Mama R wrote this awhile ago for me. I am grateful that she is sharing so much of herself on my blog. A beautiful piece below.
Little Girl #1 “Look at this photo Mum, it’s Grandma and Pop! I love Pop mummy” I reply “I know you do sweet heart and he loves you too.”
This moment was beautiful and heart breaking for me all at the same time; as have been many similar moments in Little Girl #1’s short 3 year old life. You see her Pop does love her, he just isn’t alive anymore to tell her that. He passed away 3 years ago, a day short of Little Girl #1 being 4 weeks old. It seems so long ago as so much has happened, yet also seems like it was yesterday he was here.
One day I’d like to write about losing my father-in-law, the impact this had and how special he was to us, but today it’s not about loss but rather about keeping him alive for our girls. It’s a tricky situation. Little Girl #1 is a clever little thing and is very attached to her grandparents; all 4 of them. We talk about Pop and share memories with her about him and what he was like. “Pop” was one of her first handful of words and she would point to his photo. The problem is that, right now, she doesn’t understand that he isn’t alive. As much as we try to explain to her, she just doesn’t get it yet. Before Christmas, she went through a period where she wanted to see him. She talked about him almost daily. When on the phone with Grandma she would ask to speak to him and when travelling to see Grandma she would ask if Pop would be there because she’d like to play with him. I love that she feels that she knows him, I hate that one day she will realize that she will never see him again. We have tried to explain that Pop watches over us and that we can’t actually see him but we know he’s there. This fits our belief system. It it’s a hard concept for a 3 year old to grasp. She loves the movie “The Lion King” so I tried to relate Pop being like Mufasa and that even though he goes away he watches over Simba. I don’t think that she understood. Again around Christmas time I tried to explain the concept of heaven. In the end I said he was up with the angels, God and Jesus. She then went on to tell me that he was with baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the 3 wise men, the donkey etc (everyone from her nativity set!). She seemed to like knowing he was with them.
I know that the concept of death in its scientific form would be somewhat easier for Little Girl #1 to understand and that the spiritual side is more abstract. I find it so hard to keep his memory alive for her, yet not feel like I’m leading her on to expect she will meet him again. I know that by keeping him “alive” it will mean that one day she will feel a genuine sadness about his death. Whilst I don’t want her to feel sad, I do want her to love him and know that she was loved. I want her to know her Pop because he was one of the most important people in both my husband and mine’s lives.
I believe that there is life after death. I believe that my father-in-law watches over my family. One day Little Girl #1 will understand death. I hope one day she will also have faith and a spiritual belief that allows her to feel close to her Pop like she does now. I grapple with what is right to do for her now but I see this little girl with a big heart that has room for a man she only had in her life for such a short time but knows right in her core that he loves her. That’s what important to me right now. I think that’s what he would want.