“I feel sad for no reason. I feel sad all the time, even when I feel happy. I can feel it right in my gut.” Lindsay 7/13/10
As Lindsay says “gut” she fiercely pushes her stomach with the palm of her hand. We are sitting in Panera’s having lunch and when Kendall gets up to get her forgotten piece of bread Lindsay looks at me and without warning tells me about her sadness. Before I have time to weigh what I should say, I look at her and blurt out, “That’s how I feel too.” Her look as I speak is one of relief but still questioning. I know how much it took for her to be so vulnerable and reveal the depths of her sadness. She’s looking to me to ease her pain and provide some understanding. I take a breath and hope I can make her realize that she’s not alone in her feelings. I tell her, “What you’re feeling is grief.” As I say these words Kendall slides back into her chair and hearing the word “grief” is instantly caught up with the conversation. She knows without asking that we’re talking about Jordan and how we miss him and long for him. I tell them both that sometimes grief feels like it is inside you and won’t ever go away.
I look at my girls and I tell them what on this day I’m not sure I fully believe, but I say it anyway, “We won’t always feel this sad. It will get better.”
Even as I navigate my own feelings of grief, I shore myself up hoping to be prepared for moments such as these. I stand watch, vigilant to the needs of my children who have been traumatized by the unimaginable loss of their big brother. My energy stores are for my children who need a mother that is emotionally present and with whom they can reveal their hearts without fear or worry. For our family, grief is a shared experience. They’ve seen me on days when grief and sorrow weigh me down and all I can do is cry. I’m honest with them when they come to me with worried looks and ask, “What’s wrong?” I always truthfully answer and say, “I’m having a tough time, I miss your brother.” Childhood does not mean that they don’t know what grief looks like or how it feels. As much as I wish I could take all of their pain and sadness away, I know I can’t. Even so, I never want them to think that the grief they feel is wrong or unnatural. Mother love drives me to ensure that Lindsay, Kendall and Merrick know that they never have to carry their burdens alone.
As we sit quietly for a moment in our booth all lost in our own thoughts, I steal looks at my almost 11- year old daughters. I tell them of an idea I have for their upcoming birthday party and I watch as smiles almost reach their eyes. They tell me they like my idea. We sit and take some time to plan their party focusing our attention on celebration.
My love for them is immeasurable. My prayer that grief not fully rob them of their childhoods is prayed daily. I watch my daughters and I silently repeat to myself what I said to them earlier, “We won’t always feel this sad. It will get better.”