It's Just Going To Take Time

We're going to be recovering for a while, long past just the physical exhaustion. I slept for 12 hours one night this weekend, did naps for two to three hours for the past three days, and still slept a solid eight last night. It's not bad in any sense, as there really has to be time and room made for grief, I think. The real thing isn't going to be quick, but it does seem pretty peaceful, so far.

Small problems seem to be bigger than they were, small sadnesses magnify themselves, but the small joys are also brighter.

One of my joys today was that John had a dinner meeting, and Jet wanted to make pasta. Then, out of the blue this afternoon, he said, "Mom, you could get a sweet potato and make sweet potato noodles!"

I had to go to the grocery store for mizithra cheese anyway... so I took Jet's faith and bought a sweet potato too. I had the very vaguest idea of how to make sweet potato noodles, but decided that if Jet thought I could, I'd do it.

On the most part, Jet seems to be doing just fine. He's been cheerful and accommodating, even under a compressed schedule for his science project. The weekend that we were in Seattle, Jet was supposed to be working on his science project, because it was due a bare week after we got home. He really buckled down and worked on it for several days straight, giving up evenings, video games with me, and the board and card games we usually play after dinner. He managed to do everything he wanted to do, and he and John brought the display into school on Tuesday morning.

Throughout the day on Wednesday, judges went through all of the projects, spoke to the student that did each project, and scored every single one. The judges also made comments on every single project they saw, and that night there was an open house for everyone to come see everything. There are also prizes given for each subject and each grade. Jet was very cheerful about everything that went on, and didn't mind in the least that he didn't win any of the prizes. That wasn't the point. He just really liked the experiment that he did.

It was only the next day that I saw the report from the judge that spoke to Jet. The judge was very impressed by him, and left the comment 'really bright kid' on the judge's notes. Later, he contacted the coordinator for all of the science projects in order to send Jet a link to Alan Alda's request for an explanation of exactly what a flame is in language an 11-year-old would understand. Jet was pretty pleased. He also really like going to Dairy Queen after the judging.

So when folks asked me how Jet was doing, I've been answering that he's been doing fine. I don't think that's a lie, however, I do think he's a little more fragile at the moment that I thought originally. It's not like he doesn't know what's going on.

When I got home from the grocery store and the post office (the second Kensington trackball I've tried to buy from Amazon failed me as well, and I was returning it for a replacement), I pierced the single sweet potato I had bought and tossed it into the toaster oven at 325° for about an hour. When it was cooked through, I sliced one third of it off and put it through a ricer. I blew on it to cool it off a little, cracked an egg into it, and then started mixing the winter wheat flour we usually use as our all-purpose flour into it to make as dry a dough as possible. I just kept kneading more flour into it until it was almost too stiff for me to handle.

It was a very pretty orange, and when I started running it through the pasta machine, the dough proved to be a little bit too wet. I kept working more flour in, and called on Jet to see if he was done with his homework and wanted to help me. He came down, and started getting almost weepy, trying to tell me that he hadn't asked for sweet potato noodles. I was a little impatient as I was nearly half an hour late with dinner, but I stopped and asked him, "Why are you so sad?"

Jet told me that he had gotten involved with his iTouch, and hadn't noticed that more time than he wanted had passed while he was playing games. So he wasn't able to do all the homework that he had wanted to finish, and he felt very bad about that. I ended up just hugging him, and telling him that it was all right, there would be more time after dinner. I also asked if he wanted to help me make the noodles, so we could both eat. He just needed a few minutes of hugs, and then the fascination of the crank and seeing the dough turn into noodles. He got a few more minutes while I had to brown butter, and came back saying that he got as much homework done as he usually did on Monday, so it really was all right.

The noodles came out perfect. Just a hint of sweetness from the sweet potatoes, which was really complemented by the browned butter and the creamy Mizithra cheese. Jet asked me to do an entire extra helping just for him, because with both the egg and the potato the dough turned out to be enough for four servings. Jet happily ate two entire servings, drank two glasses of milk, and had half a churro for dessert. I suspect that he was really hungry, on top of everything else.

I found that I'm still a little fragile too, and crying at odd moments. Usually about happy stories or stories of people doing more than expected. Church was good on Sunday, the message being very clear about how the equation of "believe the right things" + "do the right things" = "nothing bad will ever happen to you" is utterly false and leaves no room for God. That things happen, like the rain falling on everyone. Faith doesn't prevent bad things, faith gets people through the dark times. Lent and Holy Week are the prime examples of bad things happening to good people, and something extraordinary coming of it.

I think I needed a reminder of that lesson.

When Jet went to bed, I asked him if he liked the pasta, despite the tears at the beginning, and he smiled at me and said, "Yeah. I loved it. Love you, Mom."

And that, for me, was faith rewarded.
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Every situation is different, but when my father-in-law died we didn't really get back to "normal" for months, as I recall. It takes as much time as it does.

I think the "bad things only happen to bad people" belief (and its flipside) is popular because accepting how much of life is just chaos is a very hard thing, that there isn't some shield that God is surrounding us with proportional to our goodness that will keep us safe from that drunk driver about to go through the next stop light, or the cancer starting to grow in our body, or the thousands of other misfortunes that make up large parts of life.

We can pray to God for comfort and the strength to get through it, though - even Christ prayed in Gethsemane that the cup might pass from him, but in the end according to God's will.
Yeah... that helps, all the assurances that it is just going to take time. And there will be memories that just hit hard all through life.

Oo... yeah. I agree with your assessment as to why that equation is so popular. Never alone. I'll take that...
kids are really resilient, but sometimes, in marvelling at that, we forget that they're kids, too, and things like dealing with a loved one passing (especially if its the first time) can be really hard for them. I think sometimes the boys have it worse, too, as they're more or less taught by society in general to hold all their emotions in and "be a strong little man".
Mmm... good observation there, and, yeah... we'll see if we can let him just get some of it out his own way. However he feels good about doing it. It is really the first person he's really known.

Thanks for the helpful thoughts. Appreciate it immensely.
The more I get to know Jet through your journal posts, the more he reminds me of my own child at that age, and it makes me so nostalgic. I really miss the closeness and sharing of day-to-day tasks we had, and just the whole process of watching this amazing, complex being unfold in front of me like a flower. It's all so wonderful, and it all goes by so fast! But I can tell from your posts that you genuinely appreciate every moment of it (and so many parents don't, sadly.)

I like your pastor's sermon. Sounds like it was one of those synchronicity things, where you hear what you need to hear when you need to hear it. I know you still feel very fragile, but from the outside looking in, it looks like you are really doing very well, and the moments of sadness and melancholy you feel as you process your grief are really more just a sign that you are moving towards healing at an amazing rate. In my experience, it's the people that tamp down and stifle all that kind of emotion that take forever to recover from grief and loss, and sometimes never do get over it.

If I've never said it before, thank you for taking the time to share with us all these insights into your life and your experiences - I always get so much out of your posts.

Edited at 2012-03-06 02:44 pm (UTC)
I do love being with Jet as he grows up. It's... amazing.

I suspect most of the sermons I actually hear are like that. Things I need at the time I need them. I love how it works out that way.

I've never been one to *deny* true fear or sadness or anger, but I often cope with them in different ways than others do. Use them in situations and for activities other people don't think to do. I know some who do deny to the point of exploding at other people or for other reasons.

*hugs you warmly* You're very welcome, and I'm very happy you found them to be good.
*hugs* to all of you. I think you are an amazing mom and you are helping Jet in all the right ways.
Grieving takes it's own time and comes out in it's own ways. I think it sounds like you're all doing as well as can be expected.

Jet sounds like an absolutely sweetie and I think the efforts you make to spend time with him are extraordinary. I always feel like kids are stronger than we realize and understand deeper than we expect. However, they depend on us to ground them and I think you're doing a great job of that with Jet.

Love the idea of sweet potato noodles, I'd never have thought of that, and I think it sounds yummy, even though I don't like sweet potatoes.

I also agree, there has to be acceptance of the fact bad things happen, no matter who you are or what you do. The key is, as you said, finding ways to cope with them.

Much love and hugs to you and yours, you'll still be in my prayers<3
Thank you so much... all of that means a great deal to me and my family.

Jet is amazing. *laughs* Both my husband and I decided to retire early so that we could spend time with him while he's a kid. John had heard too many men say, "I wish I could have spent more time with my family" not to seize the chance when our finances indicated that it was possible.

I worked a whole extra year before I finally decided I needed to do that too. *laughs*

The sweet potato noodles are very different from sweet potatoes in texture. *grins* The sweetness and Vitamin A is the same, though! Jet loved 'em and wants them again. I do, too.

And Amen to your second to last paragraph. I think that's everything...
Still sending prayers and warmth you and your familys' way.

Isn't it funny that naturally we are there for our children; however, it's equally often that they are there for us. Usually unwittingly. : )
I wish you sweet dreams during all of your recovery rest and more lovely evenings with your son.
*hope the hubby was able to try out the pasta* ^_~

Take care!
So true!! Our kids really are there for us, too.

Thank you so much...

*laughs* John wasn't able to try it out this time, but I bought another sweet potato and have high hopes for this version.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. They make a huge difference.
Church Lesson
A timely and oh-so-true reminder. Love you guys, Cathie
Re: Church Lesson
Love you guys, too. Especially love the marathon you guys have signed up for! Goodness. We'll be cheering!!