It is a sad time at our house right now. My ex-husband called me yesterday to let me know that his dad passed away early yesterday morning. It sounds as if it was peaceful; he had only been out of the hospital for less than a day last week before having another stroke. He had been in the ICU for about a week, then, going in and out of consciousness and just hanging on. Finally, finally, he just went, quickly and quietly.
Hannah and Eli have never had to deal with the death of a loved one. They have known people who have died, of course, but have never experienced it first-hand, so their reactions are perhaps typical. Hannah is devastated, Eli is taciturn, and both are just trying to get through it as best as they know how. Eli was quiet all night, he did not want to talk to his dad or grandma or even me, but before bed he came up and wanted a hug. He held on for a really long time, this boy that is taller and bigger and far tougher than me, needing some kind of comfort that I really can’t give. And then he very resolutely pulled away and went to bed. Hannah, on the other hand, wanted and needed to talk; to talk about her vast memories of her grandpa, to talk about what will happen next, and to be able to cry. She slept with me last night, just needing to have someone with her.
I would like to say the first day for them is going to be the hardest, but I don’t know. There are some other things going on such as the fact that for whatever reasons, their dad is refusing to let them go to the memorial service. I am trying to be understanding, even generous, but it is proving to be very difficult for me. I offered to pay for half of the plane tickets, even, and God knows I can’t afford THAT but I will find a way, because I think it is really important that they are there. Still, even with that offer on the table, he doesn’t want to let them come. I don’t get this, I really don’t. I don’t know what his rational is, I don’t know if in the thick of things yesterday if he just wasn’t thinking clearly, I don’t know. I talked to him again last night and tried to make is clear that I think they should be there, and he is supposed to call me this morning and let me know. It doesn’t sound like he is going to give in, though, and I am really angry with him about that.
Any way I look at it, even taking into account all the machinations of death and the high feelings involved, I can’t understand why he wouldn’t want the kids to be there. I don’t think it is going to be good for the kids to be kept from something so important as the memorial service for their grandpa; he has been a huge part of their lives, even despite the divorce, and I think they deserve a chance to go, to grieve with the family, to get what comfort they can from it. To say goodbye. I really think it is vital to be able to listen to the inevitable stories and memories, to be able to cry with people who loved him as much as they did, to be PART of it. I can’t give them that; I liked R. quite well, have nothing but good to say about him, but I am not grieving him as a person. The memories I have of him are 16 years old, and while of course it helps to an extent, it isn’t what they need. I can’t hold onto Hannah and cry with her, because from my emotional and physical distance from the situation, all I feel is grateful-grateful that he is gone, and that it was peaceful, grateful that the rest of the family can now begin to move forward instead of being stuck in the stasis of waiting for someone to die, grateful that the poor man is no longer going to be kept alive in body but certainly not in spirit.
So please, all, send up some thoughts and prayers that he will bend, and also that it will work out financially for them to go. Say a prayer for their family in Spokane, because no matter how elderly or ill the person was, it is never easy to lose someone you love. Pray for them to have strength and peace, and for the inevitable family squabbles to blow over and not turn into something ugly. Just-send up good thoughts for all of them, but especially for my Hannah and Eli.