All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!

It Gets Easier

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I’m not going to lie, the last few days have been hard.  For as grateful as I am that Jenny is no longer suffering, I still can’t get over the shock of it – the shock of knowing that she doesn’t physically exist anymore.  I remember thinking this when my cat, Lily, died a year and a half ago, but it’s so very different when it’s a person, a friend, your age (or in my case, almost 5 years younger than me) dies.

I woke up in Kansas City in the dark hotel room and thought, “where am I?”  I then remembered, “oh yeah, Jenny died.”  I’ve had the same confusion every morning, but it’s lessened each morning and is becoming something that just is in my life.  It’s weird.

The first night home, I dreamt of Jenny all night.  I woke up to use the bathroom and went right back into a dream about her.  I got up with Bryson at 5:10 the next morning and rocked him in his room, falling asleep in the chair, and I dreamt about her immediately.  They weren’t good dreams.  I was glad to finally be up on Monday morning.

People have been posting photos of Jenny on her Facebook page, reminiscing and sharing good memories.  I’ve found peace in those posts and have, for two nights, gotten totally sucked in reading them.  It’s felt like if I was reading about her, that she was still here.  The photos have been so fun to see, but they aren’t my memories of her, which has been causing me a serious problem.

When I close my eyes at night, I think of her dead in that hospice bed.  I can’t see her as she was all those years that we spent, literally, every weekend together.  All I can see is her colorless face, closed eyes, dry teeth, and still chest.  If I’m not working out or doing something very involved with the boys, I am thinking of her… in that bed.  I’ve mentioned that I’ve never seen someone so soon after dying, before being made up by the funeral home.  I don’t know why I expected her to have more color and life in her when we walked in, but I did.  I know how this works, I’ve read, “The Embalming of Mr. Jones” (required reading in my high school death and dying class – it still haunts me) – I know that the body turns cold and blue and pale very quickly, but I just didn’t think it would happen to her.

Sort of like I didn’t think the cancer would kill her.

Imagine, every moment that your mind can wander off task, thinking of your dead friend lying in a hospice bed.  It has been exhausting, and upsetting.  Hottie and I talked last night about it and it’s not just me having this problem – he’s having the same challenge.  We have years and countless memories of the “funnest” times of our lives with Jenny and her husband, but we can’t shake that image of her in that damn hospice bed.

I’ve read that when you grieve, you tend to remember the person as you last saw them – usually sick and dying or dead in a casket – for quite a while before that image starts to fade.  I have wondered so many times over the last three days when that image will fade.  When will I remember her as she was when she was alive and full of life?

After looking at everyone else’s photos of Jenny of FB, I decided today to find ours.  We back up our photos to a server and also online, so finding pictures is not easy – we don’t do a good job of organizing them.  I was looking for some in particular and never did find them, but I found a folder that brought me some hope.  I’d planned a pretty special 30th birthday party for Hottie back in 2009, which was when we started our friendship with Jenny and her husband.  I remembered that we’d invited them, despite just having met them (we knew they were special and that we’d be lifelong friends if the opportunity allowed), and I furiously scoured the photos for a picture I knew we had of her.

I found it.  And I found another one too.

In the photos, she is wearing the coat she was wearing when we met her.  In the photos, she is the Jenny we met and fell in love with almost instantly.  In the photos, she is alive.

My memory of her in that hospice bed is fading.  I replaced my lock screen photo with one of the four of us, and that’s helping me a great deal.  When I think of her, I am seeing her bright eyes and shiny blonde hair.  I’m no longer grasping onto others’ memories, hoping they’ll help me cope.  I have my own memories for that… and now I have a picture.

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Author: Courtney

Hi, there, I’m Courtney. I never planned to stay home with my kids, but I got sucked into motherhood when my first baby came into our lives after years of infertility and multiple rounds of IVF. His brother followed closely behind, something we didn’t plan on after having such a rough road with achieving parenthood the first time around. My boys are IVF cycle twins, conceived on the same day but born two years and one day apart (they were both transferred on the same day in October, but with two years between them). My boys are the best of friends and my husband is a terrific husband, father, and most importantly… friend. He fully supported my desire to stay home (“I just wanted it to be your idea and not mine, I totally want you to stay home and raise our kids!”) and encourages me in everything I do. I am a lover of projects, spreadsheets, fitness, healthy cooking and eating, crafts, selling my stuff on FB (HA!), and the outdoors. If I’m active, I’m pretty darn happy!

12 thoughts on “It Gets Easier

  1. I love that you found your own pictures to help you focus on the happy memories. Sending you so much love.

    • Thank you! I feel so much better, it’s amazing. Of course, as I headed upstairs tonight, I had to catch myself as I thought of her, cooking dinner for us, and feeling like she was still here. I think those things will happen forever, but even tonight I smiled rather than sighed.

      Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

  2. I’m sorry. As a former hospital nurse, I have seen several people who just died. I can imagine that would be an upsetting picture to have in your mind of someone you cared about.

    I’m glad you are getting back to being able to remember your friend as she was in life instead of in death.

  3. Oh Courtney, I can’t imagine how hard this week has been. I very unfortunately (not on purpose since it was a crime scene photo) saw a photo of my friend who was killed a a couple of years ago (I blogged about that hard time when it happened) and that image was stuck in my head for a while before I could finally wash it away and fill my memories with the friend she really was, the one with the big smile and contagious laugh. I am sure looking at this photo you managed to dig up of your friend will help you to have that as your memory of her, and not the Jenny you saw at the end. Although eventhough it is hard to have that image now, I’m so glad you got to have that final talk with her even after she had passed.

    • I actually thought of you when I wrote this. You and Josey. I remember your friend being murdered, and that was SHOCKING. I’m glad that you’re able to see her again as she was!

      I will forever be grateful for our final “chat,” as her dad called it (he came in and asked if we were having a nice chat. Stupidly, I said, “oh yes. I told her that her nails look fabulous as always.”. So stupid!). I told her all the things I needed to tell her, and the rest, she already knows. ❤

  4. This is exactly why I chose not to see my mom in the hospital after I got the call. I did not want my last visual of her being hooked up to all these machines in a hospital bed (I’m guessing it wasn’t as peaceful as Jenny’s). I think I was the only one out of the family and friends who made this choice, and every so often I ask my brother if he pictures my mom in that bed. I’m so glad you searched through old photos and are starting to replace your thoughts of her with the good, happy times, instead of your last visit with her. I think you are amazing that you sat with her like you did and it sounds like at the time it was therapeutic for you, so hopefully you don’t regret doing it. I don’t think you do, but just saying there is something to be said for having that closure if you can do it.

    • I don’t regret it at all. For some reason, I felt prepared.

      I don’t blame you for not seeing your mom. Sudden death is shocking, and I don’t think I’d want to see someone I loved like that either. When it comes out of nowhere, I think it would be best for me to remember them as they were before the sudden death.

  5. When Jaime died, the outpouring of stories on her Facebook wall were all that kept us going in those first dark hours. Seriously. I remember sitting there with my FIL just sobbing, reading stories from people whom we both knew and didn’t know. It was crazy (but neat?) to get to learn a little about all of these other experiences and stories she had lived that we had never known about it.

    Like I said via text, I still have moments where I flash back to seeing her on the floor. They were actually still working on her trying to save her when I walked in, so it’s a pretty… vivid (tragic) memory to have. I’m normally all for open caskets and closure and whatever, but that was rough. Holy hell. At any rate, I VERY rarely think of that memory anymore thankfully – now I can almost always focus on the happy memories and pictures we have of her. I’m glad you’re finding the same thing!

  6. The stories are so therapeutic and fun to read! An old neighbor of Jenny’s posted a video of her from when she was 6. I confess, I’ve watched it several times. She sounds the same at 6 as she did at 35, and she made her signature facial expression in the video. I think I’ll go watch it again right now. 😁

    I so appreciated you text. I’ve wanted to talk to you, but I didn’t want to bring up sad memories. I specifically thought, “if she had those images of Jaime and she’s replaced them, do not remind her.” I remembered your seen her right afterward, and didn’t want to bring that memory up.

  7. The picture is lovely. I’m glad it’s helping to displace the tragic one. I have not had an experience like yours, or Josey’s or Fiona’s with someone close to me and my age-ish, but I think you writing about them is so moving… like I wish I had known them too, if that makes sense.

    • It makes sense. I felt the same way about Jaime when Josey wrote about her – so much so that when we were in Teluride, I HAD TO go sit on Jaime’s bench. It was weird, but felt good. 🙂

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