My son, Noah, is in the middle of a project.
It’s part of his therapy, and normally I would never post what he’s going through or what he’s doing there. In fact, I’m not posting any of that, it’s his own, personal journey and I’m not one to put that in the public eye. But . . . one thing has me heartbroken, and I use that word very sparingly, usually.
Noah has a project where he puts what he’s feeling down in drawings. I’m not going into his details at school or home or any of that. But I look at his drawings at the end of each day and see what he’s going through.
Noah’s had a hard time. A very hard time. He still grapples with losing his Mom, and I can’t seem to help him all the time. Particularly at school. Some of it is personality, certainly, but I actually understand him. Noah doesn’t look at the world the same way a lot of other people do. He wants to see the mechanics of it. He likes to imagine what things would look like differently. When he doesn’t play sports but likes to write or read or tell stories he’s not part of the norm. I was the same way, but I didn’t take it quite as hard as he does, I don’t think. He likes structure and order and lots of times in school structure and order go out the window. When that happens he loses control and when he loses control he gets into trouble.
His drawing today had a picture of himself with thoughts about what he was feeling. Two thoughts, in bright red, sad and angry thoughts, leaped off the page.
“It’s my fault Mom died.”
I was speechless for a few seconds, I really was. I’ve worked very hard to ensure a couple things: that the kids know that their Mom loved them very, very much; and that bad things just happen, and Andrea passing away was one of those bad things. It was nobody’s fault. I may feel, sometimes, that Andrea could have fought harder, but I wasn’t Andrea. I didn’t have the emotional, physical and mental pains she was going through and her body just couldn’t take any more. None of that was because of this little guy sitting next to me on the couch with his eyes welling up as I read his thought bubbles on the picture.
“Noah, I want you to know something, and this is really, really important,” I told him. His eyes had gone glassy from the tears he was holding back. With his siblings nearby I didn’t want to read the thoughts out loud, this was his issue to face by himself, really.
“Neither of these things is your fault, Noah. I want you to know that.”
“okay…” was all he said.
“I’m not angry at you, Noah, and nobody will ever be angry at you for thinking this…but I need you to know and to believe me when I say that you had nothing to do with either one of them passing away. It’s truly not your fault,” I told him. As I looked at him he had a tear running down his cheek and he was looking at the floor.
“There’s nothing you could have done, little monkey, about this. I was there, Noah, right until the very end with your Mommy. She loved you more than anything. You have to believe that. At no time did she ever, ever, say anything bad about you. She loved you, I love you, and that will never change.”
He looked up and his eyes were starting to dry, finally.
“What do I always tell you?”
“You love me.”
“And if you get in trouble . . . ”
“. . . you still love me.”
“If you get mad . . . ”
“. . . you still love me.”
“If you hit somebody. . . ”
“. . . you won’t be happy with me!”
“True, but still . . . ”
“. . . you will love me.”
“And you know very well . . . ”
” . . . that won’t ever change.”
It’s important to me that he know that. I know, or have an inkling, why he’s worried about his Mom dying. He threw tantrums and she fought with him . . . a lot. She called me at work and said she didn’t know what to do with him and she was angry with him. But still, when I came home, he was there, on her lap, next to her, and she loved him. Deeply.
“Noah, you have to understand, none of this is your fault. You are a wonderful little man, and you are not ugly. You look just like your Mom, which means . . . you’re beautiful. Always remember that.”
They’re not throw away words, either. Each of those four kids has pieces of their Mom and knowing that makes my heart a little lighter. I just hope they know they can tell me all these things . . . and not keep them hidden in thought bubbles forever.