This week, I had to give my kids hard news. And then, just as they were reeling from that blow, I had to give my daughter more hard news.

Kids are inscrutable to me. I can’t tell what’s going on in behind their stoic expressions, or even behind their tears. When they say that everything’s fine, does it mean that everything’s fine, or that they don’t have words for their feelings – feelings that, even at 37, I don’t have words for. What can I offer but a safe place for them to feel what they feel? I have no answers to the hard questions they ask, and what few answers I might have, I can’t always give.

We have handed our kids a hard life, and so every new thing that they encounter that hurts them makes us all the more aware of what a hard life we’ve handed them.

A few weeks ago, I took a photo of my son’s torn pants, and it was the prompt on Weekend Wordsmith last week. It came together in the rambling words below. It’s not great poetry. It’s barely poetry at all – just prose with line breaks. But it’s how I process thought and emotion.

March 3, 3009

I wish, like a million before me,
that I could mend for you
what I have ripped, stitch up
the frayed edges, put back together
the loose ends I have untied,
and those around me
that I had no part in tearing.

My needle is dulled,
my thread snapped,
my hands occupied in mending
my own tattered rags.

If I could put them aside
and repair this one rent
you know I would.

I see in your eyes that you know
I would.

Maybe that’s enough.

It has to be.

Still, I look for that skein
with which we might patch
this wound.