I realize that I should probably write more blog posts, and of shorter length…  We’ll see..   First of my blog posts on the new site… Here we go..

People still often ask how I’m doing.  I’d say ups and downs, but I’m really yet to acknowledge any “ups,” so I have mellowed my answer to something sometimes inaudible, or perhaps an “…eh..”  What is expected for me to say anyway?  Really, there are times when everything doesn’t feel quite as heavy, I’m distracted with something or another.  Things crash over me soon enough though.  The kids will say something, or the slightest little reminder or memory will come up..

This past weekend was fairly slow, we only had one soccer game to get to Saturday morning.  After that I set about to fix a leaky drain under one of the two sinks in the master bathroom..  We had put a towel in the top of that sink for the last few months – just as a reminder not to use it.  After a pair of trips to the hardware store and various part purchases – I ultimately ended up replacing the entire drain assembly.  Point for me – it no longer leaks.  Next task was to put everything back under the sink and straighten up the bathroom.  This proved to be a pretty difficult task.  Many of the items on the top of the sink were Stefs.  I literally had trembling hands as I placed some of those items in to a travel bag and put them under the sink.  Her hairbrush, moisturizers, scrubs, toothbrush, all of that.  It took quite a while to put things back in order.

There’s times when I feel like I’m catching my breath – only to wonder how long can I really exhale – to the point where I feel like my lungs are fully collapsed, and I’m not sure if I can reverse it and inhale.  I do, but it’s an odd feeling – not painful really, but it seems to be the sense of “taking my breath away.”  And no – at this point – I don’t feel like this is a phrase used for anything good – like a sunrise or sunset, a view of a canyon, “it just takes your breath away” – no.  I’ve had my breath taken away, it’s more like you’re playing the game when you were a kid, seeing how long you can hold your breath underwater, you thought you were clever and stayed down longer, exhaling, only to find the need to try to rush to the top and take a breath.  I wish I could say I was just playing that game.  I just need to remind myself sometimes – breathe.  Breathe.

I took the kids to see a grief counselor.  Hospice offers it as a service, we were contacted to set it up, and I took all three in.  The session went alright.  I had two break-down moments during the session.  The kids did fine.  They are dealing with things differently.  Perfectly distracted and busy..  Owen keeps quiet about things.  He’s talked to me – or I’ve talked to him, one of the two, or both.  He might bottle things a bit.  It’s what I typically do, but he’s doing well.  Acadia, during the summer, seems to be bouncing from one thing to another – always looking for something to do.  Violet has been a little sweetheart – and so far is the only one to get out of bed, after bed time and ask for hugs because she misses mommy.  I’m happy to give her hugs.  At the end of the grief counseling session, we set up timing for a second session for the kids, and one for me, solo…

I went to my solo session last week.  I was looking forward to it, up to the point where I was in the car, on the way there, then I was extremely anxious.  I didn’t know what questions I would face, what I would say, etc.. Overall it was good.  I ended up telling the whole story of how Stef and I met and sort of where life took us.  We did a lot.  Despite that, I’ll always wish there were more.  I was given homework to try to reduce some stress and find some time for myself.  I don’t know that I’m being successful, but I did come out of it with an idea to try a meditation app.  So far I’ve used it on three occasions to help me fall asleep.  It’s worked, I don’t remember the end of any of the sessions, but I probably ought to try using it prior to 1am, considering I should try to get to sleep well before midnight.  My sleep is still messed up – it’s never been terrific – late at night, dragging out of bed, but now I seem to be waking up early regardless of what time I go to sleep.

I briefly posted on Facebook this morning (brief is relative with me), with an 8yr old photo of Stef and Violet (pictured to the left).  Violet was not even 4 months old on August 1st, 2009.  Stef’s perfect smile, as she was holding Violet.  I have that same smile on hundreds of pictures.  I just wish it was right here in front of me.  Something else I had mentioned in that post, as I look at Stef’s phone – checking email, or seeing her “remember this day” Facebook posts – seeing a message – perhaps it is a “registration” related email – something I need to take action on for the kids.  I forward it from her phone to my email, so that I can pull it up on the computer later.  Then, my heart jumping when I see an email from her – her name promptly as the sender.  I know I sent it, but still that jump.

To try to wrap things up on a positive side, we’re making good progress with Stef Ripple.  We’ve been given our official non-profit designation by the IRS, and we’re preparing for our first real fundraiser – the Stefanie Ashdown Memorial “Do Your Best” 5K, to take place on Saturday September 9th.  So things are getting fairly busy for the run committee in the planning department.  If you’re available, and in the area, come on out and support it.  The registration link has got all of the details.

Lastly, I know I thought to try to be a bit brief – maybe next time..

9 Thoughts on “Breathing”

  • Don’t ever be brief, Bob. Keep writing. There is something so cathartic about putting those word into text- a release of energy into the universe.

    I know that feeling of breathlessness, where the air goes out of the room. I’ve often imagine it’s the hole in my heart bursting open- like a rapid decompression on an airplane- it happens so fast.




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  • Bob, I, too, know the benefits of writing…writing it down, figuring it all out, getting it out, and believe me when I say I appreciate your doing it. I know it’s not really your intention, which I’m sure is whirly-twirly, but you are helping others while helping yourself, although you may not yet recognize this yet. And I’d lay odds as to how proud Stef is.

    If I don’t see you before I’ll see you on Sept 8 and 9.




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  • Bob –..please keep writing.. your blog helps us too!….it’s another Stefripple effect. Our love for Stef and your family continues and it helps to know how you and the children are doing. Prayers continue….we all pray that you remember you are not alone, but surrounded by people who knew Stef well….and those like me who only Stef briefly. She shared her love for her family with so many that we are all better for it.

    I don’t know if Owen would like to have a journal too….somewhere for him to write… for him and you . Just a thought.




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  • Thank you for the honesty and being so open with all of us. I am very excited about the nonprofit and even though I have to work that Saturday I will continue to spread the word.




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  • Please continue to write your blog , it helps find out how you and the kids are doing . We will be there on the on the 9th to support you guys hopefully , Hopefully I can get the kids to participate too . If there anything you need help with please let me know I would love to help for
    such as great cause .




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  • You have such courage sharing. I’m humbled by your gift to so eloquently write and share. Don’t stop.
    We will be there on the 9th. Wouldn’t imagine being anywhere else.




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  • So appreciate your willingness to share your heart. It helps us all and it will always be here for the kids to read in the future. Our grief will never be the same as yours but missing Stef with you. Love and Prayers.




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