The anniversary days are so difficult to get through. It's like being tossed in the dryer and being tumbled up, over and around again, tumbled emotionally, losing our equilibrium (that we have worked so hard to gain), while filled with the soaking weight of deep sorrow. It's strange and crazy. When those days come, we just hang on to one another tightly. It must be walked through, and it can't be done alone.
Beautiful Rachel joined us, flying in from California on Thursday. We all gathered at the farm for the weekend. We sat outside and watched the dogs, and lazily fished in the pond, and snacked from a big bountiful basket that a dear friend had dropped off on our porch, and simply chit-chatted together. We watched videos of years gone by, and witnessed once again the love that Joey poured on each one of us while he was here with us. He had such a big, generous, loving heart. We went to church on Sunday morning, and were deeply comforted by our pastor's incredible message on Heaven. It couldn't have been timed more perfectly. It gave us a lot of strength, and a feeling of being cared for at a most fragile time.
We made Eggs Benedict after church in honor of Joey. It was his favorite breakfast/brunch. Hollandaise sauce is a two-man operation, and Rachel and I shared the task with one of us rapidly whisking the mixture while the other drizzled butter into it. JoAnne poached the eggs, Jaime grilled the Canadian bacon, and Drew made the English muffins. After labor intensive preparations, we all sat down to eat it with our eyes rolling back in our heads in culinary pleasure! Joey would have been in taste-bud ecstasy!
Last night we went to Ruth's Chris for dinner. Joey loved a great meal. We all dressed up for the occasion. Chase wore Uncle JJ's suit and looked so handsome in it, almost filling it up!. We had reserved our own room for the occasion and the staff knew it was a memorial dinner. They were quite sensitive and solicitous. We had an empty place setting at the table where Joey would have sat. We were there for four hours and pretty much closed the place down. We each shared a memory of Joey that we never want to forget. We shared how we have changed in the past three years. We shared the sorrow and tears of having to bear with the loss of someone so intrinsic to our existence. Our youngest, Aidan, wept like it was the day Joey died. It all came back to him mid-sentence, in a fresh rush of pain, and we all cried along with him.
We received many supportive messages and texts from friends. They do so help to alleviate the lonely feeling of grief, and we thank you all from our hearts for walking with us.
Three years. It feels like a lifetime of loss and heartbreak. We are stronger than we were even a year ago. We have learned to carry the weight of grief, like a backpack on each of our shoulders. It rarely comes off, and only tends to do that in a holy place, like a cathedral or out in nature, but it is a more bearable load. On anniversaries, it is so heavy, it must be shared. We appreciate you all for sharing it with us.
If Joey were in Australia, we would be constantly thinking about Australia. We would read the news and look at pictures of that place with new eyes, seeing Joey there. We would wear the clothing of Australia, root for its teams, and feel a connection to the place. But he's in Heaven, so Heaven is where our thoughts go. There are no pictures, but there is one in our mind's eye, and we look at that one often. We dream of the place where he lives now, and know he is content. He is missing us as well, but also reassuring us that one day it will wipe every tear from our eyes. We await that day and live in this world more lightly now.
We love you, beautiful son. Love you so. Carry you with us now, wherever we go. Miss you terrible. Look to the day of reunion with our hearts and souls. Love you forever.