Tuesday, August 26, 2008
So basically my life revolves around a person whose greatest accomplishment in life is graduating to big-boy pants, and whose favorite TV show is The Wiggles. But he loves the Cubbies and "playing band", so I guess it could be worse.
Life is beautiful, indeed.
I'm becoming acutely aware of how the changes in our life are affecting TJ. His behavior, his moods, his quirks. His remarkable resilience, now that I've grown "used to it", had been overshadowing some of the more subtle evidences of how his little heart misses his mommy.
He needs his paci more. He is SO lovey-- kissing and hugging and me and pressing his nose into my neck at every opportunity. (Not that I mind.) Bed-time is more of a challenge than ever. He's such an intense little guy that settling him down has always been quite the task, but lately, even more so. He needs a night light, now, after I turn out the lights. And he needs the door to be "cracked" (where we used to shut it all the way). I need to "tuck him in" about 3-4 times each night, on the average, before he finally falls asleep. He cries (if he's awake) when I leave for work or "meetings" (church, friends, whatever). That never happened before. He ALWAYS needs to know where I'm at-- where I'm going... and "why?". Even when I'm just leaving the room, he asks, "...but you're not leaving me??" It seems to help and calm him when I remind him-- several times a day-- "Daddy will ALWAYS come back home to you, TJ." But still, it's quite a messy job, leaving him with Miss Liz or even Dana.
I surprised Leslie and bought her dream "Soccer Mom"-mobile for her 30th birthday-- a silver Toyota 4Runner. Complete with the sunroof and CD changer... and room for another car seat, if/when the need would arise. We paid it off earlier this year. And lately, it's just been taking up space in the garage. It'd been 4 months since it'd been driven. Needed to be jump-started, it'd been sitting there for so long. We'd made arrangements that my parents would stop through on the way back to Ohio from the 1st memorial service "downstate" to pick up the car and drive it back to Ohio, where the family friend who sold it to us could find a new home for it. TJ freaked out when he realized what was going on.
"Where are they TAKING Mommy's car?!"
"Mimi and Papa are going to take it back to Ohio where we bought it, so somebody else can drive it. Mommy doesn't need it anymore, now that she's in Heaven," I answered.
"Yes she DOES!!! She'll need it when she comes back to SEE us!!!" My eyes welled up with tears as I heard this response.
I had to make a split-second judgment. How do I handle this? In a stunning blur of clarity, I answered...
"TJ... Maybe God is giving Mommy a BRAND NEW car in Heaven! And it is BIGGER and SHINIER and FASTER than this one! We can give this one to somebody else who needs it HERE!"
He listened intently, then thought about it... then asked, "Does her car in heaven have a very loud and very big HORN???"
"YES!!!" I asnwered, thrilled that this seemed to be working. "And when we go to heaven with Mommy someday, she will let you BEEP the big horn on her big, shiney car!!"
TJ smiled and wiped dry his tears.
You see, what we know of Heaven-- even the most religiously astute and biblically trained among us-- is only seen through a broken and foggy mirror. God reveals to us what we need to know about such things, (Heaven, the "end times", whatever...), in order for us to keep our faith in confidence, comfort, and humility. That's how it should be for us as parents, as well, revealing such things to our children. What TJ needs to know about Heaven-- in his 3-year-old mind-- is that Mommy is "all better". And all the joys and pleasures she had on Earth (playing band with him, driving her 4Runner around town with him in the back seat, etc...) are NOTHING compared to the joy she is experiencing now, united with her Creator and Savior. So it is perfectly honest and healthy to tell the boy-- struggling with the fact that we're getting rid of Mommy's car-- that this car is NOTHING compared to the car that God gave Mommy when she arrived in Heaven. And that she is getting his GREAT BIG DRUMSET ready, complete with MANY GIANT CYMBOLS, so that he can worship God with her when he joins her in Heaven someday. And so-on.
Today, I got my hair cut. The simple task of getting a haircut will forever be an emotional experience for me. My hair was Leslie's domain, since she was a hair stylist by trade, and... well... she was my wife. I almost feel like I'm cheating on her, somehow, letting another woman's fingers, comb, and shears run through my hair. (half-joking) It didn't take long for "my story" to be revealed. (Apparently, first time clients are often asked about their history of providers of cosmotological services. My history is short: My wife was the only hair stylist my adult head has known... and then the story unfolds-- like a ton of bricks-- onto the poor girl who asked the question.) Anyway, this particular stylist at LifeTime Fitness (my salon of choice on this particular day, due primarily to the convenience factor-- she did a good job... be back in 6 weeks...) was very sincere in her compassion and sensitivity, but her curiosity was killing her...
"So... if you don't mind me asking... How's the little guy been through all of this?" A perfectly reasonable question for a mother of 2 herself. And something about her demeanor and presentation of the question made it easy to open up to her and share a little.
"Kids that young are remarkably resilient," I said. "They have no life experience with which to compare their situation. They don't know it 'should be' any different than it is."
"I guess you're right," she said thoughtfully, as she took a few extra minutes to rinse the shampoo from my hair. "That's got to be draining on YOU, though...?"
"Actually," I thought about it a few seconds, "he keeps me going. He energizes me. Doesn't give me a chance to feel sorry for myself. Keeps me putting one foot in front of the other."
Tonight we had peanuts while we watched the Cubbies game. I made him chocolate milk (a newly discovered special treat) to wash down the peanuts before playing a few innings-- complete with tackling and tickling-- before bed-time. (Little man can HIT the BALL, by the way!) I tucked him in 3 1/2 times, after our initial prayer and story time. He's asleep now. Tomorrow we wake up and do it again.
Life is beautiful, indeed.