He’s getting ready to leave. It’s just an all-day ski trip with his friends, but the next day he will leave for a two-day camping trip with another friend’s family. I’m sitting with him in the early dawn, as we wait for his ride, making small talk, and I’m grateful that the house is quiet, even though everyone is already awake. I’m grateful, because I have so much to think about, yet I want to stay focused on what he’s saying… in these last few minutes before he leaves.
I’m cheering for him on the inside, right on the cusp of so much fun and adventure. Part of me wants to push him out of the door and say, Go!! Have a blast! When he gets back, I imagine him being relieved to finally be home again. That welcome place where you can just drop your guard, relax, and rest. It’s not until you leave someplace, that you realize how great and perfect it truly is. As my son begins venturing off he will discover, maybe for the first time, how important home is to him.
But, this place, this place he calls home, just doesn’t feel like home to me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful for my home, but there’s something missing, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. This is the place where I work hard.
This is the place where I cook, clean, clean-up clutter, and try to find the right places to hang pictures, while I continually yell to “Stop wrestling!” When I’ve moved away from here, I’m sure I will remember it differently. I’m sure I will think this was heaven.
It’s difficult to relax here. I need to put my head down someplace else. There’s another place I need to be. The image that keeps popping up in my mind is the one place I can no longer enter. The place that died when my Mom died.
I think of the other parents who are going along with the boys today. I realize I need more help with these boys. I need Grandma to take the little boys for the day, so I can be there for my older son; to talk with the Mothers of his peers. My Mom only lived a few miles from the very ski resort they are all headed to today. It would have been so easy to just pop over, drop off the kids, and be off. I almost feel as if I am the child… only I’m not allowed to go today.
As we sit, waiting for his ride, I imagine my Mom, as if she were still alive, getting the house ready for the boys… putting up the quilting needles, pulling out the cookies, and pulling out the blankets for the living room picnic they’d have.
Grief is thick. It has a way of remaining unconfined… it seeps underneath doors after you have them closed. It makes its way known even on the brightest days.
The words of that not-so-kind minister come into my head now. During one of my lowest points of grief, he said “What if it had been one of your little boys who died instead of her? You should be grateful that you didn’t loose one of them.” What he doesn’t understand, and what I couldn’t say, is that I am grieving for them… for what they have lost too. They have lost a Grandmother, and all the memories and privileges that go along with being her Grandson.
They have lost this day… a day spent playing at Grandma’s house while Mom was busy playing in the snow.
After my son leaves, the phone rings. I don’t want to answer it because I’m too busy thinking and stewing. I must find a way, I think, to figure out a way to make this loss up to me, and my children. It’s hopeless, I realize. I can’t do this alone. We are just doomed. This wasn’t the way I had imagined my life playing out.
I answer the phone. My friend, who I have not see in a long while, starts running down the details of her son’s birthday party. I begin to listen when I hear her say, “No, it’s today,” Today? How can it be today, I thought it was tomorrow? This changes the entire day’s agenda, as I scramble to re-organize.
“So,” she adds, “after the ice skating party, we’re all coming back to our house for drinks and pizza, and we’ll start a fire, and you are all welcome to come. Around 5. OK?”
I start to cry on the phone. She doesn’t know why, and I can’t tell her, because I don’t either. I calculate in my mind that my son will be back in time to come with us at 5. Tonight, we’ll all be together with this group of friends we have known for so many years. Through engagements, marriage, pregnancy, birth and growing pains.
She’s worried about me, and I tell her the truth. “No, I’m not OK, but I am fine.”
Is this home? No, not completely, but today, this will do. “This will do fine,” I tell her. “You’ll see us at 5.” I hang-up the phone, and for the rest of the day, I feel connected to something bigger, and begin to wonder if it just might be possible to return home again.
That seems like a rather harsh thing, not much for comfort, to say. About losing your son versus losing your mother, but then I wasn’t there and I’m sure it was well-intentioned.
Maybe I’m being too harsh?
I thought it was pretty harsh too. It took me this long to sort it out.
Oh, I’m sorry.
Grief is a hard, hard thing. That minister was a jerk to say that – yes, perspective is a good thing, but that was uncalled for.
I can only give the minister the benefit of the doubt that really thought he was being helpful. I can never think of the “right” things to say in those situations, I guess because I haven’t yet lost a parent or close relative. But a minister? That’s his job!
I’m looking forward to the first time that my kids both stay overnight at a grandparent’s house. I’m thinking it will be like heaven for us, to relax that way! But your point about connecting with friends as well as family is important, too. I need to remember that one more often.
Henitsirk, do send them to Grandma’s soon! They need the memories… you never know when that door will close… and you, my dear, need the break! (Actually, that’s how we ended up with surprise number 4.)
Plus, nobody like Grandma and Grandpa can tell your kids stories about you, like the two people who know you better than anyone! And, these stories are best told, when you’re not around!
I’m feeling particularly sandwiched this week – just wanting to focus on THIS home and not the other one.
At my 95 year old uncles funeral, the minister was trying to make the point of “we don’t need to grieve, he’s whole again, this is a celebration” (which was all true) but he kept making the point of “death is not a friend when it rips the baby from the mother…….” you get the idea.
Thanks for this post.
There was so much in this post for me to relate to. The boy growing up, starting his independence. Being grateful and weary about it all at the same time. My boys are young but I think about that often.
And your mother. You did such an amazing job describing your feelings, which I can see are all jumbled right now. I am feeling your emotions right along with you as my mother, my best friend, battles terminal cancer. Where will home be when mom is gone? I don’t know. Will my children remember my mother? If not, they will be jipped. Jipped out of knowing an amazing woman, mother, grandmother, and person. Jipped.
What a strange and hurtful thing for a minister to say to someone who is grieving. Grief is grief. You can’t compare your grief to someone else’s. Things can always be worse, but that doesn’t make something so painful less painful.
Grieve. It is good for you. It is part of the healing. Be grateful for the grief because it says you had something important.
And most importantly, your mother is still with you. She is you.
Prayers for you.
The minister was a complete bastard and had no right to talk to you in that way. How could he possibly know? But then, I’ve a very limited fund of patience for clergymen in general.
It’s been eight years since supermum’s mother died and I still look at dudelet (and now dudelette) a couple of times a week and wish that she could have known them.
I feel your loss, coming off a weekend when my kids played with my folks – there isn’t anything quite like it.
But I am glad you have family friends nearby. I swear some of my girlfriends are like extra aunts to my kids, filling in the gaps when Greg is away.
Take care Susie. I’m so sorry you’ve hit a rough patch.
Hi Susie – What does Mr. SusieJ have to say about all this? Sometimes I get so wrapped up I forget to talk to Green Husband… “We are nearer to spring than we were in December.” Hang in there.
Oh, I rant to him all the time… he says all he can say… “I know,” and “I’m sorry.” Things would be so different. I think Kathryn has said it best, although this is not what she said exactly: I’m facing a new phase as my oldest enters his teen years, and suddenly I’m aware again that she’s not here to tell. I will probably see this again… with each new phase in my life. My husband doesn’t stand in front of me to make it all better… he knows I just need to feel this through to the other side.
Writing, by the way, helps in many ways, on many levels. Sorry to put all of my readers through this depressing stuff… but it makes me feel great!
I’m sorry for your loss, and for the tremendous hole it has left in all your lives.
As for that minister, nothing I could say would be nice, so I’m just going to be quiet.
OH, and (un)relaxeddad…. I’ll be sure to let him know!
beautiful and sad. i hope your sense of home grows and grows
I am so sorry for your loss. Sad, sad.
This is beautiful piece of writing and thank you for sharing it. It’s touching.
You are an incredible writer. Putting all these feelings into words and sharing them – I think it’s healing.
I can relate to the harsh minister. During some tragic times in my life, the most unsettling words came from people who were supposed to bring comfort. That’s disappointing. The best thing anyone ever said to me as I was grieving a loss went something like this, “You know, this is hard. And it hurts. Probably more than anything has ever hurt before. Nothing I say will make it better. So, just let it hurt ,until one day, it hurts just a little less. And maybe a while from now, you’ll find that you can live with this loss.” I think so often people try to “fix us” when we’re feeling bad, when what we need is to feel it and live through it.
I am so grateful to have my mother. Dave’s mother passed away a few years before we met. I missed out on a mother-in-law, Julia on a grandmother and Dave on so much more. The best thing for him, is when he sees a bit of his mother in his daughter.
This was such a touching post, Susie. Really, just brilliant.
Pingback: What is it that you want to hear | Susiej