death, time, space, etc.
death, time, space, etc.
It was one year ago yesterday that my ex husband's brother died. He was 31 years old. He had a massive heart attack as he stepped off the train. Three days after he turned 31.
My kids learned a lot about death last year. They struggled with the concept of their favorite uncle no longer being around. It took them a while. Then, when they were just finally getting comfortable enough to go to the cemetery and talk about him in past tense, rather than if he was still here, September 11 happened. And then September 12 happened, which is when their adored great-grandmother, Nanny, died.
Nanny and their uncle both lived in the same house as their father. So every weekend, the kids saw them. Every weekend, they lived with them and spent time with them. These were people who were part of the everyday pattern of their lives. And then, they were gone. Nanny, it wasn't so hard to understand. She was old. She was in the hospital. She had been sick for a while. And she died amidst the rubble of a national disaster, so the comprehension of her death and the meaning of it was lost between the death and disaster that CNN was bringing into our homes.
It was much harder to explain about their uncle. How someone so young, so active and seemingly healthy could just disappear from their lives like that. They worried that he died alone. They worried that he needed help and he couldn't get it. They agonized over the last moments of their uncle's life. DJ, especially, wondered if he had told him enough times how much fun he was. How much he adored him.
Just a couple of months ago, DJ told me he dreams about his uncle frequently. He said it's not like he's part of his dreams, it's like he just appears in the middle of a dream, just to say hello. One night he dreamed that he was roller blading down the street, and suddenly his uncle appeared on the corner. He waved to him and asked how he was doing. He said to say hello to everyone. DJ says this happens often. I asked him how he felt about it. It's great to see him, mom. I wish I could dream like that every night. He's really happy where he is, and it's nice to see him smiling. He takes comfort from those dreams, and I am not about to dispel any notion he has about them. Half of me believes that it really happens like DJ thinks it does.
Natalie says she sees shadows sometimes in the dark of the night. She hears voices when she's trying to get to sleep. She thinks it's her uncle and Nanny, saying hello to her. Natalie has a great imagination, and I think she is slightly jealous of DJ's dreams, so I don't discourage her when she relays these stories. Anywhere you can find comfort, you take it.
I'm taking them to the cemetery after school today. We'll make the rounds while we are there, seeing first their uncle, and then my grandmother and grandfather, both of whom haunt me in my dreams. I'm going to ask them to please stop. We have other aunts and uncles and friends, all making their home in the same grassy, pleasant expanse of Holy Rood Cemetery. We'll stop by the mausoleum and visit my dad's friend Pete Ganci, as we have before, and thank him once again.
We always leave the cemetery with a good feeling. The kids don't find it depressing or sad or morose. They take comfort in knowing that there is somewhere they can go, besides their dreams, to visit with the people they loved that are no longer here with us. They bring plants and brush the leaves from the graves and sometimes we tell stories. We always leave with a good feeling, like we've just hung out with some old friends.
I still can't believe a year has passed already. I started off this morning thinking about the passage of time and how quickly it seems to fly by. That's what I was intending to write about today. Not death and mourning and spirits, but the essence of time. How much life has been crammed into the twelve months since I last wrote about the death of my ex brother-in-law. How you think, after so much sadness and destruction pervades your lives that you can't go on. But the push of time forces you to go on. Months and days and weeks carry momentum and take you with them, and before you know it, calendar pages have turned and events have come and gone and another year has folded up and left the game. And you lived to tell about it.
If you were looking for a post that made sense today, this wasn't it. Sorry. Run on thinking is a dangerous thing.