I missed a call from my mom so I called her right back. I knew it must be something of the matter since she rarely called.
“I could not sleep.” Mom’s voice was weak.
“What is the matter?” I asked. “How is your health?”
“I am OK. I have been thinking of you…” She did not finish the sentence and I could hear her sobbing.
“You remembered the date, didn’t you?” My eyes got wet.
She was the only one in the family who remembered my baby’s birthday and called me.
Even though every week I speak to her on the phone, we do not usually talk about our feelings or my grief. I tried to protect her from my sorrow, just like the time they came to take care of me.
My parents flew thousands of miles to be at my bedside after they learned that I have lost Kevin. Between getting them visas and arranging for tickets, they came at the earliest possible date, 2 months after the tragedy. Once they were here, they threw themselves into the kitchen, making meals and brewing herbal Chinese figs and ginseng, to help me recover. But, we rarely talked about those bark moments. Both Joo and I kept things brief. I did not want them to go through the heart wrenching moments like I did everyday of my life. It was an act of love and protection from my side to keep everything to myself. Until one day, I could hold it any longer: It is one thing that I did not tell them much, but it is totally another for them NOT to ask. I still wanted them to ask me about Kevin, to show me they cared and to acknowledge he existed.
I had to do something: I moved the Kevin’s keepsake box from upper stair to a visible spot in the living room, the book shelf. My mom dust that shelf everyday and she would ask me right away, I thought. Then, I waited and waited.
For three days. No one said anything or remotely made any hints to me.
My blood reached the boiling point and at any minute I could explode. I walked back and forward, and back and forward, by the bookshelf. Finally, I picked up the keepsake box, held close to my chest, raced to their bedroom and asked, “Mom and dad, do you want to meet your grandson?”
My mom smiled in tears and said, “I wanted to know this for a long time. But I did not want to make you more sad.”
We all do this, consciously or unconsciously, trying to protect our love ones from experiencing sorrows by not talking or sharing, as an act of love. It does just the opposite.
Let it be tears! Let it be sorrow and grief! The worst has already happened. Talking and sharing won’t make it worse.
Wallow it alone, will.
I am glad I shared and still sharing through writing.