Duncan died on June 22, 2020
June 24 was our 14th anniversary.
July 1 was my birthday.
July 17 was Oscar's birthday.
July 19 was Duncan's 45th birthday.
July 22 marked one month of not having him here with us.
Its fair to say we had to deal with a lot of milestones in a short fucking period of time.
For my birthday, friends around the world were conscientious enough to not post "Happy Birthday!!" on Facebook, but were beautiful and kind and sent personal messages of support and love. My best friends bought me a fire pit for the yard (it was winter here) and my other best friend bought me dog supplies for the dog we didn't have yet but she instinctively knew we'd have one soon enough.
For Oscar's birthday, he got gifts that Duncan and I picked out months before, and had his choice of ice cream cake and sushi for dinner. The following weekend he had his two best friends over for an afternoon of PlayStation.
For Duncan's birthday, we had a beautiful barbeque celebration with our amazing friends and their families, with a nice fire in the fire pit and lots of alcohol.
I didn't tell the kids when one month had gone by. I didn't want them to have to realise or feel the sadness of it. We have enough on a constant basis to not need a reminder from the one person in their lives who's supposed to help eliminate that sadness. I didn't tell them at two months either. For the same reasons. It didn't matter. My overly clever and intuitive kids knew on both days what the day was and said it anyway. Even now I continue to underestimate them.
Today is Father's Day in Australia.
Duncan was sick during Mother's Day this year. I don't remember much about the day other than hoping Duncan wouldn't actually remember it was Mother's Day so he wouldn't feel bad not being able to do his usual husband duties. I wish I could say what happened but I actually can't remember. And I feel too sad trying to.
I'll be completely honest, as I'm sure you expect me to be, but today is fucking shit.
The other milestones were hard, I wont lie. Its not easy being proud of surviving 14 years of marriage (in this day and age) and not being able to tell your partner how much you love them on the day. The saddest part is knowing we'd have awaken in the morning, I'd have rolled over and given him a kiss (despite the morning breath) and said "14 years today", and Duncan would have replied "How many more to go?". Not hearing what you're 99% sure what you would have heard and getting that validation of knowing someone so well that you can predict their reply is the most empty feeling.
(for those who don't know, his reply is a Dave Hughes reference...the first of many Aussie comedians Duncan introduced me to).
Father's Day has been much harder than anticipated and the only positive outcome I can find in this fucking awful day is that at least I'm prepared for next year.
One would think any of the previously mentioned days would be the worst. I expected the same. But for birthday and anniversaries and any day that's personal and family-only, the pain and sadness is only shared from within. We can cry and argue and fight and not fully comprehend why we're so angry and argumentative and snappy until we realise, but its all kept behind closed doors. Unless we share with the world that its a birthday or anniversary, they don't know.
Father's Day however, everyone knows. Its not a day I can keep in-home and amongst ourselves.
Its on Facebook, Instagram, and every bloody sale that every Covid-stricken company in Australia has- SuperCheap Auto, Anaconda, I'm pretty sure even Coles and Woolies went on with some Father's Day bullshit sales like shaving cream and barbeque tongs. Its everywhere and really, a constant reminder of what we don't have here. I've become a bit of an expert at distracting myself from feeling sad, but today it was unavoidable.
I tried not to look at Facebook or Instagram this morning, knowing I'd be seeing photos of my friends with their husbands and/or children's dads. I don't begrudge, in fact I'm more appreciative and thankful than ever that they have those amazing men in their lives.
So the question that begs an answer is "what does someone who just lost their husband do with her kids on their first Father's Day without him" do??
I'm sure it'll be as sad and heartbreaking as expected, but I'll tell you anyway.
I woke up incredibly tired after a big day yesterday (that will come in another blog). I woke up at 4am, but thankfully fell back asleep until 7am (which is practically unheard of) and my beautiful Maxy made me coffee. I got up (because he forgot to tell me that the coffee was ready and I had to figure it out for myself) and looked at the sorry state my kitchen was in - left over take away from the night before on the bench and dishes left out that kids didn't think to put in the dishwasher.
I vacuumed (again, unheard of) and then ensured the kids were ready for Maxy's rugby game later that morning. Easy to say in once sentence but ultimately involves repeated requests to brush teeth. get dressed. put on sunscreen, get waterbottles, and in Max's case, have all his footy gear ready for the morning. And of course we have to get Goose ready, who hates being in the car.
Drove out to Ipswich (for non-QLDers, dont worry, not relevant) for Maxy's game.
I'll preface this by letting you know it has been fucking hard to get the boys back into rugby. They are good. Like really good. Oscar got most tries in his CLUB (not team, club) a couple of years back, and Maxy is beyond awesome. They have natural talent of course, but Duncan has coached them into the little superstars they are now. Its an understatement for me to say they didn't' have it in them when they went back this season. On top of a fucking weird delayed Covid start, not having their biggest supporter and influence there was more than enough for them to not want to play. For better or for worse, they have a mom that wouldn't buy that bullshit - I kept pushing (I mean, encouraging). Neither of them had the determination or motivation they once had. It broke my heart and would have broken Duncan's heart. Their now coaches understood and compassionately made exception (Duncan was meant to coach both Max and Osc this year) but my heart was beyond consolation knowing my talented boys were suffering on field, when sport was meant to be their release.
Today however, Max was SO excited to play and was beyond emphatic about not caring how tired I was, he was going to his game. It was like music to my ears.
He had a fabulous game, scored a beautiful try, and came off proud and happy. He hasn't explicitly said but deep down I think he did it for Duncan today. Wanted to make his Dad proud. I hope he knows Duncan was always proud of him, regardless how he played.
After the game (and this is where we really celebrated our favourite person) we went to Ungermann Brothers Ice Cream.
For those who don't know, this has two facets of significance for us. Duncan and I watched MasterChef when it started. A lot. We bonded, developed a further appreciation for cooking, and used it as "us" time after the kids would go to bed and we'd take a break from study for the night. We watched the first few seasons, but then life caught up with us and we stopped. When MasterChef all-stars came out this year, we were both intrigued and started watching again. We loved watching together. It brought back memories of earlier years and beginning series, those we remembered and those we had no idea about. This time however, the kids were old enough to watch, enjoy, and appreciate with us.
Long-ish story short, Ben Ungermann was a contestant on a previous series and again on the all-star series. His claim to fame was ice cream and the weird-ass combinations and flavours he used. And he had a shop in Ipswich. And Max's game was in Ipswich. It was a no-brainer, we were going to Ungermann Brother's Ice Cream after the footy. The kids could pick any flavour they wanted, and to make the day that bit less heavy for them, I said they could choose which flavour I had. Please recall my above comment about weird-ass flavours. This is what was on special:
Max got fairy bread (for non Aussies, please Google, you wouldn't believe me otherwise)
Oscar got triple chocolate.
And Alex (being who she is) tried to get roasted garlic (seriously, don't ask) but they didn't have any so she got strawberries and cream (which isn't on the list but I think she was thankful it was there).
Any guesses what they chose for me??
Blue Cheese and Fig.
The irony? Duncan loved both. I hate both. But who was I to say no.
It was fucking awful. Blue cheese. Fucking yuck.
We left Ungermann's and went to our local pet and produce store. Max decided the other day that he wanted fish so we went to buy him a small fish tank (like I said, I've mastered distracting myself). Then we went home, I stupidly looked at Facebook and memories of Duncan and previous Father's Days came up and I've been crying on and off ever since.
What day did I have in mind? Rugby, ice cream at Ungermann's, go for a nice walk and a hike, be distracted and forget it was Father's Day. This was MY idea of what the kids needed to get through today. It wasn't their idea. They needed to not be pushed to do anything they didn't want to. They needed an understanding mom to just let them be what they needed to be - sad and angry and feel like the world has been unkind and unfair. So that's what I did. Despite what I wanted to do, I let them do what they needed to do. That involved party pies, Fortnite, and Minecraft.
And to be honest, that's been my day. Nothing else. I sat down at the computer with a glass of wine at 130pm and figured my friend was right - if anyone gets to feel sorry for themselves, its me, and today is the day I choose to do it.
I've finished half a bottle of rose and am about to pour my third gin. If this blog has spelling errors (and god forbid grammatical errors), I actually don't give a fuck. Don't read it if you don't like it.
(Disclaimer: its more than likely I'll re-read this on Monday and correct any errors I've made)