Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's been over two months since Tara died.  Sometimes I think of that and I'm blown away. 

She was cremated.  Her remains stood in a box the the funeral home, surrounded by some pictures.  There were many, many people present, and her husband gave a wonderful eulogy.  As did her best friend.  All of this while her 3-year old daughter, a pixie of a thing, wound her way around everyone's calves as we stood listening.  Listening to words and to music.  And of course, everyone crying. 

Her final decline was rapid.  It's hard to think of someone's three-year fight against cancer and frame it in any way that it seems merciful.  But if there was one thing about it that was merciful, it was that she was transported to hospice on a Thursday evening, and had passed peacefully by 7:30 on Friday morning.

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I did well for about half of Lent trying not to yell at my kids.  That was my 'sacrifice,' and believe me, if you have kids, it IS a sacrifice.  There is a lot of pleasure in yelling, "What in the name of God are you thinking?"  Or, "If I have to come up there..."  Or, "early bedtimes for all!" 

But, you know, sometimes it becomes too easy, and too natural, and one thing I try (very imperfectly) to keep in my mind is that Tara would want me to try to be gentle with my kids.  And everyone else.  I mean, sure, she'd probably agree that I need to give them holy hell every now and then, but really, why waste too much time with vinegar when honey can work too? 

Still, I started failing about three weeks in.  I should tell you that my kids gave up nothing for Lent.  They did chores for money, and sent the money in to a relief organization in Haiti called Hands Together.  You should have seen their faces when they got back a thank-you letter addressed to them. 

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My kids and a friend of theirs had their own memorial service for Tara, which was disorganized and involved prayers I'd never heard of.  They dressed in black and held her funeral card and I had to stop myself from stopping them.  It seemed too morbid, but I knew they'd seen me upset and heard me talk about her, to David and to my friends, and they knew when she was still alive that she wouldn't be for long. 

Kids can have the most beautiful and tender hearts.  That's what they wanted to do, in a world that suddenly seemed to contain a diminished level of control.  So I let them. 

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My eldest has been having a hard time at school, with one child in particular.  It has been stressing her out, and she's been displaying signs of anxiety at home.  Right around the time Tara died, I remember talking with Hannah about her classmate.  I told her, "I need you to stand up for yourself, but I will intervene if I have to.  I'll always be here for you." 

And she said to me, "Not if you die." 

And everything I had been trying to hold in came out like water from the Johnstown flood. 

6 comments:

RuthWells said...

Beautifully, brutally direct, those small people are.

Sending love.

Fran said...

There are so few words to offer, but lots of heart. Children, how they know things, how they know, and yet not.

Peace to you, consolation.

MemeGRL said...

I may have told you this before, and if I'm repeating, I'm sorry, but this dream has just Stayed With Me.
My mother came to me in a dream, smiling as she always did when she saw me, and said, "Do you want to see what it's like?" and I knew she meant "when you're dead."
And we kind of flew in a bubble together (almost Glinda-like but faster) and could see people we loved among the living. What I remember most was watching my teenaged nephews being typical mouthy too-clever-by-half teenaged boys. But instead of irritation by and embarrassment for them, all I felt was love. Just love, love, love, pouring out of me. As I watched one of them close a door to something he wanted (by being snarky to someone he didn't know was on a committee for a scholarship he wanted), I could actually see what pitfalls he was avoiding by ending up at another college. It was truly, truly amazing, watching them, watching the futures shift and change, watching the care with which the Powers of the Universe were at work. But what I remember most? Is the love. And how I was just bursting with joy for loving them. I couldn't work up a single negative emotion.
I try to carry that in to my days but I am weak and still in my mortal coil. But I truly hope someday to be able to live that dream.

claire said...

So good to find you back here.
I am sad with you, while sure that Tara is with you always. Loved ones never leave us. At least this is my intention when I die. Never to leave those I love.
Blessings Kelly.

Pamela said...

Last bit = gut punch.
Ugh.

De said...

May 1st was the fifth anniversary of my friend Teri's death. I won't lie and say the grief of a young woman leaving behind children ever truly wanes, but I still feel close to her and believe I have honored her in the ways my life has improved.

Regular reminders of the power of a mother's love (and the power of her ire) can help strengthen our resolve to be fair and kind, can help us work more diligently to build a strong foundation, in case we're not there (to nag them) when we are old and gray.