Yesterday was one of those days that makes it really hard to be the parent.
When Kidlet Jr. was much younger, he was terrified of dogs. I am talking about a terror that made his tiny little body shake uncontrollably. We were once at a barbeque for his brother’s t-ball team and someone accidentally let the dog out. (For the record, it was a tiny little dog.) I had no idea a toddler could actually go from standing beside me to scaling up my side as if I were a rock wall to be climbed. One moment he was on the ground, the next he had his arms wrapped around my neck in terror. Even my sister’s dog was a bit scary to him. Until one day when Kidlet Jr was at my sister’s house and her dog Ellie came in. Kidlet Jr started to cry. It was a soft cry. Ellie went over to him and softly laid her head in his lap and looked up at him. I’ll never forget the moment. The two locked eyes. Something passed between them in that moment that was magical. After what seemed like minutes but was probably only seconds, Kidlet Jr reached out his hand and began to softly rub Ellie’s head. Ellie never flinched. A few minutes later, Kidlet Jr began to smile, then giggle and then flat out laugh out loud. From that moment on, he was never afraid of dogs again. He began to carry around a stuffed dog that he named Ellie and has been a dog lover ever since. Ellie gave him something in that moment that forever changed him. Something even his own mother couldn’t give him.
Kidlet Sr has always loved dogs. With him, it was love at first sight when he met Ellie. They chased each other, played ball and tug of war and wrestled together. Whenever Kidlet Sr. visited, Ellie always slept with him. One night when I was dog-sitting Ellie and she was sleeping with Kidlet Sr, I did my nightly patrol where I check on the kids. As I went to walk into Kidlet Sr’s bedroom, I heard this low growl. It was a serious, don’t take one more step kind of growl. Being a sane person I backed up. Then firmly told her to stop it. She let me in to check on him, but she let me know that for that night, he was her boy. She would watch over him. She was very protective of him. Kidlet Sr. loved her as only a boy can love a dog. (And she wasn’t even ours.)
Yesterday, my sister called. Ellie passed away. They just found out that she had bone cancer and didn’t have very long to live. She said that her last day was spent happy and very active. For the first time in months she ran and chased the ball and wanted to be outside. The next morning, she was in such agony she couldn’t move. It was her time to go.
My heart broke when I had to tell the boys.
Last night, I held Kidlet Jr as the most gut wrentching sobs wracked his little 8 year old body. It seemed as if they would never stop. My heart broke into a million pieces.
I also held Kidlet Sr’s tightly clenched fist as he tried to make sense of it all through his intense anger. I watched him punch a pillow and ball up his boyish hands in a fit of pained anger unlike any I had seen before.
And for the first time in my life as a mother, there was nothing I could say or do to make it better. There was nothing that could take even a tiny bit of their pain away. I have never felt so helpless.
You see, they have been blessed. This is the first big loss they have had to deal with. They were too young when their grandmother died to know what was going on. I got a glimpse of the sheer agony it will be when someone they love passes away. And my heart broke for them. And for me.
Yesterday was one of those days that it’s really hard to be the mommy. I just wanted to be able to make it all better. And sometimes…sometimes, you just can’t.
(This picture was taken when Kidlet Jr just turned 3. It was about 6 months after he and Ellie became buddies. And you can see she looked quite comfortable on that bed with Kidlet Sr, too.)