Dear Andrew and Ben,
It’s been awhile since I felt compelled to write to you specifically. You know that this entire blog is for you, for your comfort at some point down the line whenever you are old enough to grasp the enormity of what we’ve all lost.
But I am astounded at the level of maturity I see in you both since your Dad’s death; you weren’t slouches by any means before, but you’ve had to grow up in ways I never wanted in these past eight months. You bear a burden that no 10 and 8 year olds should have to bear. And I would give anything to be able to take this hurt away from you, to give you your fantastic Christian daddy back.
I know we’ve been rocking along pretty well the past couple of months, things have somewhat settled into some semblance of a new normal; I liken it to being on a boat (freshwater lake, you know that’s where Dad would want us), and we’ve had clear and calm weather for a bit. But this past week, we’ve hit some waves, some bad weather that seems to be tossing us to and fro on that formerly-calm water.
It began for me, again, as we travelled back to Kentucky for spring break; foolishly, I didn’t think it would be any “big thing”, but I was wrong. Being back in my hometown, travelling to places where I was with your daddy, where we fell in love, etc…was very difficult. I tried my best to put on a brave face, but you both know that there were a couple of times that I lost it, and thank you so much for comforting me.
While in Kentucky, we missed Texas, and were so glad to get back home. However, I think coming back here was even more upsetting for you both. The last time the three of us returned from KY without your daddy, he was eagerly and anxiously here, anticipating our return. I can still hear the loud whoops and hollers of joy and laughter, as you two scrambled out of the car, opened the utility room door, and crawled all over him with hugs and kisses. Wish I had a picture of it.
This time, there was no one to greet us, just a lonely cat and dog.
Every night since we’ve returned, bedtime has been difficult for you both. I’m sorry that I don’t know what to do for you, except hold you and cry along with you. I feel so inadequate and I squeeze you as tightly as I can, knowing that it’s still not as strong as your Daddy hugged you.
I pray for you. All the time. I know how much I miss him, and I truly cannot fathom how much you two do. I know he was your favorite 🙂 My goodness, he was everyone’s favorite. Fun-loving, full of what we jokingly call “hooey”, always with a sparkle in his eye and mischief somewhere in that intelligent brain of his. He was “one in a million,” as you so succinctly put it last night, Benjamin.
But he lives on in you. I am so proud of you both. You’re taking a terribly sad, unfair situation, and you’re living anyway. He may have been one in a million, but there are two more Howell men in my house that will no doubt rival their daddy when they are all grown up.
Last night, as I tried to comfort you, A.J., I asked if you would like to wear one of Daddy’s t-shirts to sleep in. I was at a loss, and it was a shot in the dark. You agreed, and I went to one of the drawers that I have avoided for the past 8 months and pulled out a soft white cotton T. Being an XL, it swallowed you, but it gave you comfort. Heck, it gave me comfort, as I hugged you tightly, smelling the clean scent, feeling the soft fabric over your warm beating heart. You and Ben may have found new sleeping attire.
I pledge to do whatever it takes, and I mean WHATEVER, to get us through this. We are so lucky to have good friends, family, and a tremendous support system at both school and church. I realize I cannot be everything for you, and I need to be able to ask for help, especially from good male friends.
As we shopped the aisles of Academy last evening, I thought, “Yep, this is another thing I never thought I would do….shop for a new aluminum baseball bat.” But we did it. Together we figured out what length, what ounce would work to get your power stroke going, Andrew. I look forward to cheering you on as you take the field in a couple of weeks.
And as you both lay in your bed every night, after saying your prayers, talking to your Daddy….you can rest assured that he is there. That was part of the bargain the day I let him go to heaven. I told him that as fun as heaven was going to be, and as busy as he was going to be, he would still have to be near us, especially near you two, all the time.
After I turned off all the lights, enabled the security system, and headed for bed….my nightly ritual continued as I watched both of you sleep. I thank my God for you everytime I think of you, everytime I look at you. And before crawling into my big bed, I got down on my knees, literally, and asked for help, wisdom, and discernment in this part of the storm.