blogging a – z challenge – “l”

L

How about a little levity with this post?

I was going to choose laughter, but levity is such a pretty word. One of my favorites. And…it’s the name of one of my favorite beers (Levity Amber Ale) from one of my favorite brewing companies (Odell Brewing Company) from one of my favorite towns (Fort Collins, CO, where I went to college).

lev·i·ty   ˈlevədē/   noun
humor or frivolity, especially the treatment of a serious matter with humor or in a manner lacking due respect
Early on in grief I don’t believe I laughed much. Reason number hundred and eleven that it’s good to have a great grief therapist: She gave me the assignment of watching funny movies. She suggested I balance tears with laughter. I loved that. My husband and I got on a kick of watching all the funny movies we could. We would catch some at the theater when they came out. We’d watch them at home. We watched lots of stand-up on Netflix. These laughter dates were so refreshing.

I do them to this day. Before Kade died, I didn’t think about scheduling time to laugh. It sounds absurd. Now it’s part of my self-care. Going to see a funny show with girlfriends—sometimes the more irreverent the better—is an investment in my healing. Its importance has been elevated.

Intense grief work follows great loss: the grief and loss books and even movies, the groups and gatherings, and the journaling. Peppering in some hilarity is pretty much essential; to me, anyway.
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blogging a – z – “k”

K

Was there any question of what I would write about for the letter K?

Kade. Today I’ll write about his name. To quote the movie Forrest Gump, “The most beautiful name in the whole wide world.”

I learned that some bereaved moms, to hear their child’s name, tell their barista the name of their child. That way when their drink is ready they can hear the music of his or her name called. I haven’t tried that yet, but I think I might to see how it goes…

But seriously…Kade is the best name ever. It’s short, monosyllabic, unique (especially in 1993), and strong. It’s my favorite name.

We found it in a baby name book. We narrowed it down to Kade and Calvin for a boy. Kade’s dad had a huge Calvin and Hobbes collection—as did Kade later. Because we (Jenny and Jon) both grew up with common names, we wanted an uncommon one for our baby. And because our last name was Riefenberg we wanted short and sweet.

EXCEPT if he would have been a girl. The girl names we picked out were Savannah and Sierra. I couldn’t resist those ultra-feminine, romantic-sounding names, even if Savannah Riefenberg would have been a doozy to write.

We decided on Kade on the way to the hospital. I was in labor and the conversation went something like this:

Me: Do we have the guts to go with that one we like, “Kade?;” that Gaelic one that means Of the wetlands? Or is “Kade” too weird?

Jon: Yeah, let’s go with it. It’s different but let’s do it.

His middle name took us a couple more days to decide. When Jon’s mom was trying name combinations out loud in the hospital, we liked the sound of Kade with her maiden name.

Kade Tyson it was.

I know of two people named after Kade. Both girls.

A girlfriend of mine whose daughter was Kade’s first little best friend, loved the name Kade (and loved the boy Kade). She said if she had a boy she would name him Kade. Well, five girls later…she named a daughter Kadie. That’s counts, right?

And just a few weeks ago, Kade’s friend, Tyler, and his girlfriend named their baby Olivia Kadence. Choosing a name is so precious and personal. I love that they honored Tyler’s buddy gone too soon in this way.

I do hope that there are more odes to Kade, that remember him and carry on his lively spirit.

Plus of course…it is the most beautiful name in the whole wide world.

a – z blogging challenge – “j”

J

I had real trouble thinking of a J-word. I even sought out my in-house ABC consultant, Asher, on this one. His answer was an immediate, “Jingshanosaurus.” Duh. So I will tell a story about Kade’s love of dinosaurs linking with Asher’s.

I went on a mother/daughter trip to China with my mom, her friend, Ann, and her daughter, Mandy, in April of 2012. In a bookstore in Shanghai we found children’s books with the Mandarin word phonetically written in English. I had fun picking up a few of these books for one-and-a-half-year-old Asher and his buddies from our play group.

There was one, a dinosaur picture book, that didn’t have the English word, only the Mandarin word written out.

How would I ever know what these different dinosaurs were if their names weren’t written in English? I knew just the nineteen-year-old dinosaur expert to ask.

He enjoyed it. Kade liked putting his mark, literally, in fat black permanent marker in Asher’s dinosaur book. On each page, in Kade’s handwriting, is the English name for the corresponding dinosaur. He even displayed his dinosaur snobbery when he got to the drawing that wasn’t quite scientifically accurate. He said, “That’s not right! That’s a _____ head with a _____ body!,” and shook his head.

It was just one of those things that Kade knew and I didn’t question. Much the same as when a bird soaring overhead was not a golden eagle, but a red-tailed hawk because of the shape of the wings. Or was it the tail? I often wish I remembered all of his lessons.

blogging a – z challenge – “i”

I

Today’s word is insensitivity. Something happened yesterday that made today’s I-word easy to come up with.

Sometimes to wake up I grab my phone and check e-mail and/or Facebook before I get out of bed. I had a rude awakening when I came across this meme in my newsfeed:

of course im a good mother

Ugh. It hit me like a slap in the face. My breath caught involuntarily. My cheeks got hot. I couldn’t look away for a moment. What was I reading? And on my friend’s newsfeed who has been a support to me after losing Kade? And who has already “liked” it, but another friend who has supported me?

I typed a comment: a bitter, “Ouch.”

Then I immediately removed my comment, and privately messaged my friend instead. I told her how it made me feel to see, and that I know she didn’t mean it to be hurtful. But could she please remove it? She apologized and deleted it.

I contacted the Facebook page from where she shared the meme. I explained my situation, who might see it, how it could hit them as it did me, and asked them to remove it. I got a kind response back saying that they would.

I looked up SomeECards.com, the company name on the meme and e-mailed them the same request. I got a very terse reply, but they did supposedly remove it from their stock.

This incident made me think of another similar situation.

My friend, Paula, a bereaved mom who has a company called Crazy Good Grief, and I took our little boys to the Morrison Natural History Museum. On a little walking tour of fossilized sites we were behind a mom with a few kids. She yelled to them to catch up. Then said, “No big deal–if we lose one we got extras!…” something like that. She thought she was pretty hilarious because she repeated it. 

No…neither Paula nor I said anything to her. We were both dumbstruck with how that happened right in front of us, given our situations, and just had words between us like, “If they only had a clue.”

blogging a – z – “h”

 

H

One of the first h-words that came to my mind concerning Kade was…ham.

Kade was nothing if not a ham. As a little kid he loved making his friends…and adults…laugh. As an older kid he loved to make his friends…and adults…laugh.

He was really good at imitating people. Back when Maroon 5 was first big I played their CD in my car all the time. (I just looked up that album. It released in 2002 so Kade would have been nine or ten). Kade had Adam Levine’s nasally high notes down perfectly. Evidently he had his bus driver down pretty well, too. His friends loved it.

One of Kade’s best friends, Patrick’s, mom used to say that Kade would host the Tonight Show one day. Speaking of Patrick’s mom, Kade did a pretty good impression of her heavy New York accent. Of course I wasn’t lucky enough to escape Kade’s impersonations. But somehow his impression of me wasn’t as funny…

Noises. He made a lot of crazy random noises. Here’s one. It’s not so much him being a ham, but has to do with imitating. Kade could whistle a particular bird call perfectly. I’m sure you’ve heard the bird. It goes something like, weeee-hoooo (does anyone know what bird that is?). They seem to be emerging for spring now because I’ve heard them a lot lately. When Kade was at Synergy he made people think there was a bird in the house. When he told me that it cracked me up.

Of course being a ham and his antics got him in heaps of trouble at school. More trouble than you can imagine. If only we could have channeled that haminess. I always strongly encouraged drama but he never wanted to pursue it.

I miss Kade’s humor, sarcasm, and laugh. I hope I never forget his laugh.

blogging a – z – “g”

G

Tonight I’m writing about games.

When Kade was at Synergy, a residential adolescent treatment center for close to a year, we got to visit him on Sundays. We could stay as long as we wanted during visiting time. So naturally we got there just about when it started and stayed until it was about over. We spent two or three straight hours with him.

We played games. We brought games from home, and played some of the well-worn games that were there. We played Scrabble, Scattegories, Balderdash, and Cranium. One of the times we played Scrabble he saved up his tiles for one long word. He kept trading them in until he got the word that emptied his tray, and left us in his Scrabble dust.

Dinosaur.

We played different card games. Evidently the kids played a lot of Hearts there because that was Kade’s game of choice. He was adept at shuffling the deck and put his flair into it.

We brought him lunch. Tokyo Joe’s, subs from a NY sub shop, and Noodles and Co. were favorites. I remember bringing tiny gourmet ice creams for us. I think Haagen Dazs brand single serves. I got so excited when I saw the little containers at the store, and that they had green tea-flavored. Kade used to like green tea mochi ice cream from Japanese restaurants. Brian got vanilla, Kade got green tea, and I either got green tea or coffee.

We all hated that he was at Synergy. It wasn’t a pleasant place. But perhaps it wasn’t bad in every way. We each looked forward to our visits. We appreciated the limited time we got to spend together.

Oh what I wouldn’t give for a game of Scrabble with that boy.

blogging a – z challenge – “f”

F

I explained the blogging A-Z Challenge, what a blog is in general, and my blog to my five-and-a-half-year-old in the simplest terms possible today. I asked him what my letter “f” word should be. He said, “fish.” So here goes.

Kade was a fisherman. His dad lived in a mountain town and there literally was a babbling brook in their back yard. When I’ve been up there I’ve seen lawn chairs set up creek-side. He was probably in his glory to be able to walk a few paces and go fishing all the weekends he spent up there.

My favorite fishing story of Kade is when he was ten or eleven and my step-dad (and I believe my brother) took him ice fishing in Michigan.

Have you ever seen a pike? They’re ug-ly. Long scary snout-looking head filled with sharp teeth. No wonder Kade wanted to catch one.

Here is how I remember it (I’m sure Marv and Andy have a better recollection because they were actually there):

Kade talked and talked about how he was going to catch a pike. Marv prepared him that you don’t always get any fish, much less the type you want to catch. But the glorious moment arrived, and Kade caught and reeled in…a pike! He hollered, “I caught a pike! I caught a pike!”

Later he casually sauntered around the other fishing holes to strike up conversation. He tried to look and sound nonchalant.

“Having any luck? I caught a pike.”

“I know. I heard.”

He helped Marv clean it (probably totally enamored with that process), Grandma fried it up, and we all had a little piece of Kade’s pike with breakfast.