Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Don't forget to play.

Yesterday, I met with a bereaved person who is also a student.  After about an hour of talking- about all things good, bad, and in between- she said, "You know, you aren't at all what I expected you to be."

"Really?" I said in response.

"Not at all," she firmly reiterated.

"Hmmm," I grinned, "tell me more?"

She went on to say that she'd imagined me as a "depressed type", someone who'd be morose and down-trodden given the "serious and tragic nature" of my work.

"Oh?" I said. "And now you feel differently?"

"Well, yes," she continued, "you're rather... don't take this wrong, but..." She hesitated.

There was a long pause.

"Silly, " she continued after another long pause. "Almost childlike or playful or something that I can't quite put my finger on."

"So, you're saying I'm immature?" I smiled.

She apologized, and I said there was absolutely no need as I accepted that as a compliment.

I suppose I am a little immature for my age.  I do love the things children do, and I participate in these activities regularly despite the fact that my children are grown.

I love hiking barefoot. I love walking in hailstorms and getting wet (big) hair. I love playgrounds, particularly hanging upside down on the bars. Teeter-totters rule. Swings are even better. Sometimes I run in the store just because I can. I love to ride on the grocery cart downhill to my car when I'm finished shopping.  I make funny faces in the mirror, and I tease my kids incessantly (much to their chagrin). I start spontaneous 'tag-you're-it-and-you-can't-catch-me-now" games walking down the street with my daughter who calls me "immature"but then plays the game with me. I have an endless supply of immature behaviors in my repertoire of existence.

I even love squishing in the mud with friends' children.

Note: At first, the beautiful four-year-old (who would later join me in the mud party) looked at me like I was mad. I could see her mind working: Uh, mom... is this okay?

Soon after, however, she realized the glory of mud between the toes and joined me on the dark side.

Back to the conversation.

"Well, yes, I am, uh, less than adult-like at times," I admitted without shame. "But I cry too. Everyday as a matter of fact. The tears are never far from the surface... I cry for my child, and for her child and for his child and for their children and for her parents and his partner and for all the hurt and misery and suffering in the world."

She looked at me quietly. "How do you feel so sad and so happy," she asked with deep sincerity.

And I said:

This is what Death gives us: the ability to realize the preciousness of every moment in the world. The preciousness and the destruction. The joy and the sorrow. The beauty and the pain. I am here ever-so-briefly. I want to live life. To live life wildly. And free. To do those things which will enrich the moment without paying mind to what others may think or say about what should and shouldn't be. To surrender to the little girl who longs to play and seek and explore and just be. To cry when tears ask for a gateway, to stand in awe at those tiny spaces of life that are so easy to walk past, to live big- not small. I want color and contrast and silence and music and all of it. And, I am not afraid of life and the pains that it brings.

The masterpiece of this place is that we can have it all, the darkness and the light, and only in that way can we be whole and complete. Remember to mourn. Remember to play.

This is the gift of my dead child.  Though I'd rather have her than park swings or mud pies, this is the gift of my dead child.

And I'm kinda glad that I wasn't what that student expected.


Sara said...

This is a gorgeous and inspiring post. I'd rather have my sister alive, but I, too, know that her life is was gift.

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Thank you Sara. I'm so sorry about your sister.

Amy said...

Inspiring to read because it is so easy to take life too seriously. To let all the muck of daily life wear us down. I need to find more time to play and be free ... and to let myself do silly things just because. Now that I have been graced with a long awaited rainbow baby this seems more important that ever.

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

The daily muck indeed Amy...

Karin said...

Right on Sista! So so get this. Thank you for this!

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

(((Karin))) Dance my sister, dance!

Ashley said...

Yes! I love that you can be silly, sad, and laugh and cry all at the same time through out the day. Your a beautiful soul that I learned from all the time. You inspire me in so many ways, and I thank you for that. Beautiful blog as always <3

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Some call it "unstable" Ash :-)

Thank you dear MBug Mama <3

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Some call it "unstable" Ash :-)

Thank you dear MBug Mama <3

Bug Family said...

Dear Joanne,

About 4 months after our son passed away, my husband and I took a getaway trip to a place that brings joy, relaxation, and peace. We just simply needed to be on our own, together. I remember really smiling and laughing at one point, after months of not smiling, that I immediately stopped in my tracks. I asked my husband how this could be? How could I be smiling when my baby boy was dead? He said I'd be doing a bigger dishonor to him by never smiling again.

I've cried everyday since I knew my boy was sick and he is worth all of my pain and tears. But he is also more than worth me celebrating and smiling. And while this is so difficult, it really is just that simple. To honor him, he's quite simply worth it all.

Many, many thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience. It was a tremendous lift.

Love, MOJ <3

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Yes, indeed, MOJ, he is absolutely worth every single tear <3

April said...

It has been 12 years, 9 years and 6 years since losing my wee ones and I dont remember the exact moment when I was ok with smiling and laughing. I do remember the first time I laughed after losing my first son and how appalled I was at myself and so completely mortified that I had somehow desecrated my sons memory but at the same time a feeling of relief. Relief that my world wouldnt be shrouded in pain for the rest of my life.
Since having my rainbow baby I feel like my bruised heart has made great strides towards healing. I think about my little ones every day, and every thing I do with my son is in the knowledge that they have made me a far better mommy than I ever thought possible.
Im not just laughing for myself today, Im laughing and playing for four of the most precious gifts I have been given in this world.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly right! I have been wanting to explain to others that death does in fact give one freedom to live fully! Beautifully written- I will share.
Thank you x


The soul still sings in the darkness telling of the beauty she found there; and daring us not to think that because she passed through such tortures of anguish, doubt, dread, and horror, as has been said, she ran any the more danger of being lost in the night. Nay, in the darkness did she, rather, find herself.

--St. John, Dark Night of the Soul

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