Saturday, October 04, 2008

Pop-on's Death

I could hear you crying mom in the other room. It scared me bad, scared John too. John and I shared a bedroom in the Callahan house. I didn't know before that night that sound traveled so well through the walls of the closet. You were sobbing on the other side of the wall. You just kept crying. John and I got into the closet and listened to the awful sounds of your sadness. Your pain came through the wall. Dad's voice was murmuring, trying to soothe, your wails came in waves, reaching a peak, splashing over us, receding, and peaking again.

We didn't know what to do. We huddled there in the closet surrounded by our toys, the clothes hanging down over us and looked at each other. We bit our lips, tears came to our eyes. We were paralyzed with sadness and fear. John and I had seen you mad before, and unhappy. But the only time we'd seen you cry was in laughter, begging us to stop some joke or monkey business. We'd never heard or seen you cry like this.

I was afraid to come out of the room. As much as I wanted to know why you were hurting, I was afraid to knock on your door. I was afraid to move. It felt like I was holding my breath for hours. I strained my ears for the sounds of doors unlocking, knobs turning, footsteps in the hall knowing that It would mean you were coming to get us, that you were ready to tell us what the terrible thing was.

But you didn't come get us. Instead you cried all night, the waves pounding on our bedroom wall. Both John and I returned to our beds. I covered my head with my pillow. But I could still hear you, the awful murmur of your distant tears seemed to make the walls swell and crack. I tried not to listen, but could only hear more and more. I fell asleep to that awful sound.

The next morning you said nothing. Your eyes were red, but you smiled as much as you could, shrugging off our tentative questions. It was bad knowing something was wrong. It was worse not knowing what it was.

That night John and I were ready for you to begin crying again. We lay in bed waiting for the sound to come back through our wall.


We quietly crept into the closet, scooting down on to the floor, with ears to the all.

Silence still.

Several days later you told us that Pop-on was dead.

I had my answer. I understood why your were crying that night. Your dad had died. I've always wondered about that night. Had you just heard he was dying? Had you seen him at the hospital that day? I should have asked these questions sooner.

When Honey died I knew I had to tell my kids about it immediately. I didn't want Brenna or Erin to know. But I knew it would be worse if they misunderstood my grief. I wanted them to know why I was sad. Waiting wouldn't help.

I told Brenna first. "Brenna I have bad news. Honey has died." She cried, we talked.

Erin didn't really understand. It was very hard to do. But better than waiting. There's never a right time to tell your children about a death.

You just do it.

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