Friday, February 19, 2010
I’ve been wondering what the fives will bring, now that String Bean has been five for a few weeks. Last night I discovered one new aspect of String Bean’s ever-developing personality: compassion.
Yesterday a very dear friend of mine passed away. Ben was 43 years old, a kid at heart, and had been my friend for 23 years. We worked together when I was in high school, dated for a while, and were close friends from the moment we met all those years ago. His death was sudden and without warning, and left everyone who knew him in a state of shock. My sister called me with the news, during the girls’ naps, and at first it didn’t hit me. Because it simply couldn’t be true. But as the night wore on, and friends called and sent messages, and a memorial of sorts sprung up on his Facebook page, it sunk in that he’s really gone. It was a long hard night, full of tears. The girls were in bed, hubby had been gone for almost two weeks, one continent and one ocean away and not due home for several days. I spent most of my evening crying alone on the couch, finally free to do so.
String Bean kept calling me into her room, for this and that: she was too hot, too cold, had to pee, needed a sip of water. They were all the tell-tale stalling tactics of a kid who doesn’t want to go to bed, and I get that, but last night I just wasn’t up to playing her little stay-up-late games. So, I told her that a good friend of mine had died, and that I was very sad, and needed some “grown up time” to deal with it, and asked if she could be a big girl and lie quietly in bed until she fell asleep. She wrapped her long skinny arms around me and stroked my hair while I cried. She asked me a lot of questions about him: where he died (walking from his car to the doctor’s office), what happened (he collapsed, and died, and we don’t know why yet), and if the doctor can make him better, or if he’s gone forever. She was very matter-of-fact about it all, hugging me while I cried, and said “I know, he was your friend, and you miss him.”
She wanted to talk a little bit about all the times he’s been to our house, for her birthday and Peanut’s and every other party we ever threw, and discuss the shirts he always wore (aloha shirts were his favorite), and just remember him for a few minutes together. Then she settled back in bed and promised to sleep, and I went downstairs to continue my grieving. The funny thing is, it really helped, talking to her. Remembering him with her was exactly what I needed in that moment, to break through all of the sadness and just be grateful for having had him in my life. I’m equally grateful for having her in my life, and for the compassionate little girl she’s become.