|Miss 12 and myself|
We've talked about sex, puberty, drinking, drugs, violence, injustice in the world, bullying, stranger danger, what's appropriate/inappropriate to post on-line, etc, etc.
There's a part of me that just wants to shield them from all the bad in the world. To pretend that nothing bad ever happens to anyone ever.
Of course, we all know that it doesn't work that way. And so we talk about all sorts of things. I don't shield them from things - but will present topics at what I feel are appropriate levels for them.
Last week though, I had one of the hardest talks I've ever had to have.
My 12 year old started crying and told me she didn't know what she would do if I died.
I didn't know what to say.
I'm sure she's thought about it before. I've thought about it before. But we have never talked about it before.
And pardon my language, but fuck. I never want to have to talk to my kids, until they are much much older, about how they will handle my death.
I suppose, no matter what I think now, I'll never be ready to talk about it. I don't want to think about losing my mother, and I'm 35.
But there she was, looking at me, tears in her eyes, asking me what she will do if I die.
And so I had to swallow that huge lump in my throat and talk to her about it. Openly and honestly.
I don't know if I said the right things. But I spoke from my heart, and I have to hope that that is enough.
I told her that if I were to pass away, it would be awful. That she would be very sad and it would probably be a difficult time in her life.
We talked about how she would have a lot of people rally around her (and my husband and the other kids). That a lot of people would be there to support her and love her. And I told her to not push these people away, because sometimes grief makes you want to do that.
I told her that I imagined that it would be hard to feel happy. Or that sometimes when we lose a loved one and something good happens, we feel guilty for being happy. That sometimes we think that doing something fun is the wrong thing to do, or that we shouldn't laugh.
And so I told her that I wanted nothing but happiness for her, and that being happy, or laughing, or having fun is exactly what I would want for her. That doing that shouldn't make her feel guilty or sad, but should make her smile more because wherever I am, I'd be smiling when seeing her happy.
I told her that I wanted the same thing for her dad and for her siblings. And that some people grieve quickly and some need more time. That some people grieve loudly, and some silently. Some people seem to move on quickly and some do not. Sometimes people hide their grief and some people wear it on their sleeve for everyone to see, and that no matter how the other people in her life grieve ... she should NOT feel that she must grieve the same. Nor should she judge them for how they grieve.
I told her that some days things would feel totally normal and other days, it might feel like the world has ended. I told her that sometimes grief would sneak up on her and feel like a punch in the stomach when she wasn't expecting it.
I told her random things will happen that will remind her of something we did, or that I said, and she would just smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. That it might feel like I was coming to visit her and say hi, and that she should hold onto that feeling, even if someone else things it's strange.
I told her that every year, when the first snowball fell, she should run outside and make a snowball and think of the snowball song I sing at least once a winter, if not too many times!
I also told her that if losing me was just too hard and felt too overwhelming, that she should ask for help, cry out for it if she needed too. That she should talk to her father, her sister, her brother, a best friend, a counselor, someone, anyone. That it wouldn't make her weak or mean that she was grieving in a "wrong" way.
And then I made a lot of stupid jokes to try to lighten the mood. I said that I hoped I would pass away so far in the future, that we'd both be old ladies by then and that she would forget everything I had just said.
She wasn't ready to smile yet, so we talked some more and I reiterated that I wanted her to be happy. That life was going to bring some really awesome moments and it's also going to bring her moments that weren't so great and that all she can do is what she can do (which is something I say often in every day moments).
I also told her that the sun will always rise the next morning - another thing I say to my kids a lot ... not to downplay what they are feeling, but as a way to say, hey, feel/mad/angry/etc now, but just also keep in mind the sun will rise tomorrow. And I joked that I know tomorrow will come because it's already tomorrow in Australia, so it already came!
She then told me that in parts of the North Pole it's night for months at a time. And she smiled again. She stopped tearing up. And she even managed to giggle a little bit.
We hugged and I told her that no matter what happened, everything would be okay. Maybe not right away, maybe we won't even realize it at first, but it will be okay. And that I knew she was a strong person because she showed it to me all the time (even when she probably didn't think she was).
She smiled. And was ready to get up and do the things she needed to do.
I, on the other hand, had to sit for a while and just breath.