Grieving, with children

It must be easy I think, to grieve without children.  You can stay in bed all day and no one will pull your sleep-warmed arm out into the cold morning air, tugging, tugging.

“Mommy, I’m hungry.”

No one will expect you to be sunny and happy at all moments, throwing balls and singing rhymes and reading books.

“Mommy, play with me, pleeeaaase?”

No one will stand in a crib and cry for you at midnight when perfectly normal people are sleeping in their warm beds with their warm arms tucked under their warm blankets.

You will not have to measure your tears, your reactions, the tenure of your voice.  You do not have to carefully paint every reaction under watchful eyes.  You will not have to face the tender spots that their needs brush up against.

You can let your loss, whatever loss that be, be.  It can dance around your apartment, frenzied, shouting, “Clean, organize, throw out!  Do what you must to find order!”

It can sing you lullabies.  “Sleep. Sleep a little longer, Broken One.  Sleep.”

It can make you eat or create or hibernate.  It can make you numb.  Loss can have its free rein.

Instead you think about sending your child to the moon.  Partially because he’d have fun but mostly because when you combine a trip to Cape Canaveral, a few days for orientation plus the actual round trip, it sounds like a long voyage.

And then I think… how do people grieve without children?

How do you hold on to earth if not by holding tightly to a warm little body in the middle of the night.  How do you put your world back together if not one puzzle piece at a time, cross-legged on the teal shag carpet in the afternoon sunshine.

You could forget to eat.  Mommy feed me.

You might not stop eating.  Mommy, who ate all the Goldfish??

You may quite possibly stay in bed forever, if not for the blast of cold and the tug-tugging.

You might forget to laugh or be compassionate.  You may give up entirely on hugging people for their sake and not yours.

Children remind you that loss hurts only because you are living.  And living is worth every lost thing’s weight in tears.  Especially when it is done together.