Wednesday, October 05, 2005

My Other Children ...
(Unsolicited but Good Advice from a Reader!)

I'll call her 'Kathy'. At first, I was offended! I thought to myself: 'Who is she to advise me of such things?' Oh! I was so angry that I even blocked her from sending me any more "instant messages". 'That'll fix her,' I thought rather self-contentedly! So ... what had she said? What button pushed? What raw nerve touched?

It all began like this: I was in a chatroom for diabetes sufferers when 'Kathy' "instant messaged" me to ask if I were diabetic to which I answered "no"-though Ben, I informed her, had been since ten and a half years of age. Then she said it! Having just read The Book of Ben and "instant messaging" me on and off for only a few weeks, 'Kathy'-very boldly I thought-asked me if I was "obsessive" about my late son's life and death, adding that she hoped and prayed that I paid as much attention to my two other living children: Kimberly and Zac as I did to Ben! Good counsel? Right? Sage advice? No? Well, truth be told, though bristling with the sting of this accusation, it got me to thinking. Now ... mind you, I had previously anticipated this potential danger and written about it in "In Memory of Ben", but 'Kathy' had indeed touched a raw nerve! What if-in fact-she were right? Was I guilty of not attending to my other children?

Truthfully, I do not think so, but I did make a special call to Zac that very same night when he is ordinarily at his mom's house-a call which I make almost daily in any case whether he's there or with me. And Kimberly? Having just moved back to Chicago after graduating law school, I have been calling her ... oh, maybe two to three times a week and making every effort to keep her close: coffee together, dinner invitations, but in such a way that I not violate the privacy of a twenty-five year old woman though I admit having felt very happy when she accepted my invitation to come by for dinner on the eve of Rosh Ha Shanah. Zac was there too! So what then was the difference between these two calls and those which I would make ordinarily? Simply that the former were in direct response to what 'Kathy' had said ... try as I might to deny it to myself.

Does it happen that grieving parent(s) may unwittingly ignore their other surviving children which, should that occur, results in an already tragic situation becoming worse? I suppose it happens often enough and is something about which grieving parents need be mindful.
I was indeed taken aback when my own protagonist uttered her well-meaning words of caution. Comparable to a "wake-up" call which-though necessary-is often unwelcome at the moment, I am reminded of the wisdom-in coping with death as with the whole of life, that honesty-beginning with oneself-remains the best policy.

Postscript: This evening my daughter called me with the good news that she had passed the Illinois Bar Exam! So if you will forgive me, I am just so busy "schepping nachas" (roughly translated as: deriving great pleasure from the accomplishments of one's children!)


SingActress said...

Alan, congratulations regarding your daughter passing the Bar. Were my son deceased, rather than having to live with our enemies, namely my sister, having them attempted to brainwash him over time, with signals coming to me through some adults at different times, and most recent years from Austin himself, I am comforted that he is still strong in his loyalty, determined to come home in 2007, at which time he will turn 18, and I pray every night that his plan, silent as it is, will thrive in his heart, as at our last meeting, he expressed every single determination of fight and will that I am his ONLY TRUE MOTHER, by saying in seething resentment, NOT YOU, to my sister during the packing of things to take to her home at the end of our visit. Your letters to and about Ben remind me of all the years I wrote to Austin every single night for many years. I salute you and wish I had had the good fortune to meet a man of your character, whom I could have possibly loved as my husband, some years ago. Now as I wait I must be still, my celibacy a tribute to Austin's coming return to me, open and alone and free to go with him back to Sherman Oaks, or wherever he would like us to live, to begin the NEXT chapter, which we have silently avowed to spend together, united, back to what the Lord deemed as our true 'family' together, mother and son. Your words bring tears to me, and like memories of happy times with my son.

With Love said...

Alan, Mazal Tov on Kimberly's Passing of the Bar! May you continue to schlep increasing naches from your children as the years go by!

Yes, it does unfortunately happen sometimes that parents are so caught up in grief for their lost child that they don't give their surviving children the attention they need. But don't beat up on yourself. The fact that your blog is pretty much exclusively about Ben doesn't mean that in "real life" you're ignoring your other children - just that you're also taking the time to ensure that Ben's memory will be perpetuated.

G'mar Hatima Tova.


Fraggle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear SingActress,

Thank you very much for your very kind words. It is my hope that the New Year 5766 brings your son back home to you ... to have and to hold.



Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear With Love,

Thank you again for reading my posts and leaving such thoughtful and considerate words. Hoping that your Days of Awe are indeed awesome, that Don and the kinderlach are well ... I am,

Sincerely yours,