I say I am waiting for the happy ending to complete my book. Maybe this is the happy ending. Peace. The fighting over. The vivid nightmares which used to paralyze me for days transformed to bad dreams from which I awake relieved they are no longer possible in my waking hours. Being in a place where I can go about life and not feel as though it will take me under; this new life without the constant torment.
Maybe the happy ending is not in a relationship with someone as my dreamy romantic self fantasizes. A chance to get it right with a person who I can come to with an open heart, the longing to have my parent’s solid relationship, to provide my children with some semblance of the family that shaped me. One of the three of us precariously teetering at any given time; stabilized with a fourth.
Maybe letting go of that dream isn’t the failure, the defeat, the falling short it feels like. Maybe simply having survived the shooting and these last few years is enough that I might stop looking beyond for something more.
This all ran through my mind as I drove to pick up the children from a weekend at Comfort Zone Camp, their third camp to process grief. They were highly resistant to attending, but I insisted. The mourning is never really over. I feel providing the resources for them to continue to navigate the loss in these different phases of their life is imperative to their emotional growth and health. It is multi-faceted and rears its head in the most unexpected ways and at the most inappropriate times.
So it must be for them, as for me, layers of mourning the loss. The death of my marriage, even more so the death of our family; mourning the man I loved, the father of my children, his inability to be the father to his children mine was to my sisters and me. Mourning the loss of my children’s innocence, all our innocence; the absence of a strong male adult role model in their lives. Mourning losses that are unrecoverable on many levels.
Camp counselor feedback indicated my daughter participated and shared her experiences with her healing circle, but my son refused to share about his dad at all, instead focusing on last year’s death of his uncle, my sister’s husband.
Perhaps he has some wisdom about his father beyond his years which I am not able to access personally. He seems to be able to find a place where he can center himself and not feel the acuity of the absence in his life, or perhaps it is such complicated grief he tries to steel himself by shutting down all discussions of his dad in any form. Perhaps he is of the mindset no dad is actually better than that man. I cannot say as he isn’t sharing.
As he asks about my weekend I share I had a pleasant day with a male friend. Unlike my daughter who shrugs it off and continues to complain about being forced against her will to attend camp, as though I have sent her to a slave labor camp, my son wants to know how important the friend is to me. He tries to access if it is someone who I might care for, or who will care for me, reading me for clues which might differ from what I am saying.
It is difficult to know if he would like to be relieved of his perceived role of being the central male of the family, or simply considering if it is someone who might care for him as a parent, or a combination of both. My failure to provide stability and relieve him of the onus of the lone male for his sister and I elicits a great deal of sadness from me. I am truthful to say I don’t know the answers to his questions, and downplay the interaction so as not to plant any ideas about that sort of future, all the while feeling terribly inadequate as the lone parent.
I am left wrestling with my hopefulness, which I generally gleefully share without consideration of the possibility of disappointment, set against the backdrop of what our emotional life is actually like day to day. In this moment, I feel my hopefulness is misplaced, wrongly pinned onto an unknown future which minimizes gratitude for how far we have come. I question if maybe this is the happy ending.