The hidden present

As I sit here and write, I hear boys, Jacob and friends, downstairs laughing and sharing stories. My middle daughter, Samantha is in the TV room watching a movie with her two good friends. Sydney Ann, our oldest is at her college home. I sit in the piano room looking out the window. I feel soo alone. I look at Travis pickup and trailer that have been parked there since we found his body. The pickup now has a parking ticket, windows are frosted. The trailer continues to be hitched. Many days- I find myself sitting in his pickup. Imaging him sitting strongly with one hand on the wheel. I imagine him looking over at me with the smile on his face. I imagine his Sirius radio playing his favorite stations. Tears immediately enter my eyes, I will never see him again. He is gone.

Yesterday was a tough day. I found myself in tears many times. Tears when I took a shower (first time in 4 days) and saw his shampoo. Tears when I put the conditioner in my hair and the fragrance reminded me of our showers together at our summer lake. Tears when I walked into our closet and knew that I had to stop wearing his grey turtleneck that I had been wearing for the past 15 days. I immediately held his shirts. I sat in our closet- weeping. I smelled his Chargers sweatshirt, I looked at all his clothes, color coordinated- knowing that he would never wear them again. I still have not received his clothes or belongings back from the law enforcement. I imagined his slim handsome body in his tshirts. I imagined him in his jeans and his walk. Tears continued to fall. Then the anger took over my body. I scream and shout when I am alone in the car picking up kids to and from school or practice. When I am alone- I weep, I hit things, I cry, I feel suffocated, I have difficulty breathing. The pain is unbearable. I feel so empty inside. I cry until I have no more tears to cry. I try to eat- but nothing tastes good. I have increased my coffee intake immensely since the day he went missing. How he loved his coffee.

I am so angry. Angry that we could not find him in time. Angry and oh so full of guilt that I didn’t ask him to come home Friday night. Angry that he will miss Jacobs first home hockey game. Angry that he will miss Jacobs 13th birthday party. Angry that I am alone. Angry that our children do not have a father. Angry that he died soooo young. Angry that God took him away from me. Angry that God took my husband and my childrens loving father instead of a murderer or child molester. There is NO PLAN! God didn’t need my husband. Why couldn’t he have waited a few years. Wait a few years so Travis could live a longer life. Wait a few years so Travis could see our kids graduate. Wait a few years so Travis could see our children marry and hold our grandchildren. Our grandchildren will not have a grandfather! Im sooooooo angry and it scares me.

I try keep myself busy. I find myself constantly thinking of him. Wondering when did he die. When did he take his last breath. I called the medical examiner again asking questions. He may not be able to tell me the exact time of death. I could not live if I knew Travis clung to life until Saturday or Sunday and we didn’t find him. What if the searches didn’t search the area where he laid? He had his orange hunting hat!! How could the helicopter or searchers not find him. My anger grows.

I invited all our family to Jacobs first home hockey game. Travis was SOOOO excited to see his son play. He practiced with him, showing Jacob how to get more strength on his shot. Travis watched Jacobs hockey practices at the arena’s and would call me with updates and how Jacob was improving. Jacob just started skating and hockey this May. How he has his fathers athletic talent. Its not fair that Travis will not be there cheering him on- just as he cheered for Jacob in soccer.

After dropping Jacob off at the rink- he texts me, asking me to bring the “Super Trav” sticker that the local high school girls hockey team created for local hockey players to put on their helmets. This shouldn’t be happening.  “Super Trav” stickers shouldn’t be on our sons helmet!

Sydney comes to the house with her boyfriend, Samuel. We plan on going to the game together. Sydney kneels on the floor near our fireplace and tells me she is “scared”. She shares that she “is getting to the anger stage”. She talks about how she is upset and feels the need to “hit something” or “break something” or “box”. She shares that running does not help. My heart aches more. How can I help my children when I am struggling myself to stay afloat. We have to leave in 10 minutes for a hockey game. We have to be in public and pretend we are strong and have it all together. I want to wrap my arms around Sydney and hold her and hug her and love her. The tug of war between our grief and how the world continues and moves on. Yet- another reason I am angry.

Numerous family members and friends are at the arena to watch Jacob play. I recognize a dear friend of Travis up to the left. Sitting and watching our son. That friend was just a pall bearer at Travis funeral.

The team manager gives me the parent/player contact listing. Most athletes have both their parents listed with the cell phone numbers. Jacob Vorachek has Julie Vorachek  behind his name. Travis name is not there- instead an empty blank in the fathers spot. Anger takes over me again. Why is Travis name not there! He is Jacobs father! He was just here! Now he is gone- forever! I show my mother- I told her Travis name is purposely omitted for he is dead. Jacobs father is dead.

Jacob plays his heart out- I can see improvement. I witness fathers cheering and clapping for their sons. Jacobs father is not there. He will never be there.  Jacobs last conversation with Travis was the Friday evening he went missing.  Travis had always taken and picked up Jacob at hockey, but Friday I did- for Travis was hunting. Travis called Jacob, asking how practice went and what number Jacob chose for his first hockey uniform. “Why didn’t you chose my favorite number- 12? Why didn’t you chose 13- like your soccer uniform?” I overheard Travis tell Jacob how proud he was of him and that he was excited to see Jacob play his first hockey game just a week later.

Jacob hockey 12
Jacob wearing his fathers number.

 

After Jacobs game, we had planned to have his 13th birthday party. I knew that we had to continue with our plans and Jacob needed to be surrounded by his friends. We had 18 boys over to the house. They played night-games, soccer and had a bon-fire. Travis was to be playing with them and in charge of the bon-fire. I was angry and sad for he wasn’t with us. I was angry that Jacob did not have his father. This is the first birthday that Travis has missed.

A month ago Travis and I were talking about what to get Jacob for his birthday. Travis ordered off of Amazon a floor hockey set- equipped with nets and sticks. Travis was excited to play with Jacob. A few days prior to Travis going missing- I had asked if he remembered to purchase the gift. He assured me and said he had it hidden.  When I was in the garage preserving the cattails, which were near Travis body, I saw the “hidden gift”. Tears filled my eyes and my heart ached. This was the last ever gift that Travis would buy our son.

On his birthday- I told Jacob that I would not wrap his present. I told him the gift was hidden by his father and he had to find it. After hours of searching, Jacob found the hidden gift. The smile on my face warmed my heart. Jacob, Sydney, Samantha and I all played floor hockey for a few hours. How I wished Travis was there with us. I imagined myself getting mad about the noise. I imagined myself worrying that they would break something. How I would do anything that have Travis with us making these memories.

Jacob party
Jacobs 13th Birthday party- 14 days after his dad went missing.

 

This birthday was one of making new memories. A first birthday without Travis. I had tears in my eyes, I had anger in my heart. I continue to feel cheated and at times believe he will be walking through the door. Instead of travis making pancakes for the party-goers, I was responsible. Jacob said my pancakes were too thick- they were not like the ones dad made. They surely did not look like Travis pancakes. Samantha (our middle daughter) asked for cinnamon pancakes- I didn’t know Travis made her cinnamon pancakes. She then asked for waffles- his special breakfast was waffles. I have NEVER made a waffle in my life! How could I follow his foot-steps. I cant even make waffles!

I could sense there were times that Jacob was sad- even when he was surrounded by all his friends. He knew something was missing. He didn’t want to share his emotions or his feelings. He is trying to be strong. I tell all three of my children that I am here to listen. I am here to hold and love them. I will always be here. Our lives are forever changed. Each day- we live hour by hour. Sometimes- we live minute by minute. The world goes on and so must we.

 

 

 

 

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