Something great happened last night. Friends came to see me speak and read from Blood Brothers at The Compassionate Friends (TCF) meeting in Santa Clarita. It did my heart good to see so many familiar faces from the past. They gave me courage to stand there and talk about what it has been like to have two boys with cancer, to share my deepest grief-stricken secrets and then read out loud from a chapter so emotion filled, I choked up even though I have read it over and over again and wrote it and rewrote it a gazillion times.
I shared with the folks last night that having a community of grievers is what made me feel I belonged. I was lonely in my grief after Justin died but finding other parents living a new-normal, eased my suffering.
Jacob demonstrated this dynamic best when shared the day’s events as he he got off the bus the other day. He walked up to me grinning, flung his backpack onto my arm and said, “Hi Mom, I got detention today.”
“I forgot my homework,” he said with a little swagger.
“Oh? You don’t seem very upset. What was it like?”
“Not bad really, I had to go outside and sit by the door. Another kid was there and it was nice and cool and quiet. We did our homework and he helped me.”
“Well, at least you got your homework done—again, (he did it the night before). But seriously, detention is not good.”
“Yeah, but you know what Mom? Now I am one of them.”
Sick kids are not usually kept to the same standards as healthy kids, even within the family setting. As parents we feel sorry for them. Ask my daughters they will tell you how we are so much easier on Jacob than we were on them. There is truth to their perspectives, albeit a little exaggerated, but some truth for sure. I’m sure this it true for teachers too.
My little home-schooler is now a full fledged public school kid. I felt kind of proud of him, nearly losing him to ALL a few years ago and living with the threat of relapse, I am definitely more Panda Dad than Tiger Mother.
Just as I had needed a place where I could be treated like any other parent who’d lost their child, a place of quiet camaraderie, which I found at TCF; Jacob needed a place to be treated like any other kid at school. Kids don’t really want detention and parents don’t really want to attend grief support group but somehow finding others in similar circumstances alleviates loneliness so powerfully that it gives us the feeling that everything is okay.