I had an opportunity to go Christmas shopping last night after dinner. I think this is what started the memories. I reflected on friends and family who had reached out to me earlier telling me they were thinking of me. At the time I just dismissed the comments because I didn't want to relive the hellish memories I had so neatly packed away or perhaps those that I felt I had already processed. But, alas, there they were... staring me in the face as I went Christmas shopping. I recall how I suck at shopping for others. I feel like a kid during a pop quiz. My mind generally goes blank. I find myself reliving what Ralph in The Christmas Story did when he spoke to Santa.
As I wondered from store to store I was reminded on how Jan would have laughed at some of the items on the shelves. We both would have had such a good laugh. I immediately felt both joy and intense sadness. It is such a paradox. I have such love and admiration for Samantha. She has taken in 4 kids and treated them as her own. She loves me for who I am ... both the good and the bad. She really is a wonder woman. She and Jan are similar in that they accepted me for who I am and perhaps that is the challenge. I never stopped loving Jan. I felt she was ripped from my life and yet I love Samantha too. Sometimes I feel guilty for moving forward and yet I know that is silly because my kids need a mother figure. This is true especially for Claire who has stepped into life without any knowledge of anything being amiss. So I live in this environment that seems to contradict itself at times yet it is right. Right to me anyway. I gathered my purchases and headed home. I filled up with gas and as I pulled into the driveway I was reminded that the low pressure tire sensor was lit and I needed to attend to that. I did and came back into the house. Snow had started falling outside. Claire was asleep and Ammon was super tired. Perhaps it was all we did that week. Yesterday we took the kids on the train up to SLC where we went through Temple Square. We had as much fun as you can have with a toddler who had her moments. Anyway - I put Ammon to bed and I think that is when it hit me. I just started reliving what was going on 3 years ago. I realized that 3 years ago I was waiting for a doctor to tell me what was going on... why it was taking so long? I relived the memory of the funeral when the viewing room was packed with well wishers... I looked over and three feet from the casket was Ammon just staring at the closed casket. Not crying... just standing there staring at it in disbelief. It is so difficult to process those memories that sometimes I still break down and cry. Why is it that memories have the ability to cut right to the heart sometimes? For me I put on the movie RED 2 to try to take my mind off of things. I got cleaned up for the evening and Samantha was so comforting to me. She just hugged me as I wept. I think it is perhaps that she too is a widow and understand loss. Sometimes this life can be so tough.
I am so very thankful for Samantha and my life now. It is weird to think of all the changes that have occurred in just 3 years. I feel like a different person. I have stepchildren now and I love them even though I suck at being a stepfather. I have a different life. It is good. It is very good. It is just different and I suppose that difference is what highlights the memories so clearly.
So - as I start this day with a tear stained face I embrace all the memories (both good and bad) that make me who I am. I think for us all character building is a painful process. I'm sure you can look back on your own memories and see that even the tough ones are so vital in making you who you are today and so it is with me.