Yesterday, Darling Daughter, who is very private with her emotions, called me at lunch to ask if she could please come home. Our general rule is if you don't have a fever, nothing is broken and you aren't puking, you go to school. However, my stoic baby was sobbing into the phone that one of her classmates, a friend, had died in her sleep of natural causes and she just couldn't "deal" with continuing through her scheduled classes trying to hold everything in. Without hesitation I asked hubby dearest to pick her up and I rushed through my work to be with her.
DD is not one to pull a drama card or be hyperbolic with her emotions so I knew this was a rough one. In the last year DD has not really talked about her Aunt Gayla's passing nor has she ever really expressed her feelings over the other losses in her life. I admire her inner strength most days and worry about a future implosion on the other days. No child of 14 should have to be so mature and in control of her emotions as ours is. At the same time that I am proud of her maturity, I am also concerned that I shouldn't sit her down and some how force her to release her emotions. Short of flogging DD and screaming, "Emote, you! Emote already!!" I just sit patiently waiting for the opportunity to help her grieve her losses.
Her expression of grief on the phone was the crack in the door I needed to put my foot in and open up a dialog. DD told me a story about an island project the classmate had completed with her last year. When I asked what her friend's "thing that was uniquely her" was, DD without hesitation said, "Her laugh. It was really loud and real." As DD is the shyest teen I have ever met, I can totally see how someone who embraces their joy and wraps it in a loud and true laugh would be envied by DD.
DD and I spent time talking about the friend as well as Gayla. We talked about how her other classmates were behaving and that grief is such a tricky emotion. We talked about heaven and laughed when I made the statement that when I get to heaven, "Jesus and I are gonna have a come to Him meeting" about why certain things happen like the death of children.
Then when I thought I couldn't feel more relief at our sharing, DD asked, "Do you think we could make some more phone cozies today? I feel like being creative." Holy-all-things-that-glitter-are-gold! The light bulb came on...where I had been starting to worry that my compulsion to create was becoming obsessively crazy, DD in essence had just told me that I had taught her a positive coping mechanism. When you are sad, create something. When your day is tough, create something. Turn to your creative juices in times of crisis. Then we talked about positive and negative coping skills.
When I went to bed last night, I didn't worry about my child for the first time in a very long time. I didn't stress about whether or not I was being a good mother or if I was going to break her. I slept last night feeling proud of myself for the good things that I was teaching this beautiful sassy girl even when I didn't realize she was watching and learning. It was in one of those dark clouds of life that I saw the sun peaking through.