Clinging to me like a 3 year-old
TUESDAY, November 17 – On the radio I hear an account of the controversial political decision not to screen American women for breast cancer until the age of fifty. Up to now the eligible age was forty. Jenn would have been furious. On her behalf, I am incensed over this ridiculous decision. I sense her outrage and that brings some relief.
17:00 – Eamonn has a guitar lesson today, the first in a long time. He’s cheerful, chatters a mile a minute, and is happy to be doing something different. This morning was awful. In the schoolyard he was overcome by his emotions and wouldn’t let me go. He clung to me like a three-year-old on his first day at the day care center.
It’s called separation anxiety. He’s afraid to venture beyond my field of vision and gets frightfully nervous whenever I make a move to leave. He’s terrified that something’s going to happen to me, and that I won’t come back. Nothing can convince him otherwise. He is not interested in my argument that it’s better for him to be in school, and that with his friends around him there will be enough distractions to keep his mind off things.
How can I explain to Eamonn what Sander seems to have grasped: that returning to the old familiar routine can help him deal with this loss? But even I sometimes have my doubts since isn’t that the last thing you want to do: return to an old familiar routine? Old and familiar, but without his mother. Am I pulling the wool over his eyes and fooling myself as well?
His pain is so different from Sander’s. When Eamonn’s classmates started to line up to go into the school, he literally hurled himself at me. Let go? Not an option. In the end, two teachers managed to pull him away from me. I turned around and walked away without looking back. I literally felt sick to my stomach.
I pulled myself together as best I could and headed for the first of my two appointments. In the presence of the insurance expert, the civil lawyer more or less asked me to put a price on the death of Jennifer. Phew. An impossible request. How can you quantify her death, her life? It was beyond me. It’ll have to wait.
Then, on to the American Consulate for a death certificate as well as information on the law of succession and half-orphan pensions. Again I burst into tears after the clerk disappears with Jennifer’s passport only to hand it back to mea few minutes later with five holes in it. No longer valid.
Jenn had recently had pages added to her passport. She adored travelling: new adventures, new friends, new learning experiences. The now-worthless, dark blue booklet was but the latest confirmation of her finiteness. Have passport, will not be traveling; the traveler is past her sell-by date.
After leaving the building, I checked my cell phone and saw that Eamonn had tried to reach me several times. I returned the call and was immediately plunged back into the utter misery of the situation earlier that morning. For twenty long minutes I did my best – to no avail. I promised him that I’d be in the schoolyard at three-thirty and begged him to hang up.
‘No, no… ,’ he cried, ‘don’t hang up! When you hang up, it feels as if you are closing me down.’
His choice of words was amazing and he didn’t give up. I tried to talk him around and finally succeeded by promising that I’d call him again at twelve-thirty. After a quick lunch at home, I thought: Fuck it. Dog in the car, back to school, pick up Eamonn and Sander. Come on, guys, we’re off to the woods. They were both astounded. Three hours of playing hooky and it was glorious!