Monday, December 20, 2010

Wash of Grief

This morning I was working on Jakob's Christmas project with Joe.  We collected a fifty-piece set of quarters, one representing each state.  We recalled that mom had given the grandkids poster boards and started the collection for each of them.  We pulled those dusty boards out of storage. 

With a damp cloth, I wiped away years of dust.  I noticed a pattern on the three boards: each board was done through the end of 2007.  My mom kept those boards for each of the grandkids until she left her marriage and the life she'd built.  Grief - powerful and painful - washed through me in that instant of recognition. 

The conversation was something like this:

Me:  "You know what?"

Joe:  "You miss your mom."

Me:  "How did you know?"

Joe:  "I know you.  You complete me." 
Leave it to Joe to make me giggle when my heart is hurting.

Despite all the terrible things she's said and done, and continues to say and do, I sometimes miss my mom, especially when I remember how she loved my boys and Haleigh.  She did fun stuff with them, like collecting coins and making it an adventure.  It's especially poignant at this time of the year; she made their Christmases magical. 

The kids inscribed their names on their quarter boards.  This one is Haleigh's.

Haleigh left her board in Minnesota when she moved to Florida.  Haleigh was always Jakob's hero, with her his sun rose and set.  That was a long time ago now.  He left her a message on the back of her coin board, while she was making a new life in Florida and we had no notion she'd eventually come back to Minnesota.  "I miss you.  Jakob."  See it in the bottom right corner?

In Macbeth Act IV, Scene III, William Shakespeare writes, "Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break."  I guess Jakob understood something about grief even at a young age.  He gave his sorrow words:  "I miss you."  Even though he left them in a secret corner of his world, I imagine they soothed his sweet heart.

And I guess today I do the same thing - give my grief words. 

It helps, or so says Pierre Corneille, a seventeenth century peer of Moliere:  "One often calms one's grief by recounting it."

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