You’ve come to the end of a long, long journey. For the first time in your life this walk had you thinking you really might not survive. It could be, when she finally passed, that your spirit would just fly away, leaving a dribbling idiot in its wake. There were times when madness was much closer than sanity was. Yet after she passed, and all the work that comes with that was done, when you finally got to that resting spot – that miraculous place where everything finally settles as it will settle – you realized you are still here and more or less still sane. You don’t really sit down then so much as fall in place and land on your ass.
Thats as good a finish as any you could hope for.
Its time to be a little selfish – drink water, eat food, DO NOT think about the kids for a few minutes. You can wonder at every moment you experienced and unpack everything you couldn’t really feel. Every hurt you witnessed, every tiny loss that lead to the end may need to be felt fully. After that you get to drink a beer and forget about all that grownup stuff until its time to feel it again. There are trees above you with light hurling through as it has for eons. Nothing and everything has changed…yet again. You’re just a little older, and without her. Thats all.
Then you look over to see your son curled up on the couch with his beloved cat stretched next to him. This gorgeous young man painted from head to toe with every moment of his Mothers love is sleeping without fear. You know his rest is unblemished, it is still the sleep of young, wild things.
Job done. She would be happy, maybe even a little proud. Job done Papa.
True is miraculously self-regulating in her grief. She’ll find a reason to cry when she needs one and then wipe away her tears and get back on her rainbow colored Unicorn without a second thought. Take Freddie the grieving stick for example. I met him a few weeks ago, shortly after laying down for bed, waiting for the kids to come in from play. True started to cry just outside the door.
“Whats going on now Tadg!?” They had really been going at it all afternoon. True was ramping up for a good cry and Tadg was very bored. True answered:
“He threw Freddie away…I miss Freddie!”
I quickly went through a mental list of who Freddie might be.
1. An actual, physical person. Nope, we knew no Freddies.
2. An invisible person. That would be a first, and probably not throwable.
3. Stuffed animal. Nope, never heard of him.
4. Frog they’d pulled from the pond. I probably would have heard excitement about frogs.
5. A lizard. Maybe.
6. Something dead. This is entirely likely.
“Tadg, what did you throw away?” Visions of flying lizard entrails…
“A stick, it was pointy.”
True is now in full on wailing mode.
“He was my friend”, sob sob,” and I miss him!”
I gathered her up and carried her to bed. She was completely inconsolable for about 10 minutes, until Tadg tromped in holding Freddie high, placing him carefully in Trues hand. Freddie was a substantial young stick, about 3 feet long, not too pointy but probably too rough to sleep with. The tears quickly ended as she cuddled Freddie the stick and settled in for reading with her new friend beside her.
I explained to Tadg that when you’re True’s age its sometimes hard to cry about losing someone like your Momma. It can be easier to cry about someone, or something else. Freddie sat outside her bed as she slept, but we made sure to tuck him in when we went down to the house to start the day. Freddie joined us for dinner later that night. He does not eat pasta, though he was given a hefty serving. She declined to bring him up to bed last night.
That night she started crying over the end of camp, and then kept right on crying for the next hour. It was a knee bump. It was a leg cramp. It was everything. A hot bath, leg rub and one more story did the trick. Next morning she was ready for all of the beautiful mess the world could throw at her.
We have arrived someplace, the three of us. It feels safe here, like a place where new journeys can begin from. If I were the sane, responsible Father I’m supposed to be I would just curl up and nap for the next year or so. But thats not me. Time to move on.
Blessings to you and yours during this time of great change.