Monday, August 1, 2016

The Dividing of Our Grief

Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief. 

~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

I've never seen a tighter sibling bond than between these two. I don't know how they are going to manage without each other.

Truman has been reminding us that he is in “countdown mode” for Geneva's departure for college on Friday. Over the last couple months, when the house had been particularly quiet, I would look for Truman and find him planning and making surprise gifts and cards for his sister. Now he has amassed quite a collection of drawings and letters, which he has asked me to “wrap all fancy” for her. He spent the weekend helping her organize and pack up her childhood and deciding which of her treasures made the cut to take to college. Several times I heard him say, "No, Boonie, you're probably not going to need that in college, and besides, space in your dorm room is limited." I enjoyed watching the baby brother assume a supervisory role, and Geneva didn’t seem to mind.

While Truman focuses on his sadness and grief during this transition, Geneva's sense of loss mixes with a whole lot of excitement. From the moment she stepped foot on Beloit's campus, she knew that's where she wanted to be — she can't wait! Still, I see her ambivalence about leaving each time she hugs her brothers. And while she's always been affectionate with her dad and me, I've noticed an increase in hugs offered this week. This is a week for hugging.

And what does Jukie make of all of this? I wonder if he understands that his sister is moving. And everything will be different. "Boonie is moving to college," I tell him. He smiles and shakes his head no. When she gifted a prized item to him, Jukie solemnly carried the stuffed animal off to his room. He slept with it all night.

Our upstairs hallway and one bathroom are filled with the chaos of half-packed open boxes. Winter boots and sweaters, usually worn only when visiting Lake Tahoe, will become staples of Geneva’s daily Midwestern winter wardrobe. She doesn’t think she’ll mind the cold. (She has no idea.) And I’m excited for her to discover life in a different climate. I’m excited for her to discover a new life on her own.

Although Truman has his own bedroom, he usually prefers Jukie's top bunk, as he likes company at night. This week, Truman has taken to sleeping in Geneva's room with her. She tells him that she will miss him most of all, and I know that's true. 

The poignancy of this time is almost too much for my mommy heart, but I'm grateful there's so much love to prepare to miss.