Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A little more

Friday night I was working on organizing my ever-UNorganized office while Kady played on the desktop and Abby was fooling around on her daddy's laptop (because in case you had forgotten MY LAPTOP WENT KAPUT last week). The boy was watching something on TV and Paul was asleep in his recliner. We girls were just being silly and chit chatting when Abby got a text then said, "No way. That's not cool." I asked what she was talking about and she said, "I just got a text that said Cheyenne died. Why would someone say that?"

Cheyenne had moved away mid-year last year after having gone to school with Abby since 1st grade. They weren't BFF's, but they knew each other and got along; they were classmates for six years. I said, "Oh, Abby, someone's just being cruel. She moved away so they're just trying to stir up drama. You know how rumors get started." Then suddenly her phone started receiving message after message, all saying the same thing: Cheyenne had died. She kept saying no, not possible and I was getting kind of irritated that these kids were perpetuating something so absolutely awful.

Then I got a text from another mom who confirmed the horrible news.

I have yet to hear a 100% ironclad reason as to why Cheyenne passed away, but I know one thing for sure -- 13 year olds just aren't supposed to die. It's not right, it's not fair and it's just something I, as a mother, have a very hard time wrapping my head around.

Abby internalizes everything, so I kept a close eye on her all weekend, watching for signs she was heading for a meltdown, blowup or anything in-between. Saturday Paul and I left Kady and Sam with Mom and Pops while we went furniture shopping with just Abby. We had lunch, kept things light, joked with her and gave her some extra attention. She was insisting on attending the funeral and I said I'd take her, but suggested maybe we should try the visitation first before we decided, explaining it wouldn't be like a funeral for an older person. She cried off and on here and there throughout the weekend over little things, things that would normally never make her cry. She's not one to wail and gnash teeth. She's very low-key. She had to take her Zantac several times, something she always has to do when she's upset or stressed.

I was 18 and a Senior in high school when a girl a grade below me was killed in a car accident. She and I weren't what you would call close, we were in accounting and band and on the yearbook staff together and had ridden the same bus since she started school. I think we played together a time or two during the summer when we were kids. We were schoolmates. Rebecca's death, though, was the first time I had to come to terms with my own mortality. I had lost a cousin to muscular dystrophy when I was little, had attended the funeral of a neighbor lady who bought milk from Papa's farm and was always so sweet to us kids and had gone to a few other funerals to farther-down-the-line relatives. But all those people were older than me, most by a lot; Rebecca was 17. Younger than me. Not supposed to die.

This week my 13 year old had to deal with her own mortality. At first she asked a lot of silly questions, questions she knew the answer to already, but I answered regardless. Then she asked tougher ones, like "What would you bury me in if I died right now?" That's a question that as her mother I didn't want to answer or remotely think about, but to her hurting little heart and mind it was important. I hate it we had to have conversations like that. I hate it that she had to learn so young that sometimes kids die and we don't know why, we don't understand, we don't have to like it and it sucks.

I got sick on Sunday evening and was in bed all day Monday which left her Daddy to take her to the visitation Monday night. She did okay. She's attended more than her fair share of funerals and visitations and was prepared for it. She came home and talked about how Cheyenne looked and the color of her casket and pictures they had put out of her as a little kid and that she had been holding a pilot's headset in her hands because she wanted to be a pilot just like her daddy when she grew up - things my precious little girl shouldn't have to talk about or deal with. I cried. She didn't. She was more than ever, though, resolute about attending the funeral.

I made arrangements with the mother of a classmate to take her to the funeral the following day and kept her home from school that morning. She took extra time to get ready and make sure what she was wearing was sufficiently nice and grownup, "but not dorky, right?" she made sure. When Melinda pulled in the driveway Abby grabbed me and hugged me so hard. And didn't want to let go. Not only was she preparing to attend the funeral of a peer, but she was having to do so without me. I cried again. She didn't.

It worked out that I was at the clinic when she got home from the funeral and my mom picked her up. God made that doctor's appointment work out for me so that Abby could express some feelings and emotions to her Grammy, maybe things she just wasn't sure she could say to me. Mom said she talked quite a bit and asked a few questions and voiced her concerns over a few things, but all told, she handled things pretty well. She said she was glad she went to the funeral and was glad it was over. She said it had been a sad day.

She grew up a little more yesterday.


Megan said...

I dread that day and pray it doesn't come for a long time for Q-Tip. Mostly because I have the most horrible time dealing with the death of a child. I have a friend whose baby girl was diagnosed with cancer at 6 months old. She fought long and hard but when she effected me like nothing ever has. I wasn't a mother when she was diagnosed but was when we lost her and I still can't find words that I feel are sufficient.

Sounds like you and Abby handled it beautifully...I too wish it was something she wouldn't have had to go through at such a tender age.

Jeri Arnold said...

Oh honey. You made me cry just now. I dread the day that one of the girls has to go through that. I will never forget going through that with Rebecca. That was one of the hardest things for me. And then my junior year we lost Jeremy 2 days after school started. It was horrible. I will pray for Abby and all her friends. Miss you guys!

Becca said...

I come to your blog via "All Along The Hightower".

What an incredibly moving entry. And the way that you handled it with such grace made me cry. It is sad that children have to experience these things so young in life, but with role models like you to support them, it must ease the pain and hurt.

God Bless.

Jill of All Trades said...

Oh gosh I remember that happening when I was young. It rocks your world. Happened to my oldest too and you just can't be prepared enough. So hard those kinds of life lessons. Your heart is just breaking for them.

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