Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dealing with Death

I have discovered that for me, writing is very therapeutic. It will be something I do for the rest of my life, whether it is privately or for the internet to see. After writing my Uncle Tom's tribute, I felt so much better. Yes, I cry every time I read it, but it's worth it. I tend to not to be able to verbalize things (talk out loud). I shut down and can't speak. But when I sit at the computer my fingers don't stop moving over the keyboard.

I have been a bit distressed at how Zachary was taking the news of Uncle Tom's death. He wasn't talking about it at all. Where would he get that from? He had DEMANDED we not bring up the funeral to him AGAIN. Well ok. He doesn't DEMAND anything. Ever. I get the message. He came home from school Monday talking about what a terrible day he had. He said "I SHOULD have had a good day, there were lots of good things happening but I wasn't enjoying any of it and I DON'T KNOW WHY?" Hmmm. I'm no psychologist but you just found out yesterday that your very close Uncle died. He said, "really, is that why?" I said, "I'm still very very sad, and will be for a while." "You are???" he asked. Obviously he thought the day was done and it was time to move on. So I suggested he do what I did and write and/or draw something. He is very good at these things and since he can't seem to be able to sort things out, I thought this may be helpful. He was excited about this idea and started "thinking about how to proceed."

He was a bit stuck, so I showed him some pictures that I had gathered to see if that would give him some inspiration. He saw the picture of my aunt and uncle together and I could see him melt inside. "I love this one.", He gasped. It was taken at the Tampa zoo on our last visit to Florida. That was all it took. He was off and working. This is what he came up with:

Front cover


This is a bit hard to read, but he drew, William H Taft (a president and as I said they shared the love of presidents, and Taft has some interesting stories) The Detroit Tigers logo, the Red Wings hockey stick, Michigan State. A turtle for their visits to "the Turtle Bridge" by Uncle Tom's house. Then he wrote, "This is what I think of when I think of Uncle Tom". Which makes me cry all over again. I seriously have to go buy some waterproof mascara.

I could tell after finishing this last night that he felt a bit better. Before bed he looked at me and said, "The last time I heard Uncle Tom's voice it was singing me happy birthday". Yes it was. I said what a wonderful gift that was, to have that to remember and have it be such a nice message. I wish I had learned at nine that it is helpful to work through your feelings by writing or drawing, if you are unable to talk. I was 41!

I've tried to talk to Daniel more. As soon as I say something about Uncle Tom he just says,"oh no, he died, oops" Which is frankly starting to make me laugh. The "oops" gets me, like he put on the wrong color socks or something?? Then he continues to ask if Aunt Judy is still alive. Yes she is. I asked Daniel if I should have my picture taken with her when I see her to show him. Daniel replied, "THAT would be a great idea." He needs a visual, so I'm going to give it to him. Neither of them are going to the funeral. Zachary because he has made it more than clear, Daniel because whenever people cry he yells at them to stop. A funeral probably isn't the best place for him? Yeah, I think not.

I'm busy getting things settled here so I can be gone for two nights. I have looked through my pictures, had copies made for the family, written my entries and cried my eyes out. I think I'm ready. I KNOW I'm ready to give Aunt Judy and my three cousins huge hugs. I'm ready to go drink a Manhattan or two in my uncle's honor. I'm ready to see my eastern cousins flying in for the funeral. I'm ready to face it all. Will I cry? You betcha. Will I have remembered to buy new mascara? I hope so.


Anonymous said...

How are you doing? I know you will always have some sadness over the loss of your uncle.

Zachary draws so well. (My husband is from Michigan - the Promised Land is what he calls it. He would really appreciate all the MI sports references.)

The "Oops" from Daniel *is* pretty adorable, I must say.

Michelle S. said...

Zachary loves to draw and does it all the time. I hope your husband is an MSU fan :) But we love all the sports.