I have had a lot more peace inside me the last few days, and I am so grateful. Right when I returned from the cruise it seemed as if I were to be completely swallowed up again in grief. But that particular wave has passed, and from time to time I think I feel his spirit near to me now. I am awash in memories of his illness and treatment, but with those memories I find my focus is more on his strength and his spirit, the funny interactions we had. I am so glad I kept his caringbridge page, that detailed journey of his illness. It brings so much of his spirit back to me. I was laughing out loud yesterday reading my account of trying to make sure he would shower while I was at work and how he would try to avoid doing it, my own matter of fact reporting on the ensuing tension and resolution that turned into a fun and funny evening for both of us. And a few days later, how he had sent me a text message on my phone that he was going to "horf down two hot dogs" (teenage speak for letting me know he was eating okay) and how I teasingly texted him back that I hoped he would not "hork" them back up.
I don't know about every parent who has lost a child, but I know in my own nature and with some of the major mistakes I have made as a mother, I can get so completely spun up in my guilt that I almost wish I were dead myself. Reading back on that time gives me a better, more well rounded view of myself. I made some major mothering errors when going through my divorce from Stewart. I had major depression that was untreated and I was not really seeing the world very plainly nor the importance of my own role in it. I was not a particularly attentive or good mother for a while there, not until I got all that straightened out and became free to pursue my own happiness free of an unhappy marriage. After that, I got better. A lot better. By the time Joseph became ill, he and I were very close. We talked. He told me things, things that I would not have told my own mother, and we would discuss them.
We laughed together. One time he left the nozzle of the shower in his hospital room pointed the wrong direction. It was handheld and didn't sit exactly well in its cradle, and he had hung it up with the part that causes the spray pointing toward the shower door, so that when I went in to start his shower for him I got absolutely soaked. There was a moment of initial shock for both of us and then I started to laugh, which made his whole body exhale in relief, to see I was not angry. We sat there and giggled at my soaking wet clothing for a good while and we had big smiles through the rest of the evening. I still smile when I remember that shared moment of absurdity. I did a few things right.
The older my kids get, the better I get at parenting them. I try to see them as already adults who just have not grown into the role yet...that its my job to help them become effective at that role. It helps somehow with the frustrations that can come. If I see them as children, I react to them as children. If I see them as small grown ups who aren't quite there yet, somehow I feel less wound up in terms of my own ego needing to be satisfied by certain behaviors and as a result I am more objective. I don't know if that makes sense, but it has helped me be a better mom in terms of not losing my temper with things. I would so easily find myself yelling at them in a way that I would never have talked to an adult like. So if I see them as adults in the making, I don't yell. I hated myself being a screaming kind of mom and I have not done it for years now...another thing I have done right, I think. I guess there is no way to know really until they are all grown up and become who they are going to be. Except for Joseph. He was complete in his own right, as complete as God intended him to be anyway, at the time of his death, and if the way he was, was something I can judge how Stewart and I have parented then I think we are doing pretty good. He was such a good person, full of life, humor, compassion, ambition, sensitivity, strength and character. I feel so blessed to have had him in my life. It is like a breath of fresh air to fall into this particular vein of my grief and find, suddenly, I feel a little bit better and yet do not feel as if I have lost him even further. If anything, I feel him more near.