“Little sister, just remember as you wander through the blue…”*

I’m receiving spam from my mother’s email. Someone’s hacked into my dead mother’s email account and is using it to send spam to me and everyone else in her contact list. There are worse things, I know, but. Gee. Zus. The shock of seeing her name in my inbox. Three times so far today.

Tonight Vincent and I had a disagreement about cleaning up, the upshot of which was that he (unintentionally) hit me in the head with a toy. Instead of getting angry, I cried. And then I sobbed. My grief is ever-present, not even under the skin, more like a sheen of sweat you could mistake for rain on the skin, ready to bead and flow at any moment.  Camouflaged. But tonight I let loose and wailed.

Aidan was with me at 6:30 in the morning when my mother died. He was so unnerved by my grief then that he cried too, a mournful lowing that called me back to myself and to him.

Tonight, he patted my head and cried silently next to me. The kind of tears you cry in witness to another’s pain. Not afraid, just sorrowful.  Then Vincent climbed into my lap and held me.

How much they understand, who really knows. I purposefully didn’t hide anything from them, especially those last days. They saw Mum ill, and bald, and yes, even dead. Newly so, at home, and then at the wake. I didn’t want her to just disappear. I wanted them to be able to say goodbye.

Aidan’s too young to truly get what’s happened, but Vincent knows. He comments on it sometimes, how his grammy died; the permanence of it has finally sunk in. At first, he was waiting. A few hours after she died, she was still at the house due to a hospice flub (not a big deal, not their fault, and actually a comfort to me, having her there as long as we could). Vincent said, “What’s taking Grammy so long?”  “What do you mean, sweetheart? So long for what?” “What’s taking Grammy so long to be alive again?”  Brought me up sharply and reminded me that for all his big boy talk, he’s still little.

Her death eight weeks ago is already a lifetime for them. They don’t connect my sobs with anything beyond a boo-boo. But the compassion contained in those little hearts — how gentle and accommodating they were for the rest of the night —  brushed teeth and in bed, on time and without protest, asleep almost immediately.

They so readily accepted my tears, my really over-the-top keening, as just and right and natural.

*”…the little kite that you sent flying on a sunny afternoon. Made of something light as nothing. Made of joy, that matters, too. How the little dreams we dream are all we can really do.”  “Kite Song” by Patty Griffin. (You can only listen to the song in its entirety once at this link. But it’s still better than the videos of it available on Youtube. Seriously.)

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7 thoughts on ““Little sister, just remember as you wander through the blue…”*

  1. This is such a beautiful post. I think it’s important to not hide death and dying from children. I brought James (my 6-year-old) to the funeral of my friend’s mother last summer because I didn’t have someone to watch him. He was the only child there–not even the grandchildren of the deceased were there. I know that every family needs to handle things in their own way, but for me, saying goodbye is an important part of the grieving process.

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. I think you were right not to hide your mother’s death from your sons; my parents hid death from me until I was in college, and that was…not good for my adult life.

    You write about your experiences, both the happy and the sad, so beautifully.

  3. Marie, thank you for sharing this. Seriously, your children sound amazing and I think you are right and brave to be so honest with them about your emotions. Children have an amazing capacity for compassion. They can teach us all something.

  4. \i was very sorry to hear about your mama–and more sadden by your sadness—Reba was very welcoming to me from the getgo–and i thought she was a wonderful mother and matriarch–i remember when she fell over the dog and injured her arm pretty seriously–bore her pain like a spartan and never had an unkind word for the dog or anyone else–

    wishing you and your boys well—

    g

  5. Oh Marie, what a a fully human description of pain and kindness. Your boys are absorbing so much, and so are you. Thinking of you.

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