Flannel Sheets & Memories

I changed the sheets today. Not a particularly exciting task, except that as I dug around in the linen cupboard I realized both sets of flannel sheets that fit my bed were in the wash, and the temperature isn’t due to shift above 10 degrees Fahrenheit until some time next year. And yeah, I realize that’s less than a week away but that’s still another five days of frigid weather and me with plain old—cold—linen sheets. And no, I’m not going to change them again once I wash the flannels. Not until the requisite week is up.

I hate changing the sheets.

As if this discovery weren’t bad enough to ruin my evening, I also did something else whilst sifting through the over-stuffed linen cupboard. I pulled out all the twin bed sheet sets and packed them away. Which turned into an act of nostalgia I wasn’t quite prepared for.

You see, my daughter got a new bed for Christmas. She’s been in her twin bed since she was three, and now she’s twelve—and almost five-and-a-half feet tall. She’s not a kid anymore, at least not in stature. And she shares that tiny bed with the dog, who sleeps a lot like I do—stretched from edge to edge with no concern for the other occupant of her sleeping space.

A bigger bed was long overdue.

Which means we no longer have a need for twin sheets. As soon as we haul hers off to Salvation Army, there will be no more twin beds in my household. One more piece of my children’s childhood, gone.

It’s been a while since I’ve had to pack away ‘baby’ stuff. A couple years ago, my daughter went through her room herself and donated all the dolls and various other kiddie stuff to charity. She kept her Legos, the stuffed animals, books, and only a few other playsets. And then last year, a few months after my son died, she and my husband went through the basement and piled all those toys into his truck and handed them over to charity.

So, like I said, this small, seemingly meaningless task hit me harder than expected. Somehow, over the course of my kids’ childhood, we’d managed to procure some pretty darn cute sheets. Flannel, ironically. (But I don’t sleep in a twin bed, so no, they wouldn’t have worked for my purposes.) And they remind me of happy times, when my babies were, well, babies, and flannel sheets with snowmen on them were fun. Back when they liked to snuggle, and I liked to sneak into their bedrooms and watch them sleep.

Back when we believed they both had their whole lives ahead of them.

Now, I only have one, and she’s outgrown these adorable flannel sheets. Hell, she doesn’t like flannel sheets at all, let alone those with cute characters dancing across them.

Tonight, I tucked away another piece of my life, my past, my memories.


Easter Dresses, Baskets, Eggs, and Memories

Another Easter mass under my belt. Another round of tears, another giant wad of used tissues stuffed into my purse (I should probably clean those out). Another what? Fifty or so more to go, if I’m lucky? Oh the irony in that statement.

Now I’m home, changed from the pretty dress into my fave comfy pants, and I’ve made myself a mimosa, which I’m sipping while I wait for the family to converge for Easter dinner. Yeah, we’re hosting this year.


There’s a ham in the smoker, and the husband made a carrot cake from scratch that I’m probably a tad too excited to try. Carrot CakeHe’s making a salad as I type, and we’ll also have Brussels sprouts, deviled eggs, and plenty of booze. Lent is officially over, after all.

I think I’ve earned this mimosa. It’s the second Easter for which we only had to fill one basket, hide eggs for one kid. Not that my son would have been into egg hunts this year anyway. He would have been 14, and I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of its-not-cool-anymore cutoff before that point. We’ll see, I guess. My daughter is 11, and while she seemed to enjoy the holiday tradition, I’m pretty sure she’s at that denial stage I call I-don’t-want-to-give-up-childhood. I suspect by next Easter, she will have moved into I-don’t-want-to-be-a-kid-anymore.

Not that it will stop me. I’ll still make her a basket, although it will be nice not to stress over getting those plastic eggs hidden before she wakes but not so early that the wildlife get to them first. That’s assuming, of course, the weather cooperates enough to hide them outside. I live in Michigan, after all; it’s a crap shoot each and every year.

Death affects the lives of the living in so many ways we cannot possibly anticipate. And when it’s a premature death—say a 13 year old—it’s so hard, because damn it, this was not part of the plan. This isn’t how life is supposed to play out. I’m not supposed to become frustrated until I’m reduced to tears during every single holiday.

Last year, I took everything as it came; I had no real expectations, other than the understanding that I would be devastatingly sad, would undoubtedly cry. But otherwise, I was laid back, enjoyed what I had: my beautiful daughter, my husband, my dog, my family and friends.

Now it’s year two, and it’s a new season, new ballgame. We’ve already been through this once, so now I have … expectations. I want my daughter’s Easter basket to be awesome; I want her to be surprised by the colored eggs hidden in the yard. I want us to dress up in cute dresses and take a family pic because it’s so rare we actually do so. Plus, maybe if we take enough of these pictures, I’ll get used to seeing only one kid.

And naturally, with expectations come frustration and potential heartbreak. The husband who didn’t want to help stuff plastic eggs (“Isn’t she too old for this?”); the kid who didn’t even want to go to church, let alone actually wear a dress. And then take a picture with mom? Are you kidding? My husband spent half the mass whispering to her about why taking a picture in our Sunday best was so important to me, and in the end, I told her I already had a Facebook post prepared (“Reagan only wears dresses for weddings, funerals, and Easter mass. And she wonders why I want to take a pic?”), and that was what convinced her to laugh and throw her arm around my shoulder so we could capture such a precious moment forever.

IMG_7196So here we are. I got the picture. This mimosa is damn good. And we’re figuring it all out, one holiday at a time…

Happy Easter, for those who celebrate. And happy life, everyone.


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When I Miss Him Most…

When I miss him most…

When I can’t figure out something on my phone. Or my laptop. Or any computer or other electronic device.

When I see a group of teenage boys walking down the street, especially when they are laughing and appear happy with life.

When I see a good-looking blond man. Would he have turned out so handsome?

When I stalk his Instagram account (which I left open partially because I couldn’t figure out how to shut it down and partially because it seems to be therapeutic for his friends to go there and post comments). When I see all the comments from people whose lives he touched, in a positive way. When they talk about how much he made them laugh. When I see comments from his girlfriend, and realize how much she still misses him. Would they still be together, if he was still here?

When we get together with the family. Everybody had an even-numbered core family, two kids each; and we’ve now thrown off the numbers.

When one of the grandparents says, “My six, er, five grandkids.”

When my daughter tells funny stories about her brother. Because that’s how she copes.

When I catch a glimpse of the closed door at the end of the hall. I haven’t stepped foot into his bedroom in so long at this point, I almost can’t remember what it looks like. Almost.

When I think about his birthday, which is in October. How will I feel on that day? What will we do? Will we acknowledge it? Will I go into work? Will I be able to handle it?

When I think about Thanksgiving. What exactly am I supposed to be thankful for this year?

When I think about Christmas. Will we change our traditions this year, in an attempt to make it easier on ourselves? I loved the traditions we had established, but I can’t imagine doing them with our new, smaller family, yet at the same time, I hate to give them up.

When I think about school starting again. My daughter will be in middle school. Thankfully, at a different school, but still, in that world, that horrible time in a person’s life when you don’t feel like a kid or an adult. That time in his life during which my son decided to end his own life.

When I think about my daughter hitting those teen angst years. Let’s face it, there’s only a slim chance she won’t be a moody, grumpy, unhappy teenager, at least for a few years. How the hell am I supposed to go through that without fearing every moment of every day that she will choose the same path her brother did?

When certain songs come on the radio. There’s a list of songs I have always loved, yet now cannot bear to listen to, which I hate, because I love these songs. Every Rose Has It’s Thorn by Poison. Something To Believe In by Poison. (Although to be fair, can anyone listen to that song without crying?) Don’t Close Your Eyes by Kix. Crow and Butterfly by Shinedown. November Rain by Guns and Roses. The Dance by Garth Brooks.

True confession: I’m not sure I’d choose to do this dance again if I knew this would be the outcome. Actually, I’m really quite sure, and the answer is a resounding no. Same goes for loving and losing instead of never loving at all. Give me never loving at all. It hurts far less. Maybe, someday, that attitude will change, but right now, that’s how I feel. I hate it, every minute of every day, this pain, this emptiness, the helplessness I feel when, for a brief moment, I almost forget he’s gone and think I’m about to arrive home and see him again. And then I realize I won’t.

He’s never coming back. He’s never getting older. He’s never graduating, never going to college, never getting married, never giving me grandbabies. Never having a first drink with me. Never sitting around the campfire again, not as a kid or an adult, joking and laughing and teasing with the rest of the family. Never becoming an expert at euchre. Never discovering what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Never growing any taller—would he have hit six feet? Would he have surpassed it?

My daughter’s future kids (the ones she currently claims she doesn’t want) will never meet their Uncle Brady. They may not ever even utter the words, “Uncle Brady.” No kids will call her Aunt Reagan. (Okay, that’s not entirely true. In my family, close friends are aunts and uncles, so she’ll have that, at least.)

When do I miss him most? All the damn time.



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