You would have been 37 this Friday. I can remember a year ago so clearly; a year ago we had exactly 80 days left with you. Last year for your birthday I took you shopping, got you a hunting knife, a new Oakley jacket, backpack...we started getting you ready to go hunting. I remember looking at every hunting knife in the store, being sure that you picked a good one....that knife that my dad now owns. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it, but now it will be in good hands.....this was the last of the few all boy trips you would have. We were debating whether or not to you would take Sawyer, you were adamant he would be ok, I was so worried he would be afraid of the shot guns; we decided to leave him home with me and the kids. There was so much stress in your life at this time, you were just getting comfortable in your first semester of grad school; despite such a big accomplishment for you, there was so much stress that went into it all; the signs were all around us at this time last year - you were struggling more than usual - more than all the previous fall seasons. I still struggle with the frustration of not paying closer attention, not being more attentive, maybe naive, not wanting to believe what I was seeing. You had always been so strong, I tried to give you support, words of advice....something to just make you feel better right away....I don't think that's what you needed, now that I look back.
A few weeks ago someone mentioned to me what the plan was for your birthday....honestly, I've been thinking about it for months. I never came up with a plan though. I asked Johnathan what he would like to do and he said he wanted to have his family together for a dinner of his dad's favorite foods he said, "maybe take my dad some flowers and a card?...oh and send some balloons to the sky for dad". It's hard to hear him talk about you this way, but it's all I can muster up to do. You loved when I made pot roast, your favorite cake was a German chocolate cake. I wonder what you would have wanted this year - you would probably be gearing up for another hunting trip.
Last weekend I took the kids on a trip to visit you. Johnathan had been asking for a few weeks and I finally got the courage to go again. I told Bella we were going to visit her daddy - not thinking that she could connect anything to you anymore other than the pictures I show her. When we arrived she bolted from the car as soon as I got her out of her car seat, she walked right up to your head stone and gave you a huge hug and said "dada", she kissed your stone. Johnathan and I just sort of watched quietly and amazed at what she was doing. Johnathan gave her a hug too and told me, "mom she's never going to remember what daddy's hugs really felt like....I'll have to tell her so she doesn't think he always felt like that". It broke my heart that she won't have some similar memories that Johnathan does, a part of me knows that this will ease her pain and longing...but I also know that those are memories Johnathan will cherish forever despite his pain.
I have been paying very close attention to the changing of the seasons. A few weeks ago I saw a tree's leaves start to change color and I wanted to vomit. I can feel the days becoming shorter, the mornings are a little colder....no matter how much I protest the first anniversary of your death is coming. I feel like the weather signifies that in such a deep way. I am angry, more angry than I have been all year long. I hate scrolling through Facebook and seeing all of our friends get excited about Christmas, decorating, baking, all the decor and family "togetherness". I hate it. I would be just fine if Christmas never came again and no one ever spoke of it! I hate being the grinch and know that eventually I will have to check out of social media to keep my sanity the closer we get to the holidays. I felt this need since July. In August I booked plane tickets to California for Thanksgiving, I don't think I've even told anyone other than my brother? My parents knew I needed to get out of here for more so they got us another trip to California for Christmas. It's an adventure to Johnathan, but secretly this is all an escape from something I can no longer handle....I dread Halloween, veteran's day, thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years.....I want nothing to do with any of it.
I dream of you regularly now, there aren't many nightmares; but they aren't good still. Most of my dreams of you consist of you running away and leaving us - abandoning the kids and I - never hearing from you again....me searching for you desperately, calling everyone I can to see if they have heard from you.....and nothing. I still look for signs of you wherever and whenever I can...sometimes their big, sometimes their little. Sometimes I still hear your voice in the early mornings before my alarm goes off and it's hard for me to fall back asleep. I still have the urge to text you every day, during my day, when I feel stressed or that I'm just missing you. I miss looking at my phone after a session and seeing your name there with a message just saying "hi". I struggle accepting that I will never be able to sit across a table from you and talk about our day, the good and the bad. A couple weeks ago I went out to dinner for the first time with just the kids and I. It was hard, there was a lot of emptiness in that dinner and for Johnathan too. He talked a lot about you that night and would say things like "dad would've sat right there between you and Bella" or "dad liked to order the nachos, right mom?" He even told our waitress that this was the first time his mom took him out to eat...she looked confused and he noticed; so he said..."oh, it's because my dad died". She really didn't know what to say then! I'm getting better at handling those situations, before I would just awkwardly laugh and walk the other direction holding back the tears until at least the parking lot. Now, I can smile and say something like "we're still adjusting"; death is awkward for a lot of people...usually they'll say sorry, sometimes they'll just laugh awkwardly, mostly they aren't sure they heard him right. I have many many moments where I am forced to explain our situation and I feel sorry for the awkward feeling the other person has....other times people are downright senseless and rude. I got a phone call for you a few days ago from a company who refused to identify themselves until they had confirmation from you that I was indeed your wife and had 'access' to your account. She asked to speak to Josh Dunne, I told her "no, but this is his wife" she asked if she could leave a message? I said, "no, I'm sorry he's deceased", she then again asked if she could leave you a message, I repeated my answer and asked what account this pertained to and said she couldn't give me that information....I grew impatient and said, "I just told you he's dead so you're going to have to change the type of communication you use to get in contact with him, or you can just go through me....his wife the executor of his estate". Still, many moments of that. I've spent three months trying to close an account that was insured. I still get daily phone calls from them after I've faxed everything other that they would need (yes, the death certificate) still they don't know what to do with the account and each time I try to be patient through the same question that kills me, which is, "and the matter of his death that's stated on his death certificate"....I somehow mutter "homicide".....there's silence and a statement of something like "oh...I'm so sorry". I hate that question no matter how it comes. Whenever someone learns that my husband died, they ask how; was he sick? Was he in an accident? No, homicide. I've never had anyone ask more after that, even though I often feel that it shouldn't end there...
I can barely handle much more, I've been writing this for days. I've been tired and stressed. There's a lot going with your organization and our lives, but I needed to reach out in the best way I know how. I felt like I was going to burst by the time I got to your birthday without this little outlet, maybe I still will. I had a break down Monday morning when I was watching the news of all the remembrance of 9.11. I sat and cried, more than I have on that day in the past; I thought that if that day had never happened you would have never died....I was angry, sad, confused. I will get through your 37th birthday as bravely as I can.
I love you, I miss you, I want you home.
Click to set custom HTML