Sunday, December 14, 2008

Child Grief

My daughter has been talking about Myles more and more lately. Wait, first let me start by saying I've really been getting a kick out of how little my child thinks I know. I ask her who are the smartest people she knows? They're all cousins and friends from school, none over the age of 12. Who are the smartest adults? Her grandma's and grandpa's. Daddy and Mommy rank dead last, lol. So when I tell her to say 'fell' instead of 'falled' she completely argues with me. My parents think I'm getting what I deserve, lol, and they're right.

But it kind of took on a new meaning tonight, it really broke my heart. She was saying her ribs hurt, and asked why she had them and I explain they protect her lungs and heart. So she had a question about if a heart breaks, and I told her about cpr, and doctors fixing hearts, but that sometimes, people might die. And she said, 'Is that what happened to Myles?' And I don't know that, but I do know his heart stopped beating for some reason, so I was wavering. To reassure her, I said, "Simone his heart just stopped, and he didn't hurt, he was completely happy and loved, it didn't hurt him.'

And she said, "Mom, you finally figured it out." Getting more and more excited, as if I said something revolutionary. Then she said she missed Myles and started crying, she asked how old he would be now, how big. Then she stopped, as if this is the first time she ever asked it, "okay, Mom, but WHY did HIS heart stop beating?" and I had to say, 'I don't know, nobody knows'. And for the first time, she says, "but you have been alive for how long, and you're supposed to know all of this stuff, why don't you know that?"

And it occurs to me, no wonder she doesn't believe me, or believe in me, I couldn't even save her brother! Parents are gods I thought, and I know she still thinks I'm the greatest mom in the world, but deep down she knows I don't know everything, I can't stop everything, I can't protect her always, because that is how the world works.

She just wants me to have another baby, and I'm so dead set against it. She brings it up at least twice a week. And she'll say, but mom, if you had another baby, maybe it wouldn't die. And I said, maybe not, but it could, there's nothing we can do about that. And she's like, 'well, maybe we shouldn't have played with Myles so much.' And for the first time she said, "Mom, did [i]I[/i] play with him too much?"

I assured her, no, she didn't do anything wrong, we all did everything right. And even when you do everything right, there are no guarantees. Life just isn't fair.

Oh, I feel so terrible my poor dear has had to grow up so fast. How hard it is to watch her grow and for her to come up with new questions, new sources of pain from her loss. And I guess as she gets older, we'll revisit this discussion many many more times. It's just so hard to see the cruel world reveal itself even more as she develops and understands and can think about things more.


Anonymous said...

oh, Simone. My heart breaks for her Trish. It IS a hard thing to have to grow up so fast, and learn life's hardest lesson at such an innocent time. I think kids are pretty resilient, and it sounds like you've handled her questions with grace and honesty. She's very lucky to have you, you know.

Cara said...

Watching kids conceptualize this abstract stuff is so hard. It is even more difficult to say our "grown up" thoughts in kid language.

You seem to be doing an amazing job of both. She is lucky. You are a great mom.

c. said...

I think some of the hardest parts of this all has been watching my children as they begin to understand what really happened to their brother that fateful day last October. Not that it can really be understood: hell, I don't even understand why this had to happen. But it does. And it's a horrible lesson to learn - whether your a child or adult or somewhere in between.

Julia said...

Monkey's grief has, at times, been the most gut-wrenching part of this effing thing. And the thing is, even now she grieves. She loves the Cub, she loves having him. But she misses A a lot. A whole lot. As do we, of course, and I would never deny her the grief that is hers... I guess I think of it as not having been in the contract when we signed up for parenting. Or, rather, it was there, but in extremely fine print, and we never thought we would have to go there. But I also think of it as perhaps my most important parenting piece, now. Helping her integrate her experiences, helping her acknowledge and honor the grief when it's there. I think of all that as a way to help her grow into a whole person, compassionate and thoughtful person. I am rambling now... I guess what I was going to say is that I hear you, and I am sorry that this, too, is part of the aftermath.