Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Day Twelve

I am doing what a new friend suggested. Instead of looking up Shar’s pics/writing/etc that wreck me at night I will do some more of my own writing laying in bed at 2 AM.

JJ is 12 days old and I have been without my baby girl for 12 days as well. That will always be weird, uncomfortable and a little ironic. From watching nieces and nephews grow old I’ve noted how at first you count using days and weeks. “She is 12 days old.” “He is 7 weeks.” At no other time is it the norm to keep track of time this way. Eventually we move to longer time measurements of months and eventually as most big boys and girls do, onto years. Whenever someone asks how old my little best friend is it will also be a countdown from the moment I said goodbye to his angelic mama. Over time when we switch to those longer time periods will the days not be numbing and nights hellish? I can’t say if I even would want that.
In our almost 10 years of marriage I think we literally spent 7 nights apart...total, Four nights in DC last year lobbying for the Earth. One or two nights to say good-bye to my grandma Decker in Arizona before she passed. One night sleeping over with my brothers playing video games. One night where Sharry went camping with a nature writing class. Twelve days is a new freaking record, by a long shot, tomorrow will beat that, and the next day will continue beating records until the days turn into weeks, into months and into years just like our baby boy JJ.

JJ is doing fabulously and will hopefully be out Wednesday or Thursday. Of course I had another rough day and even tougher night but there were sprinkles of goodness. NICU nurses. Amazing co-workers who visited and literally offer me a roof over my head. Two of my students, who I love and adore, have been anxiously waiting for baby news throughout the year came to meet JJ with their awesome mamas. Watched “the Bachelorette” with my mom and brother because Sharry and I used to love to do this (I even was running a fantasy league!). But tonight the horribly well done trashy tv just couldn’t hold my attention or any enthusiasm. Media in its myriad of forms tastes ashen...except for music. I used to have such zest and enthusiasm for great and terrible shows, movies, video games, news articles, books, etc. but for 12 days now I think I have watched 3 hours of tv, read like 40 pages in a book for widows, listened to no podcasts (I’m sure my queue is huge), checked the news zero times (I doubt I’ve missed much, I heard about Brexit from family and hope Bernie is still planning on the convention), played zero video games, and listened to hours and hours of music. Those are all definitely records too. All silly stupid things I did with Sharry. We read together almost every night, out loud together and independently in bed. Of course as many couples do we watched countless hours of all sorts of tv/movies, some inspiring and enthralling others kind of fun crap (The Bachelorette etc). Even video games Shar always said she preferred to some other possible hobbies because we can sit on the couch together while she writes/reads/Instagrams/creates and I fight baddies in virtual worlds. Of course she hated the violent types (not very Ahimsa) and would rather I be a creator like her but as long as we were sitting together it was good. I’m sure the flavor and enjoyment will gradually come back but do any of those things really matter?? To quote Sharry in one of her hidden Easter eggs
“No matter how easy entertainment is to access in this digital age, these are mostly distractions from real-life experiences. Of course, real life has a lot more struggle and hardship than easy entertainment, but it is this living, this living, this living- that gives us meaning.”

Man that was a big Bachelorette tangent! After the Bachelorette the sun was down and like clockwork darkness entered my mind and heart. But then three surprisingly great (with a lowercase g) things happened. I called a friend, while lying in the empty hospital parking lot, who has been reaching out...probably my last best pre Sharry friend and his words were incredibly comforting. At 11pm I told my friend goodbye because it was JJ feeding time. I went in to the NICU and Sharry’s sister was there holding JJ and I love surprise Buhanan sightings. Then the moment that has gave me the biggest smile in 12 days, our extraordinary NICU nurse taught me how to give a swaddle bath. JJ LOVED his little spa time, he was so adorable as he literally soaked it in with all the pleasure and contentment a 12 day old possibly could...I just hope Sharry was there seeing the magical moment.

Tomorrow is my half birthday and I just had a shared calendar update pop up on my computer “Jared’s ½ birthday bash.” My real birthday is December 29th which sucks and growing up I always wanted to switch to June but no family members would comply until I met Sharry. She happily skipped my December day and would throw amazing June 29th bashes. Hopefully she can help make it happen again by busting JJ out on his 13th day on Earth and my 33rd and a half.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

WTF Life!?

What is someone to do when they just lost their soul mate of 12 years in child birth to their first miracle baby?
  • Stay up alone late at night every freaking night because your heart is beating through your chest even though it feels completely empty and broken
  • Cry more tears than you ever knew possible
  • Name your baby James but call him “JJ” because that was the pre-release “code” name that his angel mom called him from the moment she learned his gender and never had the opportunity to call him anything else
  • Turn to family:
    • have your mom hold you like a little baby at 3am as you cry yourself to sleep
    • Beg for help in raising a new born
    • Get and give lots of hugs
    • Fall deeper in love with your wife’s family than ever before
  • Dump out any and all alcohol because you know that shit is tempting and can ruin your life even more
  • Be afraid. With Sharry I felt like no matter what the future held we would be able to face it and conquer it together. Now, I’m afraid of the dark.
  • Turn to all of her family and friends for love, support and connection
  • Reach out to your own caring friends from over a decade ago
  • Alternate sleepless nights between the NICU with JJ and at home with your first baby who just happens to be a scared and lonely kitty
  • Listen to lots and lots of music especially her music (some of her recordings and our Spotify playlists)
  • Buy FOUR books for widows and then laugh when the first used copy comes with stickers all over declaring it was previously in a senior center
  • Every single morning wake up groggy and hope the nightmare is over
  • Realize that people can be extraordinarily generous in the face of tragedy with words, money, food, gifts and time. But also realize there is no way you can ever offer enough gratitude for what has been done.
  • Know that this baby is deeply connected to Sharry and as such have an indescribable love and attraction for him. Yet know if given the chance I would trade him in for her ASAP
  • Look to the future with total emptiness and loneliness and the only thing you can really look forward to is busting your baby boy out of the NICU
  • Know that every baby milestone will be a bit bittersweet as we were supposed to experience it together
  • Fear that you are going a tad bit crazy as you often talk to Shar when you are alone. Topics range from prayers, pleading for signs she’s still around and I will see her again someday, to gossip, to the Bachelorette, to what should I do, where should I live, etc
  • Finding AMAZING little easter eggs of love and breaking down in tears of gratitude, love and loss every time
  • Attempt to absorb the incredible amount of love, prayers, kindness and compassion coming our way and know that, frankly, it is impossible.
  • Realize that there is NOT another human being on this entire planet that I would rather trade places with because then I would miss out on 12 years of imperfect bliss. Note also that if I were in fact in another’s shoes I would never want to switch places with myself
  • Buy Zelda: Ocarina of time for my 3DS to fill time because when were first dating Sharry was able to coach me over the phone through the whole game without seeing it
  • Know that the anger is coming and be nervous about it but right now the sadness, loss and emptiness are just too all encompassing
  • Try to live our Buhanan-Decker family philosophy of Ahimsa and to “give a shit,” but know that has never been so difficult
  • Gotta up my cute game. Sharry scrapbooked, took pictures, wrote journals, documented big days, planned fun events (big and small). None of the above has really been in my wheelhouse
  • Have a deep and longing connection blossom with my childhood LDS faith as I want more than anything to be a forever family with JJ and Sharry with a loving Heavenly Father and Mother. Yet have some big doubts and know that even if my hopes of a forever family are true it doesn’t really take away the sting, loneliness and emptiness from the next 50-60 years
  • Be soooo grateful that JJ survived because without him I would have disappeared either into the wilderness, lose myself on the road or have done some serious harm. He is my anchor and my star in an incredibly dark existence.
  • Fear greatly for all the future nights that were spent with my best friend forever and wonder how in the world I will fill those up. Tentative plans:
    • learn guitar so I can sing and play (poorly) to JJ like his mom was supposed to (not poorly)
    • Write, journal, blog
    • Baby
    • Video games
    • Family and friends
    • Read
    • Connect with nature
    • Netflix
  • Be so grateful that babies are so needy and take so much time. Once upon a time I was nervous about all the time he would take away from Sharred time but now I’m pretty excited for someone to keep my company in the middle of the night
  • Live with regrets
    • For all the stupid petty fights and to be honest I would give anything to go through some of them again
    • For all the times she wanted to take couple/nature/family pics and you were resistant. What I wouldn’t give for a few dozen more pictures of her!!
    • For those many nights when I fell into deep slumber instead of staying up with her as wanted me to stay up and just hang out with her
    • For not cherishing her as much as she deserved to be cherished
    • For not marrying her twice (she always wanted to have a vow renewal party, but we always put it off) 10th year wedding anniversary (12/28 2016) was supposed to be it
  • Spend more time on Facebook than you ever have before because the thoughts, pictures and memories of Sharry shared are little glimmers of heaven and you know soon they will fade away as people move on (as you have for others before) but know that you will never be able to move on and never would even if you could
  • All you can do is move one day at a time and hope it is a smidgen better than the last. My goal is 10/10 Hell -> 9.9999/Hell -> 9.9998/10 Hell, ad nauseam
  • Find yourself incredibly jealous of other NICU families who have babies in much much worse condition but at least they have each other
  • Find out that a NICU can be a fortress of solitude, a home where you feel a measure of peace and incredible support from kind, capable and compassionate medical professionals
  • Find yourself at a very difficult professional crossroads. On one hand your dream job where you feel incredibly loved and supported and you have literally fallen in love with hundreds of students and teachers. On the other hand JJ (and I) needs a lot more family support right now and there is a lot more found in other destinations

I will attempt to keep this blog updated. I have a LOT more time to fill than I have in the past and this will be a kind of therapy for me. I will write about the horrible experiences of a young widower. Share Sharry’s wonderful legacy through sharing pics, songs, stories, easter eggs, writings, art, memories and bucket lists. And of course give updates on JJ as he and I continue our adventure through this existence. An existence that can take your breathe away with beauty and wonder (a large part of my last 12 years) or knock the wind right out of you with utter soul breaking tragedy.