My family from out of state had all planned on traveling to Michigan soon to meet Nash. My sister Melissa had planned on making a trip out of it and taking her kids to Cedar Point a few hours away in Ohio. Unfortunately, their trip to Michigan would be for his funeral instead. We only had one more day with them after the funeral and then they were headed home. I didn’t want them to leave. That’s when we would officially be alone. Enough time had passed that people didn’t think they needed to be with us all the time. The thought of being alone with my thoughts terrified me. Being in this empty house…just Todd and I, with all of Nash’s things. I didn’t want the world to just move on without us. I told Todd I felt so bad for my nieces and nephew – here they were in Michigan, which they never get to visit, and it’s for this. Two showings, a funeral, a house full of sad people. I thought wow, that’s way too much reality for kids to deal with. Todd looked at me and said, “Let’s take them to Cedar Point. Let them have something fun to remember.” I don’t know why, but I agreed. I called Caroline and Becca and said, “Bring the kids we are going to Cedar Point tomorrow.” I think they had the same reservations as me. Cedar Point? Roller coasters? The day after Nash’s funeral? Of course they were in no way going to say no to us, and that was truly the beauty of it. When we told my brother Travis, he shouted “Yes!” to his wife Angie. Then he looked at me and said he was sorry. Like he felt bad for being excited.
We got up the next morning and drove down. It only took one roller coaster for me to think I had made a huge mistake. What was I thinking? I hadn’t eaten in three days, had barely slept and had a headache from crying so hard. Why did I think now was a good time to get on a roller coaster? I don’t even like them! The kids were all so excited. They went on everything. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Thank you aunt Shelly and uncle Todd”. Todd and I have always been very hands-on with our nieces and nephews. Even more so (if that was possible) when we thought we couldn’t have children. They were the closest thing we had to having our own, and we love them all so much. We consider it a sport to be the favorite aunt and uncle. I always told Todd that I couldn’t wait until they were teenagers and wanted to move in with us. I pictured them calling us when they were older and had gotten into trouble and didn’t want to tell their parents. I couldn’t wait for those calls…I still can’t wait. So to see them smiling and enjoying themselves after a week of being sad was amazing. I did have my hard times though. Chandler and I were waiting to get on a kiddie coaster and every car had a father and little boy on it. When Todd and I would see strollers going by, we would glance over at each other, trying to read how the other felt. I heard parents yelling at their kids for being crazy and wished they knew their baby could be gone tomorrow, let them have fun. I even broke down and cried a couple times, but tried to just keep moving. Then there were the great times. I have a hard time saying no to any of my nieces and nephews. Little Jillian came up to me and said, “Aunt Shelly want to go on the Gemini?!?!” Ummmmm…of course I didn’t, but she gave me this sad face. That look, combined with my need to be the coolest aunt ever, got me on that coaster. Picture this – me and a ten year old little girl on a roller coaster, she is staring at me smiling, holding my hand as we started climbing the hill. I looked at her and said, “Jill, I’m freaking out!” She giggled. Then down the hill we went. I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Jill you said this wasn’t scary!!!” She just laughed hysterically. Her smile was priceless. When it was all done, she looked at me and said, “I love you aunt Shelly! You are the best aunt ever!” My mission was complete. I looked at her and smiled with tears pooling in my eyes.
The Dragster had to be my favorite part of the day. Only crazy people go on it and I’m not crazy. I stood on the sidewalk next to the ride holding Chandler in my arms. Luke, Jillian, Kendall and Brady were at my side. The train of cars pulled up. Their faces were hilarious. Becca, Caroline, and Riley with those terrified smiles on their faces. Madison looked at me and said, “Aunt Shelly I have never been this scared in my whole life!” My bother Travis screamed “COME ON! COME ON!” over and over again trying to pump himself up before it took off. My sister-in-law Angie looked like she was going to puke, shaking her head no as she looked at me. Then there was Todd smiling…HE WAS SMILING, sitting with Payton. She had made him promise to sit with her and hold the lap bar down so she wouldn’t fall out. I looked at him and said, “Hold on to my girl” and smiled. Then I heard from the speaker…” keep your hands down, keep your hands down”, over and over again…then like a rocket they were gone. I can still look at the picture that was taken and laugh hysterically.
As the day closed, we all walked out to the parking lot. My family and Todd’s family all smiling. You could feel this bond between them now. Not only from the awesome day they just had, but the sad days that had led to it. My family was leaving for home straight from there. We hugged, told each other “I love you”, and went our separate ways. We all still talk about that day and look at the pictures and laugh. Before Nash passed, I felt happy all the time, with maybe a few sad Moments mixed in here and there. Since Nash passed, it is the complete opposite. These happy days were few and far between. Who would have thought a simple trip with family to Cedar Point would be a day I held so close to my heart? It was a happy day, and I’ve learned to treasure those.