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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What's Missing

My little ballerina is constantly twisting and turning, using the correct names for each of her newly learned moves (minus the "r" sound of course).  She's usually so happy after her dance class and tells me all about the things she's learning, promising that someday I will get to see her perform, but not until recital time.  She gets all giggly and evasive when I ask what her dance looks like.  It's a game we play.  But not tonight.  Tonight she wasn't my 6-year-old, giggling ballerina.  Tonight she was broken.

As Morgan left her class tonight, I noticed the cloud over her eyes.  I saw that telltale sign that the big one was coming.  Sure enough, we barely made it to the van when the tears started. This is how she operates within her grief.  She gets whiny and seems very tired for several weeks and then the explosion happens.  She started by complaining that the dance had changed again and that she just wanted to finish it so she could practice the whole thing because she was so afraid of messing up on the stage.  I reassured her that I don't watch her do things to make sure she does them "correctly."  I told her that I watch her because I like to see her experiencing life and enjoying it. I added that I felt extremely lucky to be able to witness those things.  That's when the pain became too much to bear:

"Mommy!! I am NOT lucky all the time.  I just keep losing things!  Important things!!"

I have an idea where this is going at this point, but I don't want to assume so I try a different angle.
"Well, Morgan, everyone has to learn responsibility and taking care of our toys and things so that we don't lose them."

"You don't understand what  I'm saying, Mommy.  I don't care about my stupid toys..."

This is where the Mom I used to be would tell her that we don't say stupid, but I know this is not one of those conversations where I get to be Mom.  What good is Mom in this situation anyway?  Mom is someone who fixes the problem, right?  There is no fix here.  Mom is unnecessary.  Instead, Compassionate Listener takes a turn.  So I play..."Ok, what have you lost then?"

"I am NOT saying it out loud."

"Your brother." It isn't a question.  It doesn't need to be.  It's a statement that says, "me too."

"YES!! THIS ISN'T FAIR, MOMMY!!  I HATE THIS!!  Why do all my friends have their brothers and I don't??  What did I do wrong?  I. WANT. HIM. BACK."

Again, not a question.  Because guess what?  It isn't a request.  It is a demand.  She wants him back. NOW. And I should give him to her.  She's right. And I know it.

So, I do the only thing I know to do.  I hug her and thank her for being my daughter.  I tell her how grateful I am that her healthy, capable little body can do the most beautiful "piwowette" I've ever seen.  I thank her for crying with me.  I thank her for sharing with me.

"Do I look like you, Mommy?"

"Yes, Baby. You look very much like Mommy."

"Do I act like you, Mommy?"

"Sometimes you do."

"I...I want to look like you...I want to act like you, because...Mommy?...Didn't Beastie look like you?"

"Yes, Baby. He did."

"Well, I want to look like him.  I want to be like him."

"Oh, Baby.  Nothing makes me happier than looking at your face, because I see him there.  No one on the planet looks more like him than you do.  But you know what?  I'm so grateful that you're my Morgan, because she's a pretty fantastic little girl all by herself.  And do you know what makes you just like your brother?"

"My curly hair?....because it's gone...(tears)"

"No, Baby. It's your big, beautiful heart.  And that will never go away."

When did being Mom become so painful?  I can't take her pain away.  That should stop when you've lost the ability to help even one of your children.  There shouldn't be any more tough questions or unanswerable moments. But there are.  Life doesn't care what you think should be happening.  Life just happens.  And it's hard and it's ugly, but every once in awhile the thing that is missing is actually what makes it worth living.  I would have never known how much more beautiful a pirouette could be...especially without the "r".






Thursday, February 6, 2014

Gratitude

Consuming.  Grief is all-consuming.  Anger, hate, fear, pain, loss....these are the things I've felt burned into my soul.  The heaviness of these emotions can be unbearable.  But they're all part of the process and must be experienced on my time.  This is the lesson of grief.  The different aspects come in waves and you can try to ignore them, but eventually they all come to a screeching halt, right in front of your face.  This is still true of my process.  And the most recent addition to the myriad of emotions?...overwhelming...GRATITUDE.

I didn't see this one coming.  I expected the fear, the pain, the anger.  I wasn't even all that surprised when all I could feel for any living person was burning hatred.  Sadness was always going to be a factor, but gratitude?  Where the hell did that come from??  And yet, here it is.  Gratitude.  I can see the beauty of life experience.  I can understand the gift of tremendous pain.  To be honest, I've put off writing this blog for some time now because I was imagining how I would have felt in the beginning had I come across it and realized that yet another grieving mother was spouting her blessings and thanking God, Allah, and Mother Nature for her good fortune.  I would have thrown the computer against the wall. Ironically, it's exactly that spirit that made me decide to write it.

I can't tell anyone where their grief journey will take them.  I wouldn't ever tell someone to count their blessings or to thank their lucky stars for the gift of renewed perspective.  What I can say is that, in my own tiny corner of grief, beneath the dark layers of pain and hurt, there is the smallest light.  I can't even say that I can fully comprehend where it came from or how far it extends because I'm still wading through darkness. But it's there.  You can't go looking for it.  You can't wish for it to get there sooner.  You can't even know for sure that it will ever show up.  You have to experience ALL of it.  And feeling this way now doesn't mean that the other parts are less important, that they are the "bad" parts of grief, or that I won't be bogged down by them again.  Certainly not.  Don't worry...I'm still batshit crazy over here.  But, I'm grateful that the coin always has two sides. Both equally as important as its counterpart.

So, what exactly am I grateful for?  All of it.  I'm grateful for the beauty of a community coming together to raise us up.  I'm grateful for my friends and family who have said, "We'll take you any way we can get you. Broken or not. Even if that means not having you at all for awhile." I'm grateful to my children for continuing to want to hug a mother whose range of feelings for them has spanned the globe in the past year.  I'm grateful to my husband for just being him, and for listening to his own heart when trying to navigate a way through the pain of a marriage that's been wounded by loss.  I'm grateful to my baby for teaching me things that my tiny human brain would have never discovered on its own.  He taught me to love.  To REALLY love, and to mean it.  I'm grateful to know a love whose mere touch is healing.  And I'm grateful for grief and its all-consuming nature.  Because it's still there.  It still hurts.  It still burns.  I'm still consumed.  But this time, by the need to share my most precious gift. Love.