It all happened so suddenly. I didn’t have time to prepare a script, get my emotions in check, or decide on a course of action.
Our dear friend passed away two weeks ago, and I am just now, as I’m writing this, fully acknowledging it. I mean I wrote a post about it when it happened, but that was before the ramifications of her death were fully realized.
I had never had to explain death to my children before. Ollie has never experienced the loss of someone close to him until now. I had no idea how to handle it.
There was no time to Google “Autism and grief,” there was no index to look up the right word and turn to the correct page to recite just the right thing.
I was on my own.
My eyes, red and swollen, could not be passed off as an allergic reaction. Instead of our friend picking up the kids, as she normally did…it was now my task. Ollie would know something was up…or maybe he would not notice at all, I could never be sure.
I also wasn’t sure how my daughter would take it, she is younger than Ollie by a few years, but wiser than me, for all the five decades I’ve been here. Yes, she knows me far better than I am willing to admit, and I would be fooling myself if I thought I could get anything past her.
So, I told them that our friend was in the hospital, and that it didn’t look good. My daughter seemed to take it in stride, and if were two people, I would have made sure that she was really okay, but I am one. One that was more concerned how a child who had spent a great deal of his formative years in her care, who disliked change, and who had never been spoken to about death and dying.
Trial by fire, indeed.
I decided that the best way to present it, would be to just say it. Say the words, no flowery symbolism, no euphemisms, nothing like that.
I had to Joe Friday it.
“All we want are the facts, ma’am.”
So, that’s what I did. Deep breath, and spill it. Then wait for the world to fall apart.
After explaining what happened, how things were going to be different, and how he may catch me crying, not because I’m hurt, but because I’m hurting, he sat silently for a moment.
“Does this mean you are picking me up from now on?”
“Yes, Ollie…I’ll be picking you up from now on.”
That was it. No Kleenex snot infused, tear catching. No wails and hugs. Not what I expected.
I asked him if he was sad. He said, “Yes.” What sadness looks like in him, I don’t know.
I will keep watching him, and letting my daughter know that I’m here…even though it’s NOT cool….if she needs to talk.
I guess all that’s left to do, is deal with this loss, myself.
I find myself a little envious of Ollie right now…and that’s okay. But writing about this helps me, and I can take solace in the fact that the nightmare I had envisioned in explaining our friend’s passing has, for now at least, not been as bad as I thought.
At least I now have time for a proper Google search. ❤