A Week of Closing Chapters

Lucy, 2014 & Jarod, 2005

It’s been a while since I was at something that made me think, Kraig’s missing this. Today it happened at Lucy’s Kindergarten Spring Sing as I watched my adorable little princess looking so grown up as she sang with the other littles. It was only yesterday I watched Jarod do a Kindergarten graduation wasn’t it? Today I took him to lunch to celebrate surviving his Freshman year. Surviving seemed the right word.

When the thought hit me the tears rose, unbidden, and I struggled to keep my smile in place as I wiped them away. I was in the front row and Lucy could see me. Her brow furrowed a bit in the middle of “B-I-N-G-O.” This was no time for grief. Get out of here, I thought.

I’ve long loved the song “Blink” by the band Revive. It seems to sum up parenting so well.

Teach me to number my days, and count every moment before they slip away,
Take in all the colors, before they fade to gray.
I don’t want to miss, even just a second more of this.
It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash,
It happens in the time it took to look back,
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time,
What is it I’ve done with my life?

This was not a year I wanted to freeze. This was a year I wanted to survive. This was a year I wanted them to survive. It was a year for creating a new definition to normal and walking through grief. And yet it was another year of their childhoods that flew by in a blink. They are now another year taller, another year older, and another year closer to leaving my nest.

This week I will attend ceremonies to see my Kindergartener turn into a First Grader; my Sixth Grader into a Seventh; and my Eighth Grader into a Freshman. They dispose of such silliness in high school until the big enchilada. I settled for a Mom & Me date to Z’mareks (one of Jarod’s favorites) to celebrate the end of the worst Freshman year EVER.

This week I also saw the end of an incredible blessing. It was the final day that Jim gave Jarod a ride to school. Kraig died in the second week of this school year leaving me with a school day conundrum (among many others)—how to get all four kids to three schools by 8:00?  I have no idea what Rapid City was thinking with that scheduling nightmare. Before he died, we thought we had it figured out: I’d drive or walk Lucy to Kindergarten at the end of the block. The middle schoolers would walk to the other end of the block. Kraig would drive Jarod on his way to work. Easy. Except now….

In stepped Jim. Jim is married to my friend and mentor, Deb, and dad to one of my dearest friends, Chelsea. With his calm manner and his gentle Texas drawl, it’s no wonder Jim has often stepped up to mentor young men through his life. Jim heard about my scheduling problem and offered to drive Jarod to school every morning until the year ended or Jarod got his driver’s license. He told Chelsea it would be nice for Jarod to have another man in his life if he needed to talk.

It was an incredible gift.

Jim doesn’t work or live anywhere near us. His home is nestled in the hills on the outskirts of the west side of town. His office is on the west side of town. We live on the north side and Jarod’s school is downtown. Jim goes in early to his office and during the morning rush it was probably 15-20 minutes to get here from there. But every morning, in rain or shine or snow (and oh my word did that include a lot of snow this year), Jim showed up outside my door with a smile to drive my eldest son to school. He took a good 30-50 minutes out of his morning to help me and get to know Jarod.

He’d arrive each morning with a smile and take a moment to teach our dog to sit and not jump on him. He’d give me a fatherly hug and a kiss on the cheek and ask how I was today, looking into my face to see the answer as well as hear it. If he could see it wasn’t a good day he’d assure me it would get better. If I could only muster an “ok,” he’d assure me in his gentle Texas drawl, “That’s alright. Ok’s better’n not.”

He’d hug my girls and wish the boys an enthusiastic good morning. He’d tell Lucy how much he loved her, acting as another grandpa when her’s are so far away. He never judged my messy living room. He’d wait patiently for Jarod to gather his things. We’d chat about our pending days or he’d share random bits of advice from his years as a father. As Jarod grabbed his coat, Jim would ask if he had everything—instrument? Cell phone? Water bottle? And then he’d wish us a good day and take Jarod to school.

In a few days Jarod will try for his driver’s permit and next year the plan is for him to drive both Ryan and himself to school while I drive the girls from our new house. Another chapter that might be closing is on this house if I can find a buyer. I’ve found the new house. Now we wait for this one to move.

I sit here today typing and feeling a little melancholy that a few of these things are ending. And yet I feel as though we are battle worn and starting to heal. I will miss Jim’s morning visits. I will miss living on the same street as two wonderful schools that I’ve developed such good relationships with. And I’m sure there will be more days when the thought, Kraig’s missing this will rise in my heart. Graduations and weddings and concerts and plays—all these things seemed to rush at once into my mind today as I saw my tiny princess with a flower in her hair singing her heart out in the front row.

Life will go on. And I will number these days and try to count every moment before I’m taking her to lunch after her freshman year.

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2 thoughts on “A Week of Closing Chapters

  1. Just remember, even though Kraig is missing things with us, he is smiling down from heaven. He sees, and I'm sure Jesus is there with his hands on his shoulder, just as proud of you and them as Kraig is.

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