Wednesday, April 01, 2009

When is Mommy Gonna Get Better?

Tough questions today.

In the first couple of days after getting home, Alastair didn't ask much about where Amanda was. When I first told him that she was gone, he held me and told me to stop crying. He said, "It's ok daddy, you're all right. You don't need to cry." He had a good time, he played, and he got shuffled around a bit.

But then he started asking, and now at least once a day he asks when mommy will be home, when she'll be better, or when he can see her. I've held it together pretty well for this series of questions, answering that mommy's in Heaven with God because she was too sick to stay alive, and that God doesn't like to see us in pain.

To his question of when he can see her, I've told him that he can dream of her any time.

Today, for some reason, he seemed particularly confused and fascinated by all of this, asking at least 3 separate times about her. It's touching, really, to know that after days of silence he's interested in knowing, but it's also heartbreaking to be unable to explain it to him in terms that he can understand.

Maybe that explains why I started sobbing tonight over G&R's "Patience" on the radio ("Shed a tear 'cause I'm missin' you, I'm still alright to smile, Girl, I think about you every day now"). Again he came to me and asked why I was crying, only this time, in addition to the sweetest hug imaginable, he also sought out a tissue box, dug down into it (it was almost empty), and brought me a wad of tissues. He even went so far as to try to wipe away my tears. I love that boy.

But I'm worried about him, too. His sitters, his grandparents, and their friends have all remarked that his play is more aggressive than usual. I seem to recall him being like that before I left for Texas, but I can't be certain.

He pitched a huge fit over getting his hair cut today, and has been a nervous wreck about tomorrow's check-up. I'm not too surprised about that, as the doctors failed to keep mommy alive; he'll probably have an unhealthy fear of medicine for a while to come.

And as for me, I've made some strides around the house. My grandmother lost three husbands (why in the world would you open yourself up to that much potential pain?), and her secret to survival was to detach emotionally from the accumulated stuff and see it as just that: stuff. I've managed to prepare 4 grocery bags worth of donations, mostly in the form of jeans, socks, sports-wear, bras, and slippers.

I threw out all of her medications (except the prescription pain-killers and sleep-aids, 'cause who knows?), gave away her feminine hygiene products, and cleaned out most of her toiletries.

There's no emotional attachment to these things--much harder will be some of her shoes, t-shirts, coats, hats, and dresses. But what has helped was a long-standing problem: this house is completely full. Alastair's closet is half-filled with dresses she hadn't worn since starting Weight Watchers 5 years ago, and every nook and cranny in the house is similarly packed with old clothes, out-of-season clothes, threadbare clothes, and work clothes.

But I'm workin' on a plan to either keep all of her pink accessories or find some fitting way to honor them. There's really no way I can bequeath her pink laptop to my son: he'd get his ass kicked on the first day of school. I also can't part with her pink iPod Nano (with matching earbuds), as it's engraved. But pink running shoes, well that's another story. Maybe a pink time capsule for Alastair to look at years from now? I'm open to suggestions.


Megan said...

I find myself checking in to see if you've written, wondering how you and your son are. It's strange, I don't even know you, but I've been so touched by Amanda's story. I enjoyed her blog, I found her through Pajiba. I guess I just wanted to say that my husband and I are praying for you and your son. I can't imagine losing a spouse, but I did lose my wonderful Mom in June last year. A brain tumor. She was only 55. I will say this, losing her was the single most painful experience of my life. However, through the loss I have experienced the grace of God in a way I could never have imagined. I pray that same grace will be yours as you walk through the days ahead.

dsbs said...

Maybe don't publish this comment, because what do I know, but the time capsule thing sounds very sweet. It will always be there, but not constantly in your face, and when Little A's ready to really know his mother, it will be waiting.

Again, I just wanted to say I'm so sorry. Your family is remarkable, and your bravery and strength inspiring. Little A may be afraid of doctors for a while, he may be a little more violent for a while, but he's got great parents, genetics, and support, and he'll end up just fine.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

I'm sending love and healing thoughts to you all.

I think you are a wonderful parent and the way you are dealing with your son's grief (being honest and sharing your tears) is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Adrian, I have been following your blog and Amanda's for a while (ever since her initial diagnosis) and like many others, came to know of your wife through Pajiba.

I am absolutely heartbroken for you and while I cannot conceive of the pain you must be in, I lost a child 1.5 years ago and the pain is immense when you lose someone like that. It's not easy to know how to answer the questions and it doesn't get much easier.

As for some of the things that you can't bear to give up, special items that mean the most, have you thought about having a quilt made out of her favorite tee shirts and clothing? It's just an idea I had. I am going to have it done with my daughter's stuff.

All of this takes time, there's no rush to go through all of the things that were hers... unless it is something you truly want to do.

Good luck and may God be with you giving you courage and strength everyday. -legib

Anonymous said...

I came across you blog via Toddler Planet and learned of your wifes passing. My heart aches for you (and your family) right now. But outside of my sympathy I wanted to thank you for something you wrote today. I lost my Step Father in Aug. 2007 and my Mother in Sept. 2008. My Mom and I were never able to do anything with my Step Fathers clothes and I am having trouble doing anything with hers. Your comment regarding your grandmother and how she managed to get through the death of three husbands was a great lesson to me. Remove the emotional attachment and get rid of the stuff. My family is clearing out their 1700 square foot basement that is full. I've found reminders of my childhood, memories of my Mom's marriage to my Dad, memories from my Step Fathers family he told us stories about and so much more. I've laughed and cried and can't help but feel my Mom and Step Father smiling on me while I honor them with this work.

Thank you for reminding me their memory is not in the stuff - but they live in my heart - forever.

God Bless you - Caramia

Kim said...

You are an amazing person, Adrian. Your strength is unbelievable - not only to face the grief, but to open your heart to all of us through this blog. I know you're not given a choice in facing these things, but you handle it with grace that few could.

I love the time capsule idea. I love the idea that part of her will be open and available for Alastair when he is ready. Who knows, maybe by that time pink will be the new black, and guys will be all about it. Of course, if it's a few years from now, the Nano will likely be relic... but that's another issue entirely!

Another idea - perhaps family and friends could write memories of Amanda for Alastair. I know Amanda kept countless journals, and perhaps some of that could be added in. It could be arranged by ages, so that throughout his life, he'll know what is mommy was like at his age, what her hopes and dreams for him were, and how proud of him she will eternally be. I'd be happy to help with that project.

cindy said...

What a sweet boy you have.

I think the time capsule is a wonderful idea. Maybe someday Alastair will have a daughter...

Nicole said...

I just want to tell you again that I really admire your strength in continuing to share with us. Thank you for that.

I think the time capsule is a great idea. Also, what about a funky old trunk that you can put some of her favorite clothes and things in, that you can keep someplace where you and Alastair can sit and go through them and talk about Mommy? I lost my amazing aunt to ovarian cancer nearly five and half years ago (Manda's grace, humor and courage always reminded me so much of my beloved Judy's) and I have several things that I keep in a special box, and go through from time to time when I'm thinking of her. They include a pair of her favorite driving shoes, a small photo album of special moments with quotes I think suit her, a scarf, a bandanna, the "Joy of Cooking" that belonged to her and which she gave me when I moved into my first apartment, and a journal I filled with anecdotes and stories she used to tell.

I'm sure that you'll have tons of pictures and other things scattered around the house, and I have other things out in the open and jewelry from her in my jewelry box, but I like the idea of having my own little treasure chest.

Lynn said...

We've never met or spoken, but I've followed your wife's comments on Pajiba, and was very saddened to hear the news. I admire your strength - both hers and yours.

With regard to what to do with her things, I think a time capsule is a wonderful idea. With regard to her clothes, or at least part of them, you might want to consider contacting your local quilt guild. They can recommend someone who can make a quilt out of some of her more familiar things. T-shirt quilts (made from favorite t-shirts) are very popular right now, and almost any local quilter should be able to create that for you.

When a friend of mine lost his dad, I made pillows of some of his favorite shirts for him and his siblings. They all loved them, because it gave them something familiar to snuggle and hug. Your local quilt guild should be able to put you in contact with someone who can do that for you as well.

If you need help finding a local guild, I would be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

Lobsterfamilyof5 said...

Adrian, Amanda and I went to camp together when we were younger and she was truly an amazing person. I have tried to keep up with all the happenings now and earlier.
I lost my mom 5 yrs ago, when my oldest was almost 2 and my middle was only 2 1/2 mths. My sister and I kept things, like scarves, etc for the girls to play with. We also have pictures of them together with her, even though we only have a few from my middle girl. making pillow cases from her t-shirt or soft dresses would be a great way for him to her close (at least her smell). Also, i now have a 3yr old boy, and wish i had something of hers to of made him a play cape to dress up in. Maybe that is something he would enjoy. We are praying for you and little A. She feels no more pain.

blackbird said...

Anonymous 11:46 - so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine the depth of your pain. The quilt is a great idea.

The pink capsule is also a fantastic thought. You and Little A can visit it now and then and maybe it'll be a good springboard for conversations about Amanda.

It sounds as though you're doing an admirable job at muddling through this awful time. It's good for your boy to see your emotions....and look at the empathy he's showing. No doubt Amanda is proud of both of you.

The Domina said...

I only started following this blog through my friend Kolby, but I wanted to say....maybe you could offer her family some of her pink things as well as creating a time capsule for your son(with pictures and things like that). I know if my sister died, I'd be so touched to have something of hers, even something like an iPod, just to have her near me every day.

Deborah H said...

The time capsule idea is great. I was thinking that with one tree in the yard gone, why not plant a tree or shrub. One that will shade you in the future, give you fruit,a wonderfull show of flowers, or can be decorated at Christmas. Something that you and Little A can care for together. Place the time capsule close to it. That way as he plays on the jungle gym (I think I remember a post that mentioned getting one), you will both be reminded of her.

A journal of stories about Amanda's growing up years would make a special book for Little A. If her parents, family, childhood, church, high school, college and workplace friends took their pictures of her and write a snippet about her at the time the photo was taken...naughty or nice. He would see her through the eyes of people whose lives were touched by her.
Adrian, know that people who knew you and came to know Amanda through you are out and about and are very proud to see the person you have become.
Little A is in very good hands, yours.

Cindy said...

The time capsule is a great idea. I know Leigh through my mom and have kept up with you all through her. My thoughts go out to you. My mom attended the service yesterday, I would have as well, but my 14 month old would have been hard to control during the service. Your writings will be so cathartic for you, and I have no doubt she is watching over you. I feel for your little guy and the enema he had to endure, but the way you wrote about the experience had me giggling, mostly because I can all but too well see this in my future with little Matthew. May God continue to bless you with your writing, it will help you daily to remember the good times and I have no doubt, she has her pink computer in heaven and keeping up with all of you.
God bless.

Anonymous said...

Adrian, not to add to your worries, but your idea that Little A may have issues with health or medicine later on isn't completely out of line.

I have no science to back this up, just anecdata and my own experience as a child who watched her stepfather die of cancer (and consequently had to deal with hypochondria and other health-related anxieties), but please make sure the wee one, as he grows up, is taught to balance it all out, somehow. I wish someone had done as much for me.