Through Instagram and Facebook I've been marking this year of firsts without this amazing man in our lives. We've had some really high highs and some really low lows, BUT GOD is with us and for us and getting us through each day. Even the ones filled with tears.
This is our first summer without Kevin and it's been our craziest summer in a long time! Here are just a few of the firsts we've celebrated this summer:
Our first vacation:
This vacation was taken in three phases. First, we headed to AR to see some precious friends. Then, on to VA to visit Kevin's family. Last, we went to IL for the 12th Annual Hazelwood Family July 4th Campout.
Our most exciting phase was the trip to VA. This was our first ever trip to this state. (Kevin had been before but the kids and I hadn't.) It's beautiful and full of history. We drove about 3 hours for our first trip to Washington, D.C. Kevin had been there on a business trip back in November so we did our best to recreate the photos he took then. That was sentimental to me, but fun for the kids. I couldn't pick a favorite, but both kids chose the Lincoln Memorial as they're favorite part of that trip. (It may have had something to do with the fact that the edge of the steps was like a slide. Every kid chose to come down that "slide" rather than walk down the steps.) I can't wait until they are a little older and we can go back to stay a little longer. I'd love to do more museums, see the other side of the White House, visit Arlington, and so much more!
We also got to head to the ocean! Sophie saw the ocean at 13 months but this was Ethan's first time. Without hesitation, E tells everyone this was his favorite part of the trip. It was mine, too! We had such a blast. We could have stayed there for days. It was a really windy day so there were lots of waves, lots of giggling, and lots of fun! I sure hope I get to take them back again one day. I find water to be one of the most amazing creations. Water is powerful and can do such good or such harm. It amazes me.
We also visited Historic Jamestowne while we were there. It was pretty amazing to walk in the actual steps, on the actual ground, where the first European settlers walked. It was very humbling to look over the history and see how selfish and hateful so many of them were. It was comforting to see that many, however, really just wanted a new life, a new adventure, and were willing to work hard to get it. We were able to see lots of artifacts they had recovered and were even able to watch a group of archaeologists working to find more.
There were lots of other things in between there in VA, but I won't bore you with all those details. The last phase was the most relaxing. We have come to love and look so forward to our family camp out each year. (Don't be fooled, I don't sleep in a tent unless there is absolutely no other option. I share my parent's camper.) Unlike the last few years, the temps were low and we were actually wearing long sleeves and sweatshirts most of the time. The kids had a blast just fishing and playing and using their imaginations. The adults had fun just having conversation with other adults!
We actually ended that portion of vacation with my sister and her family here in Hannibal. We toured the Mark Twain Cave, visited the Hannibal History Museum, and ate lunch at the Mark Twain Dinette. So fun! It was the kid's first time to go through the cave.
Here are some pics from vacation:
Our first anniversary without Kevin:
June 14 would have been our 13th anniversary. The day started and ended with tears, but thanks to some amazing friends, there was a lot of love and laughter in between. The day even included and awkward meal at a Japanese steakhouse with the most awkward chef I've ever seen. We'll be laughing about that for years to come! I also bought a dress that day in Kevin's honor. He loved me in yellow and I found a yellow dress he would have loved. I admit, I cried in the dressing room when I put it on and it fit.
Our first Father's Day with no daddy:
Honestly, this was absolutely the hardest day so far this summer. The hard started the night before as I just about had a panic attack even thinking about the day. We had prepared ahead of time with notes and gift cards to hand out because E had asked if we could celebrate Father's Day the same way we celebrated his birthday. Somehow, Kevin's birthday was not as hard as Father's Day. His birthday felt like a day of joy and love and blessings and Father's Day just felt hard and ugly and empty. I think that is mostly due to the fact that, though others have birthdays the same day as Kevin's, it was mostly a day that just we were celebrating. Father's Day is a day that everyone celebrates so it felt more empty and we really felt different for the first time since he passed away. I tried really hard not to let the kids or the rest of the family see how hard it was so I didn't take away from the day for them, so I waited until bed time and just laid there and cried. Crying felt really good that night. I know those kinds of days and feelings will come more and more as the kids get older and realize there's no dad for camp out and dances and fishing trips and daddy/daughter dates. I am praying the Lord holds all of our hands through those days!
We also flew without Kevin for the first time. It went really well. I only had to have one awkward conversation on the plane, so that was a sweet little gift from God! I hate talking to strangers! I bought a grill on my own for the first time (though my dad did help me choose the kind of the grill that would work for me) and even made my first meal on it. Huge thanks to my brother-in-law for putting it together for me and to a dear friend's husband for bringing propane. We are very spoiled! It was the first time returning home from a long trip knowing that Kevin wasn't there waiting for us. That made it a little less exciting to come home, if I am being honest! God was with us the whole time and continued to provide all we needed, in ways we never expected. He has comforted me with His word, provided financially, given me just the texts I needed when I needed them. and never went anywhere even when I cried and threw tantrums and expressed my confusion, fear, and anger. He is so good!
We still have a little more traveling to do before the summer is over and I am sure there will be a few more firsts before school starts this fall. Some days are just overwhelming and I don't want to get out of bed. Some days my heart is so much lighter and I get a lot accomplished. My parenting is super sporadic, but when I'm the fun mom I'm way more fun than I ever have been before and, sadly, when I am the bummer mom I am even more grumpy than usual. I try to be honest with the kids in those low times and let them know I am just missing daddy and things are hard without him. A few times we've all expressed that at the same time. I know more of those kinds of times are coming, too.
Lord, teach me to grieve well. To grieve honestly. Lord, don't let my grieving keep me from seeing the needs around me, especially the needs of my children, my church family, and my community. Father, open the eyes and hearts of my children to see their need for You. Let today be the day of salvation for them. Make them new creations with new hearts that have a hunger and thirst for You, Your word, and serving those You've created without reserve. Teach me how to be the example of all that to them. Lord, move. Move us past the grief. Move us past our selfishness. Move us past our fear. Move us past our hurt. Move us past our confusion. Move us closer to You.