I went to our town's Memorial Day parade because my oldest was marching in the high school band. It was an experience of such mixed emotions! For one, I was tearful over the men and women who have died serving our country. Then, I have always struggled with having to attend school/social events on my own but going to a parade by myself really takes the cake. At least for football and sporting events I can sit down in the bleachers and kind of hide. Out on the sunny street surrounded by families and couples made me feel so exposed and ALONE. I kept reminding myself that I was going though the effort for my son and I was so PROUD to see him marching. At first I didn't even recognize him - he is 6" and so handsome! So mature and kind besides. I only wish that I had some kind of proof that his Dad knows how well he has gotten through the years since his death.
Seeing all the moms fussing over their kids and the dads video taping the bands and scout troops marching by brought out those feelings of anger, bitterness, unfairness and resentment that have been surfacing over the past few weeks. It is hard enough getting through the days physically as an "only" parent - but then there is the emotional element besides. So much energy that is needed to pull myself out of the house, into the car, out on the street so I can be there for my son. Over time it has just taken such a toll on me - I don't think people can get this aspect of widowhood because on its face it doesn't seem like that much of a big deal - going alone to see your kid march in a parade. But for me at least, it is the buildup over time of these events - the mental and emotional drain they cause week after week, year after year. Let me tell you, it takes a lot of spirit, courage and energy to keep facing these events on one's lonesome.
I'm thinking all of the above thoughts out on the street while watching the parade, which is another aspect of this issue to mention. For most of those at the parade, I can safely bet, their emotions were tied up with the event at hand and wondering what to cook at this afternoon's bbq. What I have found as a widowed mom however, is that an event like this will unleash a torrent of emotions (all unrelated and ranging from rage at being alone to feeling proud at my son's accomplishments). This also leads to tremendous mental fatigue because when you're overcome by such emotions you have to deal with them (or at least some of them) - they don't go away on their own. It is another challenge of my situation. And beng alone, there isn't someone right there to talk to or provide some comfort.
These are all things that people can't see because they are on the inside. So while I may look attractive and put together while at this parade, inside I am a crumbling mess! As the parade ended and I walked back to the van I decided that I need to get myself a "gold star" for being a devoted mom the past years. Like the ones that were awarded in kindergarten. I am going to be on the lookout for a gold star I can wear as a necklace or pin because right now someone needs to "award" me one. And as soon as I can find one I am going to wear it as a badge of honor proudly!
Good News -
My son made it to the club volleyball tryouts yesterday while I was at work, getting a ride there from a friend and a ride back from a school teammate. Out of the 50 kids trying out only 12 were selected but my son was one of them (and he has only played one season of the sport!). I was happy to know that his fellow schoolmate also made the team which means hopefully there will be someone we can call on to help us in driving emergencies.
Today I am grateful:
1. For the ultimate sacrifice our fallen soldiers have taken in the line of duty for our country. I hope this contemplation surpasses all of our more selfish thoughts about ourselves on this day.
2. For the opportunity to live in this great land and it is the best place in the world to be.
3. For hot dogs, watermelon, baked beans, chips, coleslaw and potato salad.
4. For all the sacrifices I made for the boys because today I saw firsthand that it was worth every struggle and hardship.
5. For the kindness of others, near and far, especially those taking the time to offer a few words of wisdon and understanding.