Sunday, November 23, 2008

Looking back

My parents slept on my living room floor on air mattress for months after the accident. They literally put their entire lives on hold, left their house and all of its projects, and centered their lives around me.

Those months are mostly a blur to me. I remember bits and pieces, but mostly when I think of the late Summer and Fall of 2007, it pretty much did not exist for me.

I do have some things that are solid in my mind though. I remember my parents and I sitting in my living room night after night after my kids went to bed. We all sat in the same spots and I would talk and they would listen. Or I would sit and they would sit and we would say nothing. Or I would cry and they would just let me cry. Sometimes they would cry. We would try to figure stuff out. We would revisit the same subjects again and again. We would talk about whatever was on my mind. They never seemed like they didn't want to hear what I had to say. They never held me accountable to what my position was the night before, and they saw my thoughts and feelings change from day to day and then back again. I know sometimes I would say things that just plain did not make sense. I was so completely lost and devastated and I didn't know what I was doing or thinking or saying. But they just listened and tried to follow. And they never judged me or stopped me from talking.

How did they know what to do?

Neither of them have ever been widows. None of their children had been through this before. How did they know what to do?

I still do not know the answer to that question. I am truly in awe looking back on what they did for me and how perfectly they handled the situation. I know that my parents got me through those first critical months. My mother read book after book on loss and becoming a widow. My father did project after project at my house to keep things going. And the three of us kept talking night after night. Not a lot was reconciled or figured out during those conversations, yet so much was accomplished. The framework was laid during that time period that gave me feet to stand on; that made me know through their actions that even when everything seemed to crumble into pieces, I had not lost everything. I was an adult, yet every bit their child.

In a book I am reading, I came across this quote speaking of the first month of being a widow:
"This period is the widow's time of greatest need, but, alas, the time when you are least able to use your support system. This is mourning at its worst. While each of us has to know it personally, this is the time when you need reassurance and the ubiquitous shoulder to lean on. This is the time for honest disclosure with family and friends who pay no mind to hateful thoughts and can listen to months of "I don't know," "if only," and "I can remember when" without a sign of boredom.

Somehow my parents knew what to do for me, and it is because of those early months that I have moments now that give me hope for my future. The moments are fleeting, but they keep me going.


Katie said...

what a nice trubute to your parents.

Anonymous said...

thank you robin.
those months are a fog to me also. all i know is that we needed to be there. if we came home for a day or two, we wandered around until it was time to go back. our hearts were there with you. i think we stumbled through it together.

i do know one thing, that every night i claimed every single prayer that was being said for you and your children. i know they got us through those terrible times.

we love you very much and we are very proud of you. i know that someday life will be better.