One year ago today,Â I lost someone.
One year ago today, I was a full 9 months pregnant, sitting in my rocking recliner and knitting a hat when Adam burst into the room with the worst news I have ever received.
One year ago today, our world turned upside down.
I still remember all of the phone calls I made that night – everyone answered with an excited “IS IT TIME TO HAVE A BABY?” – and I could barely squeak out anÂ answer. “No. Someone shot Dirk. Please come over now.”
I still remember everyone sneaking glances at my giant belly, no doubt wondering if I was going to go into labor any second due to the stress.
I didn’t cry untilÂ three hours later, in my unlit kitchen with Adam’s mom’s arms wrapped tightly around me. I had walked around the corner for a glass of water, and ended up crumpling into a fit of sobs.
I didn’t sleep for three days. While grieving my own loss, I was also so concerned about my husband that all I could do in the middle of the night was listen to him breathe – I could tell the exact moment he fell asleep, because his breathing would change.
The next day weÂ spent hours waiting for updates from the court, the troopers, anyone who could give us any information that was different from the information we got an hour before. To be honest, none of it mattered – it still doesn’t. It was just something to do, something to think about. Sure, the storyÂ unfolded a little more each day, butÂ the man who shot Dirk went to jail that night, and his trial still hasn’t started.
The night after it happened, aÂ big groupÂ ofÂ our closest friends stayed the night. We kept eachother laughing and crying with funny (albeit sometimes morbid) Dirk stories (“What? They’re donating his EYES to someone? Are they also going to give that person his 786 pairs of Costco reading glasses??”). We all slept in our living room, draped over couches and chairs and sprawled out on the floor – no one wanted to be alone.
Three days after it happened, I went into labor. I had a baby girl at 9:43pm. I thought of Dirk. When everyone left and it was just Ellie and I in our little hospital room, I cried and told her about her Grandpa.
When we got home, I sat at my computer with Ellie on the Boppy pillow, and I cried and breastfed while writing Dirk’s obituary. I went through three boxes of Kleenex while putting together the funeral program, scanning in old photographs and creating a picture slideshow for the 400+ people who would show up to remember Dirk.
Adam’s mom went out and bought us a brand new chest freezer, because so many people brought over home-cooked meals. I was mad at her for spending the money, but also I wasn’t.
Our dining room table was blanketed with floral arrangements – and I remember thinking about how it was almost impossible to tell the difference between the “death flowers” and “life flowers” – some people sent one of each, some people sent one or the other, and some people just sent one bunch with a confused card. Unfortunately, Hallmark doesn’t make a card that says,“Hey sorryÂ for your incredibly sudden and unexpected lossÂ but congratulations on your brand newÂ baby.”
Two weeks after it happened, there was a funeral in Anchorage. I sat in the front row with my husband. I told him he didn’t have to get up in front of everyone if he didn’t want to (because he didn’t want to), but his Grandpa called him up onto the stage anyway. I stayed behind in my seat, but after Adam said two words in a lost, broken voice, I leapt up and sprinted onto the stage to hold his hand while he shed tears in front of 400 people. Because I was still recovering from my labor, blood leaked down my leg the entire time I stood on stage, and I silently praised myself for wearing black pants. IÂ positioned myself slightly behind Adam, andÂ I don’t think I breathed the whole time. I wanted so badly to say amazing things about Dirk, but my mouth wouldn’t open.
At the funeral in Talkeetna, when Dirk’s longtime friend and neighbor directed his entire heartwarming speech at Adam, I sobbed audibly and dripped tears onto Ellie’s little head.
People tell you “it gets easier with time.” It doesn’t. It doesn’t at all. One year later, the only thing that is better is my ability not to break down and cry and snot all over people when they ask me how I’m doing. (I still do it in private.) (Often.)
Despite the above paragraph, I won’t leave you withÂ that sorrowful parting thought. Instead, know these things:
One year later, my relationship with my husband is stronger.
One year later, our entire familyÂ (his and mine -Â ours)Â has a closer bond.
One year later, we are striving to raise our daughter to be like her kind, wonderful grandfather.
One year later, we know Dirk is happy. He is with God, he is right where he wants to be, and he laughs at Ellie right along with us every single day.
One year later, we are okay.