I have been trying to muster up the ability to write a blog for quite a while, but I can't seem to get myself to sit down and get the words out. First I was consumed by the busy everyday life of the working mom, driving kids around and helping make sure everyone has taken their medications, does their homework and picks up their bedrooms, while also staying up all night at work helping bring babies into the world night after night. The regular routine many of us are used to that swallows us up when we aren't paying attention, and leaves little room for much else. So I didn't write for months.
Then something big and awful happened.
My step-children's mother, Rebekah, died on Thanksgiving day.
It came out of nowhere and we don't know what happened, but she died suddenly and without warning and for a long while our lives just stopped moving. We have been picking up the pieces ever since, trying to help sort out the confusion that comes when someone dies.
We had a challenging relationship with Rebekah, as most people do with their exes, but for the most part we worked it out and were able to parent the kids in an amicable way without too much drama or arguments. We were able to share holidays together with the kids, and talk back and forth about the minutiae of life in a way that felt good to all of us and made the kids feel safe and secure. Although she struggled to find her path in life, she loved her kids, that much I know, and they loved her very much.
It has been a roller coaster of emotion for the four kids she left behind, to say the least. It is an unparalleled level of unfairness that they have to endure this kind of a loss this early in their lives. When they should be thinking about college, and prom, and theater productions, and middle school instead they are left feeling empty and sad and confused. All I want is to ease their burden, but I can't. There isn't really anything anyone can do or say that can make this easier for them. They just have to go through the process, and the process is hard and shitty.
There are a lot of things I am grateful for. I am grateful to everyone in our lives who have helped to hold up the kids, and Jon, and me so we can be there for them when we need to be. The amount of food and love and kind words and cards we have received has been both overwhelming and uplifting. I had no idea how helpful food was when people are grieving, and this will certainly change the way I approach helping people when a loved one dies. I don't know how much it was helpful for the kids, but it sure as hell was amazing that Jon and I didn't have to spend every waking moment in the kitchen. I am grateful that the kids were home with Jon the night that the police banged on our door to tell us the news, and they were not with her to witness such tragedy. I am grateful that her family was warm and accepting of the role that I play in her children's lives, and that planning her services was not a difficult ordeal. I am grateful for the love that Jon and I have for each other and our kids, that keeps us afloat as we wade through this deep ocean of child grief.
I just wish I could hold onto the kids' sadness for bit so they didn't have to. And at the same time I don't ever wish to feel that kind of pain. It is remarkably unfair. Helping kids grieve is a challenge I don't feel like I have the training for. Each day is up and down and I honestly never know what kind of emotions to expect at any given moment. I feel like we are grasping to the side of a fast moving train, trying to stay attached but at any moment one of them might lose their grip and fly away.
We are gearing up for everyone to go back to school tomorrow. We have had as good a Christmas as we ever could have hoped for, given the circumstances, and I think some routine will do everyone good. I am looking for the light at the end of this dark and narrow tunnel, and although I do not yet see it I am hopeful it will come soon.