One Year

Friday night we ate at Jim’s restaurant. Jim’s was an Austin original. My parents both worked there in high school. Eventually my dad went on to help build other restaurants for the Jim’s company. Brian and I hadn’t eaten at Jim’s in 15 years, so it was an odd choice.

My mom met us earlier that night. She took the girls for the weekend so they could have a girlie weekend. After taking the boys for some greasy burgers at Jim’s, we decided to wander around the Arobretum. We stayed past dark, but stopped to stare at the setting sun. It must have been close to 9pm by that point. I have pictures of us standing and watching the sun setting.

It was well after 10 by the time we got home. We were all pretty tired, so we slept in the next morning. We had already planned to take the boys to go see the new Disney/Pixar movie, Planes. If you haven’t heard of the movie, it is, obviously, about airplanes.
My dad was a model airplane builder. For well over 30 years my dad constructed, painted, and photographed them professionally. P-51 Mustangs and space craft were his model of choice. Before heading to the movie, I called my mom to let her know we would be in the movies and let her know to text if any issue came up. When I called her she let me know that her mother died the previous night. As expected, my mom was upset, but wanted the girls to continue to stay at her house. She enjoyed their company and welcomed the distraction.

We headed to the movie. I turned down the ringer on my phone, but I felt uneasy about it. About 20 minutes into the movie I checked my phone. I had missed several calls and received several texts from my brother, uncles, and grandparents on my dad’s side of the family.

I stepped out of the theater to call my brother and find out what was going on. I was not prepared for the news he shared with me.

My dad was killed in a car accident the night before.

Overtaken with shock, I sat down and cried uncontrollably. A kind, young employee of the theater saw me and stood for a while. After I calmed down a bit he asked if I was ok. I shook my head, so he stood for a while to make sure I was going to be ok. I finally called Brian who was still in the theater. Brian joined me and the employee left.

We joined the boys in the theater and with tear streaked eyes, I watched the rest of the movie. Numb. I was numb.

After the movie we went to Austin to join the rest of my family. My brother and uncles had already met at my grandparents house. I know we were all in a fog. Disbelief. I had many questions, but I didn’t know where to start.

There were things to take care of. Storage shed to go through. House to empty. Papers to file. Funeral to arrange. It was all.so.fast.

Day after day for weeks on end we went back and forth to Austin. My siblings, uncle, grandparents and I had to make arrangements, file papers, sift through details. My kids watched more TV than I care to admit while I made phone call after phone call. As they worked on school I scoured the internet for legal answers.

The celebration of life came and went. The memories still lingered. Now, here we are, on the eve of the year anniversary. The memories of that day are vividly etched into my mind.

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Updated: August 22, 2014 — 7:20 pm

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  1. Thinking of you during this season of grief…the anniversaries are hard to face…both realizing that time has gone quickly by and that you somehow survived what you couldn’t bear one year before…there’s the guilt of remember the blessings and happy times that happened without our loved ones…and of course, the sorrow of deeply missing their presence in our lives…

    The other day I stood at the commissary staring at steaks for about twenty minutes. We don’t buy steaks often (like maybe once a year?) and John had just got back from Afghanistan so I thought I’d buy some steaks celebrate. The problem is that I never truly memorized what my Dad had always told me about selecting steaks. I used to call him once a year and ask him what to get (and what the going prices should be for such a thing at that time–man, steak is expensive). I, truly looked like a lost child staring at those steaks and after twenty minutes gave up and didn’t buy any steak at all. I felt the lump in my throat thinking of how I used to call him to ask him silly things like steak choices and now I can’t do that anymore. It’s general unexpected things that bring me into momentary grief.

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