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Ashes

Saturday, September 10, 2005 8:45 PM CDT

Yesterday, Alex came to visit. I found out that Dave's ashes were ready to pick up. Alex said, "Are you going alone? You can't go alone." So we talked for a while, and she agreed to go with me. I'm so grateful, the experience was so surreal. I know I would have felt so empty to be in that place by myself. Instead, I had Alex, keeping me grounded, keeping me sane, reminding me I wasn't alone.

We picked up the wooden box, surprisingly heavy, with a little clink...the fish symbol Dave always wore. The box is lighter wood with an inlaid cross of darker wood. The box is smooth and simple. Alex and I found ourselves touching it, stroking the surface. It was somehow irresistible. Warm and comforting and beautiful, kind of like Dave himself.

Alex and I talked about ashes, and what you do with them. She talked about her Dad. I felt so unready to decide, and Alex helped me see that it was okay to take my time. After hearing her, I felt decidedly less "creepy" about keeping the box here. I wondered how the children would react. They were just like Alex and I, drawn in, needing to touch it. Kenny, especially, touches the box every time he goes by. It reminds me of when Dave would sleep in the living room, and we would stroke his head or give him a kiss as we went by. It's good to have something to touch.

Kyle's ashes are in a blue marble box, buried in Gig Harbor. I'm unsure what I'll do, but I'd like for them to be together. Weird, since they already are. I feel better about being able to take my time, thanks, Alex. I love you.

We are getting through the days. Some times are hard. Some times are okay. The grief comes in waves. Crashing over us, sometimes little by little, sometimes all at once, then receding, leaving us drained, but cleansed. Like the beach, there are sneaker waves, things that hit us unexpectedly, things you just aren't prepared for. Like seeing that Dave was cremated on my birthday, and that date is on the bottom of his box. I didn't know what I felt...my eyes flew to Alex. She held my arm. The wave came, then retreated.

Our house feels empty now. Dave, in life, was such an incredible, awesome presence, that, in death, his absence is huge. Huge and loud. The house echoes with the missing of him. Things feel hollow sometimes. I find myself listening for Dave, for the jingle of his keys, the spring in his step, the strum of his guitar, the song of praise, the deep laugh. I find myself looking for Dave, a blue and white jacket, a pair of sunglasses below a baseball cap, a doo-rag, a whistle, a smile. I find myself feeling for him, in giant hugs, soft touches, high-fives. There are echoes of him everywhere. Zach strums his guitar. Kenny laughs deeply. Kate hums as she works. I tell myself it's enough. It has to be enough. It's not.

Kate holds her little pink heart pillow. She gave it to Dave when he went in the hospital in May. It never left his side. He slept with it every night. She says, "It smells like Daddy." She won't sleep with it, because then it might smell like her. I found her crying one day. She thought it was losing its smell, so we found a sweatshirt of Dave's and wrapped the pillow in his shirt overnight, to refresh the Daddy smell. What will I do when it fades for good?

There are still many beautiful stories to tell of Dave's last days and hours. Some have heard them on the phone, but here....I can't do it yet. I don't know why. Words, phrases and stories, these are my friends, my ways of coping. But some places I can't go yet.

I am so grateful to be surrounded by such loving people. The calls, visits, cards, e-mails....so caring, so sustaining. Such nice things people say. I have had many people say that I'm strong, that I'm amazing, that I'm inspiring.

Okay, guys, here's the real deal. I'm not. I'm really not. I'm not strong. But I do know how to lean well. Thank you for being people I can lean on. I'm not amazing. But I do know how to be honest and real and how to feel. Thanks for caring about that. I'm not inspiring. But I do know how to get out of the way, to allow a process to happen as it is meant to, and like Dave, to let things happen through me. Thanks for being part of this. Some have said I'm brave. I'll take that. I am brave. Sometimes I'm scared, but I decide to reach out anyway. It's not easy, but it's the only way I know. Dave and I learned a lot about being honest and risking and connecting and what it takes to make relationships real in the moment. We learned it the hard way, through Kyle, but we never lost it. Dave used to say, "Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent what you choose to do about it." There is no day but today. I don't do this as an example. It's not the "right" way. There is no "right" way. Each must find their own way. This journal started out as a way to convey information when we were out of town for treatments. Along the way it's become something else entirely. I'm still not sure what it is, only that I'm grateful for the company along the way, and I'm grateful for the chance to share some parts of Dave with you, and I'm grateful to God for seeing us all through.

Love you all, Shelley

This song speaks to my heart today. I encourage you to go to www.air1.com to listen to some of this music that I've been posting, it's powerful to hear.

"A Little More" by Skillet

Love is all around you now
So take a hold
Hidden in our words
It sometimes ain't enough
Don't suffocate day after day
It's building up
Cause when you're feeling weak
You know I'm strong enough

Just one more day
One more day

Oh, let the world crash
Love can take it
Oh, let the world come crashing down
Oh, let the world crash
Love can take it
Love can take a little
Love can give a little more

Love is indestructible
So take a hold
Sometimes hard to find
A reason good enough
I'll stand beside you
Never leave through it all
And faith will bring a way
To the impossible

Just one more day
One more day

Oh, let the world crash
Love can take it
Oh, let the world come crashing down
Oh, let the world crash
Love can take it
Love can take a little
Love can give a little more

You can find me
You can find me
You can find me anywhere
Take a look over your shoulder
I'll be standing there
Standing there

Love is all around you now
So take a hold
And faith will bring a way
To the impossible

Just one more day
(You can find me, You can find me)
One more day
(You can find me anywhere)

Let the world crash
Love can take it
Oh, let the world come crashing down
Oh, let the world crash
Love can take it
Love can take a little
Love can take a little
Love can take a little
Love can give a little more
A little more

Take a little more
Take a little more

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