The other day Lori went down to the pond to check on Bea our little turtle who resurfaced after seven months of what I call hide-ination. You may recall Bea got bigger and darker but what she saw made her scream. It was T our other turtle and he was humungous. I mean compared to what he was. He was bigger, his shell was more rounded, and he was clearly into his awkward adolescence, bad skin and all.
“It’s T,” she said confidently. “That’s T’s eyes.”
After researching the internet, it looks like T might be a boxer. Our tiny pond is surrounded by a solid wood barrier. Unless turtles are dropping from the sky like hero’s in a half shell, it’s T. Now we have both are turtles and feel complete once again. It was nice getting Bea back–I was grateful for her. I’d look at our lonely pond, hoping for life when there was none. So when Bea showed up again, I was relieved knowing I hadn’t sent her to an early demise. But I was still missing T. He was our first, and well, he has personality. He warms up to Lori and he has a face that no sane person can resist. But now he’s back, now we are a family again.
You may guess where I’m going with this. Sad but hopeful, happy but incomplete, relieved, rejoicing but still we want life how it used to be. I long for my three children to be eight, six, and five again. Soft skin, little hands, chubby cheeks, and eyes that pop. And I miss having our little turtles in their glass terrarium with a little plastic bowl to swim around. We had to keep them fed, change their water, and find bugs for snack time. But just like our kids, we had to let them go to the pond. More space, more water, fresh air. But there are risks out there, an occasional raccoon, nosey black birds, and then there is winter. But somehow, they fend for themselves, and in the spring, they are bigger, stronger, and independent.
The satisfaction I get with seeing my children go off on their own almost equals the satisfaction of teaching them how to tie their shoes, count their numbers, and ride their bikes. The risk of never seeing them again will always outweigh the moments they woke up happy and the moments they fell asleep at night and we were happy.
It’s an odd phenomenon when someone close to us dies and we begin to guard our memories as if they somehow died along with them. We know we still have the memories but for a long time it scares us to think we will forget their voice, how it feels to hug them, and what they like for dinner. We think their smile is gone, their manner is forgotten, and their laugh is hidden from us.
But as time unwraps itself, my memory for those gone grows sharper, I see their look in my grandson, my children, even in my extended family. I see my father in my nephew who I just met for the first time. I see my father-in-law in my sisters-in-law, my mother in my sister, and my son in my grandson.
And when it’s quiet, and I’m by myself, I hear his voice, I see his slight smile. So it’s another spring, it will soon be another summer, time is getting shorter, life matters even more. It is such a gift to see life in a little turtle’s eyes, such a gift to see after a winter of hide-ination. It is just a taste, a whiff of things to come. We will always be family.
Andy is a Clinical Psychologist who lost his son in a tragic motorcycle accident and now authors articles on bereavement. The quiz is available! Go to http://andymdavidson.com/Home/Pgd to find out if you may have Prolonged Grief Disorder. Look forward to his upcoming posts, and book, When Sunday Smiled. Follow him at his website, AndyMDavidson.com and Facebook.com/ThroughLifeandLoss to find out more about prolonged grief.