Talk or don’t talk about her
SATURDAY, December 26 – And here we are, in bed early. All three of us. Eamonn is next to me, by now sound asleep. Sander has his own guest room. All three of us want rest and quiet, or – as Sander put it – ‘I’m sick and tired of all these people.’
Grandma who talks at the top of her voice, Grandpa who can’t understand what she’s saying, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews vying for attention. The special charm of the Nolans: boisterousness. But not right now.
What I’ve noticed, and what disappoints me, is the fact that all mention of Jennifer is painstakingly avoided. Consciously or unconsciously. No one brought up her name. There were no indirect references, no anecdotes, nothing at all. Only my sister-in-law asked me how I and the boys were doing.
The rest of the family stuck to the usual subjects. Football, memorable family vacations, Seinfeld imitations, the latest movies. Jennifer did not feature in any of these conversations. Maybe it was better that way, but to my way of thinking there was something really wrong. Weren’t we all gathered here precisely because of her?
In a sense, it was understandable. At least this way we weren’t constantly being confronted with her death, but suppressing it and pretending it had never happened was getting on my nerves. So much so that in the midst of this large and loud family I was feeling lonelier than ever. However, if the reverse were the case, and Jennifer was the sole topic of conversation, I would probably have been just as miserable.
Sander just came in. Couldn’t get to sleep. He wants to go home and, further, he has two wishes: He wants the new year to start and he wants Mom back. I start promising him all sorts of things, but actually that isn’t even the problem. I hold him tight. That’s enough. He and I don’t even have to talk about Mom. We don’t need words… a simple hug says a lot more.