It’s raining again. I live in an area that used to get snow that now never seems to and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before how much more I hate rain since these two dogs moved in. Worse than when I lived in New York, and that’s saying something.
I went to work today, just for a meeting. I’m returning to work next week and wanted to get a little caught up. I had PT at 8 and it went well and he mumbled something about 4 inches or 6 inches and I’m not really sure what he meant but I’m sure it was about my shoulder and not something dirty since he’s a professional and there were other people around.
Anyway, I came home from the office and crashed on the couch with my book, falling asleep every so many pages until I finally gave up and put the book down. It’s probably the weather that has me exhausted but then it could also be emotional hangover and I’ll get to that in a minute.
My brother and Todd came home around 5 and the dogs went nuts. The rain was coming in sideways like the Jolly Green Giant was throwing buckets of water against the windows – except they were little buckets because if the buckets were his size the house would be swallowed up by a tidal wave and we’d never be seen or heard from again. I told Matt that Shuggie wants to not be inside but she can’t go to that place that isn’t inside because I refuse to wipe her down with a towel, AGAIN.
Todd and I were away last weekend for a memorial service in Virginia. This is the source of the emotional hangover. A dear friend of Todd’s, who I was lucky enough to know as well, was killed in an automobile accident in November while visiting her eldest son and his family overseas.
The memorial was held at a winery in Virginia from 2-5, and we arrived at 2. This would be the first time we both met her sons in person. The eldest, still in crutches, was very open and “all about hugs.” Todd met the youngest first, and there was a hug and faces turning red and Tara started crying because she’s very much bad at funerals and deep feelings.
Eventually the memorial commenced, led by a minister known by someone in the family, and I found myself standing there among the crowd – not for the first time – thinking that the minister was running on too long. Am I the only one who feels like ministers talk twenty minutes longer than necessary? And then I felt guilty and selfish, because just because I don’t need a good Christian reminder that God is with us and He’ll walk us through, doesn’t mean that others don’t. Plus, I was thinking about her sons and how meaningful this is to them, with everyone who knew her gathered in her honor and how I might feel – how I wouldn’t want this memorial to end.
The eldest son spoke about the accident and how she was killed on impact and how in some ways it was a blessing that she didn’t suffer but how it wasn’t supposed to be this way. That he expected that one day he’d be holding her hand as she passed away at an appropriate old age, just as she held him when his life began. I stood among the tear-stained crowd and wiped my eyes with one of only four tissues I’d brought in with me.
Her younger son, Chris, spoke in stops and starts. He would begin and then he’d turn his back and gaze out the window behind him. He was positively gutted and my heart was breaking wide apart. I have never felt someone’s pain so acutely and I was crying so hard at parts that Todd actually stepped up and put his arm around me. That’s what my husband does – sets his own loss aside to comfort others.
To Chris, mom was his rock – his everything. The one human on earth he trusted and revered and counted on – that one human who loves you more than anyone else ever will. That Grand Canyon of a hole that will be forever.* I stood there mopping up the well that burst from my eyes and my overactive brain went where I hadn’t planned – I thought about O.
I was thinking about my son and how I know without question the bond that exists between us and that is the bond that Chris had with his mom. I felt selfish again, thinking about my own losses and how much I love O. Chris, too, is a hugger, and I got two good ones before we left – fresh tears falling between us as he apologized and I just wanted him to know – what? That he’s not alone? That we’ll be there for him? That I’m the mother of a son and I know that bond and how powerful it is.
The ride home the next day I found myself weeping again. My mind has been on the memorial and on her sons and especially Chris. It’s been five days and I’m finally starting to feel balanced. I don’t cry often, but these last days it’s been way too easy. It occurred to me that the connection I feel is kind of like each of us wants the same thing (in a way that I cannot adequately describe in a thousand words no matter how hard I try): he desperately wants his mom and I desperately want my son.
I imagine how shattered O would be if I were to die suddenly, especially now, and I saw him in Chris. Veruca, on the other hand, I can’t get a read on anymore. I have my journals to remind me of how she was so attached to me, the cute things she used to say, the typical child-to-mother things like “you’re the best mom in the world,” but I don’t get a sense right now that she’d be devastated about my loss. Unlike me, she can be cold-hearted and judgmental like her father. Maybe that will serve her one day, but I feel like that is lonely place to live.
I’m worried that I took someone’s monumental loss and made it about me and that wasn’t my intent. To be fair, I have experienced loss that is painful, but it is not at a point of no return. In a previous post I wrote about the “kids” who have stepped up into my life and they fill me with love and purpose that I can’t share with my own children, and they don’t know that it sustains me.
I sent Chris a text the next day, with a quote my own mother sent me that I felt compelled to share with him:
“Sometimes the strength within you is not a big fiery flame for all to see, it is just a tiny spark that whispers softly, ‘you got this, keep going.’”
It’s what his own mother would have told him.
*I will explain the asterisk in the next post. I don’t want to ruin the mood.