Halloween in all its glory.
The San Francisco Giants won the World Series, which, in this house, was attended by mayhem, chaos, joy, and madness: the full range of crazy, beautiful baseball emotion. And baseball is nothing if not emotional.
The loss of a pet. A small, jumpy fire-bellied toad named Bella, who escaped her terrarium and upended my entire afternoon. The last hour of my day, between 11 and midnight, was spent soothing the young man who fed and cared for dear Bella. He was distraught over her loss, and his young heart was breaking with grief right there on my couch.
Today. A greater loss. Today, the world lost a wonderful woman to cancer. She taught my four older kids in their Kindergarten year, retired this past June, and discovered two and half short weeks ago that she had cancer. Her family was probably still getting used to the diagnosis, just starting to figure out how she (and they) would fight the disease. Instead, she passed away in her sleep last night or in the wee hours of this morning. Gone before we could all get used to the idea that she was sick.
She was dear to me. She always made me laugh and smile, and she, having raised 10 children, always had the right perspective on my modern version of a large family. She hugged me and told me she loved me every single time she saw me. She also swore like a truck-driver, not a common characteristic in a woman over 70.
She did more than make me laugh and smile. She made me relax; she was proof to me that love is strong and powerful and greater than any suffering. She told me I was doing a good job as a mother, and she is perhaps the one person on earth who could make me believe it.
I am fairly overcome with sadness at the prospect of a world without her in it. It is not right. It is not fair. It does not make sense.
Last night, while I was soothing my son over the loss of his beloved pet, I tried to answer his repeated question: "Why did this have to happen to me?" Feeling the weakness of the only answer I could provide, I told him:
Sometimes, things happen that are so very hard, and so painful, and they don't make sense. There is no good answer to why this happened. It didn't happen because of anything you did, or didn't do, or could have done differently. It was just an accident, a plain old bad luck thing that no one wanted and everyone is upset about. And it really, really hurts right now, but someday, you will think about Bella and you won't think of how you lost her. Instead, you will think about what good care you took of her, the joy she gave you, how wonderful you felt when you got her for your birthday, how proud you were to show her to friends, and how special she made you feel. Right now, just let yourself be sad and mad and upset, and don't talk yourself out of any of that. It will get easier, I promise.
Little did I know I would need those words myself today. Like my son last night, I feel this crazy incoherent, unacceptable scream inside, a righteous objection to events that take away the ones we love. It's a terrible place to be.
Bad things do happen, and they hurt like hell. I love you, Pat, and will miss you. You better keep watching out for me from Heaven, because even though you are gone, I still need you every bit as much as ever.
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