Thursday, January 24, 2008

Profound sadness

I've been feeling a bit blue ever since Barbara and Jacque hauled the last box of Debra's things out the door and off to Goodwill. Her stuff, or lack of it, seemed to trigger a profound sadness in both me and Sofie.

Tonight was one of those nights that even before it got started I sensed things would digress quickly. Things started out simply enough. Upon arriving home, Sofie went to play in her room while I started a load of laundry and did a quick check of email. This was a bath night for Sofie, so that meant either speeding up all activities or just facing the fact that the night will end a little later than expected. After getting the laundry started, Sofie informed me she needed to cuddle...this is happening so much more these days. I certainly don't mind...she's a great cuddler! We assumed our positions in the cuddling chair upstairs and just chilled out for a little while. After a bit of time, we popped up and quickly put dinner on the table. Sushi and edamame for Sofie, a burrito from Whole Foods for me.

While Sofie polished off her sushi, I started her bath. By this time it was still early enough to have a fairly regular bedtime. This is where it all started falling apart. Sofie is a kid who loves creative play. She works out a lot of "stuff" via play. Until tonight, she hadn't wanted to wash off the cathartic art she created in the tub the night I told her Debra was going to die soon. It's been there for all the visitors to see for over a month. Tonight she was adamant about having it removed. She wanted me to help her, but when I started to help she really wanted to wipe it off on her own. I asked why's making me sad was her simple answer.

After cleaning off the walls of the shower, I gave her the 5 minute play warning...meaning she had five more minutes to play before she had to stop, wash her hair and body and get out of the tub. While emptying the dishwasher I gave her the 3 minute, then 1 minute warnings. At the 5 minutes, I asked that she stop playing and start washing. When I checked in 5 minutes later, she was washing, but in between playing. I turned into nagging mom, who escalated into yelling mom the more I had to ask her to finish what I asked her to do. Finally, 15 minutes later I told her to drain the tub, get out, dry off and get in her PJs. She was shivering(since she has 0% body fat!) so I went in to help speed things up. Pokey is a great middle name for her. I left her to dress and went back into the living room.

A few minutes later out she walks...crying. "Mommy, two things made me sad. One is that I miss Mama Debra SO much. The other is that you yelled at me!" Oy. I decided to address the yelling first. We've had this discussion a few times before and I'm hoping that one day it sticks. My yelling isn't an immediate builds up after having to ask/demand that she complete a task. I told her we need to communicate better, she needs to listen and I need to try to refrain from yelling...viscous cycle that it is. After this discussion, we went on to the much harder discussion.

It's really apparent that all of this getting rid of Debra's things are affecting her more than anyone probably anticipated. I told her that we have saved some things for her and they're in a special place. That discussion digressed into remembering the last few weeks of Debra's life. "I never got to have one last cuddle or say goodbye to Mommy Debra." My heart ripped a little. As much as we laid the groundwork for Debra's death, nothing would really help her with these type wounds. Interestingly, she was parroting back some of the things that other adults have said in her presence...such as "Mama Debra saved me. She adopted me and gave me a home."

We talked about the day Debra died. Sofie remembered incorrectly that she was asleep when she died. I reminded her of the events of the day. She got angry at the Cancer and said, "I wish no one died...ever. People wouldn't be sad if that happened." Magical thinking.

She wanted to see pictures of Debra, so we took a bit of time and perused the pictures on the computer. That seemed to appease her. It was late, so I suggested snuggling in bed and starting the second Humphrey the hamster book that we've been waiting a few weeks to read. After bedtime rituals, we snuggled in her bed and before I finished the last chapter, she was fast asleep. I'm sure I'll get a early morning visit with a quick sneak into my bed that will include a big snuggle up to me on my side of the bed. The nights will continue to be restless and hard for awhile, but I know that we'll both eventually feel less grief and more happiness. Not before she tells me a few more times that this is the worst life ever...even though she feels safe and loved with me, this is a bad/sad life right now!


Jaime said...

HI there.....
I am so sorry to hear about Debra. I was just on the AACR website and looking at their CR magazine and saw the article on you guys and decided to check out your blogs. (I'm getting my MPH in maternal-child health - over in Chapel Hill, actually!, and my focus is on women's and children's cancers).
Thoughts and prayers are with you and Sofie.

mamah (hannah) said...


My heart aches for you and Sofie. Grief is so BIG. I hope you two are doing okay - it's been a while since you posted. Let us know if we can do anything for y'all.

Take care,


Rebecca said...

I just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you and missing you guys. I check your blog everyday so looking forward to hearing from you.
Rebecca and the kids