As most of you know, we lost our precious Lydia last fall on September 18, 2012. She was 20 years old, and was living in Fargo, ND while attending college at Minnesota State University – Moorhead (just across the border from ND). Lydia had been home two weekends prior, and we had a very nice weekend. We even went to the Como Zoo on Saturday and spent the afternoon together. September 18th was a Tuesday, and was Gabriella’s 12th birthday. The children had just arrived home from school, and we were preparing to celebrate Gabi’s birthday. A sheriff came to our home and notified us of Lydia’s death. After the autopsy, the medical examiner was unable to determine a cause for the death. The official ruling was “Primary Sudden Unexpected Death.” The medical examiner described it to me as the adult version of SIDS.
It has been just 7 months and 2 weeks since that horrific day. I must admit that I have never been so sad in all my life. I actually cry almost every day. Tears come to my eyes just writing this. It is actually why I have waited so long to write this Blog. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I am not bitter. I am just sad … and I miss Lydia so very much. I know that God is in control, and I trust in Him. I’m not just saying that because it is what I’m supposed to say. I really do! I will see Lydia again; I know that she is experiencing the presence of our merciful God. That is my comfort, my hope and my joy.
As you can imagine, this experience has been very difficult for our family. We will never be the same as a result. People say time will make our loss easier to bear. Maybe so, but I know that I will never stop missing my Lydia! I do not allow myself to push her out of my thoughts to make it easier to cope. I want Lydia to continue to be a part of our conversations and thoughts just as she has for the past 20 years. I want to heal while remembering, not by forgetting. We ask you to PLEASE be comfortable asking us questions, and PLEASE talk to us about Lydia.
This loss has strengthened my walk with Christ. It has improved our marriage. It has brought our family closer together.
Ages for reference: Lydia 20, Jake 18, Isabella 16, Sophia 14, Gabriella 12, Luke 10, and Eli 5!
The last time Lydia came home to visit us we all went to the Como Zoo in St Paul. We had a wonderful time together. As we walked around the zoo we came to the zebra display. Luke watched for a few seconds, and said, “They are boring. They just stand there. Someone should throw in some lions.”
Eli, the youngest of seven children, seems wise beyond his years. Other times – he is still our baby. One particular day he was playing with his food, struggling to eat what was before him. I said, “Just eat two pieces and then you can be done.” Eli replied, “I’m not up to the challenge.”
Sometimes for both fun and education I play a game with the children. I go from one child to the next asking geography and history questions. One day we were playing the game and it came to Sophia’s turn. I asked, “What country is St Petersburg located?” Sophia pondered the question, and then thought she might have the answer. But she answered with a question, “What’s that little place with all the Irish people in it?”
Another time we were playing the same game and I asked the children to name a European country. One of the kids blurted out, “Turkey!” Eli, wanting to join in, exclaimed, “Chicken Island!”
Just before the big holiday, Eli asked if we could have an Easter egg hunt on Christmas.
We have a Christmas advent box that has 25 little cubbies, each with a little door. We fill each of the 25 cubbies with candy, and every evening in December the children take turns opening the box and distributing the candy. Eli asked one evening, “Are we doing Advil tonight?”
Lisa bought herself batman underwear. I don’t know why, and as I stop to think, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen her wear them. Well Eli saw them and assumed they were his. He picked them up and saw the size and in a frustrated voice said, “Luke - you stretched them out!”
Luke quite proudly informed me that he had double-jointed eyes.
Another Luke conversation:
Luke: “Dad, did you go to elementary school?"
Me: “Yes. Everybody goes to elementary
Luke: “I didn't know if they had elementary school
Another Eli story: Eli came in from playing outside and was upset. I asked what was wrong and he told me that everyone was throwing snowballs in his face. I said, “I know, that’s what happens.” Eli frowns and sadly says, “You can’t do that to a little boy.”
Eli asked for cereal. According to his sister, he climbed up onto the bar with the cereal and a very little bowl. He tipped the box of Lucky Charms all the way up and it quickly filled the bowl and spilled all over the counter. He then sat there and ate the cereal by hand. Shortly Lisa approached the kitchen and Eli tried to cover his mess by spreading his arms and leaning over the pile of cereal. He exclaimed, "Mommy, don't come in here!" That of course sparked Lisa's curiosity. She came in to find the pile of cereal … but now without any of the marshmallow treats found in the Lucky Charms. Eli took advantage of the spill to eat the very best part. Now we have an unlucky box of charmless cereal!
Eli recently told Lisa, "I love you like a love song." Then he told me, "I love you to all the moons and back."
Somehow in conversation Luke confused his shin with his heel. I asked, “You don’t know your body parts?” Luke replied, “I get them all mixed up. There’s so many of them.”
Lisa went to pick up Isabella at a friend’s home. Keep in mind that Bella is often at this friend’s home, so we have been there frequently. By texting Bella, Lisa knew that Bella is not yet there, but on her way. Lisa therefore sits in the driveway waiting for them to arrive. A car approaches, and Lisa thinks that it must be them. But no - the car goes past and pulls into the driveway next door. As Lisa watches the girls get out of the car, she realizes that she is waiting at the wrong home! You got to wonder what the neighbors thought about the car sitting in their driveway!
Gabi has eczema and sometimes she gets it on her back. As Lisa was checking out Gabi’s back she says, “Bread – let’s try it.” Gabi gives her mother a funny look. Lisa asks, “You wouldn’t give up bread to have your back look pretty?” Gabi exclaims, “Oh – I thought you were going to put bread on my back.”
By the way – more than a month has gone by, and I still can’t fully squat or rest my knee on the ground. Injuries just don’t heal as fast as they used to!
I was riding alone in the car with Eli and he asked me, What if I don’t grow up and get bigger?” I looked back and said to him, “You will. God makes us grow. I used to be a little boy like you when I was young.” Eli without missing a beat, asks, “Did you have Nikes?”
Along with his youth football team, Luke walked in the local Zimmerman Thunder Homecoming Parade. The boys displayed their spirit by making signs on poster board and then carried them as they walked in the parade. When Luke arrives home we take a look at his poster and point out that is says – Go Tunder! Realizing that he just “paraded” his misspelled poster in front of the entire town ... Luke yells, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
I asked Eli what he wanted to do when he grew up. He tells me, “I want to go to college where Lydia went.” I then asked what he wanted to do after he graduated from college. He thought for a minute, and then says, “Maybe a gun store.”
Eli really likes guns. He told us that we should get some security cameras and a machine gun in case bad guys come. He says, “We could shoot them or call the police. I think we should just shoot them.”
Eli recently informed me - excitedly, “Daddy – one day Luke was really nice to me!”
We were driving home from a basketball game and from the back seat Eli says, “Daddy, you’re driving too fast.” I ignored him. Ignoring Eli is never a successful strategy. Eli repeats, “Daddy, you’re driving too fast.” I then say, “Eli – don’t tell Daddy how to drive.” Eli hesitates a second and then asks, “Can I tell mommy? “ Lisa is sitting next to me and asks, “Tell me what?” Eli answers, “That Daddy is speeding. I know the laws.”
… and for the record, I was not speeding (by much)!
I hope to resume more timely Blog entries, but no promises. With our lives turned up-side-down, it seems like we don’t always get to the things we should. There are still many “thank you’s” we have yet to write to many people who reached out to us after Lydia’s death. For that we apologize. But we will get to them ... eventually! We are celebrating Jake’s high school graduation with an Open House. It will be on Sunday, June 2nd from 3:00 to 7:00pm at our home. You are all invited!