I assume those of you with television (not just streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Roku) have seen the Lowe’s commercial where the mother walks in to the son painting his bedroom. She says “what color did you decide to paint your room?” The narrator says, “when you realize any color you want, does not really mean ANY color.”

That commercial makes me both giggle and tear up, usually simultaneously. When Connor was a Freshman he decided the nursery balloons painted on his walls needed to go. Mark and I are notoriously bad procrastinators when it comes to painting, so that color scheme had been there since Kyle was a baby.

Connor’s color choice was orange, not sherbet orange, but, Kubota Tractor ORANGE, with the ceiling painted the same color. I really think his room emitted a glow it was so bright. It surely wasn’t my color choice, but my thought process was this, it is paint, he can change it when Kubota Tractor Orange isn’t his thing, and it could be black.

It took Kilz primer over those balloons and 2 coats of that orange to cover everything. Surprisingly enough the oranges and reds don’t cover like you think they would. He was thrilled when he was done, my 88 year old father in law was less than impressed. The trend of bright paint, and the same color on the walls and ceiling completely flummoxes him! But Connor loved it and that is all that mattered to me.

By the time the middle of his Sophomore year had rolled around his room was a dark blue, with a white ceiling. Think FCTS Blue, because it is just paint, easily changed on a whim, with a weekend to spare. I wish life was like that, give me a weekend to spare and put everything back to the way it was. Unfortunately life doesn’t work like that. So I will cherish the memories of nursery balloons covered by Kubota Tractor orange paint!

What Is….

Since the beginning everyone has said to me “You are so strong”, or “I couldn’t do what you are doing, Your strength amazes me.” I have been trying to figure out what strength really is? It surely isn’t the absence of tears in my case. For the first 6 months I was a perpetual faucet, I couldn’t get through an hour much less an entire day without weeping. Now I consider a day a win if I complete it without having a meltdown (a case of the sniffly tears don’t count). But a completed day without tears that cause me to hyperventilate and bawl uncontrollably. That I consider a win.

In the beginning when people asked me how I was? It always cued a river of tears, now the same question cues the answer “ok, I have good days and bad days.” Which is the absolute truth, days where I just want to stay in bed and cry all day, and days where I want to get up and tackle the world.

That doesn’t mean I don’t remember the days in the PICU and immediately following. Where I was broken, and couldn’t imagine going on. Couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to function in a world that no longer had Connor in it.

Slowly little by little tiny pieces of my heart and soul are stitching themselves back together. I will never be completely whole again. My heart will always be missing parts and it will always be broken.

I have learned to embrace this “new normal”, that doesn’t mean I will ever like it, or understand why it had to be us, why Connor. But I know there is nothing I can do to change it. I cling to the memories like a lifeboat, scan thru my pictures remembering what was happening then and recalling the happiness of the time.

Trying not to let the sorrow overwhelm me. If I were to tell you that the pictures don’t make me tear up, I would be lying, I will miss him until the day I die. Someday it might not hurt so much, but I’m not there yet…..