I’ve sat at this computer many times over the past week to try to write this post but the words just wouldn’t come. I still don’t know what to write but I feel like I need to start somewhere. All these different emotions are stuck inside me not knowing how to get out. I’m honestly terrified of what’s going to happen when they do find their way out. For now it’s just a numbness and an overwhelming sense of sadness. I go to sleep and when I wake up in the morning there is a few seconds of almost feeling normal but then that’s over. Then reality hits when you realize you didn’t just have a bad dream but you are living in a nightmare. Then that pain is multiplied by thousands when I think of how Jacki and Jonathan must feel. Then multiply that pain by infinity and I’m sure it doesn’t even touch the pain they are actually feeling. It just sucks all the way around.
Grief is a weird thing. Some moments we can laugh and talk about memories of Harlan but then other times things catch you totally off guard. Like a few days ago, I opened the fridge and saw a bag of boiled peanuts and just lost it. A little over two weeks ago now, I drove down to drop off something to Jacki. I had only planned on staying a few minutes but when I got there, Jacki, Jonathan, and Harlan were getting ready to go on their nightly golf cart ride. They asked if I could stay and there was no way I could turn them down! I’m so glad I spent that evening with them and will forever remember that night. I rode around the neighborhood with them as we visited some of the neighbors. One of them had some boiled peanuts for Harlan and then they gave me a bag to take home. While we were sitting in the golf cart in that driveway, Harlan looked up and just gazed at me while smiling his heartwarming smile. It seemed like he was looking straight through me and it was in moments like these that you just knew he was wise beyond his years. In those seconds that I would give anything to get back, it was like everything was in slow motion. I tried to memorize his smile, his face, his giggle…I won’t ever forget. After the golf cart ride we went inside to his playroom. I stacked up little miniature Reese cups on the tray of his chair and it made him giggle. It made my night :) He stole a piece of my heart and will have it forever. He touched everyone that he met, even if it was just once.
After I left that night I knew deep down in my heart that something was wrong. I just didn’t know it would happen so fast. I didn’t know that about a week later would be the last time I would see him, at least here on this Earth. I made sure not to tell him goodbye because I know that I will see him again…I have never been so sure of anything in my life. Ever since he was diagnosed I have been angry…angry because of him having to endure everything he did, angry that his parents had to watch him go through all that, angry at cancer, angry at God. But as weird as it sounds, when I saw him a week ago a peace came over me. I wasn’t angry anymore. I pleaded with God like I never have before to just let him have peace and not hurt anymore. He finally got his peace and isn’t hurting anymore. I’ve said it in a post before and our family keeps stressing it also…so I’m going to mention it again here…Harlan didn’t lose his battle with cancer. Cancer didn’t win…cancer never wins. Harlan won and we lost because we don’t have him anymore but cancer didn’t win anything. Stupid cancer.
When we left their house Saturday afternoon, I got in the car, buckled my seat belt, and looked out the window. My eyes landed on a single dandelion in the middle of their gravel driveway. It made me smile. I rarely remember my dreams but when I do they are usually bad ones. The only good dreams that I remember are the ones of my loved ones who have passed away. I woke up Sunday morning knowing that I had dreamed about Harlan. All I can remember was that he was laughing but that was enough for me :) When I went to Jacki’s house that morning, I was looking for my chapstick in my jeans pocket. I felt something in there but it didn’t feel like chapstick. I reached in and pulled out a metal cross that a stranger had given me at a restaurant just a week before. I love signs like this. Harlan, keep sending them to me!
Harlan, I “loves” you. I’ve loved you ever since your mommy and I were pregnant together and compared stories. You and Cayden were supposed to grow up together. I’ll always think of you when we have pizza and cake, or when I make corn pudding, or when I eat boiled peanuts, or when I see pouches of oatmeal in stores. I still catch myself starting to look through the shelves for raspberry swirl oatmeal but then have to stop myself. Dandelions, John Deere tractors, planes, and Cars toys will always bring a smile to my face because you loved them. I will see you again one day. Until then, I miss you buddy.