What should he wear to T-ball practice? He’s in a Darth Vader costume
My boy. The one who graduated from kindergarten today. The one who is
quickly developing a love of Star Wars, light sabers and who alternates between the dark side and Obi Wan Kenobi. His summer has begun. Soon he will be a first grader but first there are many adventures to be had, beginning with an epic intergalactic battle with my fiancé.
I check Facebook and I see the faces of so many of my friend’s children on their last days of school. Such sweet faces, ever maturing. In my mind they are so much younger. It’s the reminder of how quickly the years pass.
And amidst the smiles, the congratulations…that unwanted feeling tugs at me subtly at first and then glaringly. It’s there…lurking. Like a snake it sneaks up on me and grabs hold. Grief. Sudden and harsh, the wave hits me…the tears spring forward and I fight them back. Then I declare defeat and I let them go.
Bella. My sweet, beautiful girl with the pink glasses, gorgeous wavy curls and adorable laugh. The one who held my hand and loved cuddling.
Sometimes I cannot believe she is gone. She would be wrapping up second grade now if she were here. I look at my son and I see her. The same hair color, the same beautiful eyelashes, the same soft snore and the same crinkled eyes when they laugh hysterically. I see her in him today and I just miss her so much.
It was an emotional day. My son’s last day in his school. Next year he will go to a new one and we left our safe place where he has learned for 3 years. This was the place we made wonderful friends, learned so many things and where they held us tight when Bella died. It’s difficult to let go. I know we will keep these friends. They are dear to us and we will make sure we carry those friendships forward. It’s just a bittersweet moment in time where you’re excited to move forward and yet moving forward means you have to let go. Change used to be easy.
After dinner he asks if he can go watch Star Wars and play a bit more and I say yes. He hates it when I cry and it’s a little chance to let some pain out without him seeing the tears. I go upstairs, flop on the bed and let the tears go. But I am not alone. He knows me too well. And soon, he comes looking for me. Not Darth Vader – he’s still downstairs. My fiancé. He knows me so well. As he has done so many times, he holds me tight and lets me cry. And then when he senses an opening – he cheers me up.
“Can I tell you about my day? We played Star Wars. He had his giant light saber. He let me use a tiny knife. He asked me to play with him. He was wearing his costume and he said – You stand there and I will cut your hand off. Then you should fall down. So I did all that he asked me to with full drama and then do you know what he said?”
I said, “No, I cannot begin to guess.”
My fiancé continued: “Then as I dropped to the floor in pretend pain he says – that’s the wrong hand. I said – the wrong hand? He said yes. You should use the other hand. So I did. I tried to fight back with my tiny sword and he told me – No! You can’t touch Darth Vader. Not allowed. I told him there were too many rules and to let me know when he wants to really play instead of just ordering me around. Then he said – OK, well, you can touch me a little bit with the sword but not much.”
This whole exchange made me laugh. The vision of my fiancé being ordered around by my 6 year old. Then they re-enacted the whole thing for me tonight complete with my son’s elaborate ninja poses. It made me laugh.
As I put my sweet boy to bed tonight I asked him who he was. Darth Vader? Luke Skywalker? Han Solo? Obi Wan? He said, “I am DEFINITELY not Han Solo! He was destroyed! They turned him into gold.” Then he immediately fell asleep with his light saber attached to his pajamas. As I tucked him in, I just stared at him. My boy. Growing up so fast.
When one part of your heart is in heaven and one is on earth, you know how precious this moment is. I find myself staring at him and beyond him. Watching him and remembering Bella. Feeling grateful for the experience of being her mother and
his. It’s a feeling that I will never get used to. The dual existence of grief and laughter. I guess that at some point, every life is characterized by this odd duality. I just wish it weren’t our reality.