As I near the first anniversary of the day we lost Colin and Madeline forever, I’m finding it so hard to be present in each day and moment as I constantly feel this pull into the fog of the past. My mind is clinging to my last weekend before our lives were meteorically impacted. It’s become like a movie playing over and over in my head. Each detail crisp and vivid. There wasn’t really much besides their deaths that would make those days stand out, but now those memories are extraordinarily precious.
It was the second week into summer vacation and Colin was running basketball camps Monday to Friday. It usually took him a few weeks after school ended to really relax and get into holiday mode. And by Friday he was ready.
We had an exciting weekend ahead, and I remember worrying that it was going to be too busy. Colin BBQed hamburgers for supper that night and then we walked over to the midway. We took in the sights, the boys went on some rides, and we ate mini donuts and cotton candy. After the kids were in bed we snuggled on the couch and caught up on some PVRed television.
Saturday we had waffles for breakfast and headed back to Main Street for Madeline’s first parade. She thoroughly enjoyed the floats, the boys loved the candy, and we saw many familiar faces as we sat in the shade. We walked through the vendor market and children’s play area on the way home. And then spent the rest of the day playing in the backyard and swimming in the pool.
I ran two errands that afternoon; one to the grocery store to pick up some watermelon for Sunday; when I was there Colin texted me a picture of a recipe that he wanted to make for supper so I picked up all the ingredients that we didn’t have at home. The other was to visit the farmers market to order a matching headband and some sandals for Madeline’s outfit for my sisters upcoming wedding. Never imagining that they would instead turn into her funeral clothes.
The kids got to bed a little late that night, but quickly as they were exhausted from all the activity and sun. Once they were fast asleep and dreaming, I got to work preparing for the next day. We were heading to my parents place in Three Hills the next morning to see my family. My sister and her fiancé; my brother and his family from BC, including their brand new baby girl. Even my eldest brother’s family from Africa were there, only he was missing as he wasn’t due back in Canada for a few more days.
The very last text message that Colin ever sent me was from that night: “Come outside. Soooooooooo nice.” To be honest, I debated it for a moment. Thinking about all that I had to do before the next day, and how exhausted I was. Oh how grateful I am that I went downstairs and out the back door to the deck. Colin was sitting there with a glass of wine for each of us. And it truly was a ‘10-O’ so nice out there. We sat and drank our Merlot. We reminisced about the weekend, and imagined the summer ahead. He talked about his week at camp with the kids, and all his plans for the next year. We discussed our twelve year wedding anniversary coming up and our plans to do something extra special for our 15th. We laid out all the projects that we planned to do around the house, and promised to make sure to take time to do fun and spontaneous things with the kids.
Sunday morning, after breakfast, the kids all ended up playing together in the bonus room, Colin jumped in the shower and I went to finish packing. When he was clean he grabbed me and tried to convince me that since we would be missing our traditional Sunday afternoon “nap” we should make time for it before we left. I took a little convincing, as I was worried about the kids, and being late, and messing my hair. Having no idea that it would be the last time I’d ever make love to my husband. And then we all buckled up and drove off.
Most of you know the rest of the details, from personal accounts, news stories, or secondhand versions. And everyone knows how it ends. How that lazy Sunday drive turned into a sudden tragic nightmare.
Subconsciously, I wonder if I’m hoping that these memories will be cathartic and make things less painful. I know that isn’t possible. Though I can rationalize that no good can come from only focusing on the devastating loss; instead I need to relish in the joy-filled, love-soaked, memory-rich, and laughter-sprinkled weekend that we had. All the special moments that we enjoyed together before we were ripped apart.
How I wish that was the only anniversary that we had to celebrate.