Tuesday, April 12, 2011

So Now We Don't Have a Father? A Widowed Parent Answers the Hard Questions

It's amazing what they think of.

My daughter is the typical 7 year-old in that she asks a lot of questions. And there is a lot in her life to question. We had a baby last year and she wants to know how that happens. She saw me go through pregnancy, the changes in my body, and had the waiting experience. She heard his heartbeat more than once and felt him move inside me. Still, at 6 years-old, I imagine it's strange to go through all that only to be brought to the hospital one day and told, "Okay, he's here and have this tiny person just appear. She adores him. He's her best friend. She still has questions about not so much where he came from, but how he got in there. Not a conversation I'm ready to have with a 7 year-old. I told her that God helped her father and I make them. Although she did see an animal planet special on the subject. It included talk about the egg and sperm. I did let her know that people made babies the same way. That's as far as I've gone.

Then we weren't settled into life with her little brother when her father, whom she loved dearly, and who was sick most of her life died one day while she was at school. He wasn't terminal. I didn't tell her he was dying. I didn't tell her he wasn't. She asked. I just told her that she'd be taken care of no matter what happened.

She was always concerned for his comfort and that has not changed since he died. I think she worries just as much about him as she does about me. I remember taking a significant amount of time letting her know how soft the pillows inside the casket were and how he was wearing his favorite suit. Still death is a huge mystery to anyone who hasn't been there no matter what their age. At the age of 7, there's another whole level as far as an inability to understand the concept.

It took her a while to realize it was permanent. After about 6 months she asked me continuously for weeks if he really was going to be gone forever. But I didn't mind. Whatever it takes. I mean I hate for her to have to deal with the reality, but I imagine it is better for her than expecting that after a certain length of time he's going to come bouncing through the front door like he did before he died.

I have a friend who lost her husband when their daughter was the same age as my daughter is now. She found out later that the little girl just thought he was going away for a while to get better, that she didn't know when, but thought he'd eventually come home. It was 3 years later she said when the reality set in, and it hit her so hard she started lashing out at friends she'd had since preschool because they still had both of their parents. She said it was so bad she had to change schools. And I've read this is normal, that children grieve in cycles, so I'm still on guard. But with counseling that little girl has blossomed into a beautiful teenager who has helped other girls who have experienced the loss of a parent. I expect she'll help my daughter at some point. And I expect at some point my daughter will be helping others.

This past weekend, she began to voice some concerns. Some were repeats, but still I sit in wonder as to the inner workings of a child's mind.

Doesn't he need food? No

Is he okay? Yes because he's not sick anymore.

Is he our angel now? I'm not sure, but I believe you have always had one or more. (another story). If he's not one of them, I'm sure all the praying he did for us has sent us some.

Can he see us? If he's one of our angels yes. If not, no. (on my angry days I hope not).


Does he still snore in that bed? Absolutely not.

Oh, because he doesn't breathe? Right.

So, is he bored? No

Why did you marry an old man? Huh? He was 45. That's not old.

Well, only old people die right? Um…no honey. Anyone can. It's sad, but anyone can no matter how old they are.

I shake my head at her having to deal with such harsh realities at this age. I worry it will make her grow up too quickly. I remember the day it happened. I remember thinking of telling everyone I had to tell, how it was going to hurt them. For her I felt I was going to take part of her innocence. My heart began to beat faster when Ariana's Godmother left our house to bring her back home. And it progressed to racing when they returned and Ariana came bounding up the steps to our front door. I was about to turn her world upside down. How could I do this?

She was the calmest person I talked to that day. But her quiet tears tore through my heart in those moments and still do. And I'll never forget her words...

So, now we don't have a father?

But I continue to be inspired by how she handles not having a father. And I pray that God continues to equip me as He has been faithful to all the way to now, to handle my children not having a father.

1 comment:

  1. It must be the hardest thing to put something nonsensical into enough sense that a child won't be baffled by it. But I must say, a child who lost a parent has a little quirks and angles of looking at the world. I find it endearing. You get extra dimensionality for that.