Monday, April 25, 2011

Trapped in Humanity

Hey there-

Henry, Arthur and I decided it was a good thing we aren't lions.

We went to see the movie "African Cats" yesterday. The story follows a cheetah mother and her cubs and a lion pride during a year in their life on the African plains of Kenya.

Note to reader, there could be some spoiler information coming up.

Cheetahs are solitary animals so the mom was on her own raising her cubs while lions are more family oriented and had several women, lots of cubs, and one man protecting them. I won't get into the discussions that followed the movie about how bothersome it was that the females hunted and killed the game and then the man came along, roared at them to get out of the way, and proceeded to lay down and eat his fill. Never mind that the ladies are caring for all the little ones AND they made the meal, I guess the guy eats first no matter what in lion world. Plus, just exactly where was the cheetah dad, huh?

Mike kept telling us we had to take human emotion out of the equation.

At the end another male lion and his three sons drive the dad lion out of his pride, kick out all the cubs, and take over the women. The women hardly put up a fight before seemingly abandoning their current cubs and happily begin to raise new cubs with the new leader dude.

The boys and I agreed we are glad that we aren't lions and Mike didn't force me to abandon them before I took up with him and began raising his kids.

I know, I know, separate human emotion.

After Bob died people had lots to say to me, words of comfort they were supposed to be I am sure. Statements about how I should be happy that he was no longer in pain, or that he was in a better place. I was told that this was the plan we had agreed to so why should I be sad?

But I was sad, very. Did this fact mean I wanted him to still be in pain? It certainly meant that I thought we had agreed to a stupid plan. My sister-in-law told me some words that I actually did find comfort in, she said no matter how glad I might be that Bob was out of pain I was still going to miss him because I was trapped in my own humanity.

We can't separate from our human emotions.

Do we even want to?

Still, Henry decided that given the choice he would be a cheetah, better to be on your own than have to deal with all the drama and emotion and abandonment of the pride.


Thanks for checking in-


Monday, April 18, 2011

Tiny Spot

Hey there-

On Saturday I was sitting on the floor of the dingy hallway at the high school waiting for my boys to come out of the locker room after their swim lessons. As luck would have it a fellow widow friend was also waiting for her son and we were enjoying ourselves gossiping, eavesdropping on the pom pon girls as they flitted up and down the hallway preparing for their tryouts, and being entertained by her almost four year old.

When my boys emerged into the hallway with their wet heads and red eyes I introduced them to my friend's son, who at this point was lying on his side and spinning in a slow circle on the floor. He stopped spinning, looked at my boys and said;

"My daddy is dead."

I thought this was interesting since he had no reason to connect my boys with their dad being dead like his, and it's not as if his dad just died, it has been a few years. I told him I was sorry and that my boys' father was dead also, then we said our goodbyes and the three of us meandered down the hallway and out to our car, the promised donuts on our minds.

Later that same day, in the middle of a crowded and loud restaurant, Henry brought this interaction up and told me he didn't think "the boy really knew that his dad was dead, as in never coming back."

"Why not?" I asked him.

Henry explained to me that the boy looked about the same age he had been when his dad died and that he hadn't understood what it meant "back then" when Bob died.

"I thought he was coming back," Henry said evenly.

I have to admit this statement surprised me.

I know he was only 3 1/2 at the time but he seemed so on board with everything, as if he really got IT.

"Do you think that now?" I asked him with more than a little trepidation.

"Not really, kind of, like 92% I know that he's not coming back but 8% of me thinks that he's still alive."

Oh dear...................

"It's like when Dad first died there was this tiny spot in me that understood the truth," he says this cupping his hands in a tiny circle near his heart and hunching his shoulders and head forward, "and slowly the spot grew and grew and grew until there was only a tiny spot left that still thinks he's alive somewhere." When he described this last part his voice became quite theatrical and he lifted his head up, brought back his shoulders and threw his arms up in the universal sign for victory.

I was jealous of Henry's description of his tiny spot, which sounded more pleasant than my tiny spot. What I felt was more of an enormous dark stain that covered me in darkness with an occasional tiny spot of light fighting its way through. Then my tiny spot grew and grew too, until eventually I was mostly in the light with only occasional darkness.

What's interesting to me is that in the beginning Henry's tiny spot seemed to be the dark part and my tiny spot was the light part. But Henry's spot did not appear to get darker as it grew, not the way he described it anyway. Both of our tiny spots brought us into the light as they grew, each in our own way.

Henry's little body and emotions could only take on the enormity of what had happened to him in little bits, a tiny spot. I love the image of Henry opening up as his tiny spot of understanding grows, not shutting down with the weight of the truth but being lightened by it.

I also love that he still reserves a tiny spot where Bob still lives within him.

Thanks for checking in-


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tent Sale Anyone?

Hey there,

The other day Henry asked me why garage sales weren't always held in people's garages. (they actually call them "rummage sales" here in Milwaukee but where I grew up they were called "garage sales" and I guess I have passed the phrase on to my children)

This question brought to mind the day Bob and I went to a tent sale.

We were looking for a tent.

For real.

Bob was always one for finding a deal and we were looking for a tent so when he read about a tent sale in the paper we headed out to the address in the ad. We arrived at a big field with a very large striped awning thing with tables set up under it displaying different products. We shrugged our shoulders, steeled ourselves against the wet wind, got out of the car, and began to meander around to the different tables looking for the tents.

I kid you not.

After looking at all the products and finding no tents (or anything related to a tent for that matter) we were confused. Bob walked boldly up to a very tall man who looked like he might be in charge of something, because his striped shirt matched the stripes on the awning, and asked him where we might find a tent.

Seriously, this is not a joke.

The man looked at us quizzically, as if he weren't sure if we might harm him, and slowly raised his right hand and pointed towards the sky, or the awning, or the TENT.

Yup, we were at a "tent sale" alright, everything for sale was under a tent.

We laughed so hard on the way home from that "tent sale" I am not sure how we stayed on the road. That memory entertained us on many a long car trip. One of us would only have to look at the other and say;

"Hey, I think I just saw a sign for a tent sale, you want to go check it out? We could really use a new tent......" and the two of us would be set off into peels of laughter.

So when Henry asked about the "garage sale" that isn't really in a garage I told him the story of his dad and me and our "tent sale" extravaganza.

And the two of us laughed so hard thinking about Bob and me standing under that big tent asking that tall man where we might find a tent that other members of the family had to come out of their rooms to see what was going on.

When Bob first died I dreaded the day that I would be able to talk about him without crying, as if he were just a guy I once knew.

But man did it feel good to laugh, belly laugh, with Henry about that darn tent sale and how silly (stupid?) his dad and I were sometimes.

I thought I would never be able to say the words "tent sale" to anyone ever again and see their face break into that knowing smile of an inside joke. Maybe the next time we are on a road trip I will ask Henry if he wants to go to a tent sale with me.......

Thanks for checking in-