A year ago, June 8th of 2015 was what I can truly say the worst day of my life thus far. It was so bad, that even though I have blogged about it over and over again, I have tried to put it into words, there just are no words to express the feeling of losing half of who you are. Having to continue to function, live, survive, take care of others, be strong for others, while completely broken and falling to pieces inside. It was a day that I think about often, because that day changed my life forever, reshaped my life and the boys’ lives forever, it was the day that ended a dream, a dream I had since May of 1991. One day he was here, all was well, we went about our lives, he went to work in the morning, went to dinner with friends/coworkers after work and never came home. Just like that, he was here, and then he was gone. Snap. Gone.
I had been dreading yesterday for a while, for a few months actually. I saw it getting closer and closer, it’s almost like I was scared of it. Like the day itself held some special power. I didn’t know exactly how to feel about it, all I knew is that it didn’t feel like a year, it felt like it was yesterday. And I also knew that I wanted to “celebrate” this day. Not celebrate the day of death, but celebrate Aires’ life. His words from before kept coming to my mind every time I thought about this day. The things he would say about his funeral. How he wanted it to be a celebration of his life, he wanted me not to cry, he wanted loud music and dancing. I always told him I would do my best to do it all, except the loud music and dancing, I never agreed to that one.
Most of all, I knew that I wanted this day to be a positive one for the boys. It’s hard to make a very sad event “anniversary” into a happy celebration. And so I decided to plan a daddy day. I was going to take them out of school all day, the three of us would go out to the golf range, Top Golf, maybe glow soccer, or just quick the ball at some park, I hadn’t come up with a concrete plan, but those were the ideas coming to my head. Then the email came from Little River saying that Field Day would be June 8th. Of all the days!!!! I couldn’t take Jake out of school on the most fun day of the year! So… change of plans! I decided to have a Celebration of Life here at the house, once again I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but it felt right. It felt more right than the taking the boys out of school, I could never get that plan to go too far in my head, make a decision about what we would do. I sent out the invitation late one night, I only invited the people that I already had contact information saved on Evite. It was late, I was tired, I decided to wait until the next day to add the rest of the people, I would have to copy and paste email addresses and it would take too long at that hour of night. The next morning, before I had time to continue to add to the invitation, I got an email from my sweet friend saying that she and another friend, had started a secret plan to have people come to the elementary school field on the 8th to release balloons and butterflies. It was a surprise, that I foiled by making my own plans to have people at the house, and balloons. I do this all the time, I’m not a good surprise getter. I’m much better at planning the surprise 😉 So we decided to combine the two events, and it was a lifesaver because I didn’t have to invite anyone else, they were all already invited 🙂
Like I said, I wanted it to be a special day, a Celebration of Life. I wanted the boys to see, that even a year later we were still surrounded by love and support. I wanted them to see how much daddy was loved by so many people. And I wanted to make this special for Aires, for us, for everyone coming. I decided to copy something I had seen on Facebook. It’s a picture story, it’s powerful, it’s emotional, it says it all. I had my friend Sofya take the pictures, we both had seen this on Facebook a long time ago, and she had offered to take the pictures for us, if I decided to do it. But I also wanted to share a little bit of Aires. He was very quiet, he got better over the years, but he was very shy and reserved. I wanted people to see a different side to him, the real fun loving, silly, goofy, loving, caring person that he was. I wanted the boys to see a different daddy, a younger daddy, younger than they are now. A teenager daddy, a skinny daddy with hair!!!!!! I decided to make a slideshow. I have never made one before, but with the help of a friend, and having an Apple computer, which let’s face it, makes everything super user friendly, I was able to figure it out. The scanner is upstairs in the office, the computer (desktop) is downstairs in the kitchen. I went up and down the stairs over 500 times, I stayed up one whole night because it was taking so long and the day was fast approaching. But I got them all in.
Going through all the albums, reliving our romance from day one, the fun times we had together, all the vacations, the fun events, the birth of the boys, it was very hard. Very, very hard. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it after I went through the first couple of albums. It was too emotional, I was really considering stopping. But then my angel came to the rescue. He made me look not at the picture and whatever it was about, but to look at his eyes and his smile in the picture. He was happy. He was silly and happy. He was goofy and happy. He was tired and happy. Whatever it was, he was happy. He had a good life, he loved his life, he enjoyed his life. And right there it all turned around. It became a good project, I smiled at the pictures, I enjoyed remembering all the things we had done. It was sad-happy, there is such a thing.
When the day arrived, I was afraid to wake up. How would I feel? I had been trying to stay as busy as I could in the couple of weeks leading up to it, I had been through a roller coaster of emotions. I hadn’t slept much in the last three days getting everything finished and ready for the party. I was physically and mentally exhausted, beyond exhausted even. But as I woke up, I didn’t have any huge flow of emotions. And I kept going through the day, running errands, picking up food, balloons, setting everything up, waiting for it to hit me. It never did, I told myself it was because I was running around so much, it just hadn’t had time to hit me. I kept waiting, dreading it, worrying that it would happen when everyone was here. I didn’t want to be sad, I wanted to be happy, it as a Celebration of Life, it was to be a good thing.
The party started, people arrived, the kids were very happy and excited to have their friends here. Josh even asked if he could invite a couple of friends from school, new friends that I don’t really know because he met them in middle school. I thought that was a great idea, great attitude on his part and really showing maturity and confidence in wanting to share a moment like this with his friends. People were arriving, so many friends, from all different facets of our lives. It made my heart smile. And then it was time to do the first balloon release. I had bought 60 balloons, in dark green, the green that was Aires’ favorite color because it was the color of his favorite Portuguese soccer club, Sporting Clube de Portugal. I brought up 20 balloons, I had note cards, if anyone wanted to write a note to send attached to the balloon, and I had Sharpies if people wanted to write on the balloons. Josh, Jake and I had special balloons, Jake had a butterfly, Josh had a palm tree and I had a heart. We all got the balloons ready and took them outside to release them. There were no speeches, we all had said what we wanted to say on the balloon. I counted to 3 and we all released.
As the balloons flew high in the air, a sense of peace came over me. It’s hard to explain, I felt like this was perfect, it was exactly what should be happening, I felt Aires right there next to me looking up, smiling and approving. After that I didn’t wait for the sadness to come anymore, I didn’t wait for it to hit me anymore. I just felt peace, there was an inexplicable calm inside me, if you know me, you know the last thing I am is calm, it was a strange feeling to me, but a good feeling. Throughout the evening, we released more balloons as different people came and went. We released butterflies, which my sweet friend had planned for before I folded her surprise. This was very special, the boys and I took pictures and released some the day before, and we released the rest of them at the party. At the end of the night, we still had balloons left over, the friends that were here with us until the end of the night, we all wrote on balloons again, we went outside released them and toasted to Aires.
It was a beautiful day, the weather was nice, the colors of the ski were beautiful, all the children were happy playing outside with their friends, I got so many wonderful hugs, cards, messages, texts, there was love all around us. It was a true celebration, there were some tears, from many friends who were not expecting to see the surprises I had made. They were happy-sad tears though, and that’s okay. The day could not have been more perfect.
At the end of the night, when I was putting the boys to bed, Jake asked me with tears in his eyes, if it was okay that he had been happy today. He was feeling bad because he realized that on the one year mark of daddy’s passing he had a great day, at school with Field Day and at home with all his friends. I told him it was not only okay, it was awesome! We will always be sad that daddy is gone, it’s not something we will be happy about, ever. But that sadness doesn’t have to show through all the time, daddy wouldn’t want it, and it’s not good. Happy is where I want him to be. I told him that it’s okay to be sad-happy or happy-sad, just because we have an underlying sadness that never leaves, doesn’t mean we can’t be happy about life, things that are happening in our life, good things, vacations, fun times, anything and everything. I want them to live life to the fullest, to enjoy and cherish every moment, to remember how fun growing up was. Was it as fun and happy as it could and should have been? NO, it wasn’t, but there is nothing we can do about that. If we could, we would for sure, but we can’t. The best we can do to honor daddy’s memory and his wishes is to live a happy life.
The more I talked about it, the more peace I felt. After the boys were in bed, I came downstairs, I was exhausted, I was seriously falling asleep as I was sitting at the computer. I realized that I had a smile on my face. It was a good day, Aires had made sure of that. He guided me in the process of planning, organizing, having the party. It was the perfect Celebration of Life.
Thank you all who came to help us celebrate, thank you all who weren’t able to come but reached out to us. Your continued love and support made this day the perfection that it was. You were there for us, and I love you all for that.
A friend made this movie for us, it’s a beautiful synopses of what it was all about. https-//flipagram.com/f/qcyuyyQty2