I think, by far, one of the hardest things you can do in life is watch your child grieve. It's part of what made Mom's illness and dying so excruciating. We wanted nothing more than to be with her as much as we could. But, when we were with her, she was watching her children grieve and it ripped her heart out. There was no good way to navigate it, except with lots of talking and being honest. There are so many reasons that I can't imagine being in her place during those last three months, but watching us be so sad is probably the top reason.
My own child has done his fair share of grieving this year. The most obvious being with losing his Grammy. It really started before she died, for him. Nothing gets past Drew, and he knew long before I told him anything that something was terribly wrong. He knew it hurt Grammy to sit on her lap, so he kept his distance. He knew she needed to rest, so he didn't ask her to play. It was heart wrenching, both for Mom and for me.
When I finally got brave and told him Mom was dying, well, it was one of the worst moments of the whole ordeal. He sobbed great big heaving sobs. In some ways, I think he had known for a while. Speaking it out loud gave him the freedom to grieve openly. He said, "But Grammy hasn't had enough birthdays, yet!" No truer words were spoken. In his anger he proclaimed, "You got to have Grammy for 35 years, I only got her for 5. It's not fair!" Somehow, in his simple way, he expressed what everyone around him was feeling. My heart has broken for him over and over again.
In May, Drew graduated from preschool. I guess for most kids this milestone zips right past without a second thought. But, Drew spent several weeks working through how he was feeling. He said, "I'm just SO SAD about leaving my best buddies." We have been so blessed at St. B's. It has been the exact right place for all of us. Before I even started working there I had been praying for a friend for Drew. Someone who was like him-fun, and boyish, but quiet and sensitive. God put just that boy and two other great friends in his class two years ago. God also matched that amazing class with an amazing teacher. It was a sight to behold. As those kids moved into the Pre-K class, their bond remained. Drew will attend kindergarten at a school where he knows no one. Do I trust that God will bring new friends? Of course! But in the meantime, his heart is hurting. He doesn't have the life experience to tell him that new friends will come. And let's not even talk about how he feels about not being in class with Lyla.
He said, "Mom, it really is too much for Grammy to die AND for me to leave St. B's."
And now our dog has run away. We have searched high and low for him and he is nowhere to be found. Drew keeps waiting for him to come back. Big Dan and I have a hunch he won't be back. I'm not ready to tell Drew that. Maybe I'm a coward. Mostly, my momma's heart just can't take it.
I'm trying my best to point Drew to God during this hard time. It seems absurd to shepherd a five year old through so much loss. But, as I've told Drew, God doesn't waste anything. He will use this sadness to shape Drew into who He intends Drew to be. I must say, I'm pretty amazed at what He's done so far.