This was a tough week for Oz as we delved into some deep hurts. In therapy and at home we have been doing “parts” work. Tina is working with Ozzie to help him understand that he isn’t defined by one part of himself. He isn’t defined by one event in his life, one role he has played, or one emotion he feels. All those parts come together and create who he is. We have been exploring each “part” of Ozzie by having him draw that piece of himself and what that emotion, role, or memory looks like. This week we explored his role as a grandson.
We began with his current relationships as a grandson of my parents and Toby’s mother. He drew what that part of him looked like. He drew himself with a smile, surrounded by hearts and a big sunshine in the sky. It is a part of himself that he likes…that he feels comfortable with.
Then I asked if we could draw the part of Ozzie that was a grandson to his biological (dad’s side) grandma. He shut down. He laid his head down on the table, pulled his hood over his head, and whispered, “I can’t. That is too uncomfortable for me.” I assured him that was fine, gave him a hug and sent him to play, making a mental note to talk to Tina about it at our next therapy session.
On Tuesday we showed Tina the parts work he had done. I mentioned his struggle with that one part. Tina lovingly prodded, looking for a crack in the wall that he had built around that memory.
“Can you tell me about your Grandma?” she asked.
With the right questions and some gentle probing Ozzie began to share.
He spoke with such love for the woman that seemed to be a source of patience, kindness and stability in his unstable world. He shared his sadness about her death and the hurt he felt when he wasn’t able to attend her funeral.
Tina asked if he had ever attended a funeral, or if he knew what happened at a funeral.
He shook his head, “No.”
We explained what happened at a funeral, what its purpose was: to bring closure, to grieve with others who cared about that person, and to share stories of remembrance.
Tina then asked if he would like to write an “obituary” for his Grandma Price and record his memories of her life and his feelings. He agreed. He began speaking and I began recording his words on paper:
My Grandma- by, Ozzie
She loved to bake.
I remember she always baked chocolate chip cookies, apple pie, and cinnamon covered cashews.
She took us fun places, like to McDonalds. She would let us order whatever we wanted and let us play on the playground.
I would visit my grandma at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 4th of July and she would watch us when my parents went on vacation.
She always hugged me when I came into her house and when I had to leave.
She wasn’t selfish.
She was gentle.
If my grandma was sitting here I would say, “I love you.”
When he was done he took a deep breath and then turned to me and asked if we could send his memories to Heaven.
On the way home we stopped at the Dollar Store to pick up some red heart helium balloons to carry his words to Heaven.
That evening we gathered in the yard to have a memorial service for Ozzie’s grandmother. He shared the memories he had recorded, as Grace, Molly, Rusty, and Tyler gathered around. He then added a note to the end of the obituary:
“Dear Heavenly Father,
Please make sure my Grandma Price gets my letter.
I miss her.
We tied the paper to the end of the string and let it fly.
As he let it go the strong winds caught hold of the balloons, blowing it into the trees where it tangled among the branches. Ozzie was heart-broken and fearful that his words would never reach Heaven.
I was not going to let that happen.
The kids all headed inside, eager to warm up, and I began: “Mission Heavenly Words.”
(Cue Mission Impossible music.)
I climbed, wrestled, tugged, and shook the balloons lose. There were cheers from Ozzie and a sigh of relief from my own lips…
and then a groan.
The balloons and attached obituary flew twenty feet only to become entangled in another tree.
“My note will never make it to Heaven,” Ozzie said through tears.
This Momma was not going to let that happen.
Onto the next tree. More climbing, wrestling, tugging and shaking and it broke free again…
Only to blow into the next patch of trees.
(Have I mentioned how WINDY it was?!)
Finally we untangled it for the last time and watched as it floated toward Heaven, carrying words of love from a hurting little boy to a special angel in his life.