Junebug was always afraid of scary movies and Ouija boards. If a friend pulled out a Ouija board at a slumber party, she found the nearest exit. My kids did not inherit my horrible allergies, asthma or fear of anything remotely spooky,
Basements full of skeletons would have terrified Junebug but as an adult, I have not been afraid knowing they were in our basement. I was just hoping my kids would forget about the skeletons and other decorations from Zoe’s Boo Mitzvah party last year. I thought I had made it until two weeks ago, I came home around 9PM and Simon said “Mom, we forgot to decorate for Halloween. Can we do it tonight?”
I said “It’s late and a school night so how about let’s do it tomorrow?" I was really hoping he would forget by the morning.
“Come on Mom, it’s going to be good this year.” And “it is going to be good” was all I needed to hear from my determined eleven-year old. How could I say no to that spirit? I always have called him my wide-eyed wonder because when he was a baby, we noticed one eye was significantly wider than the other due to a condition of his eye muscle. Surgery was able to help with this when he was four but his wide eyes I believe are a reflection of his wide open spirit. He did most of the decorating of the front yard himself and before I knew it, we had a spooky front yard.
When it came to carving the pumpkin this year, I also was hoping to avoid but once again, Simon wanted to carve out an awesome Halloween for himself so he did not let me forget. When I was not making plans to do it, he initiated it himself by calling a friend’s mom and asking if we could come over to carve pumpkins.
I could feel it was another “it is going to be good, Mom” and we had a better than good time carving pumpkins. We had a great time. In his usual Simon way, he had some grand vision for his pumpkin that had to do with brains spilling out of it and his vision turned out awesome.
Simon has always had grand visions. When he was younger, he would dig through the recyclables and want to build creations that sounded mind blowing but would often end in a meltdown. Last week he wanted to make a zombie shaped meatloaf, which I knew, would cause me to have a meltdown so I said no. For those of you who know Simon, you know he pretty much only eats burritos anyway,
My vision for a life for my kids was to have a dad and I can not put into words how unbelievably hard it was to tell Simon about Jay but after a couple of hours, he looked at me and said “your Dad died when you were young and you’re OK. You can help me. I am going to be OK.” The first day of our new life he was already saying “it’s going to be good, Mom.” And then being impatient for life to feel good again, he decided the next day that setting me up a match.com account would be a quick solution and I had to tell him to take it down because I was not ready yet for that kind of good.
I love his attitude but maybe it's because I scare easily or maybe because it reminds me so much of Junebug but I worry sometimes about his its going to be good attitude. She wanted it to be good and really in her six year old mind did not understand why people had to be sad. I know for me this attitude had its price because grief came back to haunt me in many ways that took me years to discover.
I noticed it in bumps along the way but I really felt it when Jay and I were married and when the traffic report came on in the morning on my way to work. When it came on, I turned the station because I was afraid I would hear he had been in an accident. And then I had kids and I was terrified when I dropped them at school, they would not be there when I picked them up. I felt the butterflies in my stomach begin as I pulled into to get them. If I did not see them within a minute or two, I felt the full-blown terror of Junebug the night of her loud and sudden loss. I am haunted knowing that the people I love most can disappear.
I think about my fear that was squeezed between the past and the future like two book ends on a shelf in Junebug's room. One that began with my dad and the other that ended with Jay. I wonder if I write so much so I can complete this story that is written in the pages between these two book ends? I wonder if some of my intent in sharing my writing is my way of reassuring myself and reaching out to you to say it's going to be good. Right? It's going to be good.
I don't want to project the words of my story onto Simon. He is his own person very different from me and he will write his own story and discover his own feelings throughout his life. And the truth, it is going to be good one day and whatever is in his own personal basement, will most likely come out when he is ready and he will find a way like I have to make it less scary. I am learning the best way to help Simon stay connected to Jay is to talk about fun memories or laugh together at the funny ways we think Jay might be appearing in our life.
I laugh to myself with Jay every day I pick up Simon from school when I ask him "how was your day?" His answer is always "good" but he has this way of making the word "good" into 2 syllables and drawing it out just a millisecond longer than it should be which is fitting for Simon's attitude. Jay and I always thought it was too cute. We also loved his deep raspy voice and how when he is excited, it goes an octave lower rather than higher.
I feel lucky that my eleven year old son is young enough to happily be my sidekick. I can have a rough day but when I pick up Simon, his attitude is contagious. He immediately turns on Hamilton and belts out every word to each song. Like his Dad, he does not want to miss a beat in life and like his dad, Simon is an easy guy to be around whose comfortable and fun way of being is the best company.
My favorite song from Hamilton, is My Shot, because the words: “I am not throwing away my shot" feel like a mantra to me. Life is short and our heads and hearts have been spilt into a millions pieces and we are going to find a way for it to be good because we have one shot and it is now.
Yes Simon, it’s going to be good.
My Shot by Lin-Manuel Miranda