“Describe the saddest you’ve ever been.”
“That would be when Dad died. When Mom told us the truth.”
The cold hard facts are this: four years after the bomb went off in our house these are the commonplace conversations of our dinner table. They are the sayings that come up unexpectedly in a blasé you-need-new-skates-my-mom-has-no-money-ask-your-dad-I-can’t-cause-he’s-dead kind of way in the hockey camp locker room. The did-you-know-my-Daddy-what’s-your-Daddy’s-name-it’s-Jim-but-he-died statements that jolt the solid stance of off-duty police officers at retail and movie-going destinations in a 50-mile radius of our home. The no-my-daughter-wasn’t-lying-to-your-daughter-about-the-whole-dead-Dad-thing explanations.
I shouldn’t feel this way.
But the four-foot-nothing-white-haired-temporary-nanny in my kitchen is practically apoplectic.
And I am laughing. And I simply cannot stop.
Every mother knows that nothing is sacred when it comes to a child’s view of life. And that the jiggle quotient of our body parts will be evaluated and broadcast to every living soul within earshot. But it is when you, through a series of unfortunate events, become a suddenly-single-by-death mother, that you truly appreciate your children’s ability to wage a campaign so unsettling that military analysts might consider their strategist potential.
Because there’s nothing like death to ratchet the absurdity, irony, unfairness and laughability of life to a previously unfathomable level.
As a mother, I have fallen short in perfection but excelled in love and devotion. I have struggled to hold the pieces together, but I have shown them how to pick them up when they fall. I have failed to rise above pain, anger and frustration, but I have succeeded in teaching them not to shrink from weakness and sorrow.
Maybe it’s the $1,400 water heater I paid for on Friday. Or the avalanche of work and personal emails that has threatened to entomb me for nearly a year. Or the familial dramas that are exacerbated by loss. Or the stitches sitting squarely between me and comfort.
“Did you know you are shorter than my Mom? And my Mom is really short!”
Or maybe it’s just life. The shock and awe kind.