Friday, September 23, 2011

What a Child Sees

You sad, Mommy? I hear those words at least twice a day now. I don't think my daughter even had the word, sad, in her vocabulary three months ago. Now she asks about my emotional state multiple times a day.

We arrived home from Cincinnati on a Friday evening. Our friends had our daughter playing in the front yard when we pulled into the driveway. Our daughter got a huge smile on her face and started running towards the car.

I was excited to see her but once I did, it was like being stabbed in the heart with a dagger. It hurt so deeply to see her and to hear her talking.

She ran to me when I got out of the car and I picked her up (against medical advice).  I was sobbing. She took one look at me and terror swept over her face. My face was swollen, red and covered in tears. She had never seen me like that and it completely terrified her. She immediately reached for my husband.

The rest of the evening, she remained concerned. She wanted to be in the same room as me but she didn't want to get too close.

It hurt me so much to look at her. I hate to admit this but for the first two weeks after we lost Emmerson and Vivienne, I didn't like to be around our daughter. I am so thankful for our family members and close friends that would take care of her and love her when I was incapable of doing what she needed me to do. The twins resembled their older sister and every time I looked at my daughter, all I could see was all that I would never have with the twins. I would never see them walk or call me Mommy and it killed me all over again.

To say that she saw me cry multiple times everyday for the first six weeks would be an understatement. I would cry at the drop of a hat.

A few days after we returned home, some family members brought dinner to us and we sat around the table and ate. Well, they ate, I think all I did was stare at my food. There was laughter and normal conversation. By normal, I mean conversation that would have taken place before I lost my twins. After I lost them, nothing was normal. I suddenly had this very strong feeling that Emmerson and Vivienne were just sleeping in their bouncy seats or swings. This was a scene that was to take place after I had them and brought them home - people bringing us dinner. This feeling was so strong. I looked up and expected to see them but I didn't see bouncy seats or swings. I saw no baby gear anywhere. I couldn't find my babies and I started sobbing.

My daughter saw me crying and became concerned. A family member instantly removed her from the dinner table and started to take her out of the room. She began screaming hysterically, I want my Mommeee! My husband got up and took our daughter out of our family members arms and brought her back to the table. Our family member did not feel like she should be seeing this, her Mother heartbroken.

My husband repeated to her what he and I had since we had arrived home that Friday evening. Remember how Mommy had babies in her belly? Well, they are now with Jesus. That is a very good thing but we are sad because they are not here with us and we miss them. It is okay to be sad and to cry. It calmed her. Every time.

The family member did not feel it was appropriate that we were letting her know what was going on.

I felt it would be inappropriate to not be honest with her.

Children are very receptive to what is going on. She knew something was not right and she would have sensed if we were not telling her the truth. I couldn't and still am unable to know when I am going to breakdown and start crying. It is not like I can schedule my "sad" times. They come when they want.

While I was pregnant with the twins, my daughter would give the babies their vitamins. We all took vitamins every morning and she felt the babies needed to take one as well. She would walk up to me and pretend to put one vitamin in her hand and use that hand to touch one side of my belly and then she would do the same to the other side. Then she would say, there babies, you have your vitamins now. Grow big. She would lift up my shirt sometimes and ask to see them or hold them. I would let her know that for a few more months, they had to grow on the inside but that she would be able to hold them soon. After that, she became very vigilent that the babies got their vitamins.

She asked about the babies on a daily basis while I was pregnant. Once we arrived home from Cincinnati, she never asked about them.

Then one day, about six weeks after we lost them, I was eating dinner with her. My husband had just left for a trip so it was only her and I that were home. During the meal, she asked where Baby was. Baby is the original and unique name of one of her cloth dolls. She is attached to this doll. She can never be more than a few feet from it and if she is, she wants to know her whereabouts. I informed her of where baby was, she looked and saw her and became calm. She then looked at me and asked, where are your babies? This threw me! I was shaken. I collected myself and replied, they are in Heaven with Jesus. She says, no, they are in your belly.

I lost it and had to retreat to another room.

Just a few weeks ago, as life slowly and painfully has resumed a new "normal", my daughter and I were on the floor playing basketballs. Basketballs is really anything that involves a ball but it usually consists of sitting on the floor, across from each other, and rolling it back and forth. While we were playing, she did or said something that made me laugh. She stopped rolling and asked, Mommy, you sad?

No, baby. I was laughing because you are so funny and silly. 

She thought about this for a minute and then replied, No, Mommy. You sad.

Now I was the one who had stopped to think. I had run everything I had said and did that day with her through my head. I couldn't recollect any thing that would make her think I was sad. Specially after I just got done laughing! Then I realized, there is always a part of me that is sad now. I am different and she knows that.

Other people have judged us and criticized us for being honest with her and not protecting her from this. For the first time in my life, I don't really care what they think. My husband and I are sticking to our guns with the belief and assurance that children are way smarter and more intuitive then adults give them credit for.

After she told me that I was, indeed sad, I stopped to think. I thought carefully about my response to her. By this time, her game of basketballs had been put on the back burner. She was sitting on my lap while attempting to wrap me up in her arms.

You know what, baby? You are right. There will probably always be a part of me that is sad. I miss your sisters and I will always wish that things had turned out differently. The fact is, they are not here and they never will be again. But they are in Heaven and I am so grateful and thankful for that.

She's looking up at me with her huge, dark eyes,  nodding her head yes and then she says, with Jesus! We resume our game of basketballs.

I know as Mothers and as parents we foolishly believe we can protect our children from anything harmful or hurtful. But here is the honest, ugly truth. We can't. We never could.

My parents are hurting and grieving too. My Dad cried with me one very dark day. With tears spilling out of his eyes, he tells me, I miss them too. But what really kills me is seeing you like this and knowing there is nothing I can do to make this better. I have always been able to make things better for you. I am so sorry that I can't!

My Mom worries about me. She has been angry and has asked a lot of questions. She wants to take my hurt away and she can't.

I know it is completely natural to want to shield your child from the worst ache, the most dreadful pain. But what do you do when you can't?

My job, my duty as my daughter's Mother is to prepare her to become an adult. She has learned something a lot earlier than most children and a lot sooner than I would have ever wanted her to. She has learned that things and people break in the worst way. She has seen hopes and dreams come to a crashing halt.

One thing she has learned because of all of this is that it is OKAY! It is okay to be sad. It is alright to cry. It is okay to ask why. What she has witnessed through all of this, is that her Father and I still love our King. We still praise Him for what we DO have. And because of that, she has seen hope live on.

We all have been far more blessed than we haven't.


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