On a day when July was ready for August, I sat and talked with a mother and tried to help hold her unexpected grief. It flowed over the Earth anyway and my own grief sat with us on porch chairs as we remembered Brad (my ex-husband) and wondered. “Why him?”
Of course, there’s always a storm, somewhere, whispering “Why not him?”
“Why not any of us?”
He was only 47, and nobody knew he’d die. Nobody prepared for it. Nobody got to say goodbye.
I don’t know if that’s better, or worse.
We went for a walk. I saw butterflies.
On a day when August sighed September, I sat and talked with a mother and tried to imagine how it was possible that she was dressed, clean, and her usual pretty self after having to come home from vacation without her little boy asking for snacks and attention from the seat next to her.
We sat on couches and porch chairs, and I tried to help hold her unexpected grief.
It flowed over the stars and moons anyway, and my own grief sat with us as we remembered one of my little boy’s best friends. We wondered. “Why him?”
He was only seven, and nobody knew he’d die.
His family hadn’t prepared. They didn’t know. How could they? Nobody knew.
We didn’t know, and now have to hope that past words, smiles, and watergun fights were enough so that he knew. Did he know how much we appreciated his friendship? How much we loved him on afternoons of delight and also on the ones when the boys bounced the ceilings almost off, and fought over which game to play next?
We love him. We will always love him. We’ll remember his light, and larger-than-life way of being. His too-old manners, his wise soul, and his adorable outfits.
He always had better shoes than my son who is limited to double-wide tennis shoes or crocs with his ginormous feet.
We talked about butterflies. How they’d never been around before, but are everywhere, now.
And, they are. We see them, too. It’s not just his mama who sees the butterflies.
Why any child?
Of course, there’s always a storm, somewhere, whispering “Why not any of us?”
The problem with death is that it makes us forget that it lurks in sunshine and on beaches while holding us in fear.
Death comes to our homes and our cars and our vacation rentals regardless of whether we’ve dusted off the welcome mat or turned on the porch light.
I sat with my son tonight, on one of the last days of August. He doesn’t understand but understands enough. He wants to know about his friend’s body.
He wants to know more than he can handle knowing.
We talked about the difference between bodies and souls, and I don’t know whether I made any sense to him or not but held up a partially-full water bottle, and said that our spirits are like the water.
Once the bottle is empty, it’s of no use, and we recycle it. It’s a shell, a holder of import until the import has soared Elsewhere.
I told him he can talk to his friend. He already has. Just a few days ago, in the car, Tucker told me that his friend said hello. “But only in my head, Mom.”
We talked about caterpillars and butterflies, and how they change from one thing to another thing, but are still themselves in their next form.
We’re trying to talk about unexpected grief and watergun and butterfly magic.
“But if he has no body in Heaven, how can he see?” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“Mom. I mean he has no eyes now.”
“Oh, baby, he doesn’t need body-eyes now,” I said.
“Then, he can probably see more than I can, from Heaven, right?”
“Right,” I said.
“We taught each other things,” he said.
“Well, like we showed each other things in Minecraft.”
“You did,” I said. “Remember how you used to wash my car together using waterguns and water balloons?”
“That was fun,” he said.
“I’d even go so far as to say that it was magic fun,” I said.
“Okay,” he said.
“Tell them he’ll need milkweed,” he said.
“Butterflies like milkweed. We learned that in school.”
“I’ll tell them,” I said. “And we’ll plant some, too.”
It’s back to school this week, and I feel different than I have before about it. There’s unexpected grief and watergun and butterfly magic.
I’ve sat with two mamas in the past month, both with son-shaped holes in their worlds.
One son was 47.
The other son was seven.
We pay extra attention to butterflies.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “It’s back to school time, and I feel…”