After kissing Max and Raphael good night I walked into Tre’s dimly lit room, and perched on the edge of his bed. In the dusky light his eyes were dark liquid pools, and I ran my hand over his hair.
“Good night, honey,” I said.
“Good night, Mama,” he replied, but something in his expression caused me to stop and peer a little closer.
“Are you ok?” He nodded, but I looked at him unrelentingly. He widened his eyes and nodded again, but it was no use. His chin wobbled, and then he choked out a sob.
“I miss Craig James…I mean, I know I see him, but I miss him…like he was.”
“Oh.” I sighed and rested my hand on his arm. He rubbed furiously at the tears leaking out the corners of his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he muttered, “I know he’s doing really well, and it’s great that he’s walking…I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have to be sorry. You’re grieving. Do you know what grieving is?” He shook his head. “Well, when something really bad happens, it takes some time for our minds and hearts to get used to the idea. For a while – sometimes a long while – whenever we remember that bad thing, it’s like a horrible surprise all over again. What happened to Craig James will always be a sad thing, but it won’t always hit you like it does now. And it’s ok to be hopeful about what’s happening now and still feel sad about what happened then.” He nodded, then squeezed his eyes shut and just cried for a moment. I leaned over and wrapped my arms around his nearly manly shoulders and held him. For once he let me.
“I’m gonna go see him tomorrow,” he said at last.
“That’s a good idea.”
“Ok,” he yawned showily, “I’m tired. Good night.” Just as suddenly as it had arrived, the emotion storm was over, and I was invited to leave now. I smiled, said good night, and allowed myself one more brush of my fingertips through his hair.
I walked into my room, the next door down. I stood there for a moment, thinking about Tre and the burdens he carries. What do I say to him? How can I help him process this? As I pondered I heard a rustling behind me and saw the comforter on my bed move oddly.
“Max, get back in your bed.” The comforter wriggled, and then went still. “I mean it, Max, it’s time for you to go to sleep.” There was a pause, then a beaming face popped up from under a pillow.
“How did you KNOW I was there?” he giggled.
“I’m your mother. I know everything,” I replied, “now go to bed.” He hopped down and trotted off to his room, shaking his head.
“You really DO know everything!” he exclaimed in amazement.
I watched him go, and sighed.
How I wish that were true.
I have to add here that people have been asking me how Craig James is doing, and he's actually doing really well. I don't want to give the impression that he's not. I'll have a comprehensive update soon, I promise.