Friday, May 25, 2012

What Happened Last Night

It was about 11:00pm. I was taking out the trash. Lori comes out in mild panic, “How long have you been out here? I thought you were upstairs with Adam – he’s crying really hard!”

It’s that time. That in-between time. The time between “going to bed” and “falling asleep.” It’s when the mind starts to imagine things, create things, and remember things. It doesn’t happen every night. Not even most nights. But it happened last night.

I ran into his room. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” I asked knowing the answer.

“It’s Mom.”

I held him best I could and let him cry. Then I started to cry like I usually do in these moments. His existential pain I can only imagine. I’m 45 and my mom is still alive. And then I start to wonder which is worse? The grief-pain I feel having lost my life partner, or the transfered grief-pain I feel helplessly witnessing my child’s. Both vie for my attention but now my son’s grief-pain wins.

I hold him and rub his back. Our crying eventually subsides to sobs. I get tissue and we wipe our noses and eyes. Then it’s quiet and we just lay there for a few moments listening to the ceiling fan.

“What was it that made you start to cry?” I ask hoping to start a conversation of some sort.
“It was Mom! You know, M-O-M? Your wife?” he responds indignantly.
“Yes, I know, I’m sorry. What I meant was, was there anything specific that made you think of her?”
“No, just Mom.”

And we start to talk about her. How great her smile was. How he can still see her face. How we both think of her every day. I ask if kids in school talk about it. They do, sometimes, but he tells them to stop. He doesn’t like to talk in public about it and wants to keep it in the family. He feels alone in those moments, I imagine.

And then I realize that it is the night before his birthday. He turns 10 the next day. Maybe it’s just this day and some deep body-awareness of this anniversary that brought it to the surface. The day, 10-years ago, he decided to be born and Amy’s contractions started. In fact, it was about 10 years nearly to the minute when Amy’s first signs of labor started. And my mind takes me back a full decade and lingers there for a while. I take a big deep breath and let out an audible sigh.

I choose not to tell Adam of my memory, but instead re-position his blankets, hug him one more time, and say good night.

It’s now about 11:45 p.m., and past my bedtime too but I can’t go to bed right now. I need to finish taking out the trash. And I know my night demons are nearby and would rather avoid them the rest of the night. So I sit in front of my computer and stare at facebook and youtube and email for a while. Just long enough for fatigue to claim the upper hand so can I amble off to bed.

That is what happened last night.


  1. :( I would share his labor and birth story with him. My kids love to hear about it. They love the photos. Watch some old film or see some old photos of past birthdays of him growing up. She is there in spirit. I'm so sorry you guys. :(

  2. Thanks for the comment, Jessica. And I took your advice and did share his birth story the next day. It was a good thing.

  3. Lots of hugs to Adam!
    Belated wishes!