Midterms – Post at 100 Days
One of the things I loved on the first trip was living deliberately every day. There wasn’t a routine to get into; there was only that day and you had a choice of making that day an adventure or losing it. Not every day was easy, not every day was an adventure, but even the days when we didn’t do anything we had to choose to do nothing. In my everyday life, this type of living escapes me. Commitments to family, school, work, church, activities and the care of our possessions take up most of my and the kids’ time. That is modern life; there isn’t much we can do to change that. In fact, at times, it can be liberating, there is so little pressure or time to figure things out. Your days are defined, your obligations are understood. You wind the spring on your back up and plow through the list on the nightstand or your desk. Along with lists we have convenient mileposts along the way to assure us we are on the right path; graduations, promotions, bank accounts, square-footage, honors, etc. Those are as much a part of our families lives as everyone else’s, but it was refreshing to lose that focus for a year.
I was excited to get back to that kind of daily living. We are half way through the trip, and we are in full motion. We have done 17 countries in 100 days, but I am finding it much more difficult this time. I am not sure if it is because I am a decade older, because of what the family has gone through, because I am not sharing the responsibility this time or because there isn’t a peer to share in the daily adventures and remembrances. McKane is getting better at sharing some of the planning and responsibility, but I always am the parent. And as Kieran says, “you made me go on this trip.” And I am ultimately responsible for what we make of these 200 days.
Last trip I set out very specific goals and measured us against those goals. When I read those goals, I think they still apply, but this time I was less specific. I wanted us to have time to work through our grief, to laugh and play again and to be there for each other as we pushed through. We each have a few things on our own we need to do. I thought visiting rising tech companies was an innovative way of sharing my life with the kids. That worked for about three countries but became repetitive for the kids. It also ended up taking many hours of my time as I tried to work my network to set up the meetings. I still think that would be a fun trip, but I decided it was too much work and I didn’t want to risk the primary focus of the trip. I also have a goal to educate the kids on the world. I want them to meet people around the world, to share in their culture, to appreciate art, to expand their palates, to see other belief systems and to have at least a glimpse into the literature around the world, all while trying to keep pace with their school work. Personally I wanted some time to open myself up to a new life, to recharge my batteries, to work on my photography and writing and to think hard about where I want to put my energy when we return home.
I recognize that is a lot and should be enough, but at times, I feel sorry we are not doing the service we did last trip. We are going to spend the last week of the trip volunteering for Operation Smile in the Philippines. I am excited about helping out. I love the organization, but I am not going to med school and become a plastic surgeon. We will support those wonderful people doing surgery on a boat docked off the coast of the Philippines. That will be one week out of 25; that wasn’t the focus of this trip. This trip is more about us and how we help each other. It hurts not having Dax on the trip. The kids and I talk about him all the time and often pipe up with what Dax would say, or how he would react to different situations. I wish he could be part of the healing journey with us. I understand that he needed to work, he is in the industry he wants to be in and has his future to build. However, he still needs to go through the same process, and it is not easy to get through on your own, even if you have an awesome girlfriend. We will get a week with him in late June, and I am looking forward to that.
As I look at our primary goal of constructive grieving, I think we are doing well. When we were home, I would describe us as “fine.” We were going through the motions of life, I had a great job, the kids were moving from one grade to the next and we were “fine.” By “fine” I meant not crying much and finding ways to fill our days and not be forced to think about losing Anne and all the ramifications of that loss for each of us. Kieran and Dax can play video games for hours if not days on end. I read to fill in the white space (I read over 60 books last year); Mac loaded up on school to an unhealthy amount and Asher was just a sweetheart for all of us. 100 days later, I feel we are much closer as a foursome, and hopefully the same will be true with Dax when we see him in a Taiwan. I have a stronger relationship with each of the children and am better able to be the “one” parent. We can celebrate Anne more. We miss her and honor her memory and cherish the idea of seeing her again, but it isn’t as hard as it was at home. I don’t find myself in pools of self-pity, and we all can talk more about her. I know the pain never goes away, that the kids will live the rest of their lives without their mother. It still isn’t fair, but those are the cards we have been dealt.
After Anne died, I had this incredible urge to run away; to disappear; to walk off into the wilderness; to fade into the background. I didn’t. My responsibilities as dad and to my team at work kept me present. Those disappearing thoughts still gnaw at me, and this trip might make it look like I am acting on those desires, but the trip isn’t about running away, it is about running again; It’s not about connecting with something else it is about connecting again; and it isn’t about living day to day, it’s about living again.
Editors Note – I wrote this post at 101 days. I didn’t want to post it until it would be in the correct place geographically.