Sometimes the hardest thing to watch, as a parent, is your child hurting in any capacity. Over the last 6 months or so I have been watching Mariah hurt. I have seen her tears, witnessed her anger and listened to her cries for justice and knew there was nothing I could do physically about the injustices or her pain, all I could do was listen.
As a mom I want to fix it. I want to kiss her pain away. I want to confront those who are inflicting her pain. I want her life to be pain-free. That is what mom’s do, right? They protect their child, whatever the age may be. Yet common sense and rational thinking has overruled my crazed mama bear behaviour. I knew that if I tried to step in she would miss important life lessons. Lessons that I know will help her through the rest of her life. Lessons like the one that she learned in 2011.
Mariah was not sleeping. From the looks of her eyes and the bags under them, she had not slept well for over a month. She was unusually emotional; the slightest thing could set her off. Something was wrong. She needed to talk.
I debated for a few days the best way to broach the conversation. Finally, one morning as we were heading to town, for her to catch her ride to school, I looked at her and told her that she looked like crap. I also asked her why she was not sleeping?
You know the saying; “All hell is breaking loose?” Well, that is what happened. I just let her talk. I did not correct her language, her tone of voice or anything. I just let her spill out her thoughts, emotions, fears, and questions. I just listened.
She began to tell me that the night our neighbor, Old Man, had died, after she was told of his death, she went to see his body. She had wanted to hug, and kiss his cheek one last time. She thought that hug and kiss would help her to accept his death, but she was unable to do that.
She had never seen an actual dead body. She was not prepared for the sight that she saw. She spent the next thirty plus days experiencing nightmares. She could not get that picture of “grandpa” out of her mind.
We briefly talked about her lack of sleep, and what she was feeling. I dropped her off at her destination and told her we would talk more once she returned home.
During the day I found a picture I had of Old Man, a picture of him in his better days, which I placed in a picture frame. I also wrote a poem for her. A poem that summed up her experience; which I placed by his picture in the frame.
I’m not sure what happened
On October 9th of this year
Her view of life changed
After the call
She saw him lying there
Coldness on his face
His lifeless body
And she died too
Pessimism now rules
With her innocence lost.
©November 12, 2011 By Misty Thomas
When she returned home that afternoon, I gave her the picture frame with the poem. I suggested that she place it on her dresser beside her bed. She needed a positive memory of him to look at before she went to sleep and a positive memory when she woke up. We cried, hugged and moved on with the rest of our evening’s plans.
Her nightmares ended within a few days. Over time her pain eased and she grew emotionally. Eventually she was able to accept his death and incorporate the things he had taught her into her life. She mourned, grieved and within two years came to the point where she was able to rejoice. Not in his death, but rather in his life. In short, she grew up. Life forced her to grow, and she listened.
This morning as we were driving to town we began to talk once again. We talked about the “life issues” she is experiencing today. We talked about 2011 and how the lessons she learned then were not learned in vain. She cried once again, and I listened because I know Mariah will be fine. I know she will gain life experience from this time period, and I know that in the long run, if she will allow it, she will gain more compassion and become wiser.
Even though life is hard at times, each hard time can lead to great things. Though that is a hard principle to understand, the great things learned can be this: compassion triumphs bitterness and wisdom overrules immature behavior.
In my mind’s eye I see a time, not too distant in the future, a time where Mariah is driving in her car and sharing the very same principles with her child I shared with her. I see her looking at that child and saying with confidence, “I know you hurt, but this will eventually all make sense. Sometimes though it is after the fact, and I know the meaning of “after the fact.”