Friday, June 3, 2016

Ups and Downs

Well, hey. It's been a while.

2016 has had kind of a roller coaster start for me.

I spent the first three months of the year helping the high school students prepare for the spring musical in March. When it finally rolled around, it went phenomenally well. The head director, Luke, and I knew that we had really molded something special, and the community agreed. We entered in a competition against other high school theatre productions, like the Tonys, and we were confident we'd snag some nominations. The whole experience is something I will never forget as long as I live. I also had three chorus concerts in March. It was busy.

The weekend following the show, I threw a bridal shower and bachelorette party for my best friend. Immediately following that I got a massive cold and laryngitis, losing my voice for the third time this year, and that lasted for about a month, until mid-April when my son turned one. We had two birthday parties for him, one here and one at my parents'. It was fun but busy. The day after his second party my mom and MIL made me go to the doctor and I found out that I actually had a sinus infection. Finally got medicine and got better.

The next week, Luke and I got back together with our musical kids to have a party after school. April 22. The nominations for the theatre awards were being released every 5 minutes on facebook starting at 4:00, so we gathered in the auditorium, projected a recording of our show on the big screen, and ate a bunch of snacks. I picked up my son from day care and we went to join the party. Every time nominations were posted, we paused the recording and one of the students read them from the stage as Luke recorded the kids' reactions. It was amazing. We did so much better than we'd dreamed. Us, a tiny country school... we got nominated in 13 out of the 15 categories! I had to take my son and leave early, though, because I'd forgotten the diaper bag at home and had, as I called it, a "ticking time bomb" on my hands. Something had gone wrong on the technical end of the awards announcements and there wound up being a half an hour before the last ones were announced, so I didn't find out about the final nominations until after I'd gotten home.

I had just sent a list of the nominations to the principal to post online, and was bursting with pride, when he called to see if I was still at the high school. I said no, I'd left early with my son. He said he was heading there because there had been a bad accident at the entrance of the school, involving one of our students. My mood took a 180 degree spin, from giddy excitement to frantic worry. I tried calling and texting Luke but got no response. Later I found out his phone had died after he recorded all those videos during the party.

Our school has a long drive to get to the road, and a bit of a blind spot on a busy road. There's obviously a stop sign at the end of the drive, but anyone who wants to turn out of the drive has to pull past the stop sign to check the blind spot on the left. A line of cars full of my kids had been waiting to pull out after the party, when the girl in the car at the head of the line, V, evidently forgot to double check the left after waiting for a car on the right, and pulled out in front of an SUV. Luke and the rest of the kids had to watch as V was pried out of her smashed car with the Jaws of Life, and life-flighted away in a helicopter that landed in the football practice field in front of the school.

I still don't know how Luke held it all together as long as he did and was as strong for everyone else as he was. And I still wonder, what if I hadn't forgotten the diaper bag, and I'd stayed the whole time?

A group of kids and parents drove to the hospital to visit V that night, as the doctors worked frantically to save her. We knew the prognosis was not good. Those of us who could, met at the high school again the following morning. We just wanted to be together. We met at the high school again on Sunday with a larger group of people. Everyone returned to school on Monday feeling helpless and anxious and sad. Waiting for news. I was at the doctor's office after school with my son for his one-year checkup when Luke called to tell me that V had died.

V was a super special kid, one of those students that always wanted to help and make your day better. I have learned so much more about V since she left us, because teachers don't always get the whole story on their students. I knew she was a great kid, but I had no idea how great. She was supposed to graduate #2 in the class, a member of NHS and Tri-M, a wonderful musician and athlete, a very spiritual person who cared a lot about kids and wanted to be a pediatrician. To say that week was difficult is a gross understatement.

Fast forward a few weeks and through a band concert. We slowly start recovering from V's passing. In the meantime, my grandfather gets very weak and misses dialysis for the first time in almost two years. His health rapidly declined. I went home for Mother's Day weekend and visited my grandparents. I was dumbfounded at how weak he'd become. When I left, I reminded him I'd be home the next weekend for my best friend's wedding. He said, "I don't know if I'll be here."

When I got home there were two dozen roses from my musical kids waiting for me, wishing me a happy Mother's Day. : )

I got a 24-hour stomach flu that knocked me off my feet on a Wednesday. Thursday night I packed to go home. Packed for a wedding and possibly a funeral. Weirdest thing I've ever done.

On Friday I rushed to pick up my son after school so we could drive 1.5 hours home for my best friend's rehearsal dinner. Saturday morning before I go to my hair appointment for the wedding, I visited my grandfather. He had no idea I was there as I held his hand and cried. Then put my brave face back on and went to the wedding. Sang with my brother. Walked back down the aisle afterwards. My husband and brother found me and told me that my grandfather had passed away. Put my game face back on and did pictures and reception, then went home and fell apart.

The awards for the show were supposed to take place that Sunday, but I knew there was no way I was going to make it. I felt disappointed but knew it just wasn't going to happen. I sent my regrets to Luke and my kids and gave my ticket away to a former student. I watched the live stream of the awards ceremony from my parents' house and cried as my kids won award after award, and gave phenomenal performances, and the awards dedicated a special performance for V. They wound up winning 9 awards and setting a record. I was so proud of them, and sad I wasn't there.

Tuesday were my grandfather's viewings. Over 300 people came, including my friend C and her mom who drove almost 4 hours to be there for us.

Wednesday was the funeral. I gave a eulogy. I would have to say that so far in my life, that was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

I have kind of floated through the last couple weeks of school. My kids were great. I went to graduation on Wednesday this week. There were lots of special tributes to V. I am so proud of all of my seniors who graduated.

I'm really glad it's summer but I am afraid that now that I will have the chance to breathe, that all of my emotions from the last month will catch up with me.

My grandfather was my hero.


  1. Oh Kristin, I'm so sorry for all the loss you've experienced this spring. I had seen some of your posts on Facebook, but I don't think I realized quite the extent of it all. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    I think it's ok for the emotions to catch up with you. When you're so busy, it's hard to find time to grieve. And that's a healthy, normal part of life. As you get through those emotions, your heart will start to heal.

    Many hugs, my friend!

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