for Brad and I and we know so many of you will be holding the kids (and Brad) in your thoughts this Saturday. I am very thankful for this because I know it helps him.
I know many of you have asked us where the kids are and that you, or your children would like to go visit them. We’ve been working with the company who is making the monument and it should be arriving sometime toward the end of March. Unfortunately, the monument is not yet complete and as such, it’s hard to locate them. Once it arrives and is placed, we’ll be sharing that information. I leave it to Brad if he wishes to publicly offer the grave site location for this weekend.
I have 3 pinwheels I will be posting there on Saturday when we go to visit.
Many of you have also asked how Brad is doing. I will tell you he is loved and surrounded by love from his friends and family and I am forever thankful for all that love you give to him. He has his struggles in his own way, just as I do and we support each other the best we can.
And still, we live in afterloss. What, you ask, is afterloss?
A year has gone by and you got to spend time with your kids. They had birthdays, entered first grade, graduated high school, learned how to ride bikes, went from middle school to high school, got boyfriends and girlfriends, and won basketball games and lost soccer games…you got to laugh with them, cry with them, hold them, argue with them, smell the tops of their heads and love them…in the here and now.
How have we spent time with the kids? We did it by helping with a book drive, coaching football, organizing a bike-a-thon, feeling love when football players celebrated their Ben Tower award, supporting other families experiencing child loss, playing with our dog and telling him about the kids and taking him to visit them at their final resting place every chance we could.
That, my friends, is afterloss.
I’ll close this by sharing a few non-sequitor items:
- That morning, when we arrived home from Centralia, I waited downstairs in silence, with Brads phone on my lap, just staring at it, waiting for it to ring and display a name I knew. Inevitably, it rang (and wouldn’t stop for a month). It was a number and name I don’t recall. It was a woman and she was nervous, with a tremble in her voice. She was surprised by my answering Brads phone and politely pushed to speak with Brad. She said she saw the news and was hoping it wasn’t the kids…she wanted to make sure they were alright. I didn’t recognize this persons name so I was short, curt and made a failing attempt at a non-answer about what she was watching on the tv, then I hung up on her. Dear woman, if you are reading this, I am sorry I hung up on you. I didn’t know how to respond; it had only been a few hours and I still had foam, water and charred rubbish on my feet, soaking up my pants.
- March Fourth is coming. Please love your children in the here and now. March Forth with us and keep your families safe, always.
- Change the batteries in your smoke detectors
- Ensure you have enough alarms in your home: Smoke alarms are to be installed inside every sleep room in addition to requiring them outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
- Teach your children fire safety; practice evacuation
- Get fire extinguishers and teach everyone in your home how to use them. Practice if you need to.
- Read this; it might save your life
- To my husband, Brad: How I wish I could change your world for it all to be okay. You and I were meant to be regardless of what we’ve walked through together and what is ahead in our future. I loved you before I met you and can not see my life without you. Never have I been treated like such a queen and I am thankful we finally met when we did; I only wish it had been sooner.
We got this sweetheart. You and me. We got this.