Behaving Poorly

The second anniversary of Jack and Aaron’s birth and death.  The way I handled it was shameful.  The day before was wretched and I thought that as usual the build up to the anniversary would be worse than the day itself.  I was wrong.

I was determined to be active with Sunny and try to cover the pain I was feeling in every cell.  While I was not acting like myself, we got busy in the morning and did sh.rinky d.inks and made a glittery calming bottle.  After that things just went down hill.

I could barely handle her being so close to me as she is constantly if we’re just hanging out at home.  At one point, I tried to go back to bed, but she made it impossible, coming in and chirping questions at me.  I gave up and tried to hang out with her but was short and critical of her at every turn.  My mom came for lunch and that was ok.  The afternoon wore on and I wavered back and forth between failing miserably at trying to interact with her to trying to isolate myself which is impossible in a small home with an active child.  The pain of missing my boys and remembering what had happened to us two years go was more than emotional.  It was in every cell of me.  My body and heart screamed with my need for my children.  I tried and failed to fake “normal” behavior.

Finally, I decided it would help to get out of the house.  I told Sunny we were going to G.ood W.ill and the grocery store. She loves GW and was excited.  My spirits did not improve on the trip, and when we got there I picked and criticized Sunny over every item she touched.  I didn’t find any pants for her to wear as play clothes so when it was time to go, I told Sunny to choose one item of the several she had been walking around with.  All of them junk.  She picked something and then whined, “Aww is this all I get.”  I immediately told her that now she got nothing because she wasn’t grateful for the one item and there were really needy people who couldn’t even afford a GW teddy bear who would feel so lucky to have that one thing.  She tried to sneak a tacky pair of high heels in with the Halloween shirt I was buying for her.  Like I’m dumb or blind and wouldn’t notice. She handled all of this pretty well.  Didn’t cry or say much about it.  I told her in the car, I was proud of how she handled not getting anything and I was glad she didn’t have a tantrum and that I knew she would never say anything like that again when she was getting things.  She agreed.

We went on to the grocery store but the parking lot was crowded and I just couldn’t go in there.  My spirits were low at this point and I was having a hard time holding in the tears.  We went on to The Co after that.  While were standing in line, I tell Sunny she’s going to have chicken noodle soup because she’s been sick and also she’s been asking for it.  She starts in with the bargaining.  Can’t I have this or that. It just irritated me and made me feel awful.  I told her, no, she’s getting the soup.  Again, she whined about that being “all” she can get.  I tell her now we’re leaving and started to walk out. She pulled at my hand saying she’ll have the soup and that she doesn’t want to leave.  I told her that I was leaving and started walking quickly toward the car.  When she didn’t come with me, I figure she thinks I will bail and come back in.  I don’t.  I’m fighting tears through this whole episode.  Finally, she comes to the car and I see tears in her eyes too.

My mind was frantic at this point and I couldn’t bear to be away from my boys.  It was like something primal.  I had to be with them that moment.  A mother should be with her children.  I was in such pain and I couldn’t think what to do.  I hadn’t felt this insane in a long time.  I couldn’t take her to the cemetery but I had no one nearby to ask if she can stay with them.

There was an International Festival at a park in the town and I knew MB was there with the Spanish Club.  It was in desperation that I went there with Sunny, distraught and hoping MB would keep her for a short time while I visited the boys. At this time, I felt I wouldn’t survive if I didn’t get out there to be with them.   I was in so much pain emotionally and physically from trying to hold in my emotions and I was feeling horrid about treating Sunny badly for no reason. However, when we got there, the festival was about over and most of the booths were down.  MB was nowhere to be found.

I made Sunny sit on a bench with me and listen to some music while I tried to sort out what to do.  I had to get out there to the boys.  I had to make it right with Sunny.  I was tearful and couldn’t seem to get up the courage to apologize to her about my poor behavior.  Finally, she started in about being hungry.  I swallowed the lump in my throat and tried to explain, through my tears, that something very bad happened to me two years ago and because of that I’d been feeling sad today and had behaved poorly.  I apologized and told her I had to do one quick thing and then we would go back to Co and have a do-over where she could order anything she wants.  She acted so concerned and started in asking questions. What was the very bad thing?  Will I be ok?  What is the thing I have to do?  I really want to tell her to just shut up and let me do this one thing…that I won’t survive if I don’t.

On the way to the cemetery, I told her she would have to stay in the car and I would try to be quick.  When we got there, I gave her my phone to play with and told her again to stay in the car, no matter what.  The hill they are buried on is steep but I worked my way down to them as quickly as I could.  I couldn’t stop myself from throwing myself down on their grave like some sort of scene from an overly dramatic L.ifetime movie.  I wanted to be close to them.  The moment I touched their names on the stone, warmed by the sun, sobs started tearing from me and while I was hurting so badly, I could feel the release beginning.  I cried violently and after a while I began to quiet.  Finally, I climbed back up the hill.

When I got in the car the barrage of questions from Sunny begins.  She asks if I prayed “to” the boys and if she can go down the hill to pray “to” them someday, too.  She was sympathetic and said she “knows” how I feel because her brother died when she was 2.  We end up at S.ubway and it’s a struggle to keep up light conversation.  I still felt so sad.

I’ve handled today so poorly.  I was so wrong.  I thought I’d have her as a distraction and that I could carry on and act normal.  I should have known better.  I should have found somewhere for her to be today.  I should have visited the cemetery and then gone home to bed for the rest of the day.  I should have never exposed this child to such a raw form of my grief and certainly not taken her to a cemetery and left her on her own in a car while I had a break down.  This child has her own troubles and it was wrong and irresponsible of me to treat her so poorly and then lay my sadness on her.   I’m ashamed of my behavior today.


2 comments on “Behaving Poorly

  1. Don’t feel ashamed Paige, you did the best you could, you’re only human. While your behavior might not have been what you wanted or expected, I didn’t read anything nearly as horrible as what you seem to think. I hope you got a chance to relax this evening and be good to yourself. You are a mother grieving on a painful anniversary, please breathe and take good care of yourself. You are doing 200% better for Sunny than she’s ever known, that’s remarkable in my opinion!

  2. You have no reason to feel ashamed, Paige, none. You handled the day as best you could and better than most would have been able to. The one suggestion I would make is to include Sunny more. It sounds like she was trying to reach out to you by sharing her loss. While not taking her to their grave on the anniversary was probably for the best, maybe take her another day? Would it be possible to visit her brother’s grave, too? Maybe you and Sunny could help each other heal and form a bond over your respective losses. It will also help Sunny understand why you are sometimes short with her, especially on difficult anniversaries.

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