A Year Around the Sun

A Year Around the Sun

I guess I'll just let it all pour out, or let as much pour out as will fall.

My heart is aching and my mind is just such a mess right now.  How do we bare the loss of Hank?  How does any parent bare the loss of their child?  Yes, I know, one day at a time, one moment at a time, one breath at a time.  One ragged breath at a time.  And we are doing it.  One flippin' day at a time.

Hank's dad Marty and I plan to spend the next two days supporting  each other on this marking of a year around the sun since our boy flew away, and it's just a muddled mess in my brain because it's leap year.  Hank passed away on March 1st but it feels like tomorrow, February 29 is really the anniversary of his death.  And what does it matter really?  And yet it does.  Dear Lord.

I would love to make this an uplifting post, and maybe I can a little bit.  Maybe I can talk about the fact that Marty and I are living as fully as we can.  The fact that what feels like electric shocks of the reality of Hank being gone still all but throw me across the room has not stopped me, has not stopped us, from really trying to stay in the game, because Hank would have it no other way.

Hank was a joy seeker.  When he woke up in the morning it was as if he had never been asleep.  He would make his beautiful sounds and grab his favorite book and just have at it.  He knew that we would do everything possible to give him the best day possible.  He just trusted that and hit the ground running (metaphorically of course because he couldn't physically run).  But man did that boy run with everything else in him.  He just pointed his heart in the direction of joy and worked out a way to get to it.  

My prayer for myself is that I can continue to try my best to take a page from Hank's joy book, yet my mind still goes to those last days of his beautiful life and how much I miss him.  I just want to see him and hold him, and tell him that I love him more than anyone or anything else in the whole wide world and I always, always will.  (I actually used to say that to him all the time.  Along with some really ridiculous things that we both loved like, "You are the king-a-me of my thing-a-me," and made up songs that came from God knows where in my imagination.  But he loved them, and he would smile so big that I would tell him to be careful or he would swallow his head.)

Hank loved my ridiculousness.  He got me, and I didn't ever have to be anything other my complete and total self with him...always.  I love him for that.  I love him for everything.

The other day a friend told me to keep crying because my tears are drops of love.  And last night my friend Heather was praying with me and she said that God was putting all of my tears in a jar because that's how precious they are to him.  And she cried right along with me.  How can I not be grateful?

And I am, grateful I mean.  I will never find the words to express my gratitude that I was given Hank to mother. He was the best partner I ever had. He strengthened me with his courage, his love, his persistence, and his laughter.  He was my rock and my joy, and there is no measure for all that he did for me.  I will try always, through my sadness, to remember how grateful I am that he was born to me.

Well, there you have it.  I can't write any more.  But I will say that I deeply appreciate all of you who will read this, and all of you in my life who have given me such incredible love and support this year.  I guess Hank's words cannot be said too much..."Love wins".

Off I go to put a few more tears in my jar, then off I'll go to find a bit of Hank-joy.  I'll keep doing my best, one day at a time because yes, Hank would have it no other way.  

Love to you all,


The Parting Glass

The Parting Glass
The State Fair was a Hank thing. In the past 33 years I can count on less than one hand the times I was there without him. I didn't know if I should go this year because I was afraid I couldn't handle it, but Dan, a friend of Hank's, works in the K9 State Police show, so on Labor Day our friend Meghan and I decided to go to see him. A day that I had dreaded turned out to be, well, magical. Very hot, but magical.  

After visiting Dan we meandered through the Horticulture Building.  I had such an other worldly feeling.  Not pushing Hank in his wheelchair at the Fair felt so empty and strange, but on we went and meander we did.  

We made our way to The Eatery where we bought a chicken tender meal, always a Hank Klueber State Fair staple.  We toasted to Hank with the tenders, and just sat like we would had Hank been with us. We were present with the people, and the noises and smells.  It was peaceful and the air felt thick with grace, like it had always felt with him.  We never rushed with Hank, it was always a moment by moment time.  So we sat, ate our tenders and fries, cried some, and sat some more. When we felt ready, we got up and moved on. 

We debated about going into the Art and Home Center to see the quilts, and the paintings and photography, and that great toy circus exhibit on the top floor that is always the same but has a beautiful old timey feel.  We decided instead to measure ourselves, and moved on to the Center of Progress Building.  On our way to the side entrance we saw a friend I hadn't seen since Hank passed. Linda works every year in the Pan-African Village, and we've always made it a point to stop and pay her a visit.  She shed some tears with us, sharing how it just didn't feel right without Hank there.  She said, "Hank DID the Fair!  And if he had a dollar for everyone who loved him he would have been a very wealthy man!"  My heart swelled.  I guess you never stop feeling proud of your kids.

The Dairy Building was our last main stop, because here was another place where we relaxed and stayed awhile. Here is where we would all share a gigantic turtle sundae that Hank would absolutely delight in, and sometimes a big ol' glass of sugary lemonade. (He had been on a strict diet for years, but on Fair days it was no holds barred.  We even devoured his favorite fried dough nuggets in his honor on the way out.  We toasted with those too.) So we sat quietly near the butter sculpture for who knows how long. We enjoyed just being there.

When we had first entered the Fair there was music in the distance.  We'd arrived just in time to hear a wonderful Irish group called The High Kings sing their last two songs.  Their final tune was  "The Parting Glass," and in retrospect I can see that it had set the tone for the day. It is a heart-stirring song about, well, parting, and it felt like Hank was singing it to us.  Hank had a lovely vocal tone, and I always thought that if he could have talked he would have had a beautiful singing voice.  Yes, Hank singing "The Parting Glass," maybe with a rousing chorus sung with my Dad who couldn't carry a tune in a basket, but who was always happy to raise the voice that God had given him.  I could picture Hank and my Dad, arm around shoulders, singing that poignant Irish melody.  The words shot straight to my heart. Hearing that song was a gift, and I will carry it with me forever.

Thank you Hank (and your Grandpa) for raising my heart with your song. Thank you for your incredible light, for your big and hearty life, and for the many magical, grace filled State Fair days.  

"So fill to me the parting glass and gather as the evening falls
And gently rise and softly call goodnight and joy be to you all."

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