I didn’t think it would ever happen to me. Having the bonus child 4 years ago saved me from the empty nest. My older children were 17 and 14 years old when the bonus child was born. I always thought, I’ll never have any empty nest because by the time they all leave I’ll be busy with the little one and when he leaves I’ll have grand-babies to fuss over.
Then it happened.
Last night, it was so cold in Chicago. Too cold to go Trick or Treating. Too cold for trick or treaters to ring the bell. The bonus child dressed up in his Captain America costume ready for the trick or treaters that never came. When the door bell did ring it was the pizza being delivered.
And it hit me. As we sat at the kitchen table eating pizza.They were gone. The children I’d spent 21 years celebrating Halloween with were gone. I began to cry into my pizza. They were out with the significant others (a story for another post) and I was home missing them like crazy. Aching to hear them laugh, tell me about their day, listen to them talk to each other, listen to them argue over who got the most candy, talk about all the crazy costumes we saw. But silence filled the room. My face streamed with tears.
The bonus child was concerned and interrupted my silence, “what’s wrong mommy?”
“I’m missing your sister and brother,” I replied.
“Don’t worry, mommy. Meme is dressed like Starfire. And AJ is dressed like Batman. Papito is with Tori. They’ll be home later,” he said laughing at me.
The voice of reason from a 4 year old. Still my pizza filled with my tears.
I was not prepared for this…it’s like a break up. You spend years building a strong relationship…loving, crying, celebrating, arguing, growing together…then they just move on with their lives. You have to watch and be happy. I know this will pass and I will be too busy to get lost in the silence. But I also know that there will be more growing up to do…I just hope I can grow up without them.
sitting at a bedside vigil for 24 hours…praying that things are better when you are taken out of the drug induced coma, praying that the ventilator keeping you from further damage is doing its job, praying that your children don’t have nightmares from seeing their dad strapped to a hospital bed, praying that you’ve learned your lesson.
thinking that maybe we gave up on you too soon, dealing with you and your addiction was too much for us to handle. for more reasons that you will ever know. but still the guilt creeps in.
we still love you. but we’ve done it from a distance. it was too much to bring our kids to watch your addiction take over your life. We built relationship with your kids, poured the love we have for you into them.
Now, we are just where we always knew we’d be….watching your addiction control you.
none us of know what its like to be you. none of know how to help you deal with the storm inside of you, the drive that tells you “its no big deal, i can stop whenever i want.” yes, you can and you did and you landed in ICU. no one wanted this not us, not your kids, not your sister, not your mother and especially not you.
the doctor told us yesterday that it generally takes 5 tries for an addict to get clean. for recovery to finally take place. that sounds like a very long journey.
When I think about 1998, all I can think about is my grandmother, Maria Cruz. Maria Cruz was the matriarch of our family: she was the one who called the shots, bossed us all around, made the best tamales, was a tremendous cook, a talented seamstress and taught me so much. Maria Cruz was a mother of 12, grandmother and great-grandmother to many. She was unreasonable most of the time, she cussed and smoked too much but when you walked in the room her face would light up and she would look at you with her big brown eyes, telling a story without speaking a word. She’d give a great big smile and say “heeeeyyy!” I’d greet her with a kiss and a hug, feeling like I was the most important person in the room. I would sit and ask her how she was and she’d catch me up on all the family gossip.
In 1998, she summoned me to her house and requested that I organize the family for her 70th birthday and a family reunion. I did it, we all did it. Shaggy dj’ed and there was more food than people could eat. we had fun, we laughed and played games. Grandma was glowing; watching all of her family gather, seeing generations gather and celebrate her life. When I think about that day, I think about the legacy she left behind. I think about the family she built and the nuggets she deposited in our lives.
Two months to the day of our family reunion, she died. And with her part of all of us died. We tried to keep the family traditions alive, but we couldn’t. She was the glue.
Since then, I’ve tried to create traditions for our children, something that they could carry on. Its only in the last two years, I have established some traditions for our family unit. At times, I find myself unreasonable and bossy, I can’t help but think about her and long to talk to her again.