Check out my awesome gown and shoes I borrowed from my wonderful sister!
Entry finished Tuesday, October 24th:
With an incredible loving gift of an amazing Carnival cruise from a very generous prayer warrior given to me, I talked my sister, mom and Aunt Marty into sailing with me to the Bahamas for a long weekend. Talking, laughing, teasing, crying and reading every day with my dear, sweet family was the best of therapy. I can’t believe how well I feel every time I’m away from home and all of the “Christi reminders”. Her bookbag and shoes still sit by the doorway as I just can’t bring myself to put them away. Today Shayla wanted to wear Christi’s shoes and since they fit, I let her. She also asked to take Christi’s bookbag to school tomorrow, but I told her to give me a day to slowly go through it first, then she could have it. I’ve yet to unzip it and I know seeing the new school supplies we just purchased, in addition to her homework papers ready to give back to her beautiful teacher will be incredibly hard.
I long to feel close to her, yet the pain is so raw it sometimes feels crushing and unbearable. I know God is holding me up at those times each day. Arriving home I saw the latest issue of her American Girl magazine arrived. Grandma and Paw Paw had just renewed their subscription for her Christmas present knowing how much she loved reading that magazine. The day it would come I’d never see her as she’s take off for her bedroom where she’d devour it in private. My mom called to cancel the subscription, but she warned me that one issue would still arrive with Christi’s name on it and it did.
I did get a bit upset with Miss Christi today (smile). I received an overdue notice for a book she checked out on my card at the library!! I have to laugh as this was “Christi”; she did this a few times each year and would create panic until the book was found.
On our cruise to the Bahamas, I read some excellent books which gave me hope and shared witness of God’s love for us – now and after our earthly deaths. I’ll share the titles in case they may be helpful to others sailing in this or a similar boat: “Final Gifts” by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley (Thanks, Dr. Gartner) “90 Minutes in Heaven” by Don Piper (Thanks, mom) and “The Bereaved Parent” by Harriet Sarnoff Schiff (Thanks to a sweet lady who came through the line at the funeral home and told me this book helped her after she loss her child many years ago.) I have many more books waiting to be read, but I’ve been very busy. (I am a full time student again this quarter and Heidelberg has me teaching a class for them again this semester. I’m so blessed!)
Shayne has also been extremely busy working on long overdue home remodeling projects. When I was too upset to sleep last night and I had to go wake him up, he told me he thought that keeping very busy was helping him cope. I think he’s right!
This afternoon I made another big step, in my mind. About an hour after school I went to pick up Shayla from Girl Scouts (held in the school’s cafeteria). I assumed all of the teachers and students would be gone, but I still ran into a few. Everyone was very nice. One student at his locker gave me a huge smile and said, “Mrs. Thomas, will you be back teaching us tomorrow?” I laughed and said, “In a couple of weeks, but I just made a very big step. I just walked past Christi’s classroom on the way to mine and I didn’t even cry.” This seventh grade boy so sweetly said, “Don’t worry. We all know it’s going to be hard for you and it’s okay to cry.” I told him what a great kid he is, gave him a wave and a see you soon and took off to my classroom before I lost my courage and ran right out the door – without Shayla! I sat, I walked, I cried, I cleaned out my fridge (yogurt and cottage cheese from August – nice!) and yet I was so proud of myself for actually getting there. I really have missed teaching. I’m just scared knowing school was Christi’s favorite place in the world and knowing that I have to walk past her classroom every time I go to my classroom. I know I will have to go and return her textbooks which must be in her bookbag by the door and to collect her things from her desk, but I fear that so much right now. I was DEEPLY TOUCHED that her name tag “Christi” is still outside on the wall with the other kids’ names too. Her teacher will never know how much that meant to me. Our wonderful school “yearbook lady” came through the funeral line and told me that Christi’s picture will be in the school yearbook using her picture from 4th grade and I think that’s the sweetest thing.
Today I put that free one hour student massage my student teacher from last year gave me to work. (Natalie, it was pure bliss – thank you!) There truly could be no greater gift! For months I’d been scheduling and cancelling appointments; finally it worked out. The massotherapist told me my shoulders, back and neck were a mess and that there are knots that she couldn’t get out in an hour all over my upper back. I’ll probably be sore in the morning, but it was awesome and……………since the one hour massages with the students at their school are only $20.00 I scheduled one for next week too! (BIG smile!)
Additionally, late this afternoon on my way to a meeting, I stopped to chat and pray with Christi at the cemetery. I was simply blown away when I approached and saw the sweetest fall wreath placed over her little name stake and also a little bouquet of flowers placed on the dirt/mud. People and their kindness is simply amazing. I know that our family is not the only one hurting over this loss. I keep reminding myself that Christi is exactly where I want to be! The ground has really settled, making the indentation of the ground about 5 inches lower than the grass. It all looked too real for me so I walked away, put in a scripture CD and drove off to my meeting.
Shayne and I were pleasantly surprised to learn from different people today that Father incorporated Christi into his sermon at St. Mary’s over the weekend at Mass! To hear that Christi and Mother Theresa were included in the same sermon gave us great comfort. From what we understand, Father talked about how one person can touch countless others. “Nine years, a lifetime; the dimension that defined Christi’s life wasn’t length, it was breath. She touched so intensely, gave so generously, loved so deeply and lived so courageously,” (to borrow the words of another).
Well it’s approaching midnight and I’d best get to bed. Tomorrow I will take one of Christi’s best friends her 11th birthday present (a Cat Monopoly game since our family loves ours so and Christi & Theresa shared a love of cats.) I’ll also be taking a hand created card for Theresa. In the hospital, Christi drew Theresa a great cartoon about two cats and then wrote:Dear Theresa,
I hope you enjoy the comic strip. There will be another in your next card because I’m gong to be here for a while.
Tomorrow I also need to take Shayla back to her doctor in Toledo for more therapy. More about that and about her many Halloween activities another day! Thanks for still loving us!! Goodnight!