Monday, November 1, 2010

Soup for the Soul

This morning as my children were eating breakfast, I ran upstairs to get something I had forgotten. I noticed that Jonasen has left the light on and so I stepped in to turn it off. It was then that I glanced at Jonasen's fish tank and noticed that his beloved fish, Rocky, was dead.

I didn't say anything at all. I simply went downstairs, kissed my children goodbye thanked my mother for watching them and left for work. I phoned my mother when I got to the car. I told her the news and asked her to take care of Rocky after she got the kids on the school bus. She did.

I thought about Rocky all day. I thought about Joe. I dreaded breaking the news to him and ran a million ways that I might tell him, through my mind.

There wasn't a good time to break the news to Joe. While playing after dinner I finally couldn't take it anymore. "Joe," I said. "I have some sad news. Rocky died." "He did?" To my surprise, Joe didn't seem very upset. I breathed a sigh of relief and said that perhaps we could get a new fish soon, since he really did such a wonderful job taking care of Rocky while he was alive.

Our night continued as usual.

And then I heard it. Sobs. Coming from Joe's room. I ran up the stairs and saw him. Head on his dresser next to an empty tank. Sobs. I gathered him in my arms and carried my seven year old to the glider in his room and just held him as we cried.

I remembered. I went back to the emptiness of the room. The crib being gone, and the chair. I remember how it sent me into uncontrollable sobs. Uncontrollable heartache. I watched him cry and I knew how that felt. And while it was 'just' a fish. Sad is sad and my dear son's heart was breaking.

Joe couldn't talk. He tried, but the words wouldn't form. And so we prayed. We thanked God for Rocky the fish. We thanked God that he was such a good fish to Joe and we asked God to take good care of Rocky. And that is when Joe's sister asked if maybe God could give Andrew Joe's fish... perhaps he would like to watch a blue Betta. Suddenly I had an image of another seven year old, head in his hands as he watched a blue Betta flutter and glide. I wondered if Andrew would have liked a fish. If he would have chosen a blue Betta like Joe's... Another question I will never know.

And as my mind was going to that place, Joe's sobs subsided and he said, "Mom? Do you think I could write about it?" I was so completely shocked that for a moment, all I could do was nod.

Joe has no idea that I have been writing letters to his brother. He has no idea that it was through my writing, my letters to Andrew, that I found my way. It was through my writing that I learned about my grief, found my way, found my peace.

And so I watched as Joe took his pencil and began to write. He wrote in silence for a while, drawing pictures and then forming his thoughts into words. As he began tears steamed down his face still, but I watched as after a while his breathing calmed and his pencil flowed. I watched as a smile crept across his face, remembering... dreaming...

He found soup for his soul in the form of a pencil.
And tonight I found soup for my soul in the form of a seven year old writer.


  1. Absolutely breath-taking! How beautiful that Joe wanted to write about his loss, taking right after his talented mother who blesses so many with her writing! Thank you for sharing. Please tell Joe that I am sorry for his loss, and his tears and writing are a demonstration of what a huge heart he has!!!

  2. man girl!!! :) u should publish some work! do you have any published works? you tear at the heart strings and a smile came to my face when he asked if he could write about it...that is so cool :)

  3. I want to see the letter! I'm sure it's very sweet.

  4. I want to see the letter! I'm sure it's very sweet.


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