Kacey slept until noon today. Not unusual for your typical 19 year-old, but she’s not your typical 19 year-old. Although not as early a riser as me, my daughter likes to be awake before half of the day is gone. When she sleeps too late, she says she feels as if she’s lost a big chunk of her day. And since she worked a full-time job this summer, her body seems to have developed an internal clock that made it nearly impossible for her to sleep much past eight o’clock most days, even on the weekends.
We had committed to attending a niece’s bridal shower this afternoon though, so at noon, I knew I had to awaken Kacey so she could shower and get ready. She was groggy when I woke her, but made her way out of bed quickly after being reminded that we had a party to attend. While driving to the shower, Kacey remarked how surprised she was to have slept so late. I suggested her body might be off schedule considering the events of the past few days. I asked her if she’d slept at all Friday night when she stayed with Connor after his mom’s passing. She said they hadn’t stayed up very late and wondered instead if being so very sad could cause such exhaustion. I said I imagined it would.
Yesterday morning, while I was on the final leg of my run and headed back towards home, the sun was so bright it was nearly blinding. That was right about the time I suddenly felt an overwhelming sadness for Connor and his family and began to cry. At that moment, I wondered what right the sun even had to be shining. A little dramatic, I know. I’m just having a tough time wrapping my head around the unfairness of it all. I have been fortunate in life so far. I haven’t experienced any great tragedies or unexpected loss. And Connor, in only nineteen short years has had more than his share. I certainly don’t want to invite sorrow into my own life, but I sure wish there were some way to take some of it from Connor and his family. But that’s just not how it works. All of us, at some point, are going to experience the heartbreak of staying behind while we say goodbye to someone we love.
I always wonder how those who have been through it are able to open their eyes the next day. How do they take another breath? Make a cup of coffee? Shower and face a new day that’s different from past days in such a vast and unwelcome way? But they do. You always hear that the return to routine and normalcy eases the pain little by little, day by day. I hope that’s true for Connor.
I was worried about Connor because he’s supposed to leave for school this Thursday. His mom’s funeral is on Tuesday. I worried that Thursday was too soon for Connor to be away from home and family and that his emotions will be too raw to jump right into the frenzy of college life. But Kacey thinks it might be a good thing. She and Connor are going to school together this fall. She transferred from her last school. He transferred from his. They have both been looking so forward to this since late last year when they were each accepted. Kacey will have a roommate of her choosing this time around, her good friend since Kindergarten, Andi. Connor will have his good friend, Alex. They’ll be among their tight circle of friends at their new school. Oh… and did I mention? Connor and Alex’s dorm room is in the same building as Kacey and Andi’s. Oh… and did I mention? Connor and Alex’s dorm room is across the hall from Kacey and Andi’s. I was a bit skeptical about this arrangement initially. They swear though that they couldn’t have orchestrated this arrangement if they had tried. But considering the past few days, I think I’m glad they’ll be so close to each other. Besides, they’re going to spend as much time together as they want to, whether their rooms are across the hall or across campus from each other. And I just don’t worry about them the way some parents might worry about their kids and significant others. It may seem that I’m being naive, but it’s not that. In spite of their fun-loving natures and ability to be silly, there’s a maturity in Kacey and Connor’s relationship that’s rare for kids their age.
I guess I realized even yesterday that distraction is a good thing. I was alone for the most part at home, and every time I slowed down and quieted my mind, the sadness would come drifting back again. I needed to get away. I had been talking with my sister earlier in the day and she had extended an invitation to come see her husband’s band play at a community event in the late afternoon. I hadn’t committed at the time, but as the afternoon wore on, I realized it would do me good. The band plays Christian rock, which is not really my thing these days, but they were fun to hear. The event was at a neighborhood park and the sole purpose was to promote a sense of community and trust among the neighbors.
It was good for me to be with my sister and my nephews. My brother-in-law was up on stage with his band, pounding out the music that he loves. It was a sunny, warm afternoon and the park was filled with people, young and old, parents and children, friends and neighbors. The event was all about reaching out to others and loving those around us. As much as I wanted to stay angry on Connor’s behalf, I was losing the energy for anger. The music and the message began to soothe the ache in my heart just a little bit.
What I’m feeling is such a fraction of the hurt that Connor must feel. I just hope that he opens his eyes each day and takes another breath. And another. And another. I hope he walks out his door each day and still wants to take life by storm. I want enough days to pass by quickly so that one day he opens his eyes and finds that the hurt isn’t quite so bad anymore. And though his mom’s love can never be replaced, I want him never to doubt that he is loved by so many. The first of those many next days has already come and gone and Connor is already proving his ability to endure this and go on. I am so proud of him.