Friday, July 16, 2010

Pressing Bruises

So, you know how when you have a bruise you can't help but press it from time to time to find out if it still hurts? That was the agenda item for Sarah today. She unearthed some toys that had been intended for Jane, one of which is a teddy bear that plays a woman singing "Rock-a-bye Baby" when you press its chest (WORST TOY EVER, by the way -- I mean, how can you help but press the chest if you're playing with it? And it's LOUD. And there's no off button. AND there's no access in the toy so you can remove its voice box, which means I will have to perform surgery on the damn thing if Sarah insists on keeping it)... whoa, parenthetical digression. What was I saying?

Oh, right. So, Sarah discovers the most maudlin toy on the face of the planet in the back of the closet and it starts playing Rock-a-bye and cue weeping ("It made me think of Jane!"). But she kept on playing it. And kept on weeping. Repeat at bedtime.

And here's where I'm the worst parent on the planet. I was annoyed. Well, I'm not inhuman, I was really concerned initially. But the longer it went on, and the longer she insisted on playing the damn thing, and the more dramatic the crying became, the harder it was for me to take her grief at face value. She was very deliberately pressing her bruises.

Now, I understand she needed the outlet. Hell, I've been known to do it myself. So I let her cry, I told her the things that I thought she needed to hear (that it's good to let out your emotions; that it's okay to be sad about Jane; that there are things about Jane to be happy about, too; that having a good long cry can make you feel better, etc) but damn, people. She kept intentionally forcing herself to cry. It no longer seemed to be about Jane, but she was using her name as the catalyst. And that pissed me off. I didn't yell at her, but I was definitely getting short with her. Which is awesome, right? "Here, kid, tell me what's bothering you and I will get pissy because you're being four with your emotions."

Ugh. I suck.

But then at bedtime, after a replay of the naptime events, she started talking about how much she dreams about Jane (and Audrey the dog) and how those dreams are special, and that she was going to have a special dream tonight and keep it inside her head just for Jane and not tell anyone about it so it will always be there. And THEN she said, as I was finally about to be able to leave the room, "Good night, my sweet butterfly from Jane." Holy guilt. Guilt guilt guilty guilt guilt.

I'm not worried about Sarah, for the most part. She's a really even-keeled kid, and she's been handling everything well. This is only the second or possibly the third time she's really gotten overwhelmingly emotional in the last six months; usually, she cries a little, but recovers pretty quickly. Wait; should I be worried about that? That's she's not crying enough? How do you know?


Tomorrow will be another day. With luck, she'll have moved on to a new area of fascination, although I will never be able to get rid of the Mawkish Mayor of Tearville (Sarah forgets nothing; that damn bear will be with us for years). And I will carry my guilt with me, diligently pressing that bruise until it fades.


Tom said...

Well, you know I think you are hard on yourself here, and I get why, it makes total sense, but no one in the history of the world has explained to a child with greater empathy and most of all, clarity, the contours of grief then you have in teaching Sarah how to negotiate the difficulties of all of this. In other words, you are an amazing, brilliant mother with a true gift--Sarah's even-keeledness, which is very real, and her emotional honesty, which is startling, all comes from you....your grace, your strength, et cetera, et cetera.....she is a marvel and when she cries for Jane, it breaks my heart, but it is healthy and true and this is one amazing kid because of her mom, and she is going to be a more amazing adult--empathetic, wondering, capable, strong--because of you as well. With love as we move into a difficult week.


mommatosena said...

Tia I have been thinking about you all as Jane's birthday week approaches and wondering how difficult it must be when the grief is truly fresh still. I am in awe of how Sarah has moved through this with your direction and love. How you have been able to be present for Sarah and her amazing wonder and growth while mourning for Jane. I agree whole heartedly with Tom that you are being hard on yourself. Guilt is a really hard thing to grapple with; my wish for you is that you can lay that aside and see all the goodness that you have given your girls. Hugs to you all as you navigate this next passage of time and sending prayers for strength and peace.

Raspberry said...

What Tom wrote was so beautiful that I can only marvel that you have each other as you navigate this all together, you beautiful people.

I hate the world for having sent you this sorrow, but I really bless it for having given you all each other, b/c you are really a movingly beautiful family.

Sorry to be such a mushball, but there it is.

Press your bruise if you must--I'm sure you must. But at least know, on some level, that really and truly you do not suck.

Raspberry said...

I forgot to say: "Mawkish Mayor of Tearville" is awesome, and really you, and I just admire the hell out of how you can be tender and sarcastic and smart and funny altogether.

Cindy said...

Tia - Your blog is amazing, and your ability to illuminate your life (and your willingness to do so) is making a real impact on my life! So, I think you and your family are on to something.

With 4 year old Sarah it may feel "mawkish" or contrived or as you say - four! But as Tom points out it is real, and she is a marvel.

So are you. To go through all you have been through and to remain true to your essential self - loving, funny, smart, inquisitive, yearning, hoping - well that is marvelous and amazing.

I do not in any way diminish the grief all of you do feel, and will continue to feel about the loss of having a life with Our Girl Jane. But I do know that your love and attention, your willingness to feel and stay connected to the vast human family ... well, that is a living legacy to Jane's life that has had effects well beyond the personal.

And, for some reason, I think Sarah gets that at some level. That she is well and truly placed here on this earth ... that she occupies a unique place and is a fellow traveler.

Sending you all a hug.


AG Ambroult said...

I love the honesty of this post. My older daughter cries A LOT and often pins it on the loss of our cat. Recently I told her it was ok if you want to just cry for no reason, or for whatever reason (god knows I do it!) but that it doesn't always have to be defined. She didn't buy it and insisted on being sad about the cat. So I don't know...but for some reason I just don't feel like it's about the cat! It's a mystery