Sunday, October 14, 2012

A lesson for me as Samhain approaches

Gavin brought home one of his writing projects from school to finish it here.  Normally, I wouldn't take much notice of this, but he brought it too me to read while he got ready for his spelling pre-test.  I wasn't prepared to face what he wrote. In a cheerful yellow folder, he showed me one of his experiences in a way I didn't expect him to be able to do for a couple more years.

He was writing about his grandfather's wake.  It was more than four years ago, and he still remembers so many details, like looking at his shoes and people he talked to. He normally can't remember what he ate for lunch or which book he's reading in class. I was struck by how sharply he communicated his experience through his writing and how strongly he still feels the loss of his grandfather.

On one hand, this is the time of the year to let him explore his grief, to think about his grandfather, but on the other, I worry that he hasn't healed.  Swallowing the lump in my throat and blinking back tears, I reminded him that since Samhain is coming, maybe he should consider doing something to honor Grandpa and to send him a message.  With big, brown, wet eyes, he nodded and hugged me.  Then he left.

I find that I know true helplessness when it comes to someone else's grief.  When that grief belongs to my child, I am both helpless and uncertain.  Did I do enough for Gavin by reading his words, by letting him know that he's not alone in missing someone?  I don't know.  Am I going to have to do this ever October? I'm a little worried that I will.  I'm proud of my son for putting so much effort into his writing, for communicating so clearly, but that pride is tempered with sadness and worry.  I have no answers for him, and my life lessons, though valuable to me, are no substitute for the ones he will have to learn.  I can share what I've learned, but I can't give him, give anyone, the true worth of those lessons. It's one of those parts of life that we can't give to anyone else, and that is a lesson in itself.

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