Thursday, December 18, 2014

Three years, and Rowan's new grief

I vividly recall how three years ago today, December 18, 2011, Rowan wanted to sleep with me that night. It was only a few short hours after learning of Aimee's death, and although I normally had a policy of not allowing Rowan to sleep with us - I mean me - I didn't hesitate to let that slide on that terrible night.
Our Christmas tree

In the days and weeks following, I noticed that Rowan showed very few moments visible grief. There were triggers sometimes, but for the most part, she seemed OK. However, I knew this was due to her developmental stage, and not that she was unaffected by Aimee's sudden and tragic death. 

During my own counseling and Rowan's I spoke with them about how Rowan's grief would evolve as she grew older. How as she grew in the ways she saw the world and related to people around her, her view of her mother's death would also change. Her grief would change, return, take on new forms. In some cases, she would process parts of her mom's death possibly even decades from now, parts that I processed in the months immediately after.

Well, a new phase has arrived this year. As adults, we frequently associate significant events to the time of year in which they happen. In fact, it had been happening to Aimee in the months leading up to her death, as she remembered the passing of her father the year before. For me, the Christmas season, always one of my greatest joys in life, will be associated with Aimee's death.

And now it is for Rowan, too.

Up to this point she'd never made the connection, for which I was grateful. I took great pains to make Christmas as joyous a season for her as I could, and I hoped (and still hope) that she will grow to love Christmas as much as I do.

But over the last several days, she's been moody, sad, and very clear that right now she's missing her mommy. And as her father, it's hard for me to see her in pain, especially as it amplifies my own on-the-surface-this-time-of-year pain. Additionally, Rowan seems to be distancing herself from Sarah, although I truly believe this is temporary and simply part of how Rowan is coping with her grief.

So here's the bottom line in all this: Although the events of December 2011 are pretty much behind us, the lawsuits all settled or dismissed, a new wife and mother is in our lives, as is a new house and an overall concerted effort to move on, Rowan will be processing this grief for many, many years. Aimee's death has left a scar on her that will never go away, never fully heal, and that will affect so many (as of yet unknown) things about her life.

All for a few lousy dollars to fix a damn boat properly. 


  1. Pat. I knew Aimee. My family still grieves with you. May our Lord of all peace be with you and Rowan this day and always.

  2. Sending you and little Rowan lots of love for Christmas.

  3. Pat as you know I knew Aimee, I feel Rowan's pain. I lost my dad when I was 9 two days after Thanksgiving. It is still hard on me, as I miss seeing him at the dinner table with the family. Rowan will be processing that horrible day for years to come. As for putting distance between her and Sarah, I am sure that will pass. My heart breaks for Rowan. Thoughts and prayers to you all.