It has been three months since Simon took his last breath and nearly five months since the doctors delivered the devastating diagnosis. There is still a wide variety of emotions in our home, but we are making notable progress in our journey.
For me, I’m becoming more bold in my role as a single mom and widow. I have been venturing out more with all three children in tow. A sushi craving hit the other night so I loaded the troops and we went to a nice place in town. The kids were well behaved but still being squirrely kids. The manager was so kind and accommodating; he sat us near the windows so they would have more to look at, added lids to their drinks to help prevent spills, and treated them like the little humans they are. I cried as I was paying the bill, thanking him profusely. He probably thought I was a total weirdo, but c’mon. It’s hard enough going out with children and BOTH parents present. To have that kind of sensitivity and warmth gives me hope that I can do it again.
I’m holding tighter to existing friendships, appreciating the value of good company deeper than I ever did before. My folks try to take the kids overnight a day each week so I can enjoy an evening out. Recently, a girlfriend and I enjoyed dinner and were up until midnight. It was the first time in months that I wasn’t in bed by 9pm. I also attended a local widows group and, in spite of the age gap, felt comforted and encouraged by the sweet women who had fresh losses and raw emotions like me. I find myself getting better at asking for and receiving practical help with the house and kids. Inside this grieving widow, there is a young woman who still yearns to live. To live well. To live big. To live intentionally like the man she loved did.
The kids continue to process the loss in different ways. Our son , who turned eight in August, is able to verbalize many of his feeling but sometimes his grief breaks through in the form of distraction. He may have trouble completing his school work or finishing a story he was telling. Our therapist reminded me that healing from a trauma takes time, just like healing from a physical injury. She used the analogy of making someone with a sprained ankle run a marathon. You wouldn’t. Likewise, our son needs his family, friends, and teachers to exercise patience and relax their expectations as he regains his emotional strength and resilience.
He misses bonding time with his dad and we make an effort to have him hang out with Simon’s male friends as often as we can. He took a beach trip with one of Simon’s best friends last weekend and is having dinner and Lego-time with another friend this evening. A few weeks ago, our son simply ran errands with a guy friend from our church. They pumped gas and bought dog food. But it matters. It’s time well spent with responsible male figures doing the everyday things of life.
Our middle daughter has trouble verbalizing her feelings. She has been strong willed and dramatic since infancy, but it has become more extreme since the loss. Our therapist uses play therapy to help our daughter express herself. In our most recent session, our daughter was playing with a dollhouse and dolls. She recreated our family and then imagined each doll getting very sick. The each doll would recover. It was her way of conveying the emotions we have been dealing with. Low points of sadness then waves of happiness and joy. She also draws pictures and explains the intricate details that often include Simon and good memories of him.
Our youngest daughter will be three in January. She has stopped asking where Simon is or when he is coming home. She is becoming more relational and empathetic, even at her young age. It has become clear recently that she favors salty foods over sweet foods – she is Simon’s daughter!
We had new family pictures taken last month. My older brother’s wife is a photographer and captured some wonderful shots of us.
We are doing the best we can.