The little one was keen on wishing her friend on the latter’s birthday. She had in fact missed calling her back when the said pal had called on the little one’s birthday just 10 days prior. Yes, they are just that many days apart in terms of their time of arrival in the world. Maybe its the zodiac or maybe the numerology behind the date, but they always got along very well every time they met, and in the last year, virtually so. The connects were far and few between, but that did not seem to matter. But this was the first time that it was a short conversation and that too one which ended abruptly, with the simplest of excuses that the innocence of that age group can come up with.. she (the friend) needed to hang up because she needed to go somewhere.
I was not too surprised though I did blame myself for not knowing on the best way to have prepared the little one for the ensuing birthday wishes she was going to bestow. Perhaps I should have not had her call… but that wouldn’t seem right because it would be the first time in almost a decade that she would miss talking to her friend on the latter’s birthday. In fact, at most other prior-to-new-normal times, she would have actually visited for the party after a 3-hour drive.
Or perhaps I should have told her the exact words that she should speak… but I could never figure out even myself on what those should have been. In my simple mind- perhaps wrongfully so- I had assumed that the ensuing conversation would unfold in the best way possible. After all, it was between two minors and hence would be without the complications we adults create with our notions, perceptions, assumptions and (mis)conceptions.
It seemed I was wrong- though I still am at a loss on what should have been an alternate way to deal deal with it. Perhaps because I put myself in my little one’s shoes and assumed she would like to be dealt with in the same way as I had expected her friend to be. Perhaps I had taken the adage “do unto others like you would have others do to you” too seriously. Or perhaps I was different as was my little one. Upbringing, values, mindset, so many ways to describe what could have caused the difference that then seemed like a vast one.
But then who is to know the best way to deal or be dealt with when grieving? Yes, the little one’s friend lost her uncle just a few days prior..
That was the question that the little one went around asking the sum total of us three adults who had been the majority of her contact in the last one year and of course a big part of her upbringing. Yes, she wanted to know if there was a particular protocol to be followed by someone her age when grieving the loss of a close relative- closeness being defined by the relation or maybe in some cases even the emotions one may have harboured for the person who was no more. In fact many a times we do get caught in the relation and the emotions someone close to us may have had, and try to feel the loss by putting ourselves in the shoes of the one who is impacted the most.
We fall in line not knowing what else one would do. This especially in case of a child who sees a parent dealing with it, they naturally are inclined to imbibe the exact same emotions that they experience from their parents. It is a bond which is natural, much as one may try to extricate oneself from it, there is no breaking it… no cutting the (proverbial) cord.
I could only imagine what the decade-into-this-world was reminiscing when faced with the abruptness of behaviour experienced by her from a dear friend. It had not been that long since she had seen her mother undergo a similar situation in dealing with her biggest loss since she was born.
They say a human remembers their life from the age of six, and so it was unlikely that in such a short span she had lost memories of the phase which we were worried would impact her in ways we would not understand. Being parents is a continuous learning, whether you choose to or not. And one never feels one has learnt enough, or at least as soon as one starts feeling that way, comes an instant when the feeling becomes undone.
The people closest to her were all figuring their own vacuum at the loss. And so when friends in the colony invited my daughter over to join them in their homes for a lunch or a play date, she happily complied. Partly thinking it was a good opportunity to socialize, but majorly feeling the weight of a strange loss being taken off her shoulders as folks tried to distract her from thinking of the one who no longer was or at least reducing the burden of emotions of those closest to her who themselves were at a loss of courage and confidence in their strengths at dealing with whatever came their way.
There was of course one person, who despite feeling the loss in the close circle, had the strength to extricate himself from it and engage as normally as he could with the child. And not just for one or two days but for weeks together as we put our lives back on track while dealing with the gaping hole that would get filled only with the sands of time and leave in its place an oasis of memories one clutched onto forever.
I could never thank that person enough for what he made happen for us. In his true self perhaps naturally so. You see very few of us have the ability to extricate and fill gaps rather than find our comfortable corners and wallow in them. But those who do, provide priceless shoulders to those who take time in finding the pillars of strength lost as they are in the mists of the trauma that one can never be too prepared to deal with! We can only hope every one of us finds that shoulder, if not for ourselves, for those who they worry about but not have the reservoir to embalm.