As you might have been able to surmise by my last post, it’s been a very rough period in the Picket Fence Post household. After the untimely death of one of The Eldest Boy’s friends, at 12 years old, it’s been difficult for everybody to just pick up where things were when we learned about this unthinkable turn of events and simply carry on, even though that’s what we’re told we’re supposed to do.
In the days immediately following the loss, the kids had lots of sleepovers. Lots of friends hung out together. The Spouse and I chatted with parents over coffee and tea, glasses of wine. We sat together with friends at our many youth games and got hugs from folks at our church. We enjoyed watching the Patriots punch their ticket to the Super Bowl with my brother's family while we ate junk food and talked via Facetime with my parents. We all drew comfort from one another.
But still . . .
As I’ve been keeping a hawk eye over the kids, trying to check in on them without being smothering, trying to give them a chance to talk if they want to, I’ve found myself completely out of sorts. Trying to get back to “normal” seems a challenging task because I keep thinking about the family in town for whom “normal” will never again be a resident of their home. I keep thinking about that family and feeling guilty that they have pain while I have the luxury of getting super annoyed that no one put a new role of toilet paper in the bathroom, that the boys won’t stop fighting over the stupid video games (I hate video games) or because one of them is being mouthy. One parent with whom I spoke at a youth basketball game yesterday confessed that she too feels guilty simply because she still gets to give her son a hug while the family of the boy who has passed away does not have that opportunity. Perhaps empathizing a bit too closely with a mother who had a child our children’s ages, we cannot stop thinking about her and her pain. It kind of freezes you in place.
When I’ve sat down at the laptop to write, it’s been challenging to be whimsical or wry, something I like to do in this space and on my other pop culture and politics blog. Aside from the pieces I’ve needed to submit in order to meet deadlines – reviewing TV shows like Once Upon a Time, Parenthood and Grey’s Anatomy – I’ve found the creative well dry. I’ve not much felt like being snarky on my blogs so I’ve been busying myself by observing the increasingly insane, unpredictable roller coaster of a presidential election and by pouring through books upon which I’m going to be writing columns. (Just finished Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas.)
Little by little, I know that the shock will fade but I hope that through the everyday nuttiness and insanity of going 10 rounds with The Youngest Boy over why he needs to wear a winter coat when it’s 10 degrees outside, why The Girl needs to put athletic tape around her tender ankle before basketball games, why The Eldest Boy is going to church whether he likes it or not and when I wake up at 4 a.m. to let Max the dog go outside (only to discover that he wanted to simply chill out on the deck and bark into the darkness), that we never forget that we’re lucky, that not all parents are as lucky as we are, and that we shouldn’t relegate the ones who aren’t to the dustbins of our minds.