Basketball and tears….

Saturday morning….cold, cloudy, both boys still tucked in their beds, fast asleep.  We had a tough one yesterday, culminating with AJ’s first basketball game without Mark, his coach & biggest fan last night.  I watched 10 boys, running up and down the court with “In memory of Mark Howell” on the back of their jerseys.

I’m still mad that we don’t have him anymore. It’s not fair that two little boys are without their daddy.  This is hard.  I know I’m not enough.  I can’t be enough, but I’m doing the best that I know how to do. 

We’re too sad to get Christmas decorations out.  There’s a lone wreath on our front door.  Our poor ‘elf on the shelf’ was too tired one night to go back to the North Pole!  Will we get through this first big holiday or not?

Three friends showed up last night for Andrew’s game, they are family to us.  AJ knew they were there.  But losing by one point, and being frustrated at himself for not hitting a couple of easy shots, he wasn’t his usual self after the game.  I described his look on facebook as “vacant”, and the pain on his face was almost more than I could bear.  It was the pain & realization that he’d just finished his basketball game, and didn’t have Mark to walk off the court with.  He didn’t have Mark gently telling him that he shouldn’t have taken that particular shot, giving him advice, telling him all that he did right during the game.  I tried to hug and comfort him, but I couldn’t.  So I gave him space. 

In the car on the way home, he told me that “Dad would’ve gotten on to me for taking that bad shot!” and I asked him, “Well, what would he have suggested instead?”  “To work for an opening, or pass it to an open man..”  And I replied, “You’ve answered your own question, Dad’s told you what to do.  Next time, you’ll remember.”

Between the agony of the game and crying non-stop to my counselor for an hour, I was spent by the time we got home.  Laundry needed to be done, we have a big trip coming up in three days, and nothing has been packed yet.  But all I could do is put on my pjs and lay on the couch.  For the first time since Mark’s death, I actually went to bed before the boys did.  I could not stay awake any longer. 

They promised they would go to bed no later than 10 pm.  I snuggled down under flannel sheets, in a king sized bed that seems enormous now.  In my half-awake, half-asleep state, I hear them brushing their teeth, getting ready for bed.  Andrew leans down to kiss me, and tells me I’m a great mom, and heads off to his room.  Ben, well, he kisses me, but snuggles into bed beside me (I’m going to have to kick him out, maybe in the spring when it gets warmer).  The cat piles on top of me, settling in for the night.  We pray for strength, for safety, and for healing, then drift off to sleep.

Life, well, life isn’t always what you expect.  And this is certainly not what I bargained for.  But it’s what I’ve got.  So, I continue to try to make the best of a really crappy situation.  Some days I do a better job of dealing with the crap than others.  Yesterday was not one of my better ones.  Today, I will strive to do better.

One thought on “Basketball and tears….

  1. Nancy, my heart goes out to you and your boys. Unless you have gone through what you have, I am sure that the understanding of emotion is impossible. While talking to my daughter on the computer the other day and looking at my 2 and 1/2 month old grand daughter, I said it is hard to imagine that I was that old when my parents died in a plane crash. My aunt and uncle took the six of us plus the loss of a sister. My new parents raised us with such grace that I am amazed how I at times bungled my own parenting. God knows your struggles, God knows your desires, and even though his timing is not our timing, all will done to glorify him and to save us. You have brought me to tears this morning, sometimes those of us who seem to have an easier time of it, have to step back a little bit more and pray that our lives can be used to ease the pain or bring a smile to someone else. I will be more focused on what God needs of me rather than what I need of me today and days to come. God bless you and yes, you are a great mom and I do miss your smiling face at work.

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