There is not much I wouldn't do for my three kids. You know, jump in front of an on-coming train to save their lives, feed them first from my last ration of bread, offer myself as a meal for the hungry bear that is chasing them...pretty much anything.
In the normal course of life moms feed, bathe, clothe, soothe, encourage, celebrate, hold, hug, and protect their little ones through the bumps and bruises associated with living, learning and loving. But when death came knocking, I couldn't protect them.
The night Phil died, I rode in the back seat of a car with my three kids crying in my arms. They asked question, after question...why did that man hit him, Mom? Where was Phil's bike? Wasn't he wearing a helmet? I thought you said he probably broke some bones. Why did he die? I remember these moments like you recall a dream, vivid and yet out of focus and somehow backwards. However, one feeling from that night is crystal clear...the terrifying sensation of being completely helpless. For the first time in their young lives there was not one thing I could do to take away my children's pain. Being powerless to alter the course my children were about to travel, I became certain that all I could offer them was a hand to hold as we walked the road that lay before us. And so we grieved, together. Some days were ugly. Some days I yelled more than I should have. Some days we cried, others we laughed. They went back to school, I sat on the couch and stared into space. They did homework, I tried to pay attention. Dinner was sometimes from a box, and other times from the drive through. We went to the beach, we slept in when we felt like it, and we said Phil's name often. We kept some of our previous family traditions, and we created some new ones. We slowly built a new life one day at a time.
What my kids taught me in the wake of our tragedy was that just because they are young does not mean they are weak. They taught me that time together is the foundation for the memories that hold us up in times of loss. Their laughter reminded me that being happy was necessary, too. Their love was unconditional...so I didn't have to be perfect. They showed everyone around them that step-parents are real parents, too. They memorialized Phil in writing, painting, music, and dedications of important events; always striving to make him proud. My kids taught me that I could lean on them, the whole world didn't have to rest on my shoulders alone.
My three teenage angels taught me to be a better mother, and to see the world as it can be if we believe all those things we teach them...love much, laugh often, live well