So, I guess I get to do this by myself too. It was late, nearly midnight, by the time the police left. By the grace of God, my kids were in bed asleep and unaware. I chose to let them sleep. This was the end of the innocence. I gave them one last night before I broke their hearts.
There was nothing left to do, but crawl into bed. I crept into my room and slid between the sheets next to my eight year old. She had fallen asleep in my bed watching TV. I did that on purpose. I had hoped the volume would be enough to drown out hell. There was no sobbing, no fits of rage, I simply lied there and made a to do list on my phone with tears traveling into my ears. I made a fricken list! I still have it. I assigned people to tasks. I listed everything I could think of that needed immediate attention. Hymns, I wrote down hymn titles!
I didn’t sleep. I hadn’t slept in more than a year and it would be years before that ever resembled consistent. Still, I set my alarm twenty minutes earlier. I needed that time to figure out what the hell I was going to say to my older children before they got up for school. Silly when you think about it, I set an alarm.
I set an alarm and I turned it off before it engaged. I left my room quietly and sat at the top of my back stairs waiting for them to wake up. I whispered a call to my college roommate, “I’m sorry to call so early. It’s just that Corey died last night and I’m trying to summon the courage to tell the kids.” I’ve since apologized for that phone call countless times. I was going through the motions without regard to how those words would be received by anyone other than my children. We talked, she cried and within five hours she was at my front door… from another state.
I whispered a call to my college roommate, “I’m sorry to call so early. It’s just that Corey died last night and I’m trying to summon the courage to tell the kids.”
When the kids came out of their rooms they knew immediately something was wrong. I got right to the point. Telling them haunts me to this day. As indescribably hard as that night was it doesn’t compare to my eighteen year old daughter’s legs giving out from under her, to the guttural sobs of my fifteen year old son as he fell into me and we both fell onto the couch, and later to my youngest’s giant eyes as she backed away from me across the bed in disbelief. She asked me if I would drive her to school so she didn’t have to take the bus. The child was going to go to school because that’s what eight year olds do.
The thing about grief is it decides when to descend. The thing about feelings is they happen to you. What do you do with this? What can you possibly do with this?