April 23, 2018
Season of Grief.
Our little guy B and I were driving to school on Friday morning, listening to our favorite tunes and looking at all the houses that have hockey sticks on the front porch. It's been part of our routine now each morning for the last week and a half when this movement began to show support for those who died in the bus crash on April 6th.
And then a tiny voice from the back of the car put that anxious feeling back in to my gut .... "Gramma, when will we all put our hockey sticks away?"
I wanted to say to him "never" but I know in time, one by one, the sticks will eventually go back into the garage, the shed, wherever families across Canada store their sticks when hockey season is over. Tucked away, out of sight, safe and secure. But this isn't a hockey season. It's a season of showing our love, respect and compassion in the midst of an incredibly difficult and very public grief experience, and there is no time frame for this kind of mourning. The loss of a child is unnatural and inconceivable. A grief that no one can plan for and the healing, the moving forward is an exhausting path that never ends. So I answered him as best I could, on the cusp of the 2 week anniversary of the bus crash.
"Some people will put their sticks away soon, some may keep them out longer and some of us might leave them there forever. Right now, we're all showing the families how much we care that they have had such big losses. I think and hope they see the pictures of the hockey sticks or see them in their own community and know that they are not alone in their grief journey. It makes me proud to see so many sticks every day."
And then I asked him a question .... "B, when do you think we should put our sticks away?"
A big pause and then that tiny voice, straight from the heart of an innocent 7.5 year old boy, who is now just a bit more aware that people can die ....
"Not until after everyone else has put theirs away. If we put our sticks away at the same time, the families will feel sad that no one is thinking about them anymore. I think we'll have to leave them outside forever so they know that we still care."
And then we pulled up to the school, parked, walked to the crosswalk, said our goodbyes and he ran off to play with his friends before the morning bell.
So for now, at our house, our hockey sticks will stay out, until B is ready, when he fully understands and is comfortable with the idea that the grieving families and the injured players will know that we are still thinking of them during their season of grief, even if our hockey sticks are no longer visible.