She's in the hospital, so I'm visiting, and helping take care of the kids. There are about nine other things I "should" be doing, but at this moment, being with them seems the most important.
Last night, I was tucking my girl and Estee in, then went to brush my own teeth. When I came back, Estee was sitting up, crying. So being the mom that I am, I bundled her up in a blanket, held her on my lap, and let her cry.
So she and I whispered together, and she said, I miss my mom. I told her I know. I asked if she was worried, but no, she just missed her. I was for a moment honestly relieved for the (apparent) simplicity of six-year-old emotions. And yet, I worry for the complexities her feelings will develop into later.
These childhood emotions seem fairly straightforward. I'm sad, cuddle me until I feel better. I'm scared, reassure me that everything is going to be okay. I'm angry, let me lie on the floor and kick and scream until I'm done.
Adult emotions, on the other hand, are far more of a stew. Depression, anger, heartbreak, confusion, misunderstanding. Passionate love, joy, adoration, commitment, duty. Often all mixed together, to make your mind reel in confusion. Heart jambalaya.
How do I help someone in crisis? How do I help several people in crisis, all at once? One dear sister dying of cancer, another deeply depressed, several close friends with marriages breaking apart, another good friend with cancer, he and his girlfriend madly trying to make babies, with death looking over the transom. And all the children, wishing to understand, fearful, not knowing how to help, what to do, but mostly scared. Just. Scared.
So I reassure them. Yes, everything is okay. Yes, mom will get better. Yes, cancer is curable. Yes, I will be there to take care of you. Yes, everything will be okay.
But I long for a strong shoulder to lean on, and someone to tell me that, also. Not them but me, yes, Chris, everything will be okay. It will all work out.
I'm also of an age where I know this is not always true. People fight cancer, and people still die. People leave the people that love them, to look for their heart, and find that the next love is no easier to find, or to hold on to.
There are times I'm convinced that it is easier to be an island, as a single parent. I am also sometimes convinced of this, having dated on and off (mostly off) for more than six years. Most of the time, I believe that I can manage everything I need to, and that depending only on myself is easier than trusting someone else enough to open myself up, and let them in. Then, I get swept off my feet. I become convinced that it is possible, that love is possible, that being vulnerable is worth the risk.
Right now, at this moment, is not one of those times.
I want my island back.