My children are amazing. I know most parents feel this way and rightfully so, but I am learning so much from my kids about perseverance, determination, grace under pressure, and just grace. Merrick is home today still asleep as he’s finished with final exams and gets today and Monday off. He worked so hard. Even when he was exhausted and started to doubt his abilities, he kept pushing wanting to do his best. The last two weeks for him have included, applying to colleges and taking finals. The stress of college applications and the weight of having to do well on finals made him falter and wonder if he could do it. He wanted Jordan to talk to, to tell him it was going to be okay. He cried out for his brother.
“He’s the only person I want to talk to.”
“I know honey. I know you’re hurting and you miss him so much. You’re doing so much right now. I know this sounds simplistic, but it is going to get better. You’re not always going to feel so sad.”
Merrick looked at me with a mixture of weariness and hope and said, “I believe it’s going to get better. I just don’t know how to get there.”
The only words I could find were, “You’re already getting there. Just keep going. Jordan’s here with you.”
And he did keep going. He came home after his last final so proud of himself and how prepared he felt for every exam. He fought through loneliness, sorrow and longing to achieve his goals.
Today Mark and I got the girls off to school early today so that we could attend the 6th grade honor roll breakfast. As we entered the building I thought about all the prayers I prayed that they would have an easy transition to middle school. I needed for this transition to be without too great an emotional cost.
I am so proud of them not only because of their accomplishments, but because they made the transition from elementary school to middle school with nervousness and a bit of angst but no trepidation. They looked forward to a new challenge and they are handling themselves so well.
They’re learning a lot in middle school. They’re realizing that grown-ups don’t always know what to say and sometimes say the wrong thing about grief and loss. Lindsay had to do an in class writing assignment on a person she admired. She picked Jordan and wrote about his preparation for the lifeguard test. In the midst of the writing assignment her teacher called out, “Your assignment will be something you can read to the person you admire.” Lindsay kept working, head down knowing for her that wasn’t true. A few minutes later a boy in her class went up to the teacher and said, “I can’t read mine to the person I admire, he died.” The teacher’s response was, “Well read it to someone else who’ll appreciate it.”
Lindsay came home that day fuming, so angry that her teacher wasn’t sensitive to the kids who may be writing about someone who wasn’t here for them to read to.
“Mom the worse part was she didn’t even get it until someone reminded her that not everybody’s person was still alive.”
All I could do was agree with her and ask how she wanted to handle the situation. She told me that at the next parent-teacher conference she’d like to talk to her teacher about remembering everybody has different circumstances and no one likes to be made to feel left out or different. I told her, “Daddy and I will be right there with you. I think it’s great you’re letting your teacher know how you feel.”
Today In the mass of 6th graders piling their plates with bagels, pastries and fruit I searched out and found my daughters. They explained that they were going to sit with their friends, “If that’s alright.” Mark and I made our way to another cafeteria table and sat with the some of the other parents who’d been ditched by their kids in favor of hanging out with friends. I stole glances at my girls watching as they giggled and chatted with their friends. I watched them, my heart bursting with pride at their resilience, energy, laughter and love of life. Mark with the ever-present camera captured the joy on their faces as they stood to be recognized.
I hope and pray everyday that I’m doing right by my children. That my instincts lead me to give them the balance of firmness, understanding, love and needed relief when grief’s hold is too tight. As my auntie told me after Jordan died, “Jackie, just do the best you can.” I’m watching my children do their best and am so inspired.