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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Bentley

The 12th & 13th First - Work and Parades

Life has been so incredibly busy for the last few weeks I haven’t been able to write everything I’ve wanted to write! A few firsts even went by and my brain was melted by a combination of the new job, balancing life/work, and the heat. And now enough time has passed that I’m not sure I’ll be able to encapsulate everything, but I’ll try!

The 12th First - First Day of A New Job I started my new job on Tuesday, May 28th. And for the first time ever, Joni wasn’t home to welcome me with her huge smile and a big hug. In the past we’d talk about the first day, I’d give her my impressions, she would ask questions, and was so familiar with me and my job experiences she could read between the lines of what I was saying and carry on a great conversation about it. I missed that on my first day.

That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate Belinda's support and presence. She brought dinner over (the kind I wanted) and was there to talk and listen. She did a great job, but it was different. Belinda and I are growing in our relationship all the time and talking about these moments where she occupies an emotional place where Joni would have been. And part of my growth is accepting that the experience is different but good. So there are times where I miss Joni in those emotional places, but that doesn’t diminish how much I appreciate Belinda. I hope that makes sense. I don’t want anyone thinking (especially her) that I discount or disregard Belinda’s amazing place in my life.

And the first week of work was really hard. Partially because I missed my bestie, partially because of the natural stress of starting a new job, and partially because of learning to juggle work and life needs. I missed Joni very much that week. And I was very glad that Belinda was there with me and for me and helped me to process.

The 13th First - Maple Valley Days Parade Joni LOOOOVED a parade. From the time we moved to Covington, I can’t tell you how many parades we went to. We probably went to quite a few before we moved there, but I remember those of the last 11 years the most. We went to the Covington Days parade almost every year, then when the kids started in Middle School, we went to the Maple Valley Days parade since their band played, and we’ve been to Renton Days, Auburn Day, freaking Lumberjack Days (don’t get me started on this one), etc. We always had fun.

Joni would always stand and applaud for the color guard and the veterans. She made a point to wave to the nursing homes that had a place in the parade. I even remember her telling off one of the police explorer kids when he told her to move back from the road not too long after she had already got permission from an actual officer that she could stay there. (I’m the boisterous one, why was I mortified?)

But this year she wasn’t there at Maple Valley Days, and I missed her. But I also did things a little different this year than in previous years. For starters, I volunteered as a chaperone for Ember’s class at the parade, which meant I walked with the band, picked up any dropped items, waved at the crowd, and took control of troublemakers. I also brought money for the kids to spend at the vendor stalls and for lunch money, something we rarely got to do. Probably the biggest change was Belinda bringing the other kids to the parade AND meeting my herself because I invited them to the parade and totally forgot that she hadn’t met them yet...and that I was going to be walking in the parade.

It was sad that I looked out from the parade and didn’t see Joni, but what a joy to look out and see my kids, my in-laws, and a woman who loves me just as much all waving from the crowd and cheering Ember and me on. It was bittersweet to not have Joni with me to stroll among the stalls, which she also absolutely loved. Open-air markets were her thing. But it was neat to start to create new memories walking around with Belinda, my kids, and my in-laws.

It was a great day.

These events are just a part of the processes of grieving as well as moving forward. Yes, there is pain, and that’s OK. Because there’s a lot of joy, healing, and new memories too.

Thanks for reading.


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