Take my hand, my son…

Today was a really emotional day.

Mom and I spent most of the weekend in our hometown working to prepare my grandparent’s house for auction. The household goods were loaded into a truck today for the auction later this week, and we’ve been painting and cleaning for months now to prepare the house itself for sale.

We were already tired when we got back today. At one point, I opened a box of Christmas decorations while looking for something, and I was struck with a familiar scent that took my breath away… my grandma. I choked down the lump in my throat, because we had work to do. Family tension did nothing to relieve my emotional state during the afternoon. A drive home, groceries, and picking up the Munchkin, and we were finally home again.

But as it turns out, I wasn’t the only one feeling emotional today.

It was a rough evening for my Munchkin, who is struggling right now. He doesn’t want to go to his dad’s house, and yet he has an extra overnight this week (which puts him at dad’s for 6 of the next 7 nights). He’s tired of being stuck in the middle. He doesn’t understand why his dad and stepmom say such mean things about his mom and grandparents. He said he is afraid that if he tells his dad how he feels, he will just be punished yet again. He told me that he is worried that if he tells people how he feels that nobody will believe him.

There were lots of tears before bedtime from a boy who is afraid to hurt anyone, and yet is quite tired of being a pawn in this grownup mess.

He may be 13 now, and he may be just a couple inches shy of surpassing me in height, but sometimes he is still very much my little boy. He still loves to snuggle. We still have a bedtime prayers routine, without which he will not go to bed.

During that routine, when he has had a rough day, I still sing to him. Usually he wants “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra“, or “You are my sunshine.”

But tonight when I tucked him in to bed, this old song popped into my head:

Day is Done: Peter, Paul, and Mary

A sign? Maybe. All I know is that it felt like the right song at the right moment.

Earlier during his meltdown , I talked with my Munchkin about our “village”. That his village was going to get him through all this stuff with his dad. That he can trust these people around him, in the village that mommy has built for him, to believe his feelings, to listen when he talks, to help him face the hard times. That just like his favorite heroes Harry Potter and Percy Jackson… even though things won’t be easy, he won’t ever do it alone. That it will be worth it in the end, and that I, along with his village, believe that he will get through this.

Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m making him feel any better. Tonight was one of those nights. But I tried. God, I hope it sinks I to his heart and helps bravery rise up within him. After I just hired yet another attorney, and my own faith falters, I pray that when I said to have faith in his mom and in our village, that it planted a seed.

Sometimes, I’m not sure whether being the mom or the kid in the middle is harder…

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When grief shakes you into gratitude

This week has been crazy.

Now, those of you close to me know that making a statement like that is akin to saying “the sky is blue”; my life has been some level of craziness for a couple of years now since I got the brilliant idea to buy a house and go back to school while raising an ASD kid on my own. Throw in fibro, a long-distance romance, work… you get the idea.

Spring semester started on Monday. But I missed my first three classes because Munchkin’s school was cancelled due to weather. I’ve just felt off-kilter ever since. I am my own slave driver sometimes (okay, most of the time), so I have been working all week at trying to tell myself to chill… but really I was walking a thin line between mindful awareness and just busy running, trying not to panic over feeling like I fell behind before the semester even started.

And then I opened Facebook.

Recently I haven’t been using social media nearly as much as usual. For the purposes of this post, the reasons aren’t important. But I just finished up replying to some professors and thought I’d scan the news. And that’s when I saw it.

Yesterday, a friend of mine lost her husband to cancer.

I met “Sadie” in high school. I always thought we sort of connected over our shared curly brown hair, and the fact that the two of us were some of the shortest girls in school. Sadie was actually slightly shorter than me, which is rare for me. Even though she was a year older, we had a couple of classes together. We reconnected on Facebook a couple years ago. I grinned when I saw her wedding pictures… “Jack” was a foot and a half taller than her! They were a totally adorable couple. I’ve watched with joy as they started a business together, built a house, and had a son.

I knew Jack was sick. I knew he was having a rough time with the chemo. I chatted with Sadie the other day to offer my help since they live nearby, and she sounded positive when she said she’d let me know.

And then…. this.

The details aren’t important. What’s important is that tonight, just down the road, someone I know – another mom who has been supportive to me, who is my age, who is raising a little boy – is now mourning the loss of her partner, her love, the father of her child. A little boy has lost his father. His father who is (was) the same age as my own partner, older by only a few days.

And now he’s gone.

My heart is aching for them. Though Sadie and I aren’t especially close, we’ve always had friends in common, and of course share the sisterhood of motherhood and the bond of a hometown. But having lost my own loved ones to cancer, to be a single mom of a little boy… I just can’t find words, can’t imagine such sorrow.

I don’t want to make this about me. The point I want to emphasize is this:

Sometimes, when you’re least expecting it, something happens to force you to reframe your perspective. That reminds us to be grateful. As I mentioned to my pilot the other day, “Sometimes we have to learn to find peace in the chaos.”

Gifts don’t always come to us in the way we expect. I would do anything to ease Sadie’s grief tonight, but – even though I in no way want to diminish the enormity of their loss – I am feeling humbled by the reminder to not get so bogged down in my own mess. That somewhere someone is hurting. That I should focus more on the blessings than my physical limitations. That maybe the best way to stop being wrapped up in self is to think first of others.

Tonight… be grateful. Reach out to someone in need of comfort. Hold your loved ones close.

And please… offer up a thought or prayer for Sadie and her son. Right now, and in the days to come, they are going to need “the village”.