*strong language warning*
I’m not gonna lie, I used to have a terrible potty mouth. I used the f-bomb as a comma in everyday language. I have worked SO HARD at being aware that the language I use may offend people I am not even sure are paying attention. That being said…talking to my mother and my brother in this situation I knew there were no other ears listening. I chose to not edit these words out of our conversations for authenticity’s sake…people who know me now, know how hard I have worked to be free of such vulgar language…knowing how I lost it…they know this is beyond understanding.
My week started out as every other week does, I dropped my boys off at school, waited for Squishy (the baby I babysit) to be picked up, and went to work.
Mondays are so difficult for me. Saying cya later to my boys every other week knowing nobody can love them the same way I do is, even after four years, heartbreaking. I never asked for the divorce, they never asked for it; yet they are still paying a price that is unfathomable to so many.
I go to my second job, and things are as usual. I love my job at the middle school. Those kids fill my bucket every single day. I regularly post on my personal Facebook page about how awesome the middle school students I work with are. I make sure to tell the parents I know how great their children are; because as a parent, there can be nothing more comforting than to know that your child is just as awesome as you think they are!
…and then it happened..
My brother (650 miles away) posted:
At a loss for words, cant imagine the hart ache.
Earlier in the day I had seen a woman post on the community page about her husband, son, and a family friend were late returning from a canoe trip. So I sent him a private message:
Me: Did they find the canoers?
Darcy: Ya, not good news. 😦
M: ALL OF THEM????
D: From the information I got so far, ya. 😦
M: Oh fuck
M: Oh fuck oh fuck
D: That’s all I can say too.
M: I got nothing
M: Just oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck
M: This can’t be real even
D: Too close to home.
Now, at this time, I only knew of the father, son, and the father’s friend (a friend of my family). I sent my mom a text
Mom: He and Dylan and 2 more died.
Me: Dylan is younger one?
Mom: Ya, almost 15.
Me: That’s what I thought.
Dylan is Shane’s youngest son.
Two fathers (best friends) and their sons out in a canoe for their first paddle of the year. With all of them dead on scene, only God knows what happened. They were all found floating next to the capsized canoe. They were all wearing personal floatation devices. We are left with two women have lost not only their husbands, they have each lost a child. Each of these women also have a surviving child.
I can still hear the screams in my own ears…my screams. My devastation…my hurt…my disbelief…my shock.
Later that evening my mom called. When I answered I lost it…”what the fuck Mom?” My mom lost it…the strongest woman I have ever met, known, cherished replied through her own anguish, “Oh my God it’s so awful.”
We talked until we were both calm, she told me of the man who refused to check out of Shane and his wife Li’s hotel when the news broke…like literally my mother had to go over and threaten him with the police because he, “…paid for a view of the river and I am going to have a view of the river.”
In perfect Colleen fashion, “Sir, I understand your disappointment. I can assure you though, you can leave with me, or you can leave with the police…but you ARE leaving.” I know she said this with a voice so calm, not even for a second betraying her anger. I also know that her eyes were so full of tears for this family.
I love that woman more than life itself! I am so thankful that Li and James (her surviving son) have my mom.
My mother than picked up all of Dylan’s hockey team and drove them to one of the coaches home where they had opened their home for the boys to all be together.
Shane Cripps (44), Dylan Cripps (14), Connor Sykes (33), Liam Sykes (6) all gone.
My father and another man went out to the boat launch later that evening to bring their vehicle back to town.
Some people bring brownies…my mom and dad do the logistical nightmare stuff. That is how they bring brownies. I mean seriously…the last person in that vehicle was a friend who is now dead. My mom drove around town picking up and dropping of a bunch of 14 and 15 year olds in the midst of their shock and grief.
All of this happening on the first weekend my parents’ campground is open to the public…so I know that in between all the running and shuffling, and tears, and shock they are also greeting guests, guiding tourists, mopping bathrooms, collecting garbage.
Time only stands still for those who are grieving…the rest of the world continues to spin, and somebody has to clean their bathrooms and make sure the garbage is taken care of so the bears don’t come.
On Wednesday morning, word got out that the wives and children of the deceased are planning to go out to the boat launch, which over the years has become haven to those not willing to pay a dump fee at the city dump. The litter and garbage is atrocious out there.
A post was made on the same page the wife posted asking if anybody had seen her husband and son on Monday. By 5:30 pm the place was immaculate. The city dump waived fees for people bringing garbage from the site, people showed up with water and food and they took out several FULL pick-up trucks of garbage in time to allow the families the opportunity to begin processing their situation.
As I work to process this grief from so far away I am in constant contact with my family back home and reaching out to my local friends to keep me afloat. My friends have surrounded me with the love I knew they would…keeping me safe from letting satan enter into this turmoil.
…and then it happened…
My girlfriend (Jessa’s mom) sent me a message that the roller coaster has officially started. Miss Jessa has a grade one brain bleed, her lungs are having issues and she is going to be started on steroids that are going to cause her to feel yucky…
And I’ve got nothing. I cannot even process this. I try to send love, I pray, I try to talk with her and comfort her…and I’m just lost. We will get through this, we just need to connect…we need to get back on the horse and we need to refocus.
The NICU team reassures everybody that these things are ‘normal’ for a micro preemie and that she is still doing so amazingly awesome. The roller coaster is started and we are firmly buckled in.
…and then it happened…
On Friday I am almost finished my work day…less than an hour to go and we stop for lunch.
I check my Facebook and receive notification that my friend from childhood has lost her mother to cancer. Oh shit I just CANNOT do this…
FUCK YOU CANCER! #itsnotaboutme
Is my Facebook update. I do not even remember the last time I swore on Facebook. even the times I have REALLLLLLLLLY wanted to, I always edit it and find better words. At first I did not post the hashtag…but did so pretty quickly so that people would not think I was sick again.
Not yesterday. Nope, I did think about it. I thought about posting something heartfelt and loving. And then I realized that nope, this WAS heartfelt. These words perfectly summed up what I needed to say at that moment.
I texted my mom, “Call me.” I only have a cell phone, I cannot afford the plan that allows for calls to Canada (it would be an extra $15/month). When I need my mommy…she calls me.
Me: Mom…Giselle died. (sobbing)
Mom: Oh shit, we knew she didn’t have long…you told me that, right?
Me: Yep, Michelle called and said it was close not long ago…just not this week.
Mom: (I can hear her voice crack) It’s going to be one of those years Deb; there are already forest fires burning up here; it’s not going to be good.
She comforts me and I get back to work. It’s all I can do.
There are beautiful things happening all around me…and I am searching SO HARD to be mindful of them…I really am.
I am also hurting and my tears are always falling, and I am letting them. I have cried this week at work, at the grocery store, at Thief River Falls House of Prayer, in my vehicle, on the phone with my landlord, in my bed, in the shower.
It has been one heck of a tough week.
Last night I posted on Facebook:
Two hours ago I said I was going to bed…I just cannot sleep. I went fishing with God earlier but apparently the fish had already talked with Him and were safe. I had supper with friends, I vented/shared love with a friend over FB…and yet my heart is still so hurt tonight. #INeedATripHome
This morning my mom responded “less than two weeks. XO”
Then I got out of bed this morning and was met by this mountain of laundry. I posted a picture of it and said “Apparently the laundry doesn’t care about the week I’ve had…I’m so not ready to die on this mountain! #GriefWaitsForNothing“
Just seeing the laundry waiting started the tears again…but it is real life. Grief does not mean your underwear stays clean, grief does not remove the worm poop you wiped on your jeans when you were fishing last weekend before this all happened.
I am struggling, I am devastated, I am grief-stricken. I will be okay. I am surrounded by love, by prayers, by those God has put on this rollercoaster with me.
I know there are lessons and beauty in all this tragedy…I am working so hard at seeing those wonderful things through my tears and my hurt.
I am so thankful for those who remind me that the tears are okay and that I don’t have to be strong through this. It is completely okay for me to be on my knees in pain and anguish.
When I’m ready to get off my knees, I look up and I see so many hands held out to help me. They have been praying with their hands on my shoulders. They have been doing all they can so I know I do not have to get through this on my own…I one have to get through it and they will not let me do it alone.
Guide me trough this agony as I glorify Your name.