A month ago we packed life in California and hugged and kissed goodbye. Ben, Silas, Eden and I walked out on the windy pier and settled in a booth at Ruby's to drink milkshakes and watch the fishers through the windows in the dusk. Then we nestled into a hotel room, the four of us, to remember we were sticking together.
Schools are in week three of growing familiarity, but the discomfort of newness hasn't receded. The kids call and cry for me at bedtime, want me close enough to sling an arm around, to smoosh a face against, and all day long reach out to grab, hold, kiss.
I catch Eden with an vacant expression on her face that I've never seen before, and then it's gone. Ben's enthusiasm moves in waves, flattens still and glossy. My core softens to crumbly-tender without notice. Silas's eyes grow glossy in the hallway outside his classroom and his hands fidget. We are not quite ourselves.
I am trying to learn about grief, to be aware of how it strikes unexpectedly erupts or smolders in anger, brims with craving for comfort and filling. Yesterday I went to a (uninspiring) talk on children and grief.
She only addressed death -- mostly horrific, sudden and poorly handled deaths -- but what I heard is that when a six year old loses his bedroom, house, classmates, school, friends, community, going-to-breakfast and pizza-night-with-friends traditions, church, neighbors, and place, that feels a lot like a death, even when his most solid people still hold him, even when there are sweet replacements -- replacements don't displace loss.
They are brave, Silas and Eden. One day I will tell them this, will tell Silas how sweet and tender his heart is; how he weathered this change with pockets full of treasure-rocks at pick up; how a month in, after looking at CA photos, we both cried from the missing as we put on our shoes; how we left the house together and held hands as we walked up the hill to school.