Age Is Just A Number

25 Sep

We have all heard the longstanding cliché, age is just a number. It is the typical go-to saying when someone advanced in years (whatever that means) acts in a manner, whether playful or foolish, usually reserved for youth. A somersault on the grass performed by a sixty-something year old, a cannonball splash by a grandparent with targeted intent, or in my case a McDonald’s “Happy Meal” on the rare occasion I crave junk-food and can’t pass up the toy prize. Whatever the case may be we engage the right to act outside of our number by calling upon the quip.

Yet as a mom navigating this new life of one living child, age is NOT just a number. It is a scary question presented to me in new social settings. Do you have children? Yes, an easy enough question to answer…I have two, a boy and a girl. How old are they? This second interrogatory statement is not so easy to avert, though avert it I try–

Person: How old are they?
Me: My baby is almost 21 years old.

I lead with “my baby” to imply that my other child is obviously older, a tactic I use to hopefully satisfy the question and move on from there. I am happy to report this technique is often successful, because I then respond with a “re-direct” of sorts–

Me: My baby is almost 21 years old. Yes, I am older than I look. And you, what was it you said you do again? OR, tell me more about that project your involved in. OR, tell me about your children, what are they into? Sports? Art? etc.

Re-direction is my safety net because with my daughter coming up on 21 years of age this Fall, she will, within the next year, surpass the age her older brother lived up to. Yes Cole lived only 22 years on Earth and his baby sister is gaining ground upon him, which is weird as they were nearly 5 years apart. It is also a difficult task for me to undertake, accounting for Cole’s age. He would be 25 years old according to our earthly calculations. But since he no longer inhabits earth is he still aging? Is he 25? Is he 22? And if he’s stuck at 22 how do I answer the question when he is supposed to be the older of my two children, when his baby sister becomes older than he? Do I change his name to Benjamin Button?

My Averting Plan is flawed.

In fact, this past month I attended a lovely gathering with wonderful people where my typical line failed me. We were all new to each other and so the opportunity was ripe to ask personal questions. Now please keep in mind I tend to be a master of the re-direct, so the fact I was caught and cornered fell upon me with some surprise. No matter how I skirted the topic of my children, this new acquaintance circled back for a landing. Finally, exhausting all averting techniques, I fumbled and gave some sort of sloppy response such as, “My son is in Heaven, he left us at 22 years and I don’t know how old he is currently.” Super party foul! Thankfully a watchful friend came to my rescue, though not in time to completely prevent the mess my statement made. She was able to jump in and take the conversation in a new direction–whew!

I imagine loosing a spouse presents a similar social incongruity. Are you married? The widow/widower is put in the tough position of facing the inevitable. This not only forces the opening of a wound, but creates a divide within a social situation where joyous enthusiasm is roaming free. Let’s face it, death is not usually invited, nor welcomed, to a party. And honestly I am trying my best to keep it at home.

But what is a mother to do when age is NOT just a number? When it rules my story and is tough to avoid? I don’t have the answer at the moment, I am too busy averting!

Cole Bent and mother

Cole at 18 years still hanging with his mom, me.

 

 

 

 

My Loss, His Gain

21 Aug

In putting my best foot forward to be present with the living, I am sacrificing the energy needed to write from an emotionally connected place. Shoot, in truth to be present with the living, I have to daily deny the connection to my heartbreak. For me it is a one or the other. Connected to my loss I exist on a superficial level with everything else, consequently (as I have previously written) my ability to recall events and conversations suffers. Connected to my today and being present with a purpose, I give up my right to mourn. Though I have thought of many blog posts to write since spring, when it comes down to it, I “don’t want to go there!” The “there” is so painful and anguish filled for me. I still can’t believe this is our Bent reality–I don’t want this reality thus in partnership with the Kübler-Ross model, I’m lingering in the stage of denial. It’s safe here. He’ll come back. He’s not buried in Miramar National Cemetery. We are the Bent 4, not the Bent 3. His suffering did not exist. We are not hurting.

Yet, this summer…

I have been keenly aware of Cole’s suffering as result of his brain tumor and the surgery to remove it. And in allowing myself to consider, no understand and feel, the degree to which he suffered I can fully comprehend that my loss is truly Cole’s gain.

…happiness is a choice I make daily, that’s all.

 

En Proceso – Stinky Feet

3 Apr

In the past several months I have had the opportunity to field unintentionally, unkind commentary. Most likely the result of being in my third year of mourning. And though I could spell out for you the details of each encounter, I will spare the invocation of sympathy by not doing so. For truly it isn’t necessary for me to utilize this blog platform to rally my troops, not today anyway (no guarantee for future intent). The problematic formula, or root of the unintentionally unkind quips, is that they each imply that the lapse of time should be lessening the pain of loss. A practical concept in theory, though rooted not in the reality of the griever.

I do understand the foundation of the misunderstanding, for I smile a lot. I invest in people’s lives, a lot. I am warm toward others, forgiving toward others, caring toward others and interacting with others, a lot. A newbie to my world would never suspect I carry, in my soul, the burden I carry. I celebrate babies, I empathize with others, I congratulate achievements. In essence, I am continuing on. People in mourning, people who grieve, continue on. If they don’t, they themselves are not living.

So how, how does one get on with it? How do I? Aside from the foundation of faith…

  1. Live in the now. I pay the price, daily, of disregarding the weight of my sorrow. The cost comes in form of loss of memory. In order to survive, I have to shut out certain reflections. Shutting the doors to pain also shuts out good memories as well. My friends help fill in my gaps when needed.
  2. Gratitude. I start with my ugly feet, though dreadful to look at they are the work horses of my life. I am grateful for my feet, their support of my body and the abuse they endure as result of my love of impractical shoes. I expand the exercise further from there. Gratitude is a most superior, healing salve.
  3. Being present. Remembering that my loss is not the only loss on earth forces me to connect with family and friends with a reciprocal intention.
  4. Embracing imperfection. This one could be it’s own blog post! Mourning, suffering loss, grieving, etc., has caused a desensitization of sorts for me. I am no longer “ruffled” by the small injustices in life. Example: waiting in long lines in the supermarket or coffee shop because of incompetence either with the employee or the customer doesn’t faze me. In life “my story” is always upon me, always goes with me and impacts my threshold. My own loss has given me greater understanding that each of us could be navigating the daily tasks of life with a complication, a fact and consideration I impart to others. *except when driving–I’m a beast!
  5. Letting go of offense. This one probably falls under the umbrella of #4. But to give it its proper due, I’ll list it out. My motto is, “I don’t have time for offense.” I move through affronts quickly for my soul has no extra room to carry them.

And of course my #5 brings us back to my opening paragraph. Suffice to say that I suffer loss in constant, and the questions hurled my way that cause offense do not (and cannot) penetrate the pain already there. In truth those that ask a question or make a comment in ignorance are fortunate; they haven’t been touched by sorrow’s sting or the injustice of a life gone too soon. I applaud their blessing as I put on my “big girl pants” and enact rule #1.

beautiful feet

Always at my service!

%d bloggers like this: