It was the first time
that defiance flashed across his face
he was tired.
tired of goodbyes.
tired of the tears.
tired of having to reach for tissues every time a bittersweet memory invaded his little heart.
He was tired of all the grown-ups trying to explain something they didn’t quite understand themselves.
He wrapped himself tightly in his blanket
seeking refuge from the world as he tried to make peace with the darkness
but anger seeped out from beneath the loose corners
and I sat there
until he came out from under his cotton cocoon and said:
“I feel like breaking something.”
I nodded my head in absolute agreement
my eyes fixated on the three pumpkins announcing Fall’s arrival in our living room
and I rose quietly from the couch
dug through my husband’s toolbox
guided my young son onto the patio
and placed the pumpkins on the ground
his red-rimmed eyes doubled in size when I gave him permission to swing
and he kept glancing back to make sure I hadn’t changed my mind
but soon his timid arms gave way to the storm brewing inside him
and those pumpkins never stood a chance
It didn’t fix everything.
It didn’t make him miss her any less.
But he spent the rest of the night curled up next to me on the couch
a new, unspoken understanding between us
his shoulders relaxed
his hands intertwined with mine
his salty tears on pause
while I made a silent vow to myself to always remember
sometimes he’ll need a hug.
And sometimes he’ll need a hammer.