|Turning Over the Reins - Page 4|
Eventually, I remembered what Doug and Buddy had taught me: I needed to trust Alex and her capacities. I'd wanted to overprotect her; to break the news in a way that she wouldn't cry, wouldn't feel the loss too much. It was time to remember that Alex could take care of herself.
While she cried in her room, she sent Doug a long e-mail, telling him everything he'd meant to her. She called friends. During the next days and months, she digested the news in the way of most mourners since human time began: uneasily, unevenly, unsurely, sometimes reluctantly—and slowly.
We went to Colorado for the memorial service. Alex, now 18 years old, walked to the front of the hall and spoke in a trembling voice to a hundred people, most of them strangers. I'd prepared my own eulogy, but decided not to speak: this was Alex's day to mourn. If Doug could have seen her up there, and had known why I sat silent, I think he'd have leaned against the post of the horse corral and laughed out loud, with tears in his eyes.
Garry Cooper, L.C.S.W., a contributing editor of the , is the author of the magazine's Clinician's Digest. He's a therapist in Oak Park, Illinois. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters to the Editor about this department may be e-mailed to email@example.com.