I had a melt down today. I thought I had been doing pretty well this weekend. I even went through a box of the boys’ things and steeled myself to the point of actually giving a few away. That isn’t easy. It’s almost impossibly difficult. Ask any mother who has lost a child. The things they used and touched and played with and loved are still somehow a part of them. There are times when you can’t bear to look at them. There are times when you fall asleep with a piece of their clothing or a stuffed animal in your arms, because it’s the only thing that brings you comfort. Somehow it reassures you that they were real and alive and loved. With so many people pressuring you to set them aside and forget, you hold on to their belongings as if letting them go will mean another death. It’s hard to explain, and it isn’t logical. Feelings just aren’t logical, I’m afraid, especially strong emotions like grief.
When the boys were alive I drove a big old cadillac that had once belonged to my father. I called it Godfrey, because it seemed to cater so to my comfort – like My Man Godfrey. Devon loved that car. To him, Godfrey was a person – as real as any imaginary friend can be. When Godfrey had physical problems and had to stay at the “car hospital” for “treatment”, Devon worried about him. He held secret whispered conversations with Godfrey in the back seat. “Did you say something?” I would ask. “Just talking to Godfrey about something.” Devon would reply. He once overheard my son advise me to get a newer, more fuel efficient car, and was quite upset. “Promise you’ll never send Godfrey away, Oma.” he pleaded, and I told him that I wouldn’t. I thought I could baby the car along long enough for Devon to lose his attachment – that by the time Godfrey bit the dust, Devon would be able to understand.
That isn’t going to happen now. Devon is gone. But when I look at that old car I see him so clearly. I hear his voice behind me. I just know Ian is bugging me to play “Don’t Cry, Katie” for the 8th time and that Devon is telling Godfrey his secrets. How can I have it hauled away when I promised that I wouldn’t. It’s stupid and it doesn’t make sense, but I just haven’t been able to do it.
Godfrey is parked behind my mother’s house. You can’t just leave a car sitting at the curb – they give you ticket after ticket if you do. (Especially if you have a neighborhood busybody). Even though you can’t see it unless you come into the back, it irritates mom. She says that the neighbors will think it’s messy. I don’t see how, but that’s what she thinks. She wants me to get rid of it. I tell her that I will when I’m ready. She doesn’t understand that. If you say you will do something and don’t immediately jump to your feet to do it, then you “don’t mean it.” I do mean it. I know what I am going to do with Godfrey. I just haven’t gotten to a place where I’m ready to do so. I promised Dev.
So, my mom can’t let it go. Can’t stop pushing and prodding and needling until I’m ready to jump off the roof. She won’t listen to the whys of my reluctance to say goodbye to Godfrey. She says it’s been three years already – which is one of the absolutely worst things you can say to a bereaved parent. I know to the second how long it has been. I don’t want to be told to “move on” or hear how “patient” someone has been with me. Anyone who pushes a grieving person to move on is obviously NOT PATIENT. “No one ever thinks about ME,” Mom says, forgetting all the things that Mala and I do for her day after day. Then she plays the sibling card. “Well, Steve is just going to come and have all this junk hauled away.” I don’t know what Steve is planning, or even if she has spoken to him about it. It makes no difference. All she can see is how things affect her, and it hurts that she cares more about what the neighbors might think if they climbed up on a fence and craned around to see Godfrey than helping me to deal with my grief.
I start to cry, because strong emotion of any kind sets off the tears. Besides, I’m getting used to a new combination of medications. I grab a tissue because my nose starts to bleed and I take a blood thinner so nose bleeds are a bit scary. Does anyone pat me on the shoulder and tell me it’s going to be ok? Brush the hair off my forehead and say, “There, there”? No. Of course not. My mother, in the nastiest disgusted tone of voice says, “Oh, stop it!” You’d think I was standing in the street, stark naked, smoking a joint with one hand and picking my nose with the other… in public. Disgust. My grief and pain is disgusting – a breech of manners and definitely reflecting badly on my family. How am I supposed to react to that? I’m at a bit of a loss. And, I’m done. I don’t want to deal with any more emotional crap. Finished. I have enough on my plate already. Calgon, take me away. I feel like I am walking on the ridge of a roof. One false step and I will fall. Ah, but which direction? That is the question. Suffer the arrows or take up arms? I’m not sure yet. But I’m still not ready to say “Goodbye” to Godfrey. Monkey.