OK, so this one might be a little heavy. Sorry. But I must keep my promise to be honest and say everything that's on my mind. And it's time I said it.
Anthony and I have both changed since Sam died. Some of it for the better (Anthony is much more open and willing to talk; I have a much better approach to the work/life balance), but there are things that I notice that are not better. Some of it I have already spoken about and started addressing, some of it is stuff that will take a long time to work through.
Try as I might, I can't shake the bitter feeling I get sometimes. I get so angry about Samuel's death; how unfair it is that he had to go. Especially when there are so many people who waste the time they have. Samuel had so much potential. It sounds cliched but he truly could have done great things. He had the talent, the intelligence, the temperament, (some of) the drive...but it was all taken away from him. It makes me so angry to see people wasting the life they are lucky enough to have. Yes we all take things for granted, overindulge, make mistakes, but we function. We contribute to society: we create, we reproduce, we help each other, we share, we love, we LIVE. We're not perfect, but we're not a drain. But there are plenty of people that are.
One of these people is someone close to me. I get so angry with the way they let their life go past; hiding behind substances, making excuses and never taking responsibility for their actions. I know it's wrong to judge them (god knows I'm not perfect), but I can't help myself. Why should they have this life to waste when my beautiful boy didn't even get to live a fraction of his?
Before Sam died, I was fairly ambivalent about it - their life, let them f**k it up. For the most part I left them to it. But since he died all I feel is anger and resentment. I know this is not healthy for me, and for the most part I let it go, but there are times when I can't ignore it.
A lot of it is a protective instinct that I have noticed appears more often. I guess this is natural. I only have one child left with me now, and I am absolutely terrified of losing him as well. I am conscious of it though, I want to balance my need to protect him with my desire to let him have a happy, adventurous and full life. But I can protect him from people who are inconsistent and unreliable. When it starts to affect my life, and the lives of the people I love, that's when the tiger in me comes alive.
Recently, Oliver and I were going to meet this person. I had told Oliver we would be meeting them, and he was very excited; gathering all the things he was going to show them, to play with them. When we arrived I was told they 'couldn't handle' seeing us. OK, yes, it can be hard to see us. We're going through this grief thing, but goddammit, we are the ones that lost Sam! We're all going through this stuff. Surely it's better if we all go through this together?
The worst thing was, less than a week before, this person had offered to babysit Oliver. I had (politely) declined, knowing this person's tendency towards inconsistency. I find it difficult to accept such up and down behaviour, but there's no way I'm going to subject a grieving 6 year old boy to it. I can only imagine the confusion and terror he must feel sometimes. He is still so young, but having lost Samuel so unexpectedly: one minute fine, playing together, the next gone forever; must play on his mind. When someone he has come to care deeply for is one minute there, the next minute gone, it must be at the very least extremely disappointing. He doesn't express it in so many words, but he does say and do things that lead me to think this is the case.
I know this particular example sounds like nothing, but there is a lot more of this stuff in our history: one moment all smiles and wonderful companion, the next MIA without a word. I can't put my son through that! He's just lost his brother, one of the most important people in his life! He needs people to be there for him. All the time. Not just when it's convenient, or it doesn't hurt them.
Is it too much to ask? I don't think so. Oliver has so many people in his life that are there for him all the time. His friends and their parents go out of their way to include him; Anthony's brothers, foster sister and sisters-in-law organise special days, travel long distances to visit him, buy him special presents, write him letters and call him just to say hi. His teachers (and all the people at his school) try so hard to make school comfortable for him. His grandparents have gone above and beyond to make him feel special and loved and wanted. Even many of my friends (some of whom never met Samuel and don't really know Oliver) are welcoming and kind and generous. Every one of them is there when they say they'll be there. They all have problems, they are all grieving themselves, and they probably all find it hard to see us sometimes, but they know how important it is.
To me, anything else comes across as selfish. We all have faults. We all have weaknesses. We're all struggling through this world that's sometimes crazy, disappointing and damn hard, but the difference is that we don't let it stop us from living. And those of us that do, well sorry, but I don't have time for people like that. But that's OK. Because they don't have time for me either.