Doing well at not doing well
SATURDAY, September 25 – I got home late, just before midnight, and to my amazement I found Sander sitting on the couch. Wide awake. When I asked what he was doing up so late, he said, ‘Go look in the kitchen.’
It was spic and span. He’d done the dishes, cleaned the counter, dried the pans and hung them up and, as if that wasn’t enough, he’d also straightened up the dining room. Not to mention, earlier that evening he’d baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
Compliments all round. What a kid and all on his own. Fantastic. Even though it had already struck twelve, I let him come with me when I took the dog out. He had something to tell me.
‘You’ve probably noticed that I’m not doing really well right now.’
I looked at him in amazement. Not really well?
He started to cry. I gave him a hug. The whole story came out, crystal-clear. He’s still so angry – at the man who took his mother away from him at the fact that she isn’t here anymore. He can’t take it any longer. He wants everything to be the way it was, with a father and a mother. He hasn’t told his new classmates about his family situation. All they know is that he has a Dutch father and an American mother. In the meantime, all he wants to do is scream at the top of his lungs that he is VERY MAD!
Of course, I could explain to him that his rage is perfectly normal, using the scientific mourning curve described by psychiatrist Kubler Ross and that the final phases in the acceptance of death. Further, that the integration of our loss alternates with a return to the angry phase. For the moment, however, I decide it’s better to say nothing.
I just hug him.