Grief is my constant companion
He stands behind me and a little to the right
With his left hand on my shoulder
He is present in every conversation
Every decision, every moment
Sometimes his hand is soft and light
Other times it pushes me down with the weight
Sometimes his hand is comforting
And sometimes his hand causes me pain
We are bound together, grief and I
Forever destined to walk together
For better or for worse he is with me
My constant companion
Standing behind me an a little to the right
It is the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. My thoughts stray to my daughter in-law, Kari-Lee and how much I miss her.
It has been just over six months since she left this earth and still I find it hard to believe that she is really gone.
I have watched my son grieve for his wife and it has broken my heart. I watch him as he struggles to find the man that he is now that she is gone. I watch as he struggles under the scrutiny of those around him, afraid to make a mistake, afraid to let other people down, afraid to disappoint them. I offer him my words of wisdom, such as they are, but I have never walked in his shoes and I don’t have the answers he so desperately seeks.
I remember when he was young and he would be full of questions about the world. He would ask me why the sky is blue and I would tell him why. Not some made up story, but the real reason why and he would look at me like I was the most amazing person on earth and he would ask me how I knew these things and I would tell him it is because I am a mum and mothers know everything. Now he knows that that is not true.
With Mother’s Day just gone, I feel like I have failed him because I can’t give him the answers he seeks. I couldn’t protect him from the hurt and the pain he is going through and I can’t protect him from the eyes of those who watch and judge him. What good is a mother who can’t protect her son?
I also have another son who is trying to blaze a trail in his life, growing into a man and finding out what that means. It’s like watching him try on different suits to see which one fits and I want to point to one and tell him, “That is the one,” but I can’t, he has to make his own decisions, he has to find the one that feels right for him, regardless of what it looks like for me.
And I worry about him. I worry about the grief he is feeling with the loss of his sister in-law. He is the strong silent type and I worry that he is too young to deal with such a thing. I want to protect him from the harsh realities of life and death and love and hurt, but I can’t.
We mothers birth these babies and we nurture them and give them sustenance from our very own bodies and then they grow and grow and eventually grow away from us. And that is good, and right, and what they are supposed to do, but still it hurts to watch.
When they are little we kiss their hurts to make them better, but how do you mend the broken heart of your child? How do you take their grief and their pain from them? How do you stand by and watch them suffer knowing there is nothing that you can do to help?
I rail at he injustice of it. There are people in the world who do bad things, intentionally go out of their way to hurt people. There are cruel and nasty people who live long and fruitful lives. Why did my beautiful daughter in-law have to die and these people still get to live? A question for the ages. I know that Kari-Lee is not the only person who deserved life, I know that there have been countless senseless deaths of innocents, I know that there is evil in the world that steals the lives of good, honest, hardworking people. There is no rhyme or reason to it and those of us left behind are left wondering why?
There is no answer to that question and yet we must go on. We must go on doing life even though it no longer makes sense, even though we don’t want to. The only options left to us are to give up hope or to live in a way as to honor those who have lost their lives. Kari-Lee lived large, taking every opportunity to experience everything life had to offer. She fit more living into her twenty five years than I have in my forty two and that inspires me to not give up hope.
I don’t know the end of my story or my sons’ stories. I will never be able to answer all their questions, as much as I would wish to be able to. I will never be able to protect them from the hurts of the world. The only thing I can offer them is a soft place to land when everything becomes too much and a hope for the future.