Let’s file this under “shit I don’t want to do”, shall we?
When looking for a 5k in the not so distant future (name that song and I’ll buy you a beer…”In the not so distant future…”) I came across Teddy Bear Hollow.
Teddy Bear Hollow is a local group to support grieving children. Of which I have two. Or, one. Usually. Anyway, I am interested. And I am really interested in supporting such a worthy organization. (I will be running August 28th…and asking for donations this summer so save your nickels. Don’t worry. I don’t run fast.)
I notice that they have a second Saturday of the month meeting for the children. Crafts, activities and they would maybe meet some friends who are in the same boat. Ella has been talking a lot about families and how our family is different from her friends’ families. I thought it would be good for her to meet some other kids who are missing a mom or a dad.
My littles? Did me proud. The place is run by volunteers, which is totally fine, except for the director. All women. All of the “Ladies who Lunch” variety. Oh, and some sophomore Social Work majors looking for some resume fodder. All good.
The head Lady Who Lunches (LWL) says to me at registration “So, who have you lost?”
Ella says “My daddy is in heaven. He sick and died.”
Without missing a beat Amelia says “Our baby brother died too. He’s with Daddy.”
Oh man. I choked up. And LWL needs a moment. It might have been too much information coming from two tiny people.
So there are 19 kids and 11 parents/other caregivers. The kids range in age from 3 (Amelia is the youngest) to 17. The kids are split by age (bigs and littles) and sent off to do whatever it is they are doing. The parents gather.
LWL asks us to introduce ourselves and talk about why we are here.
I am just about beside myself. Talk about a group of folks lost in the world. Some have lost children, some spouses, one grandparent. Lots of cancer. A suicide. A heart surgery gone very wrong. And 19 kids between us. Mostly women. One daddy (who was hot and had a very interesting tattoo) and one grandpa who brought his granddaughter who was missing her mom.
It is 119 degrees in this room. I am sweaty and, thusly, refuse to remove my hoodie. Also, I’m in a new bra and a little uncomfortable because I’m not used to an underwire (too much?). My face is hot. My eyes are already burning and I am trying to hold it together.
I am not meant for support groups. I loathe support groups. I didn’t go to one when Will died. My doctor offered to connect me with one after Stephen died. I’ll say it again: I loathe support groups.
And not because of the crying. After almost 3 years of being medicated to the point of almost never crying except in anger and almost never in sadness, the crying is almost welcome. Except in public. With hot daddy sitting right next to me.
What got to me was that most of the people in the group had a more recent loss than mine. And, as we went around the table, they would say something and I would think to myself “Yep, I did that” or “Oh Em Gee, that was me 18 months ago”.
I could see exactly where I had been.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see on the “exactly where I will be” front.
In the end, I blubbered and blathered for my five minutes about Stephen and about the girls and about getting up and changing diapers after the funeral and how there was never time for myself until just recently and the littles being so little.
I did learn something…one thing…that I don’t miss having Stephen around anymore. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t give anything for him to walk through the door but I have learned to live without him and how to be the double parent and how to get through the day.
What brought me to tears today was thinking about all he has missed, is missing and will miss. In theory, he sees it all. In theory. I don’t believe. I don’t think that time is the same in Heaven as it is on Earth. It’s just my theory but a lifetime to us is a blink in the grand scheme of things.
How can he see my baby becoming a little girl almost overnight? And did he catch that Ella spent a good 10 minutes at supper tonight telling my dad all about lemurs?
He missed it. I just know it.
And then I cry.
And I am so tired. I forgot how tiring it is to grieve.
And how we never run out of tears.
I don’t know that we will go back. I need to suss out what the littles got out of the experience. I just…can’t. I don’t think I can. I will…if they find it helpful…but I don’t like this feeling of getting better and feeling okay about the whole thing. And then everything comes crashing back.