Things are slowly getting back to normal around here. School has been out for over a week now, and we have already settled in to a nice routine of whatever activities we have scheduled (mostly the older kids), a little exercise (mostly me), and sometimes a swim in the neighborhood pool or a run through the sprinkler (Kid E insisted that we get one). I’ve been moving along, day by day, trying not to let death be the first thing that comes to mind when I open my eyes. And each day it does get a little better. But I also don’t want to forget Braden and what he meant to our family. It really is a fine line. Right now I am a tightrope walker.
My mom mentioned to me last week when she came down for the memorial service that she was more worried about me than she was about Kid A. I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager. But this is different. I was legitimately depressed when Braden was diagnosed. Surely there were times when I ate and drank too much during the many months when he was being treated. But when he died, it was like a switch flipped in me. I reassured my mom that her fears were unfounded… I was talking about my feelings, I was reading a book about dealing with death, I was writing as my therapy, I was exercising every day, drinking and eating in healthy quantities, and overall managing a very healthy grieving process. I am very sad, but I am working through the sadness. But I guess you never stop worrying about your kids, so I get where my mom was coming from.
Kid A and Kid B did some grief counseling before school let out. Kid A has a box of memories and mementos that she has been going through. Kid B has been wearing the soccer jersey that Braden gave her. We are encouraging everyone in our family to talk about their emotions, and to continue to talk about Braden. Sheepdog has been more angry than sad, but that has always been his go-to move. He took out some of that anger on his mountain bike yesterday, with my brother-in-law and one of his employees. The point is, everyone grieves differently, and on their own schedule. As long as you work through it, the grief is almost always good.
One day Kid E started crying and said, “I’m really going to miss Brandon!” but we reassured him that Uncle Brandon was just fine (aside from the damage that Sheepdog may have inflicted on him during the very emotional bike ride). He was obviously still in the first stage of grief… shock and denial (and confusion).
Sheepdog and I were talking about it again last week. We have obvious concern for Braden’s family, but also for each other and for our kids as well. We wanted to make sure that everyone was getting the counseling that they needed and processing their emotions in healthy, constructive ways. We spoke at length about how everyone is exhibiting their pain in their own unique way, and none of them is necessarily right or wrong. We can only continue to watch out for signs and make sure that no one slips through the cracks without properly acknowledging and dealing with their sorrow.
And then Sheepdog pointed out that some people really benefit from grieving naked, and he felt that a little affirmation of life was in order. I guess we really are going to be okay.
Wish me luck for tomorrow…