Foundation Garments and Mascara

It’s weird, inviting friends and strangers into something as private as grief. I don’t feel compelled to share, nor do I think my life is some kind of textbook example of how to make this journey gracefully. For the record, I don’t think there’s any such thing as “graceful grief.” Grief is messy and convoluted. What I allow people to see may look somewhat put together, and that’s because I was raised by a southern mother. A lady doesn’t leave the house looking like the wrath of God, in the Gospel According to Becky.

We lost our son, Kai, three months ago, on October 9, 2014. He was 12, and will forever be 12. There are still a lot of days I have M&Ms for breakfast, and let the 4 year old snack on goldfish, marshmallows, and Netflix Kids. I probably drink more red wine than I should. I spend way too much time on the internet reading vapid celebrity news and stay up too late watching Forensic Files. If I manage foundation garments and mascara, that’s a good day. It’s 1:30 in the afternoon and I’m still in my PJs.

The comment I get most often is, “How are you even out of bed?” At first, I tried to answer it with a mish-mosh of Christianspeak and moxie. “Well, by the grace of God I’m able to get up and take care of our other two kids because that’s what I have to do.” Truth, but it came off sounding a little smug and martyr-ish. I’m beginning to understand that some people genuinely wonder how parents function after losing a child. It’s not that different than wanting to ask an amputee, “So how, exactly, do you get through the day when you’re missing a leg?” Is it presumptuous to compare losing a child to losing a limb?

How am I even out of bed? Is there another option? I’ve thought about what it would be like to just stay in bed, alternately Netflix binging and sobbing. Honestly, that would exhaust me more than my real, everyday life. Crying is cathartic, and necessary, but it’s so draining. More draining than keeping up with a 4 year old, a 14 year old, and a 44 year old. (Sorry, hubs, for outing your actual age.) Staying in bed and nursing my grief wouldn’t help me heal any faster.

There is no endgame for grief. I will never be “done.”

The rawness is beginning to subside, a tiny bit. I don’t feel like I’m walking around skinless all the time. I can think about Kai without feeling like my chest is wrapped in ace bandages. Most days I manage a bra and a little make-up, and I feel slightly closer to suburban mommy normal. But really, what defines normal? Right now, for me, there is only “before” and “after.”

How do I get out of bed? I pray. I pray for the energy to be vertical. I pray that I could be present, for my kids and my hubby. I pray there are still some M&Ms in the back of the pantry. I thank Him for my coffee, and for the next cup, and the next cup. And then I go put on some mascara.

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