Thursday, May 2, 2013

We Have Disappeared

I was making dinner and Mr. Peevie walked in the door from work.

"Hey," he said.

"Hey," I said back. I chopped an onion for Indian Mother-In-Law Savory Ground Turkey.

"How are you?" he asked.

"Fine," I said, peeling and chopping a hunk of ginger.

"What's going on?" he asked.

"Nothing," I said, smashing a garlic clove under the flat blade of a chef's knife.

"What are the kids up to?"

"I don't know."

He was quiet for a moment or two. Then he observed, "You seem to be kind of short with me."

"You seem to be kind of needy," I said helpfully.

"Well, I am!" he defended; and he had every right to be so.

I glanced up at him; he looked stricken. "Well, so am I," I said, with more than a tiny bit of coldness in my voice; and I was. I had no emotional energy to care for his wounded heart. I resented his neediness. I kept cooking, and Mr. Peevie walked out of the kitchen.

The loss of Aidan has changed us and broken us. We are empty, defeated, and fragile. We are facing what feels like a bleak future without our middle son: 40 years (give or take) of making new memories, none of which will include Aidan. It's unfathomable and wrong.

With Mr. Peevie, I find myself short-tempered, hyper-sensitive, and intolerant of the slightest offense. I can't stand his neediness, but if he were not needy, I would perceive that as a deficiency of grief, and would find a passive-aggressive way to punish him for it. I'm so messed up.

Clearly, bereavement strains relationships, sometimes to the point of breaking--but the research does not bear out that divorce is statistically more common among couples who have experienced the loss of a child. In fact, "methodological limitations associated with sampling and difficulties in tracking divorced couples make it impossible to draw clear conclusions about marital disruption" after bereavement, according to the National Institutes of Health. We just don't know.

But what we do know is that loss changes us. Our family has disappeared, and a completely different family has taken its place.

We have been snatched away from our most intimate relationships and have been deposited into a household that looks and sounds and feels alien. We are all changed; everything about our family has been touched and altered.

The way we relate to each other is different: Our hugs are longer. Our rituals are more prominent and precious. Our arguments are more rare and more painful; our apologies more tender. Our conversations, leisure activities, family events--everything has changed. Sometimes we seek each other out; other times, we retreat to our own forms of escape. 

We never stop thinking about the son and brother that we have lost, and he is with us, in us, bruising us with his absence.


Celeste W said...

Eve, I looked in on this blog today because a few years ago I read (and we corresponded) about our sons going to Chicago public h.s. I was wondering if you had written about the college search and decision process.

I was stricken to read of your tragedy, and want you to know that you and your family are in my prayers. I am so very sorry for your loss.

Eve Bradshaw said...

Celeste, Thanks for your thoughts and prayers and kind words. I was working on a post about the college search process, but it got back-burnered. I may finish it yet.

studioGypsy said...

i love you. we pray for you all everyday. xo