tender

The last day or so, I keep going back to sort of painful memories.  Sort of sad, not-really-sure-why-they-are-popping up memories.  I keep thinking about going to the YMCA with Ward when he was an older toddler, close to the time of his accident.  I remember taking him to the nursery and walking him in.  The nursery people didn’t really like that ~ they preferred for parents to bring kids to the door and sign them in and go ~ but whatever.   If  he was feeling any sort of reluctance, I’d walk him in and play with him for a couple of minutes. 

He liked a ride-on firetruck in the playroom and, on sunny days, a bouncy red jeep on a spring in the playground.  I remember showing them to him and getting him settled and then going in for my workouts, which lasted 45 minutes or so.  When I came back, the nursery keepers would tell me that he would be fine as long as they let him stay on the toy I’d left him with.  He wanted to keep playing on the fire truck or the jeep, not particularly happy or interacting with other kids, but feeling that it was the thing to do since that’s where I’d taken him, and that was where he wanted to wait for me.

Which… is fine, I know, and not a bad thing.  Our YMCA adventures were special days, and we’d go out for a treat or to lunch with Daddy after, and we’d listen to Dragontales music in the car.  And it was good for me to get those workouts in.  But it’s hurting to think of him sitting, missing me, on a ride-on toy, and getting upset if a well-meaning nursery attendant tried to lure him off to go play with other kids. 

And I remember having to sign a form noting that there had been an “incident” when a little girl (the daughter of a friend of my brother’s) pushed him down in some power play over a toy and he got a scrape.  It was very minor, but apparently whenever blood is drawn certain forms must be signed.  When I got him that day, he was very indignant and vehement (I doan LIKE that girl, she was MEAN, doan like her AT ALL) and just a little bit teary, my tough guy.  I told him it was okay, he just didn’t have to worry about it, he just didn’t have to play with her again next time.  He complained about her some more, and I assured him, It’s okay, honey, just don’t play with her EVER AGAIN.

And, yeah.  You see where this is going.

He didn’t.

And why are these saddish little bits stuck in my craw?  I don’t want to be stuck with these sad little shreds.  I want the golden memories, of walks and chasing butterflies and tickling his feet with flowers, not this stuff.  I want to feel his touch and hear him whispering in my ear.  Yes, the grieving pain is much less sharp now, but I almost think I prefer the sharp, awful grief if it means I also get the messages and visits and dreams.  I don’t like this bruisy, distant longing.  Has he backed off because my grief is milder now, or am I just less sensitive to his presence because I am more or less knitted back together? 

Is he near me now, with arms around me, telling me it will all be okay, and that he loves me?

(I love you, too.)

Bruised is how I’m feeling, tender and achy.  And my word-chewing mind lifts its head at “tender”: is the grief now a spot that must be tended?  A spot that has to be shielded from crudeness or inane comments, only exposed around people that can be careful with it?  A spot that must, above all, be remembered, so that I don’t blithely walk into the sharp corner of a table and tear it wide open again?  A spot that isn’t festering or debilitating, but that requires more intent and reverence than the rest of me?

Am I the tender?  Did he create more tenderness in me because of how he transitioned?  Can I convince my mind to think about it in postive terms?

I’m not so sure.

But I do know I can’t allow anything negative or ugly near him, so it must all be good: every single thing about him.

And now my word-loving mind is raising its hand and going ooo-ooo-ooo and jumping up and down in its chair: What about “tender” like “TINDER”  like a FIRE STARTER??!!  Like, a means of producing some new form of heat and light, transforming dry, dead stuff into flame?  Huh huh HUH??? 

And I shout ENOUGH!, as stern as a faith healer.  ENOUGH WITH THE WORD-GAMES AND THE LITERARY MUMBO-JUMBO. 

I miss holding him with little monkey legs wrapped around me, running my fingers through his silky curls, smelling his neck, and hearing him laugh.  I am very sad that I am not tucking him into his bed tonight and that he is not dreaming of what presents he’ll get for his seventh birthday party.  I ache.

Must (pre-/por-/con-/at-) tend.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sweetsalty kate
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 11:53:59

    “Has he backed off because my grief is milder now, or am I just less sensitive to his presence because I am more or less knitted back together?”

    I can just relate so much to this. The slowing-down, the ache. I don’t have anything to say except to say that I’m nodding and grateful for you.
    xo

  2. Erika
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 01:54:21

    maybe, as your grief is milder, he is just more woven into you,

    that spirit knot, that only g-ds loom can create. if you look at a tapestry, all of the beauty is on one side, the back as knots, and hanging threads. threads that seem to just get lost in the mass of color.

    just because you can not see individual threads, does not mean that they are not there. in fact the tapestry would not be the same with out the “hidden” threads…

    this may be complete crap…

  3. camille
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 17:56:15

    I am wiping tears off of my cheeks. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and trusting all your readers enough to lift you up…

  4. Jane
    Oct 27, 2009 @ 18:55:48

    He (and his life) is everything all mixed together. The salty and the sweet. By remembering both you remember him truly.

    And yes… ‘he is near you with arms around you, telling you that it will all be okay and that he loves you.’

    Lifting you up in prayer…
    Peace to you.

  5. Trackback: I wish I wrote this well | mamapundit
  6. Mama Jamz
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 22:16:19

    Yes, Kate. Yes. I guess it’s inevitable. I remember feeling sad, too, in the early months, when I felt myself getting used to not having him there, not having him in my lap, not hearing him. I wanted the memories to stay fresh, but they fade and that’s just what happens.

    Erika, I like this: “as your grief is milder, he is just more woven into you.” My hope is that by talking about him and talking *to* him and doing things in his honor, I hold him close and stay tightly bound to him. I have no desire and no plan to let go of him. He can do what he wants and he does, but I will always hold him to me. I have read something about the weaving and the pattern only being readable when we are outside of the loom (or something like that) and I really like that imagery, and very much like the inter-wovenness of this whole thing we’re doing.

    Camille, you are so sweet. Thank you so much for making the trek down for Ward’s birthday. It is so special to see you and your sweet family whenever we get the chance to.

    And thank you, Jane. I do think he’s here with me. I found four four-leaved clovers today while on the cell phone outside, in the space of maybe 5 minutes. I still feel him on the side of my face and tugging at my ear – I’m here, I’m here. Maybe he will visit me in a dream again soon.

    And thanks to cousin K for reading and for her flattering words on her blog and for loving Ward.

  7. owlhaven
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 15:24:59

    I’m so sorry…..thank you for sharing…

    Hugs

    Mary

  8. Erin
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 01:01:06

    Your writing is wonderful…above all else, your love shines through, even from the depths of pain. Big hugs.

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