Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beloved Child

Hey Sweetie,

I just wanted to write you a proper note in addition to our texts and telephone conversations. I was thinking last night when I was lying in bed that apart from my parents, when I was growing up, you are the one person with whom I have lived the longest. I think you are also one of the people with whom I have had the longest, healthiest, most precious relationships. Our bond is very special to me.

I have been thinking about how you are shutting down emotionally, and I think that is a normal and appropriate response to stress. It's a coping mechanism that I never really mastered. I have always feared shutting down emotionally, so I have remained open to very hurtful and harmful situations at times that I probably should have shut down to protect myself. I do believe that your stresses and the causes for your emotional shut down are largely temporary. When I return home, when this year of school is done, you will start to open again naturally.

Socially, you may not though, while you remain in high school. And that's okay. It sucks, but all those movies and books out there about how shitty high school is socially and emotionally exist for a reason. It's because high school is shitty socially and emotionally.

I always used to say to people my own age, and perhaps even to you, that if high school was a great experience for a person, I probably do not want to be friends with that person. I can't imagine how vapid that person must be to have had a positive experience. That person was probably very popular, and will probably lead a shallow life that never matures much from high school.

Of course, I could be projecting, LOL.

But I just want you to know that I think about you all the time, and I worry about you and your brothers, but I know you will be OK. You have an extremely strong character. Honestly, it blows me away.

As a parent, I have found that despite my constant presence as an influence in your lives, I don't have as much influence on who you boys are becoming as maybe I like to think. I know that I can't take credit for your character, though, I am extremely proud of it. It's not that I wouldn't like you if you didn't have it-- but you have it and it's amazing.

I don't know if I have been able to show or impart to you how perfect I think you are. OK, now I'm starting to cry. I love you with every fiber of my being. I am so grateful SO SO SO extremely grateful to have you in my life, to be your mother, and to have the privilege of knowing you. I miss you so much that sometimes I think I have to emotionally shut down a bit, too, just to endure this separation.

I cried on the plane all the way to St. Louis on Saturday. I had my head on John's shoulder and my eyes were closed, but tears were just pouring down my face. I couldn't do anything about them. When I'd open my eyes, a whole bunch of them would fall at once in clumps like grapes, splashing onto my lap. I've never experienced anything like it before.

I have experienced some really really tough situations. Your Group Strep B and being in the NICU, Tommy being hospitalized at 5 weeks old, my marriage and divorce from your father, your being hit by a car, Christian's Asperger's and diabetes, the horrible grant I did, my friend Karl's death...

But even though all of these situations have been absolutely harrowing and I didn't know quite how I'd endure any of them, I'm still here. And I now believe that all of them put together have prepared me, have given me the emotional callouses I need, to endure this. I can't imagine walking into this situation without having had those other experiences.

So, know this: Even though you are hurting now, and even though there doesn't seem to be a light at the end of this tunnel (I am truly projecting now), I know from my other experiences that we will get through this.

It hurts me when anyone I love is suffering. It hurts me to watch my dad come to grips with his mortality. It hurts me to see my mother's suffering and confusion. It hurts me that my children are hurting. I think everyone else's pain bothers me more than my own, because I *know* that I can survive my own. So, I want to come in and take on some of your suffering too, so you don't have to experience it.

However, as a parent, I realize that a) I can't do that. It's not even possible, and b) if I did, it would deprive you boys of developing the coping skills you are going to need to face unimaginable and unforeseeable hardships during your lives. Granted, you're starting with a huge one-- it's the biggest one I've taken on so far.
So, yeah, I expect it to suck. I expect all of us to be miserable and unappy. This experience may leave some scars. But think of this: My C-sections left me with a permanent scar, but the pay off was enormous. Enormous. I get the chance to spend my father's last weeks with him. Not everyone has that. And there is a difference between scars and pathology. I know that you boys all have the tools you need (and these tools are being honed and sharpened by this) to get through this without bitterness, without completely shutting down.

Do what you have to do to endure this emotionally, but understand that when you come through it, you'll be stronger than any weight-lifting in your father's basement can make you.

When Tommy was in the hospital, someone gave me Stones From the River to read. It was a book about WWII in Germany, and I remember sitting there reading a passage about how the German people found out through horrifying experiences how strong they were. I was sitting there, with my baby in the hospital, thinking, "I NEVER want to find out how strong I am."

Ha! I don't think my hoping that sealed my fate, but I certainly didn't escape it. There is a Mormon hymn I find myself singing, and I'll sing it to you sometime: "Father, from me, remove this cup. But if thall wilt, I'll drink it up."

The only way out of this is through it, no matter how many detours I've looked for.
We will get through this.

I love you.



  1. Very moving, Jen. I can't imagine how the fierceness of a mother's love grows as the children grow. Even now it's pretty overwhelming.

  2. Love you, Jen. You are raising some fierce warrior men. Sorry that the trials to do so have to be so difficult. :(

  3. how lucky are we to have beautiful, amazing children to be strong for?

    i was walking at the gardens with El today, thinking what a privilege it is to be his mom.

    he looks more like karl every day - a blessing and a curse, but far more a blessing.

    as lucky as you are to have your boys, they are just as lucky to have you.

    thinking of you often and wishing you peace, hope, and the strength to find joy, even amidst the heartache.

    mucho love.