I haven’t updated this site in a while for a few reasons. I have been pretty busy, doing a lot of different things. And, I have’t known what to say. It’s hard to write about my feelings, and we aren’t going on Casey adventures anymore. There have been many times I have come to write something but have opted not to. Everyday is still very challenging for me. I try to keep busy so that I don’t fall into a pit of despair, but everything catches up to me anytime that I stop. My heart is still in a million pieces and I do my best to keep it together, but I am still very broken.
I recently went back to school full time. Going back to work in the tech industry didn’t feel right for me anymore. I really want to stay in the special needs community and with Casey’s friends and other kids like her. I have decided I want to work toward becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner and work with Palliative specializing in complex kids. It’s a LOT of work to get there though so I decided to dive in and get started. I should finish all of my non-nursing classes and pre-reqs this semester to officially appply (and hopefully get in to) the nursing program. The first step will be to get my BSN. This will get me the credentials to work in the hospitals or clinics. I plan/hope to work in the hospitals for about a year and then get into the masters program to get the next level- nurse practitioner.
Shortly after Casey passed away we decided to continue all of the programs, events, etc that we started with and for her in her name. We created a nonprofit and named it Casey’s Circle. Keeping up with the nonprofit details, planning events, enhancing tools, building community relationships and all of the many different things needed to run a nonprofit keep Tim and I both pretty busy. The annual holiday party is coming up in about a month. It’s our biggest event, but something Casey always loved. It’s an emotional event for us to do without her, but it’s something we promised her we would keep doing for her.
Tim is still working full time, but he helps a lot with Casey’s Circle stuff in his free time and he has created his own little side project that he does in his free time too- Timber Hearts. He got really good at woodworking (mostly to make stuff for Casey and me) and decided to start selling some of his stuff. He had his first booth at a local school festival a few weekends ago and it went really well.
Then, if work, school, Casey’s Circle and Timber Hearts isn’t enough, we also decided to buy a farm/ranch. Some friends of ours bought a ranch about 2 years ago and we both really liked being able to get away from everything and spend time with them out in the middle of nowhere. Tim watched land sales for a long time, and then we kind of fell into a perfect place. It was not even listed. There is a 75 year old house on it that needs to be fully gutted and there are 2 really old (probably closer to 100 year old) barns that are pretty cool too (also, need a lot of work). The land needs a lot of work. There are lots of dead trees that need to be pulled, cactus over growth, fences that need to be replaced/removed/installed, and lots more. We needed a project. We needed something we could do together, something that would get us away from everything, and something that with a lot of work and time we could later use to help us continue to heal and grieve. A place where we could turn off the phones, and reconnect with Casey on a more spiritual level.
We are still learning as we go. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and we know that we will never stop grieving. We are trying really hard to keep moving forward though. The holidays coming up are really hard for us. Casey LOVED October-December.
Casey would always get excited to dress up for Halloween and go see her doctors and nurses. This was our second Halloween without her and we still could not handle being home and answering the door for trick-or-treaters. Casey loved helping us hand out candy and treats each year. Last year we went to dinner and a movie and just stayed out all evening to avoid them. This year we decided to drive out to the farm and just hang out for a few hours.
Thanksgiving was always Casey and my day. Tim would take my grandpa (or grandparents when they were both here) over to my sister’s house and Casey and I would have the day to ourselves. We would watch the parade together, snuggle on the couch, and just relax and enjoy time together. Tim would bring me a to-go plate when he came home, but Thanksgiving for me over the past years has been about a quiet day to reflect on things I’m thankful for (especially time with Casey). Last year Tim’s brother had just moved to Texas and his oldest daughter was turning 16 a few days after Thanksgiving. Tim’s mom flew in for the holiday and sweet 16 and his brother wanted us to come up to Dallas to join in. We told them we were not ready for holidays, but we would come the day after for the birthday party. The birthday got moved to Thanksgiving day and we ended up going. It was really hard for us. Christmas was even harder. This year my sister wants us to both come to her house for Thanksgiving. I really wish people understood why this is something we simply aren’t ready for, and may never be.
Going back to spending the holidays the way we did before Casey feels like we are totally discounting that she was ever here. It just feels wrong to go back to the way things used to be. Doing things the same as we did with her is really hard too. How we can go through the same motions we did with her- without her now?! Nothing feels right.
Last year we started going to a holiday support group and we were with other families that had lost a child. Some recent, some a while back. Holidays were still hard for those that were not new to this as well, and we all said the same thing. Nothing feels right and just going back to the way it was is not the answer.
We need to find a new way to celebrate the holidays. Something that includes the family, but that doesn’t feel like what we did before Casey or with Casey. We need new traditions and to change things up.
For this year, we just need time to grieve without the added guilt that we aren’t joining the family gatherings. It’s not personal. It’s not that we don’t want to be with family- we do want to spend time with family. We just aren’t ready for the holidays at all.