My life seems to have a line drawn across it: before and after.
I mean, it’s happened before, like before and after the cat, before and after having my first child. But gradually, like lines drawn in the sand, they have gently been erased by the “elements” of life.
I experienced a severe before and after in my life, when one of my twins, seven and a half month old Alexander, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. His death too ripped me to the core. For years I sweated blood and tears, raising money and awareness for SIDS. But how can I say this without being misinterpreted; our time together, etched in my heart though it is, was short. It didn’t give us the chance to do very much together and that too, brings its own kind of pain. Still, over the years I have found peace and acceptance about Alexander’s death. As Robert grew, he and Andrew became close friends. While I always detected a trace of sadness deep in Robert’s heart, the mutual love, and the relationship between him and his older brother, went a long way toward filling the void left by the loss of his twin. Witnessing this gave me comfort and eased the sadness I felt for Robert’s loss.
God alone knows now that he’s lost his older brother, what goes on in Robert’s head and heart, for he won’t talk about it. And yes, I have asked the experts, and they have told me not to push him, but to give him love (which of course we do) and as long as he functions, ie: eats, sleeps, goes to school, does his homework, plays with friends…
“Just keep an eye out,” my own therapist advised. “Make sure he knows that he can come to you, and ask him to tell you if he ever feels like hurting himself.”
Robert and I have had this conversation and I feel comfortable that he will tell us if and when he needs help.
Mind you, his sister has talked to him, Hugh has talked to him, male friends of his sister who have sort of taken up the role of older brothers have also talked to him. If anything, I’d say that if in need, he is spoiled for choice.
The above stream of consciousness started when and because… I took a chicken out of the freezer yesterday.
It is so weird, the things that stick in our mind. It would he hilarious if it wasn’t tragic, perhaps the word is: tragicomic.
I had bought this chicken from Whole Foods in October, (even though I was vegetarian at the time).
I remember it well; there was a special offer on free range organic chickens and I thought:
“Chicken, chicken on the shelf, tell me, who is…”
Anyway, I bought it and put it in the freezer thinking that I would cook it whenever Andrew came home one evening, or one week-end.
A few days later Andrew died; I was sitting on the hospital floor (I don’t know why I was sitting on the floor) by his side, when I suddenly remembered the chicken and started howling:
“What about the roast chicken I was going to cook for you? And the gravy, roast potatoes and vegetables to go with it?”
That is what I was remembering from the moment the chicken came out of the freezer, went into the oven and….. Amazing what the mind spews up.
PS There is a beautiful, young looking, red-orangey bird perched on a branch outside. I try to catch his attention.
“Have you seen Andrew?” I ask when he finally looks in my direction. He moves his head rapidly this way and that, then pecks at a dry berry.
“Tell him I love him,” I call out as the red-orangey bird spreads his wings, and flies away.