As I drove to my parent’s house I went over and over in my mind what I would say to my children. How I would say it. What this moment would mean for them. In an instant I would change their lives forever.
I got out of my car and did not hesitate. The door opened and, as usual, my little girl, my precious, newly three year-old daughter, was waiting for me. Smiling and ready for a big hug. My son ran towards me too.
I held myself together through hellos and hugs and I told them I wanted to talk with them. They had no clue the magnitude of what was about to unfold. I felt the heaviness in my chest as we walked into the guest bedroom and sat down on the day bed. Eyes ready, wanting, inquiring. I quickly moved into the heart of what I was there to share.
I decided on the drive over that the truth would be best. Truth appropriate for a three year old and six year old.
Somehow the words spilled out of my mouth, almost as if by someone else.
“Daddy died today.”
Diego’s face clouded over as I spoke and he looked to the floor. Gabi, barely aware of what I was saying, continued to look at me happily, although as she began to sense something was wrong and soon became anxious.
Diego asked if he could leave the room. I wanted to make him stay and talk to me, but I knew he needed to process what was just said. Gabi gave me a hug and, in her usual fashion, bounced out the door behind him. I walked into the hallway and I could see Gabi talking to Grammy.
Everyone’s eyes searched mine for some sign as to how the conversation went.
A short time later Diego and I reconvened in the guest room. He asked what happened and broke down – not fully at this point. We held each other. Gabi returned and, sensing our despair also became upset.
Although I knew my heart was breaking for my children that day, I didn’t recognize the magnitude of the devastation. That night, the three of us clung to one another as we tried to fall asleep. Our cries muffled between the sheets. Our lives cracked completely wide open.
As I noted on another post I shared a few months ago, recounting these moments still catches my breath. Seven years later. Grief is not a one and done deal. It takes consistent presence, patience and compassion to live a life with grief as your companion.
You can’t outrun it. I found one moment at a time turns into one day at a time. It’s a process my friends. And the more we can talk about our grief, the deeper we can heal. And by healing, I don’t mean it won’t ever hurt again. I believe we can live a life full of meaning and beauty, while we respect the profound way loss impacts our lives.
PS. REMINDER…UPCOMING SPEAKING GIG: If you live in DFW, come join me on October 14th at 10:30 am. I am speaking at the Community Unitarian Universalist Church (2875 E Parker Rd, Plano, TX 75074). The title of my talk is Death is An Invitation for the Living.
*Are you interested in learning more about grief guidance and wayfinding? I offer a complimentary 30 minute session.
Photo credit: Georgi Petrov