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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Bentley

The 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Firsts - Four At Once

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone. I’m listening to Tommy Makem sing Tim Finnegan’s Wake among other Irish drinking songs (thanks, bro) and thinking of Joni. I’m really missing her today. I’ve experienced melancholy, exhaustion, and quite a few tears. It’s possible that with so many emotional things this week it’s all just piled up and is coming out today. After all, in one week we experienced four Firsts without her:

  1. The first Pi (Pie) Day

  2. The first high school concert

  3. The first of kids getting sick (Three of four kids got the flu)

  4. The first St. Patrick’s Day

I’ll talk about #1 and 4 in a minute. For number 2, it was Eva's spring concert. Unfortunately I had to go alone to support her because one child was down with the flu, a second child was staying home to be with them, the third didn’t get their act together in time to go with us to support their sibling (notice I’m being careful with gender here), and finally, my soul mate wasn’t with me. I thought of how she would be sitting in the auditorium with me cheering for Eva and clapping crazily along with me. She’d be tapping her feet and/or nodding her head in time with the songs and enjoying the entire concert. I really missed that.

Number 3 has been really rough. Starting on Wednesday, Ember was showing signs of the flu. I waited a day-ish to take her to the doctor assuming it was just a cold...until her fever spiked to 103.4. In the process of getting her treated and on the road to health, both Eva and Christi caught the flu. Thankfully Ky and I have been unaffected and we had a friend over who helped me take care of the girls otherwise I’d be going absolutely insane. But I miss Joni and her cool-headedness in the midst of illness. She knew and remembered so much about the kids’ health, symptom management, what over-the-counter stuff worked, and we were able to support each other in taking care of the kiddos. Now that she’s not around I feel...inept. Before you tell me I’m not, I know I’m not. Logically I know I’m not inept. All my sick kids got the medicine they need and in the time they needed it to start their recovery process. But I feel inept. Like it takes me longer to get from problem to solution when it comes to the things Joni normally did.

And yes, I know that it probably does because she and I both stored bits of knowledge with each other like all couples do. And rare is the case where a spouse is able to “upload” all of their specific knowledge before they pass on.

But numbers 1 and 4 were the hardest I think. Joni loved to celebrate and she loved to do fun, thematic things on holidays. She made celebrating even minor or silly holidays something that our family wanted to do every year. March 14th was pi day (3.14) and I remember the first time she did anything for it - she bought a couple pies from the stores and had a plate of veggies that “spelled” out 3.14. For St. Patrick’s Day, she always wore green (a color she looked smashing in) and challenged everyone to try to “out green” each other. So when these days roll by, even though they aren’t of significant importance like Easter or Christmas or a birthday, she will still be on my mind. She made average days better and even a day that was just our family’s routine was great because of what we had.

Before I say my final bit, please let me state emphatically: I am not suicidal and I don’t want to die. With that out of the way, here’s what I want to say: I don’t want to do life without her. I know that it’s not a choice I have and I know that some people might disparage their place in my life after reading that statement, but hear me out. Joni and I were soul mates. We were best friends. Our marriage and relationship was one God brought together and in our hearts and minds it was Joni + Joshua forever. That was the commitment we made to one another. And starting over sucks. That’s not to say that the future is bleak or that my present is filled with nothing but misery - far from it. But what I’m feeling today is that I am a billion miles from where I thought I’d ever be and it’s one of those days where I wish I could just go back in time. I wish the dreams I keep having of seeing her and being with her could come true.

Thanks for reading.


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