Susan's Blog

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Beast No Longer

I always thought it was cute and clever that I had changed Benj’s nickname, “Little B,” into “Little Beast.” He did not like “Little B,” which had a little song attached to it, more like a jingle, “Little B!” (doo, doo, doo, oh well, if you meet me, ask me to sing it for you, if Benj is not around, that is) and which morphed into “The Bee-ster,” and then became “The Beast,” etc. “Little B” was too sweet and sidekick-like; but he seemed content with “Beast,” because he admired things that are wild, scary, forceful, and perhaps, mean.

This devilish and tough-guy attitude, or “‘tude,” you might say, has been Ben’s persona for quite sometime, now. It has fit him to a “T,” or should I say, to a “B.”

But then came the weekend Ned went away, and Ben admitted to me, in the dark of night, that he missed his Dad. I lay there, swallowing my salty-sad tears, also feeling happy that he actually had such feelings. Who knew? I am ashamed to admit I thought of the Grinch’s heart that grew three sizes that one day, and broke out of the magnifying glass. And how Laura and I joke about Ben and his cousin Kimmie’s (also known as Kimji, because they are like two parts of one person when they are together) “hearts of stone.”

And then, last night, he came into my room with a bad dream. It wasn’t until we moved to his bed (so as not to wake up Ned while we talked), that he admitted, “Well, you see, you died.” I could see his in the gray darkness that his lips were pressed together in a line, to prevent himself from crying, and his eyes kept blinking rapidly. Ben is not a softie. Or a hugger. He does not ever, ever talk about his feelings for other people, except the angry ones. I lay there, thinking, “Yeah, I am going to die someday.” How to talk about this, reassure him, and yet be honest?

Hugger or not, I reached over and pulled him to me, tasting tears from his cheeks. I told him that yes, everyone is going to die someday, and that that really sucked. I also told him that I was going to be here a good long time. I told him how I thought about my own parents, how they’re getting older, and how it makes me very, very sad to think about losing them. But I said that everyone feels that way and that we try not to think about it too much. We should be thinking instead about Max’s birthday (this Friday) and what his cake should be, and how could we trick him into smelling it so we could push his face into it! Ben laughed a little, but then said how that wouldn’t be nice on Max’s birthday.

I thought about the story our rabbi told us, long ago:

An angel was told by God to bring back the most precious, most beautiful thing he could find on earth. So the angel searched all over the earth. He looked at treasures from the wealthiest kingdoms, jewels, gold, silver. He looked at colorful silks. He marveled at magnificent castles. He was at a loss as to what was the most precious, beautiful treasure from mankind.

And then one night he happened upon a house in the woods. A thief was standing outside, about to break in. But the thief happened to be right outside of the room of the little boy who lived there. The mother was tucking him in for the night.

The thief started to cry as he witnessed the scene. The angel watched, holding his breath, and felt his own heart beat faster. He gathered up the tears from the thief’s face and brought them back to God, who felt he had done very well indeed.

Benji, of course, is no thief. But I have worried about his seemingly tough heart. I have grown used to the idea that my third son is tough inside and out, and that I love him just the same. Our children are not given to us to fix what is wrong with us, or to give us what we so sorely need. They just exist, like anyone else, and we love them simply for who they are.

But Benji has grown in such a way that he felt able to show me a part of his heart, and in doing so, he helped heal something sore, needy, and gaping in mine.


Thank you so much for this beautiful post.


— added by Roy on Wednesday, March 7, 2007 at 11:10 am


— added by gretchen on Wednesday, March 7, 2007 at 12:49 pm