It's crazy how there are levels of grief I still go through. I am the kind of person that doesn't like to be muddled down with negative emotions, whether it's sadness, fear, anger, etc. I like to be happy and I like to be busy & productive. Sometimes though there is a sadness that I can't shake. On the outside I don't let the sadness show, but on the inside my heart is aching with a sadness that I don't think people understand.
This week I've had two experiences (one a happy experience and one a totally angry, stressful experience) that both left me with the same sadness that reminded me of what Dean can't do and will never be able to do. It reminded me that on other levels, I am alone in having to handle things with the kids. It is pointless to even tell Dean about my sadness because he says "Oh, I plan on being involved with that" and I'm sure he would if he could....but he can't see that his injuries prevent him from doing what he wants to do.
Our youngest son, little Dean, is 4 years old. He LOVES riding his bike and he loves to copy what big kids do. We have a really cool BMX track in our small town and the other day we finally took our son to the track. He loved it!!!! At first almost all of the hills were a struggle for him to get up (he has such little legs that have to pedal so fast), then he learned to master the smaller hills and just this one big hill was too hard for him to get up. He could ride the entire track except for this one big hill and needed a push up the last 2 feet of the big hill to reach the top and not slide backward and crash. We have this helper (my respite provider) that comes over 3 times a week who is in really good shape and he went with us to the BMX track (thankfully!) and ended up helping little Dean up this big hill every time he came to it. There is no way that my husband could do this...no way....ever! There really is not a good chance that even I could do it. Maybe if I become a work out chick with big buff muscles, but that would take me at least a year of committed working out to achieve....and ya, let me fit that into my boring life....hahaha. This day at the track made me realize that due to Dean's injuries there are things that he will never be able to help little Dean do. Daddy can't jog in a field dribbling a soccer ball. Heck, I'm not sure he could even stand still and kick a soccer ball (he doesn't balance on one foot very well). He can throw a ball to a 4 year old, but what about when little Dean's 9 and can throw and catch a ball from quite a distance. That kind of throwing takes having the ability to twist and having strength in your back that Dean just doesn't have because his back is so messed up.
The first time I felt this sadness was a few weeks ago when we went to a family picnic where my cousins who are in their early 30's and are in great shape were throwing a football with the kids. Little Dean ran out there and became one of the kids and had so much fun, but I knew then that that was something daddy would never be able to do with him. I think of our future and little Dean playing sports and not having a dad to practice with him. It makes me very sad.
The other experience this week was when my 16 year old son (from my first marriage) who is often a giant, disrespectful, selfish, brat was causing more crap with our family where he did what he wanted to do and who cares about the rest of the family and the inconvenience it causes. I try to shield my husband from these episodes so that it only inconveniences me. Then I give the lectures, ground him, etc, etc, which never work anyway. But this time my husband was in the car and so was also "inconvenienced". The difference is that for Dean it causes a lot more than an inconvenience. It causes him pain and stress which deteriorates his health. But my son doesn't really care about anyone but himself so.....we were all stuck waiting for him. I realized that my future will consist of Dean HAVING to be shielded from the stress that my son's disrespect and selfishness causes. When Dean is exposed to it, he is stuck between "I'm the step-dad and I have to protect my wife and family from having this punk just crap all over everyone" and "If I unleash the anger I feel, I will scare the shit out of my 4 year old and my wife and for what? Will it actually make the 16 year old act differently in the future?". He has no option that makes him feel like he's doing his job, so he feels like he's failing. My 16 year old knows this and so it works in his favor.
Seeing all the things that I will have to bear by myself because Dean can't help. Then the added weight that not only will I have to bear it myself, but while I'm bearing it I will have to be as happy and calm as I can to shield Dean from feeling like a failure. I just don't know if I can do it.
This line of thinking inevitably leads me to wish I had help/support while also thinking I don't deserve any support because every family has their challenges. I think that if my family was a supportive, helpful one they'd see this need and offer to go throw a ball with my son or to go to the BMX track with us. They'd see that the reason we hardly leave the house is so sad for little Dean, but necessary for daddy. How do I reconcile this? I can't leave my husband home alone all the time so little Dean has a more active life and my husband can't come with us. So it's little Dean that loses out.
I know that all this ties into a stage of grief which is something else most people don't understand. My husband came back alive so why grieve? But in all honesty my husband didn't come back alive, he is not the husband I married. He is a different man with different abilities and a different personality and we have a different future. Coming to terms with the loss of my old husband still happens even 2 years later. I just hope that one day I won't have this sadness??? Is that even a wish that can come true?