Friday started late. Sleeping in until almost 9:00 a.m. I woke to the sound of pounding hammers that were nailing in my neighbor’s new roof. Snuggled in under my goose down duvet, with dogs nestled by my side, I grabbed my cell phone to call Jennifer to let her know how rude it was to schedule that noise on my sleep-in morning.
She let out her carefree laugh, reminding me she could care less about my cozy comfort, especially since as the mother of three children under seven her day often starts at dawn.
The day was picture perfect. Nebraska trees have burst into a rainbow of fall colors, back dropped by clear blue skies as far as the eyes can see. Days like that remind me why I live here, and I ignore the fact that we could have ice as early as next week.
With the slight chill in the air, I pulled on my favorite Belldini sweater preparing for my five-hour shift at Kitchen Toyland. As I readied to walk out the door, the assistant manager Brad called about a schedule change. He asked me if I had plans. Could I please work later? I stumbled over my words, but my mind was thinking:
Yes, I do have plans. My show is on. Tonight is the season premier of The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – Making the Team Season 5.
How exactly, as a grown up, do you say that?
My show is on…
My mind flashed back to my in-laws, Clarence and Edith, who scheduled their dinner hour around “Wheel of Fortune.” With snack in hand, Clarence relished his favorite game show as much as Edith’s unbelievable cooking. God have mercy on you if you dared to make conversation as Vanna spun the letters. In spite of the ‘there will be silence as Pat Sajak speaks’ martial law, on a visit to their home in the 80’s, I somehow managed to rattle off all the word puzzle answers long before the contestants.
Never mind that I was ranked at the top of my high school graduating class of 900; I became a shining star the day I won Wheel of Fortune from their Grand Island, Nebraska recliner. From that day forward they regarded me as a genius and frequently suggested that I try out for the game show.
My show is not the make believe world of spinning wheels and letter puzzles. Megan and I lived in the harsh reality of adrenal cancer, but once a week The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – Making the Team became our favorite reality. To recap from a previous blog:
Megan introduced me to this wonder of a show. Snuggled in her bed, we watched a world that was only imaginary to us. My daughter longed for the day that she could run again, and for 30 to 60 minutes a week she was transported to a place where she was the cheerleader-in-training. The coveted prize at Jay Johnson’s Boot Camp is the DCC Power Squad crop top, earned by the few, the proud, the DCC elite who successfully accomplished two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a two-mile run in record time. My girl told me she was going to get better, start training…
It’s been over 2-1/2 years since Megan’s death, and just hearing the theme song for the CMT network show rushes me back to those moments with my girl. I think every caregiver has their sacred memories, from normal to the absurd, that remind them of their loved one.
In the movie P.S. I Love You, after Holly Kennedy loses her husband to a brain tumor, she spends the first weeks holed up in her apartment wearing his button down shirts. This is a common reaction, as for a period of time garments retain the aroma unique to a loved one. Much like Holly Kennedy I had friends and family that were carefully watching my emotional instability – giving me grace to grieve yet intervening if it went too far. My neighbor Jennifer told me she’d give me three weeks to hole up in the house with the curtains drawn, watching sad English movies such as Remains of the Day, but after that I had to come up for air. And parallel to the movie P.S. I Love You, my mom was calling in her own way to say, “Valerie, are you eating…are you bathing?”
These days aren’t as much about grieving as they are about remembering. I don’t cry so much any more. That Friday night feeling wasn’t of dismal sadness, but it was of cherishing the very best of our days together. For that reason alone, I wanted to tell Brad,
My show is on…and I don’t want to be late.
- Losing a child throws your whole world into chaos. It’s healthy to continue traditions, no matter how simple.
- Give your friends room to grieve. America is one of the few societies were the social norm is to bottle up the feeling and look stoic.
- Give your friends opportunity to remember.
On a Lighter Note:
- I arrived home just in time. I was released from work earlier than expected, and even had time to enjoy a frozen yogurt with Brad at Red Mango.
- Season Five is off to a delicious start. The recap will post October 23.