This afternoon, I took Matty up to his dad’s old house to pick up a few of his things. It hadn’t occurred to me, before today, how hard this has been on my kid.
The moment we arrived, me with my organized plan of action, because that’s what I do, his entire mood changed. He went from being his usual laid-back self to an agitated, irritable grouch, stomping around the house and closing himself in his old bedroom. When I tried to talk to him, he snapped at me that I was confusing him, that he didn’t know we had to go through all this stuff….
…suddenly I realized that I was asking my son to clean out his life.
Everything there - everything - is a reminder of his father and what happened. Every poster he has to take off the wall is a stab in that still open wound – the one you’d never know he had if I didn’t tell you. He’s so nonchalant about his loss, normally, that sometimes I even forget for a minute that he is still mourning.
But not today. Today it was all there; I could feel his anger and resentment, even if he wouldn’t openly share it with me. I tried to explain that things needed to get done in order to settle the estate – as gently as I could...but I could tell I was making everything worse. Finally, I went out to the truck and called John for advice. He was right: leave him alone. Don’t make him do anything he’s not ready to do. Don’t worry about the grandfather and the money and all that crap. Just let him get his stereo and a teddy bear and let him leave.
So I went back in and told him we didn’t have to do anything at all today. And I left him to his own space for awhile. I sat in the truck with the rain pelting down on my windshield, the world outside blurred like melted crayons between sheets of wax paper. I stared into nowhere and listened to an old 80’s song I didn’t recognize, but the tone and the beat took me back to another time and place.
There was a time I loved his dad, even if I was 17 and desperate to be in love. Even if I fell in love with him for all the wrong reasons – the same reasons I came to hate him years later. There were times we laughed and dreamed together, times I felt like I would never love anyone as strongly or as surely as I loved him then.
Later, there were times I believed he was a good father. For all the things that made me insane, every once in awhile we would see eye to eye, or he would do something for Matt that made me grateful, even jealous sometimes. But mostly, it was so much anger and bitterness that I couldn’t find the good for all I tried.
And now he’s gone. I wished for this more times than I can bear to remember. He’s gone and he’s out of my hair and I can raise my kid the way I think he should be raised and the arguing is over and…and….
…my little boy just lost his dad.
I cried for the man who was the father of my son, and for the boy who will grow up without him. I allowed the anger to fade into sadness for awhile, and to tell Kenneth this:
You will miss so much. You will miss our son becoming a great man, and making you proud. I am grateful that your leaving brought him back to me, but when all is said and done, I wish you were here.