By all accounts what was supposed to be a great year – I have to admit – has gotten off to just a s***ty start. Andrea’s father is terminal and we don’t know how much time he has left. Then very early this morning my Grandma passed away. Don’t get me wrong, she had a very long life, she’s been ill and is (sorry, was) in her nineties. Others would say “she had a full life.” Wouldn’t make it easier for me to deal with, though.
All this has really impacted our home. I wish I could say it hasn’t but I’d be lying and our family isn’t big on that. I found out first thing in the morning about my Grandma but didn’t tell the kids. Still, my oldest, Abbi, came up to me and said “you okay Dad? You look like you need a hug,” and proceeded to squeeze me until I smiled before leaving the house.
But the day couldn’t stay that way. I had a shoot in the San Francisco Bay area. I should know better than to ever set anything up there because every time I’ve gone there for work – and I do mean every time – something goes wrong. Once Noah got sick. The second time . . . Sam had a migraine so bad he was throwing up in the school office. Each time I was either in Menlo Park or the Presidio or . . . yesterday in San Jose.
Noah, one of the twins hasn’t handled the grief well. Not grief over his Mom passing, nor dealing with waiting for his Grandfather to pass. It’s created a situation that nobody can fix. He’s awful in school. He’s talked back to his teachers, something that would have had me beaten senseless (an exaggeration, but I’d have been in major trouble) and forced to contend with being good from then on. Unfortunately, Noah not only misbehaved, after misbehaving and talking about it and dealing with it . . . turns around the next school day and does it again. I received a call in the middle of a shoot in San Jose and was asked to come get him. Noah was refusing to do anything at school and the teachers didn’t have the time to deal with him. Nor should they, it’s not really their problem, not that extreme a problem anyway. They’ve been amazing, his teachers, and far more tolerant than he deserves, in my opinion.
In my own grief I just couldn’t deal substantially with it last night, which actually might have been the best thing. Noah was waiting for me to lecture, get angry, get upset, hell even just say something. I didn’t. I couldn’t. Hell, I didn’t even cook tonight. I bought a couple frozen pizzas and threw them in the oven. I had cookie dough left from the night before and used those for the lunches tomorrow. I just couldn’t deal with his grief, I wasn’t sure how to deal with myself right now.
But I am writing now at about 3am. Noah came into the room crying uncontrollably. He was scared, though he wouldn’t tell me why.
“Bad dream?” I asked him.
“(sobbing) bad dream! I’m really scared!”
I patted on the pillow next to me. He climbed in and immediately fell asleep. I, however, cannot, for a couple reasons.
First: he’s shaking. Even though he fell asleep, the poor little guy was horrified by something and though with me he feels safe enough to sleep, the adrenaline and the fear have him shuddering even now, a half hour later.
Second: I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but there’s an old Yogi Bear cartoon where a little bird can’t fly south for the winter so he sleeps with Yogi. Yogi snores, then the bird does and ends up right against Yogi’s side. The bear moves, the bird moves. The bear moves, the bird moves . . . until finally Yogi falls out of bed. He sits up, watches the bird, and as the bird snores he meets the end of the bed and moves back to the middle, never falling. That was me last night. I’d move Noah, he’d end up right against my back. I’d turn over and his head would be on my chest. I feel for him, but now I can’t sleep, so I write.
But nothing knocks you back to reality like your kids being threatened. Even if it’s an imagined or dreamed threat, I went into “Dad” mode and immediately held him until he calmed and fell asleep. I look at him and wonder how a kid who can have so much love and be so sweet can also have such issues. We know he hasn’t – almost two years later – dealt with the loss of his Mom the way he should. But I can’t force him to deal with it, I can only tell him how much I love him and get him help the best I can.
So as I finish here I’ll lie back down, pray he’s rested and able to deal with school like everyone else tomorrow, and realize that sometimes grief, fear, and loathing all meld together, whether you like it or not.