We tried not to think about it too much.
There was too much to do anyway. With a two year old who we're constantly keeping track of, there's always too much to do. There was grocery shopping to do, a birthday party to get ready for, laundry. There's always laundry.
It wasn't until we left the birthday party and we wound our way to George Mark House that I let myself feel it. Four years ago on April 5th, our son died in our arms. It wasn't about to let me go so easily.
We went to the rock fountain where my daughter had a snack and we watched a bird bathe itself. We went to his tile, visited his rock at the staff fountain by the chapel. We wound our way around the grounds and went to the playground so our daughter could play.
Everything was very quiet, very peaceful. We didn't stay for too long. I signed us in at the nurse's station and back out again. I only saw one face that a I recognized and I'm not sure she recognized me.
My daughter didn't want to leave. She never wants to leave. She loves it there.
As we made our way out, she cried and moaned "Bro Bro Rock" "Bro Bro Place". I cried for a bit. I'm not sure why that triggered it, but it did. I don't always know what she understands about her brother. I think she knows she has a brother and he's not around. I think she knows that there are certain toys, cloths, blankets that are his, even though he isn't here any more. She gets a little mad when she sees toys in the hallway cabinet, that are kept and not played with. Everything should be played with after all.
Her 'Bro Bro shirt' is her favorite clothing item. It's got a small outline picture of him on it. She points to it and says Bro Bro. There's certain things she knows and understands about it. How much she grasps, I'm not sure.
Ukiah is just going to play a part in all of our lives in ways big and small for the rest of our lives, hers especially I think.
After George Mark House we went to Lanesplitter, partly as an homage to our son and partly because it's been years since I've had a slice of their pizza and I needed it, like NEEDED it. I'm going to quantifiably say this; Best thin slice, neigh, best slice of pizza pretty much anywhere. Yeah I said it.
(Dear Lanesplitters, please open a restaurant in the tri-valley. It doesn't have to be in Livermore, which would be nice, but it doesn't have to be here. Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon. I just want to be able to get to it in twenty minute drive, instead of an hour. An hour is almost too long to drive for pizza. I will continue to drive to Temescal for your pizza if I have to, but I NEED it closer. Please.)
It was bittersweet, being in the restaurant where we'd go many a day to decompress after many a hospital visit. It was our little retreat, a six block walk to 15'' Carnivore and a cold pint. It was the place where we could reflect and figure out a plan of attack. It was a place where we could be ourselves after a long day at the hospital.
It is now the place where our daughter dumped about half a canister of Parmesan on the floor (sorry). Old memories and new memories.
Once we got home, I didn't think much more about the day, what it meant, the grief. After all, there was too much to do.
(Please consider making a donation to George Mark house between now and April 15th. You'll be supporting a wonderful organization and getting some of handmade jewelry in the process. See my fundraising post for more information.)