A few weeks ago a very good friend lost her mother after a long illness. Though death had seemed a possibility the actuality of it was not something that had truly been prepared for. At the time I remember feeling gratitude for my own aging parents and others who have contributed to my life along the way. Little did I realize that in a breath’s width of time my own reality would be altered in ways that had you asked would have never seemed possible.
As I write this I sit in the dark of my dining room listening to my oldest in her room above attempt to wipe away her own pain with episodes of Dance Moms. Earlier she asked me if she would ever be the same, and as much as I wanted to say ‘yes, baby, it will all be okay’ the realist in me knew that I was not allowed to promise my daughter, my love, ANYTHING!
A week and a half ago as she and I wandered the greenhouse in search of the perfect plant for her grandmother that very person was suffering a massive hemorrhagic stroke that would leave her brain dead. My daughter had celebrated her 12th birthday days before and in her usual generous way decided to spend the proceeds on something that would bring a smile to one of the people she loved most. That plant now sits homeless in our mudroom while my children struggle with the unexpected loss of someone they thought would be here forever. And I, as a parent, try to eat their grief, put mine on hold and be a succor to them both.
As parents our job is to prepare our children for the life ahead, but when that life takes unexpected turns (this being the first of many I am sure) we, in our in-infinte wisdom, grasp for meaning, anything, and its like trying to win the giant bear at the annual fair. Nice try and absolutely no reward. How am I supposed to help my oldest make it through her dance recital this week without breaking down? Oh and did I mention the memorial will be the morning of the recital. How do we celebrate my youngest’s 10th birthday the following week without there being tears? 4th of July? That’s grandma’s birthday! Christmas, basketball games. swim meets? Graduation ,marriage, childbirth? Welcome to the gaping hole where happiness and love once resided.
I know my little loves will survive. We all do. I know that life will return to some sort of normal. It has to. But what I don’t know, and what no one can tell me, is what the new normal looks likes and what the path to get there entails. What I do know is that I am here for them and hopefully for a long time. I can and will make this somehow bearable. It begins with admitting that though I can’t make the pain go away, I can say it fucking sucks. And you know what? They tell me that little nugget of candid helps!