Rolf and I made it home safely late Saturday night from dropping off Max at PLNU. It was a sweet time. It was fun to watch Max take it all in and we’re confident he’s in a great space surrounded by great people.
Olivia, Rolf and I woke up Sunday morning to our “new normal”. We went to church and it was hard. Rudy’s absence was so acute and cut so deep. There was a different kind of energy to our day without the big boys too. It just really feels like we went from a family of six to a family of three overnight creating a seismic shift in our day to day family identity. As a result, we’ve adopted a new nickname…at least on the days we do life as a trio. Meet the MOD Squad (Mom, Olivia, Dad) – or as Olivia pointed out “the MOHD Squad” with a silent H to include Harley! Ha Ha. Life may be dramatically different but finding our way to adventure and fun are on the top of our priority list…stay tuned.
So, what’s next? No idea and part of me finds that deeply troubling. When Rolf and I were dating I remember we had one of those “ah, ha!” moments in our relationship when we discovered that when we contemplated the future, my thoughts centered on what I’d be doing and Rolf’s were centered on with whom he’d be…a clear demonstration of my task-oriented tendencies and Rolf’s relational approach to life. This weekend as Rolf and I sat on a bench along the campus thoroughfare and watched PLNU’s incoming freshmen visit dozens of booths set up to inform them of all the wonderful campus activities they could choose to be a part of, I felt an overwhelming sense of panic out of the blue, turned to Rolf with tears in my eyes and said “What am I going to do now?” to which he replied “I don’t know but I know who you’ll do it with.”…a sweet thing to say and a reminder that there are some aspects of who we are that haven’t changed a whole lot in 25 years. 🙂 There’s a big part of me that needs a task to feel grounded but at the same time I’m not motivated by much at the moment so there is an inner conflict that is beginning to surface. The goal is to pace ourselves in the many adjustments before us and, hopefully, find our purpose and direction each day as it unfolds.
I started going through Rudy’s belongings. I unpacked his travel bag late last week. It’s hard to know what to keep, what to let go. These aren’t decisions I’m feeling pressured to make right now but it will be a daunting task whenever the time does come. Gosh, it’s just heartbreaking. Interestingly enough, our choices in what we would bury with Rudy came quickly…in an attempt to record the details of that week before his funeral, I quickly snapped a picture of the things we took to the mortuary so I wouldn’t forget:
We purchased the Lightening McQueen pajamas a couple of weeks before our road trip and Rudy wore the pajama top several times as a day time outfit. He called it his “jersey”…he wore it the two days we were on the road and would have worn it the day he died but I insisted we wash it before he wore it again. I’m so glad he wasn’t wearing it when we took him to the ER because they cut the shirt he was wearing off and discarded it. The Lightening McQueen slippers were a prized possession and he often asked to wear them as outside shoes…ha ha!. Wilson bought Rudy the Lightening McQueen cap at his Disneyland Grad Night a couple of years ago and it was his favorite. The Rt.66 cap was a souvenir he got the first night of our trip and he was wearing it in the last picture we took of him. I actually wanted to keep the red cap but Olivia felt strongly he should have it and she was right. The Lightening McQueen books and car were among his all-time favorites and, of course, his container of pacies that Olivia shared about at his funeral had to go with him too.
Rudy’s custom casket panel was a gift from our friend Chris…I never even knew you could order a custom casket panel. It was a sweet detail in the midst of some pretty tragic decisions and there is comfort in knowing Rudy is surrounded by familiar, favorite things. I know stuff is just that…stuff. But there can be pretty profound meaning attached to the things that surround us and that’ll be the challenge, of course, in sorting through Rudy’s things…ugh.
There was, however, a stash of “stuff” I was happy to unpack and put away this past week…
…my emergency hospital bag. When we brought Rudy home from the hospital in May of 2009, I vowed I wasn’t going to be caught off guard again with a surprise trip to the hospital so I packed a bag with the essentials and kept it within arms reach along with the portable file box of important papers, etc for the next emergency trip to UCLA…it sat in it’s spot in our bedroom entry way for EIGHT years. It didn’t get used in the eight years we had Rudy home because he was never admitted to UCLA (or Cottage Hospital in SB) for an unscheduled visit/emergency! ‘Hard to believe. There were plenty of trips to the ER but none ever resulted in him being admitted. It’s quite remarkable, really, and I praise God for it because after Rudy’s harrowing first 7 months in the CTICU/PICU, I expected he would be in and out of the hospital with all kinds of setbacks. Instead, his hospital stays were all for scheduled procedures that were never chaotic or fearful for him. What a gift to him…and us. His rich quality of life was marked by many things and I count this among them!
One last thing. A lot of my brain space has been consumed with the big kids…concerned and heavy-hearted for all of them as they settle into their new normal at APU, PLNU and here at home knowing they’ll be confronted by their grief and wishing I could prevent the pain. I was comforted by the “verse of the day” that popped up on my Bible app today…
I’m counting on it!
Thank you for your continued prayers dear friends!