This will seem scattered probably...
I wrote last night about Leslie. It was crap. It was so down and negative, talking about the long slow slide at the end. Emma came down from her room while I was typing. Couldn't sleep. It was 11:40. I gave her some ideas about how to calm herself and told her I'd be up in about 20 minutes.
I always do that for Emma. When her brain gets too hot and she needs to distract herself, I've given her "dreams". For years I've given her dreams.
"Daddy, can you give me some dreams," she'd ask?
The dreams were just me giving her a focus for her mind. I'd usually pick a seasonal fantasy...a day at Kennywood, a snow adventure, that sort of thing. I'd lie down with her and tell her, "Okay, I want you to try to dream about a day at Kennywood, just our family and whatever friends you want. There are no lines. It's hot, but not too hot. Just hot enough that the water rides splash up around your clothes and feel refreshing. You can walk up to any ride and you get immediately on. You can ride it however much you want. When you get hungry, you just ask for cheese fries or lemonade and they get it for you right away."
And she'd occupy her imagination with the seeds of a dream and usually that was enough.
Last night I couldn't think of a happy dream that didn't in some way shine a spotlight on her missing mother. I told her to try to imagine a trip to Sky Zone without grownups. Just the kids doing what they wanted. I sent her back upstairs to her bedroom and continued typing. My dream seeds didn't take root.
20 minutes later I was done writing just past the part where we told Emma the news that her mother was going to pass, and I'd had enough. It was all wrong. All about doom and gloom, and nothing about the woman we lost. All facts, no love. Maybe I was protecting myself.
I walked into Emma's room and found her lying on her side, staring, wide awake.
"Come on, sweetie. Why don't you lie down with me." She came back with me to the room I'd shared with her mother and curled into the covers. I scratched her back for a while and eventually we both fell asleep.
Things are rocky right now. I think it's going to be a long time before things are "normal" in our house. Right now the most normal part of it is Lily, who is COMPLETELY normal despite her mother passing, which, ironically, is not normal.
She doesn't get the finality. She hasn't even really processed that Leslie's gone. She is happy watching Wiggles. We say our prayers and she dutifully "godblesses" her mother, but says nothing else that indicates she's aware that Leslie isn't in our house, or our lives. It is simultaneously heartbreaking and relieving. Although I'll continue to watch her carefully...she seems blessedly unimpacted by Leslie's passing.
I have grief like pregnancy cravings. One minute it's Leslie's voice. The next it's her scent. I'll look feverishly through the house for videos or audio files with Leslie's voice on them. It doesn't satisfy the urge. There isn't enough.
This weekend while Emma slept, I couldn't bear to wake her. What if she was dreaming of Leslie?
When we are around people we're fine. We entertain. We chat. Our attention drifts from Leslie's absence even if we're talking about her. When we're alone, it's harder.
If I think about the future without Leslie it hurts too bad, and I stop myself. It hurts remembering the past happy moments too, but not as much as looking into the future. Mother's day is a month away.
Leslie's presence looms so large in our house. Everywhere I turn something sucker punches my emotions. I'm tempted to sweep my house clean of every trace because it hurts. I know that I can't do that. I know that it'd be ten times worse if those things were out of my grasp forever. Too final. Am I tricking myself? I don't know. Either way, I have to give it time. I'd rather realize that I'm trying to hedge Leslie's death in a few months, then realize I overreacted in a few months. I can ALWAYS throw that stuff away later.
A friend online offered to make quilts for the kids from Leslie's clothes. I'm going to take her up on it.