Category Archives: Tessa

One of my stupider moments

Recently I wrote about my own death (in case you’re new to my blog, I am not dying at a faster clip than anyone else, as far as I know).

Did you ever notice how people are so squeamish about death? Until the last six or seven decades, I imagine that death was not so hidden. During agricultural times, I think we were used to farm animals dying and to dressing our own dead, to having their remains sit in the parlor downstairs until we marched them in a pine box to the family plot in the community cemetery. Perhaps death wasn’t such a spook then.

Now, we are so unfamiliar with death that we don’t know how to process it when it inevitably comes into our lives. I try to think about it now and then. To at least be unafraid of my own thanatal thoughts when they come up.

Witness the lagoon of quicksand that swallows me when I take this stand with my children.

The other day in the car, Tessa asked if we could visit the grave site of my grandma, GG (for “great grandma”). I explained that GG was buried in another part of the state and that it was too far to go to today. Reed then asked where I would be buried.

I haven’t shied away from difficult subjects before (such as adoption and birth). Matter of factly, and answering only the question that was asked, I said that I didn’t want to be buried. Can you see where this is going?

Tessa said, “Then what will happen to you, Mommy?” I explained that cremation was another way to deal with a body after a spirit no longer needs it. “What’s carmation?” asked Reed.I explained as best I could. And can I just say that I didn’t know that their school had had a fire drill earlier that week?

The back seat freak-fest began. The Wailing. The Gnashing of Primary Teeth. “No! Mommy! I don’t want you to burn!” “Don’t burn up, Mommy!” “Mommy! PROMISE US YOU WON’T BE CARMATIONED!!!”

I had to pull over.

Lest you ever find yourself in a similar situation, take it from me. Don’t try logic. Don’t say, “But then you won’t have to go ANYwhere to visit me — I’ll be wherever you want me to.” Don’t try metaphysics, like “Once my spirit is gone, I won’t need my body anyway.” Don’t lie to them by promising something you have no intention of doing (thankfully I stopped short of that).

And even I knew not to try “I’d rather be quick-fried to a crackly crunch than be digested by worms and maggots.”

Yup, I’m great at knowing what NOT to say. But I can’t tell you what TO say. Please, YOU tell ME. Because it’s bound to come up again.

The best I could come up with was my most cheerful, “So! What shall we have for dinner tonight — pizza or chicken nuggets?”

An Earfull

It’s a holiday weekend and I’m opening up some of my favorite blogs when Tessa shrieks. An ear-piercing shriek that is well outside her normal dramatic flair.

She is holding a DNA swab. And screaming. Earlier this week I had thrown away two child’s DNA kits that we’d picked up at a summer fair. You know, you swab your child’s cheek and then have a record of it in case…well, I could never get past that thought.

I didn’t know the kit had risen from the trash, but it did. Reed had apparently wanted to “help” Tessa clean her ears, but something went very wrong.

Roger grabs a flashlight and peeks in Tessa’s ear. “Sangre,” he says in our not-so-secret language, carefully designed to not freak out whichever child is within ear shot. I dose her with children’s Motrin.

I scoop her up and head for the car. Roger calls the Urgent Care facility to get an appointment, but is given the run around. Through the gauntlet of red lights, I am hoping Tessa’s howls will convince a triage person to see us quickly.

No such luck. The waiting room is stuffed full. We are about 7th on the list. We wait over an hour without ANYone being called. But I am so proud of Tessa, who does quite well with self-soothing. I comfort and rock her occasionally, and sing softly in her (good) ear. I tell Tessa that sometimes you can forget about pain by thinking of something else. So we color a blue and purple elephant and make up a story about it.

Meanwhile back home, Roger is comforting a very distraught Reed. He hides under his covers for half an hour before Roger can coax him and out and talk about what happened. He may end up being more traumatized than Tessa.

Finally, the nurse calls a new patient, unblocking the clog in the waiting room. The callee, who turns out to be an everyday angel, says, “no…take the little girl first. She’s hurting so badly.” Amazingly, all the other angels — themselves in varying degrees of pain and impatience — nod their heads. The nurse disappears a moment and comes back with a new chart. “Tessa?” she says.

I can never thank these people enough. I know Soccer-Injury Lady will probably never read this, nor will Migraine Man, but they and the others made some really good karma for themselves. I am actively seeking ways to pay it forward.

All we have to do to treat Tessa’s perforated eardrum is keep it dry and give pain reliever as necessary. I’m told the eardrum will completely heal itself within the next 24 hours.

Children remind you how resilient the human body is.

And when I see Reed and Tessa reunite, I am reminded how strong our family bonds are.