Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hope's Celebration

It's been a week since I last blogged, mostly because I'm overwhelmed all the time between work, the kids, bills, daily household duties, our last minute trip away, and the kids activities. I'm coaching Nathan's basketball team which has 2 more weeks to go (by they way he absolutely loves it and during practice and games is one of the few times I do not think of anything else) and his soccer begins this week with Reese's soccer the following week. Of course I'm trying to coach all three, but as I said it's my one and only few times where nothing else in the universe matters but the kids playing and having fun. Last game I even bribed the kids in the 4th quarter that if they passed the ball 5 times and everyone touched before they scored I would buy them ice cream after the game. They passed like crazy and almost scored 3 times. After the game the parents were amazed so I fessed up and next game I'm bringing ice cream sandwiches for them enjoy.

The last 5 days I spent in TN with my Bro and his 3 kids. It was an incredible break we needed so badly. Durant and Courtney (Dennis' brother and his wife along with Christine & Carolyn with boyfriends in tow) brought dinner Friday night (thank you again) but it was kind of strange. I love seeing them and we always have fun together because like Hope we all love games (we played Apples to Apples for hours on end) but they never once asked me about Hope or even mentioned her passing. (It was the first time I had seen them because during Hope's celebration because Durant was recovering and could not travel).

I wasn't going to go to TN at all but the greatest neighbors of all time (and I will put them up against any neighbors --- Fred and Betty with the Rubbles, the Duke's with Cooter albeit long distance in the country and downtown but the best mechanic around, Brenda and Brandon Walsh on 90210 with Steve Sanders and David Silver when they weren't at the Peach Pit, Norm and Cliffy (who will ever forget the Thanksgiving episode of Cheers at Carla's house), Jerry Seinfeld and Kramer (we were just talking about the man hands episode this weekend), the Jefferson's and Harry Bentley, Quagmire on Family Guy, and Ned Sanders on the Simpson's to name a few) gave us 3 free buddy passes on anywhere Southwest flies. So we were able to get away like I've wanted to for so long with no worries, almost no money, and just be with my brother and his 2 kids. The 6 wisemen tore up Knoxville for one weekend and the Laser Tag place will never be the same (by the way my name was the Guns for obvious reasons and I came in 18th out of 20). Thank you Beth and Rich for making it possible, taking care of Mocha, getting our mail and newspapers, helping me with home decorating, washing a quilt, so many meals, and always being willing to share a bottle or many more of wine.

For the first time since Hope's celebration I received the DVD of the recording at the church. It's not 100% complete as it cut out during Ann-Marie's speech. Thank goodness because after that was only Kurt ragging me like crazy and Ann-Marie talking about how she stole my credit card. Obviously it was emotional, but I did take 3 things from it --- 1. Will brought the house down with his raw emotion and love for his sister; 2. Hope's Dad does have a mono-brow; 3. I might go to hell for saying penis and vagina in church but anyone that knows me should have warned them ahead of time. Valentine's day was difficult but not nearly as tough as our anniversary. For some reason I can't explain I just lost it today at the airport with the boys in an O'Charley's restaurant as I cried my eyes out for no reason. Another family of four was sitting near us so I can only imagine that's what upset me. I was on edge since early this morning because I had a dream that Hope was alive and ran up to me and kissed me. I guess the perfect storm set me off but the DVD was the icing on the cake.

I talked to Ann-Marie tonight and she helped me along and that was after Rochelle came by with Nathan's Valentines he missed because of our trip, Glen called me to go out this week, Whitney e-mailed me, Hope's brother John and Esther sent me the DVD, Dan Neal offered for my kids to throw out beads on one of the floats at the Mardi Gras celebration at Universal Studios, and my neighbors came over and shared some wine (that was all between 5:30 PM and 11 PM). We are so blessed with family, friends, neighbors, and the kids schools I could never thank everyone enough. It's 1:30 AM and I'm have 2 kids to get to school along with multiple days worth of work to catch up on (that's of course ignoring the past due bills I need to pay on a bank account they want to cancel because it's based on Hope's SS#), and not to mention the short people living with me still.

I don't know what is normal, how to be normal, but I love that tonight I was not the main drama when I had my neighbors over, I talked to Ann-Marie about everyday life and not just Hope, and when Rochelle came over the focus was on the boys and not the drama of the last 8 months. I think that is progress, I'm slowly moving forward with the closest loved ones I have, and some day I won't always feel bad for not always feeling bad. I still have that sick feeling in my stomach most of the time, but now I think it's more Kurt's cooking over the weekend then just Hope. Rewatching the DVD of her celebration was tough, but also a way to restart over if that makes any sense.

I will always love you Hope, I love you like water, but I now understand I can't always feel bad for not always feeling bad. The boys and I had a great weekend thanks to my neighbors and brother, thanks for helping us feel normal again even if I had weak moments. They will reduce and we will continue to improve. I love you Will for your raw emotion for your sister and my greatest love at her celebration, you are my other brother along with Kurt and Scott.

Thanks to all,
Just Jake.

P.S. Many have asked me why Just Jake? It started because I always used Hope's e-mail address and sometimes people thought it was Hope being obnoxious and sarcastic instead of me. I finally had to start signing off so they would appropriately get mad at me instead of Hope. And of course compared to Hope, I will always be "just Jake". No one will compare to Hope.


Trish Scholer LeBouef said...


So glad to hear you made a trip to Tennessee. We lived in Nashville for about 2 years. Loved the changing seasons and the rolling hills. Now that we live in Louisiana there's not much to look forward to other than festival after festival and of course Mardi Gras ;). (Which by the way, occurs in a week.) We will catch a bead or two for you and the boys - hugs, thinking of you - Love Trish

Anonymous said...


Glad that you & the boys got to head to TN for a few days. Just take each day as it comes. And don't feel bad about bribing the kids with ice cream. Feel bad about getting poor Ned Flanders name wrong on the Simpsons. D'oh! : )

Sending much love to you & the boys.

rach said...

You certainly do have the most amazing neighbors! They are so generous, warm and selfless. What a blessing to be next to them! Glad you were able to see the other Wise men, and that you survived Kurt's cooking(did he serve hamburger helper? Just joking...he is a king on the grill!)

Have fun coaching those boys, it is wonderful that you are able to do that. One of our friends who coached with us always had a backpack full of bubble gum for after every practice and game...for some reason those kids play their hearts out for a piece of bazooka.

Hugs from Maine,
rach brad liv and ethan :)

Daddy-O said...

Glad to hear you survived a trip to Deliverance country.

Glad you finally got your copy of the Celebration service, I hope it helped to watch it. I'm not so sure I'm ready to watch it myself so I'll just take comfort in knowing you have. I have to say I'm getting a little jealous of those neighbors you have. Watching the boys, imbibing in copious amounts of alcohol and hooking you up with free airfare! All that's missing is them cooking dinner...oh wait, I'm pretty sure they've done that too! Glad to see they stepped up and have pretty much replaced Anna and I in all those areas since we can't be there to do all those things.

You know that's probably the second most difficult thing right now, not being back in FL with you and the boys. I can honestly say that not a day goes by the Anna and I don't think of Hope, you or the boys. It's great to hear that you got some time away from FL, a break away from all the reminders was probably really needed.

Stay strong and as always, know that we're just a phone call away no matter the day or time.

-Just Will
(yeah, I agree, it doesn't roll off the tongue as well as Just Jake)

amyrhoades said...

Jake, can we come by some day soon to see you and play with the boys??
We think about you all so often!

Call anytime,
Amy, Jerrod, Logan and Olivia Rhoades