Bonding in Grief

Isaac Harris sat at his computer trying to outmanoeuvre the opponents hooked up playing their game on the internet. He found these games sharpened his mind during the day, but it was well beyond day now. In fact, it was 1am. He had earphones so his Mom wouldn’t know he was up this late as the game gave a blast every time he scored. She’d been in to see his study books had been put away at 9pm and urged him into bed watching as he climbed in and telling him she loved him.

He’d resisted her customary hugs as he was still in shock since Dad had suddenly announced he was quitting the family and moving out. He felt abandoned and this caused him to suspect perhaps his Mom would do the same to him some day. It hurt and he was trying to deal with this feeling by putting a distance between him and his Mom to insulate him from further hurt in case she abandoned him too. His Mom who had her professional degree in counselling understood what was going on in Isaac’s mind and drawing on her training sought to compensate by giving him positive reinforcement in whichever way she could. But she was in shock too though she tried to keep that from her son.

Belinda Harris had been tossing in bed and reviewing her married life with Roger. His announcement had been so unexpected. There were no clues their marriage was in trouble. Belinda had been trained to all the theory of counselling and in her practice had heard it all from clients she’d had over the years. There were always clues her clients had told her before the curtain came down on marriages but while Belinda was conditioned to failed marriages it came as a shock to know she who should have detected those clues was completely in ignorance before her husband’s announcement. Belinda had always gently deal with clients who’s been wronged explaining they were not responsible for what had happened. There was always that question in their minds as to whether they were responsible for the breakup, particularly those who’d been damaged by a controlling spouse conditioning them to think they’d never done enough, never been good enough. Now Belinda who knew better from her professional expertise found those questions popping up in her own mind. She quickly dismissed them. This was Roger’s decision and he’d confessed to loving another for a long time now shrugging it off as the way life happens.

Belinda remembered the reaction of her son Isaac as he watched his father pack his things and return a few times to recover other items from the house. Isaac had idealized his Dad and it appeared Roger loved his son as he’d spent a lot of time with him on hikes and playing ball whenever he was free from duties at the hospital. But when Isaac realized his beloved Dad was moving out permanently his grief knew no bounds and Belinda feeling inadequate to deal with the situation entirely arranged for a professional colleague to engage with Isaac in counselling sessions. This had helped and Belinda did what she could in the home environment to reinforce the work of this counsellor.

People had looked on the Harris family as pillars of the community and successful in their respective professions. Roger’s family were rich, and this house had been given as a gift on their son’s marriage to Belinda. They loved Belinda and their grandson Isaac and there’d been a rift with their son since he’d moved out. They indicated to Belinda they were on her side and wanted to maintain their relationship. Belinda learned subsequently her in laws had insisted on Roger signing the home over to Belinda’s ownership without any thought of sharing in its value. Of course, Roger was well able to buy a house of his own, but Belinda learned he’d moved in with a divorcee with two children of her own. Apparently, they’d worked together at the hospital and while Belinda knew her casually there’d been no hint of a relationship developing.

Belinda was tired of tossing in bed reviewing the situation. She got up with a sigh and put on a dressing gown. The night air was chilly these days as the season changed. She headed for the stairs to go down and make herself a hot drink. Maybe she’d watch a movie for a while and that usually put her to sleep when a client’s case was troubling her and keeping her awake.

Nights were unpredictable during her marriage to Roger as he was often on call at the hospital urgently during the night and this too had interrupted her sleep pattern. In that sense things were better now he’d moved out but occasionally there was a night like this one. As she passed Isaac’s room, she noticed a glimmer of light under the door and paused. She opened the door silently thinking the bed lamp must be on but then she remembered she’d turned it off herself. She shook her head sadly as she observed her son concentrating on an internet game with friends and glanced at the clock on his table. She approached and put her hand on his shoulder. Isaac turned looking equally guilty and irritated at being caught out.

“Shut it down Isaac.” She spoke kindly.

“Why? You’re out of bed, why can’t I be?”

“Shut the game down and come downstairs with me. I’m making a hot drink for both of us.”

Isaac exited the computer in anger and followed sullenly.

Belinda sat at the table waiting for the kettle to boil and studied her son who sat with his eyes averted.

“Isaac in that Dad walked out on both of us I think we need to have each other for support, don’t you? I get sad sometimes and it would help make me happy if we hung out together to cheer each other up. When you lock yourself in your room and don’t want to join me for meals, I think you don’t like me anymore.”

Isaac’s appearance changed and he looked up in surprise. “I thought you didn’t like him and that’s why he moved out.”

“Did your Dad tell you that because it’s not true Isaac.”

“No, he didn’t say anything to me at all. He just moved out and I miss all our games together and stuff.” He began to cry.

“I thought if you didn’t like him and sent him away someday you may not like me and send me away too.”

Belinda moved quickly to the other side of the table and folded Isaac in her arms. “Son I’d never do that to you. Mothers don’t abandon their children like that.”

“Well Bill Abbot’s Mom left him. He told me that at school last week.”

“I want you and I need you son. Won’t you help me because I miss your father too. I married him because I loved him, and I was so happy when he gave you to me as a son. I will always be grateful to him for that.” Isaac didn’t reject his Mother’s caresses this time and snuggled into her embrace.

The kettle whistled and Belinda released her son to make a hot drink for both. They sipped their drink silently.

Finally, Isaac spoke. “I love you Mom.”

Belinda wiped the tears from her eyes with the corner of her robe.

“Isaac I was going to watch a movie and that way I get to sleep sometimes. Do you want to join me?”

Isaac nodded and they both headed for the lounge. Within minutes of the TV being turned on both were asleep, Isaac’s head in Belinda’s lap.

Copyright Notice

Story © Copyright 2021 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved

2 thoughts on “Bonding in Grief

    1. Unfortunately divorce more often leads to a complete breakdown in the family structure. There are a lot of damaged children around because of that not to mention the loss of self worth in the aggrieved partner.

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