My son was 13 months when he lost his father. He holds no memories of his daddy and never asks questions or brings him up. He is a happy, well-adjusted, smart, and lovable five years old. He just also happens to be a kid who’s dad died way too young. Truth be told, I don’t worry about my son nearly as much as I do my daughter, because she was a little older and seems to have a harder time with her loss.
This all changed yesterday.
As we drove to school my little man piped up from the backseat and said:
“Mommy, I miss my real daddy.”
Just like that, out of the random blue, and like a sword, through my heart, he uttered those words that rendered me utterly speechless. Through quiet tears and a cracked-voiced, I just responded…
“I know buddy, and I miss him too.”
We continued to talk about Mitch, and as the questions poured out of him, I could see by the expression on his little face that it was all soaking in. He continued to probe until he was done and the subject changed just as quickly as it had come up in the first place.
I dropped my happy go lucky little man off at school, and he ran off laughing and smiling like he always does. However, I was left reeling and feeling a pain that has become all too familiar in the past four plus years. Through quiet reflection and lots of deep breaths, I came to a straightforward conclusion.
I can’t fix this.
There is nothing I can do to give my children their father back. There is nothing I can do to give them their innocence lost or security they may have had in their invincible parents back. Death stole these things from them, and I am incapable of fixing that reality.
My kids know loss.
My kids know death.
My kids miss their dad. Period.
End of story. End of discussion.
Or is it?
What my children also know is resiliency.
They know that life is made up of choices and that when all seems lost, we can still make the choices in this life to be and do more. They know from a tender age that bad things happen, but that resiliency can help to carry them through very dark days. They have learned that why we may never move ON, we can move forward in a new and different path.
My children know love.
They know that people die, but even in death we still can love them beyond this world. They know that the people who remain in their present life love them deeply and care for their happiness. They know that community matters, choices matter, LIFE matters.
My children know joy.
We practice happiness in our house because we have known the worst sadness possible. We grasp at the good and practice counting the blessing that surrounds us daily.
I can’t fix what has happened in our lives.
All I can do is continue to live, answer the hard questions when they come up, and show my babies why we all deserve to live a beautiful life.
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