Our Story Part 12
About a week and a half after Diane died, Craig's brother and one of Diane's sons Rick (not Craig's best friend) were running in Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN. Shortly after we lost Curtis but before Diane died, Craig's brother told us he would like to dedicate his run in Curtis' memory.
Grandma's Marathon is a big deal, with rooms reserved months and month in advance. Diane and her husband had been planning on going to see their son run so she had worked on getting us a hotel room. Prices were astronomically high so we decided to share a room with Craig's friend Jer.
Then Diane died, and the world came crashing down around all of us. Again. We decided to go ahead and go to the marathon. Diane's son, Rick, was still going to run. Craig's brother was running. So on a very rainy night in June, we headed the 2 hours north. We could barely see the road on most of the drive up. Jer was driving and by the time we got to the hotel, it was late, and we were all exhausted. Somehow, we ended up watching a local cable access show called "Average Guys". It was two middle age men who "talked" sports. In their basement. Like Sports Center. Except, without the knowledgeable anchors and clips and, well, flash. It was ridiculously funny without meaning to be. The three of us laughed hysterically at this show. In fact, we still talk about it all the time.
The next morning was the marathon. We had to walk quite a few miles to the finish line. I was just over 2 and half weeks post partum at this point. I had tore pretty bad and was hurting and bleeding heavily by the time we got to the finish line. We waited patiently for Craig's brother to pass by us. He had made a tank top that had Curtis' picture and "Running in Memory of Curtis 5.31.2006" on it. He told us later people had cheered him on saying "Go for Curtis!" quite a few times during the race. It really meant a lot to us.
After the race was over, a group of us went out for pizza. I remember sitting at this table, ordering some pizza, everyone chatting and just wanting to sink into the ground. I was so sick of everything being normal. I wanted to stand up and scream to the packed restaurant "MY SON DIED! WHY DON'T YOU PEOPLE CARE? HOW CAN YOU KEEP LIVING YOUR LIFE WHEN MY SON DIED?" Even my husband, just chattering away, making his jokes, he seemed so normal. I knew he wasn't. I knew he was dying inside. I knew he missed Curtis just as much as I did. I knew he wished like hell we were sitting home with our 3 week old son marveling at baby spit up. But on the outside of everyone we looked like any other normal group from that weekend. However, we weren't. We had just lost our son. Our in laws just lost a grandson, nephew, and dear friend. Our friends just had lost their mom. We were a shattered and broken bunch. Ordering pizza. Because life ticks on.
I couldn't walk back to the hotel, I was very sore and aching. My brother in law, who had just run the race, offered to drive me back to the hotel. There is a big party atmosphere after the marathon and everyone else wanted to partake in it. I was in desperate need of a nap and alone time. I couldn't pretend anymore. I was broken. I didn't want to hang out in some bars or party tent with hundreds of people. No small talk. I just wanted to be broken. All by myself.
I immediately sunk onto the hotel bed and closed my eyes. Images of Curtis flashed through my head and I tried so hard to remember what it felt like to hold him. I fell into a deep sleep.
Later, I woke up and wandered the hotel looking for something to eat. There was an indoor water park that had a snack bar. I ordered a hamburger and watched the kids play. There was a dad, of course, with 2 sons. He was picking up each one and throwing them into one of the pool areas. They were screeching and laughing. "Again, Dad!" could be heard throughout the water park area.
Dads and sons. Gets me every time.
I took my sad burger back to the room and ate it in front of the TV. Throughout the night, Craig kept calling to check in on me. Was I okay. Should he come back to the room. Yes. No. One thing everyone tells you: men and women grieve differently. It was true. I think Craig found comfort in fun, routine activities. Stuff we would have done had we never had a child. Where I found comfort in being alone and not having to put on a brave face. I wanted him to have fun. And honestly, it felt good being by myself but some where far from home.
I remember changing into short to wear to bed, sitting on my bed, just running my fingers over my teddy bear tattoo. "Curtis Roger 5.31.2006" Over and over I touched it. He was real. I have the tattoo to prove it. Even though I often wonder what the hell happened. Was it imagined? Did it really happen? The tattoo reminds me of how real it all was and is. Then and now. So, I sit and looked at my tattoo. And missed my little baby boy.