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Dec 10

K8’s Kryptonite

Posted on Thursday, December 10, 2009 in Family

The death of a small kid carries a velocity that doesn’t slow with distance travelled or time passed.  It crashes through families and friends within its radius and leaves them lost and confused, and utterly out of their depth.

It happened a year ago
and ever since then I’ve been afraid.  What once was two families linked through coincidence with so much in common, suddenly shattered into a thousand pieces and no amount of King’s men could put it all together again.  We met briefly a few times and gave each other tight hugs and meaningful gazes and exchanged dirty jokes, but it it’ll never be the same… an elephant sits on the situation that nobody can ignore.  She wears a dog-tag around her neck with Superman’s classic ‘S’ symbol, her kid’s name is written just below.  It nestles in her cleavage which got pounced on by her four-year old and the chain broke today when we met for coffee… her eyes welled up and she felt sick all of a sudden.  She fumbled with the links and I fumbled for something to put into the vaccuum… the room fell silent and the rest of the shopping mall ceased to exist, everything got sucked into her grief and I sat there like an Easter Island head and muttered stupid and irrelevant things.  Then the moment passed and life went on as usual and we ordered more coffee.

She asked after Laughingboy, her passed son’s best mate at school.  Thick as thieves in their own trapped worlds, Laughingboy got pretty upset at his funeral even though most thought he didn’t have the capacity for it, myself included oddly enough.  Their classroom is totally different now.

I began to vent about Laughingboy’s latest habit of grinding his teeth, about how he grinds solidly for every hour of his wakefulness and about how it’s getting louder and louder as the enamel is being worn away and the surface area widens and sounds a bit like chaffinches, if you’re lucky enough to find your happy place.  I was half-way through my rant and suddenly I realised what I was doing.  Children’s idiosyncracies are so much better above ground than below, no matter how annoying they are.  I’d forgotten that and was smearing it all over the elephant and now it was all pissed off.  Except it wasn’t.  She laughed and I wrapped things up with ‘apart from that, he’s fine!’ and that was that.  I felt like such a shit.  A really confused shit.

Some people have a gift for listening and other people don’t.  I’m one of those clumsy absurd kind of people, and I’d love to get my hands on a copy of ‘Tact for Dummies’ if there is such a thing… something with key tips about knowing exactly what to say to pull people out of their deep stinky dark well instead of hovering around the issue and grunting nonsensically… that would be great.

Life is so perverse.  All the woman needs is a hug and a wee distraction now and then, but all I worry about is feeling guilty because my son is still alive.  You just can’t laugh that sort of thing off, can you?

Bring on the comments

  1. Jo says:

    Oh honey. I’m the same. It’s the hardest thing to get right.

    Teeth grinding. Someone told me it’s a sign of magnesium deficiency. My daughter was doing it in her sleep and I started in on the multivitamins and she seems to have stopped. I do it too, and I do have magnesium deficiency. Ugh, it’s the most torturous thing to listen to, sends me running screaming. I’d be ranting about it too!

  2. i am like that also i tend to say the wrong things at the wrong time. i am also getting into the habit of grinding my teeth and clenching my jaw to due to stress with college and my home life. I have to wear a mouth guard now. Now i fell insecure about havung this thing in my mouth. Oh such is life i wish life wasnt all this stressful. My advice would be to be a good listener and try ans tring up a nice sentence when the person has finished talking. If it helps get your friend a huge slice of chocolate cake that way she will smile and maybe have her mind switched on to other matters. Its always helped for me

  3. Baino says:

    You can never mutter stupid and irrelevant things to a kindred spirit. Seriously, the fact that you are there to utter anything is awesomely comforting.
    She laughed . . . that in itself is a connection you share Don’t be so hard on yourself.

  4. K8 says:

    Jo; Magnesium eh? I’ll definitely give that a go. I think it’s hereditary, that deficiency… his da’s just as bad when he sleeps. You’d think I’d get de-sensitized over time but it just doesn’t happen!

    Vicky; I bought a mouthguard but the kid was having none of it! Thanks for the chocolate cake advice, the power of chocolate can never be underestimated.

    Baino; I think she was sad I didn’t bring Laughingboy, he’s a great man for these situations.

  5. holemaster says:

    Really good post Kate. My parents lost two children before I was three. And now when I look back on my selfish tantrums and wishing I was never born, I feel their grief in my chest.

  6. K8 says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who’s never told their parents they wish they were never born, it’s a very pushable button. I’m sure the grief isn’t a patch on the pride they feel for you now.

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