I put on “real clothes” yesterday for the first time since J died. I wore my Frida Kahlo t-shirt that says “we can endure so much more than we think we can.” It just seemed appropriate.

The kids and I continue to coalesce and come together as a very tight-knit unit. It’s so wonderful and heartwarming to see. Amy and John, in particular, were huge helps to me yesterday (really every day this week.)

Amy used her tough-girl voice to make sure hospice came out and got J’s hospital bed. She had to escalate it up several levels because they really fucked up. The nurse aide they discussed last Thursday still showed up this morning and she shielded me from having to deal with it. Apparently, the fact that J died over the holiday weekend caused a lot of snafus and she was very insistent that she wanted his hospital bed to be picked up today.

When she spoke to someone higher up in the hospice organization, they told her they would reprimand the appropriate people and she said that she didn’t want that, she just wanted to ensure that the same thing would never happen again to anyone else.

John also got me a refund from DoorDash, as I’d ordered and been charged for a case of wet kitten food that was never delivered. (In fact, he’d already called about it once and they said they would send someone out, and they failed a second time.)

It turned out that my local PetSmart was sold out of it, so he ended up going to five different stores to get it for me. (My Scooty is a very spoiled kitty who only likes one flavor of this specific brand of wet food—and usually prefers to be hand-fed by spoon.)

I reluctantly posted a GoFundMe yesterday and that’s had a decent response—including from several people I never expected to donate. I owe a lot of people personal heartfelt thank-yous when I have time.

I had to call J’s boss and tell him about his passing. That was hard. But he also said that he was still in touch with a lot of people from the former place where they had worked together and asked if he could share the news. He also asked about funeral arrangements and suggested that more people might show up for it (possibly a LOT more.) J’s church is pretty small and I would love it if they had a very full church there to honor him.

I also called his priest and talked to her for quite a while. She had no idea that he was as sick as he was for so long, as he never talked about it. I was also able to tell her a lot about what kind of husband and father he was and she was honestly amazed. And she said that she hoped she could do half as good of a job raising her own kids.

At the end of the day, Dylan came in to talk to me and said he’d been thinking about what was really important since J’s death. He wanted to ask me what I thought about him proposing to his girlfriend before he goes back to school in the fall. By then, they’ll have been together for five years. He would plan to get married after he graduates college.

Honestly, all of his reasoning seemed very sound. He also said that he didn’t just start thinking about this and he didn’t plan on marrying before finishing college. In fact, he’s more resolved than ever to go back to A&M and finish. It’s just that J’s death made him realize that he got too wrapped up in himself and his stress last semester and it led him to take the people who loved him for granted.

I think he very likely has found the one his soul loves, even though he was very young when they first started dating. I was young too but I honored the commitment I made (messes and all on both sides.) I asked him a lot of probing questions about marriage, especially asking if he really knew what he was getting into. He should not go into it thinking divorce is an option unless something unforeseen happens.

He has grown up with a close-hand view of what marriage entails and that it’s not always romantic and fun and that a lot of times it’s about sacrifice for the other person more than anything else. He assured me that he knows what kind of commitment he’s taking on—and I truly believe he does.

He’s also taken it upon himself to start telling his friends to make sure their parents have had colonoscopies. He said that if he can help prevent even one death, it will be worth it to him. I’m so proud that even in his own grief, he’s still thinking about others.

I also sent his girlfriend a message, saying that although I was deeply grieving, I wanted to acknowledge that J’s passing probably brought up a lot of painful memories about when she lost her mom/her guardian lost his wife (also to cancer.) She was truly touched by that.

Everything is still terrifying and new and I’m sure there is still more heartbreak to come for me as I sit longer with this grief. But the kids are all so dedicated to making sure that I’m okay that I think eventually I will be.

We had no idea that this would be the end goal of how we raised them to be so capable and full of empathy. But I am so, so glad that we did. I think that wherever J is, if he’s looking down on us, he’s so proud of how we’re handling this so far.

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