When I first tucked the boys into bed the week after we lost Andrea I didn’t know what to do about our nighttime routine. Abbi started us, when she was little, saying the Guardian Angel prayer. It’s a simple routine: I read a chapter out of a book to the boys and then say our prayers.
But Andrea, when we started doing the typical little kid thing of “God bless Grandma Kathy; Grandpa Jeff; Cousin Holly . . . ” she thought the whole process was taking far too long. So we threw it all together – bless Mommy, Daddy, Abbi and Hannah and Noah and Sam and then added all my Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunties and Uncles and cousins and friends. And please help me not to have bad dreams.
But in the first days after losing her I didn’t know what to do. The first days the routine was likely the same, but I can’t remember how they went for sure. I remember the day the whole process felt weird to me, though. I went to the boys’ room, read that chapter, and then said the prayers and for the first time I left “Mommy” out of it. I thought it just came and went, as odd as it felt, and that was it. But the boys looked at me and told me “We can still keep Mommy in the prayers, Dad, why did you leave her out?”
“I don’t know boys, I guess because she’s not here.”
“Just because she’s not in the house with us doesn’t mean we shouldn’t say it. We can still say it like she’s here. She is.”
I was very touched by that. I was struggling with losing Andrea, I think because I was just so hurt and sad. But here were these two little seven-year-old kids who were taking things in far more faith than I was. I kept it in the nighttime routine from that point on.
But the last few weeks I’ve noticed something in the boys. We’d say the prayers and the boys would do it the same. We left our home, I quit my job, but the routine and the prayers remained the same. But I noticed, particularly in Sam, that we would say the prayers, after a 1/2 hour of reading a book. We’d get through the main prayer and say the part about Mommy and Daddy . . . except Sam isn’t saying Mommy any more. He lets me say it, but he is notoriously quiet when it comes time to say it. Noah too. I haven’t asked them about it, but they are obvious about how they quiet down. The room goes from three voices to one – mine. Then they chime back in for “Daddy”.
I get it. Sam’s been very afraid of being left alone. Noah worries about what happened. They don’t know what to think about the fact that their mother is gone. I can see the way they think in the fears that they’ve had rise to the surface. Sam has a very large fear of being abandoned . . . of being left behind. Noah worries when we’re not all together. The boys are worried about what I have thought about myself. They feel like their Mom left them behind. Yes, she’s here, in their hearts, but they’re 9 years old now. They don’t feel that’s enough some days. I play with them, I hug them, I do all I can, but I’m not their Mom.
They don’t act angry, nor are they acting out. But I understand. There are days that I feel the same. There are days they wonder why they weren’t enough for her to stay around. They wonder why she had to leave. They wonder why she died and other kids got to keep their Moms. All I can say to them is that sometimes the world just doesn’t make sense. There’s no reason why a resistant strain of pneumonia had to attack her and nobody else. I can’t explain why her kidneys had to fail and her body attacked itself when they tried to do dialysis on her. I don’t know why she had to leave and it hurts and confuses me as much as I am sure it does them.
So I don’t correct them or ask, not now. They tell me whenever they need something or have questions. For now it’s their little way of showing their anger at their Mom, I know that, for leaving them. I don’t blame them a bit, it’s not like they can tell her, and as loyal as they were in the beginning, they are likely feeling the way I have been lately. They miss her, they hate that she’s gone, and they’re mad but don’t want to be mad. So at the end of the day, they get back at her without hurting her too badly. But they’re mad and don’t want me to know it.
If they need to tell me, they’ll tell me, but for now I don’t say anything.
But I take solace in knowing that regardless of what they need or how they feel, I will try my hardest to make sure that they know of anyone, I’ll be at their side.