Grief, Beauty, & Inspiration

Grief

Grief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My uncle died last week.  He was 80, but it still came as a shock to everyone.  I was not very close to him, but I was sad for my aunt, and for my cousin who has Down’s Syndrome.  They would feel this loss most acutely.

I had decided to have The Boy attend school as usual, as he didn’t really know this uncle of mine, and missing school is a catastrophe.  Better that I go with my parents, and arrange for Fantastic Babysitter to pick him up from kids club so that we wouldn’t have to worry about making it back in time.  Mom and I sat in the family section off to the side, while Dad sat with his sister, who wanted and needed him by her side.  I had a clear view of her and my cousin, and as the funeral went on, I witnessed her grief ebb and flow, and then I watched as my cousin just lost it.  I’m not sure if this was the first time it really hit him how final this was, but he was inconsolable.  And I watched my aunt abandon her own grief, with eyes only for her son.  At one point, she switched spots with another son so that she could sit next to him, and hold him.  He was instantly better, and the two of them were able to share their grief and their comfort in each other.  It was sad, and yet beautiful.

My aunt has been a special needs parent for almost 50 years, and I realized that day what an inspiration she has been for me, since I have taken on that role.  My dad’s brother turned to me at the end of the funeral and told me how proud he was of me, and how strong I was to raise my son on my own.  All I could say was “Thank you,” and look to my mom, and my aunt.  We Tough Cookies are not just born that way.  We are inspired.

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Questions

Lots of questions today.  As usual, in the car.

The Boy:”Why is it just you and me?”

Me: “What do you mean?  Are you asking why your dad and I got divorced?”

B: “Yeah.”

M: “Your dad and I just didn’t get along anymore.  That happens sometimes.”

B: “Are you going to change your last name?”

M: “If The Man and I get married, that will probably happen.”

B: “Will my name change too?”

M: “That’s up to you.  Do you want it to change?”

(no answer)

B: “Are you and The Man going to have any more kids?  Will I get a brother?”

M: “Nope.”

B: “Why not?”

M: “The Man and I are too old to have any more kids.  So it’ll be just you.”

B: “I’m going to have a bunch of kids.  A whole pile.”

M: “Don’t you think you better check with your wife first?”

B: “I’m going to have a lot of kids.”

This entire conversation took place in the space of about one minute.  Such heady stuff for a 10 year old.  I sometimes find it difficult not to let my surprise (that he’s asking about these things) show.  These are, of course, things that we have talked about before (OK, maybe not the “pile” of kids thing, but the other stuff).  I think he finds comfort in the consistency of my answers.  That’s my theory anyway.  I hope he does.

The Ex and Empty Promises

Red phone

Red phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ex and I divorced 4 years ago, and in that time, The Boy has been on the receiving end of many empty and broken promises.  These range from “I’ll call you on Thursday,” (empty) to “I’m not going to be picking him up for his week with me,” (broken).  As you can imagine, this would devastate any kid, but to a kid with autism, who is reliant on schedules, timers, and routine, it can be catastrophic.

This was actually a common theme before the divorce, so I am used to it, but The Boy was 6 when we divorced, and has learned only by experiencing it so often over the past four years.  He still enjoys talking to his dad, and still enjoys visits to his dad’s when they occur, but the empty promises wreak much less havoc now.  There are still tears, and “Why isn’t he coming to pick me up?” but he now knows his dad has a tendency to break promises, and he’s starting to understand that it’s something we can’t do anything about.

The only thing I can do is to make sure I don’t break my promises to The Boy.  It’s very important to me that he knows he can rely on me, and he does because I’m consistent.  There are times I know he thinks I’m the meanest mom in the world, but he knows I love him, I will never leave him, and he can always count on me.