After picking up my son from preschool today, he mentioned going back to “Sydney-land.” I didn’t quite understand what he was talking about, I thought he was talking about Disneyland and I was left confused. Then he spoke up again and said he wanted to go to “Sydney-land” so he could be with Daddy again. Instantly I understood. He wanted to go back to Sydney and in his sweet, innocent mind, he thought that if we returned to Sydney he would be with his Dad again. Of course I started crying and I had to explain to him again that his Daddy wouldn’t be in Sydney even if we returned.
Kaden could hear the sadness in my voice and told me not to cry. I kept telling him it was ok to cry and that I wasn’t crying because I was angry but because my heart hurt. In my mind I kept thinking that maybe Kaden thought his Dad didn’t want to see him or that he was living another life in Sydney without him. I desperately wanted him to understand that his Daddy never left him and my heart believes that he understands this, but my mind started thinking about possible negative effects this may have on him in the long run.
As I continued to explain to Kaden about death and how his Dad is now a spirit that surrounds us, he kept telling me not to be sad and not to cry. He even did the “Daniel Tiger” deep breath and count to four tactic I have him do when he is angry to calm him down. In his loving voice he said to me, “Mommy, I counted to four, do you feel better now?” I wanted to tell him no, son, I do not feel better. My heart is aching and I am extremely sad because you want your father here so he can play with you and watch you grow, but he can’t. Instead, I took a deep breath and told him that I am sad but I will feel better soon. A lie.
I lied to my son and suppressed my pain but how do you explain to an almost four-year-old whats going on inside? Thankfully he quickly changed the subject again to my new hair color and had me giggling. He asked me why I had orange hair. I cringed a little and asked him if he truly thought my hair was orange and told him it should be red. He then just followed it up with, “why is your hair red?” Then with, “you can make pink from red.” Aw the mind of a preschooler.
As we pulled into the driveway my mind had calmed down and I entered the house the way I left it, composed. But lingering in the back of my mind I was dissecting the conversation I just had with Kaden. Thinking about the life we had together as a family in Sydney. Thinking about the memories he holds in his heart of his Dad. Thinking about how I told him we have so many special memories of our life with Daddy and how Sydney will always be another home. Then I thought about, when we do return to Sydney for a visit, will he remember more? Will it trigger more stories and happy moments? Aw the mind of a mother and widow.
I can feel the longing Kaden has inside him to be reunited with his Dad, to reignite the unique bond they were creating. I so badly would love to give my kids the gift of time travel, so we could go back in time and rewrite our history. So we can create more memories and continue living the life we dreamed of, but I can’t. What I can do is continue to retell loving memories of him and his Dad. Allow him time to fully comprehend that just because we can’t see Daddy it doesn’t mean he is not alive in us. I want him to trust himself that when he senses the loving feeling of his father around him, to embrace the joy and know he is always loved and cared for. I want him to know the memories he has of his father are the most important memories to hold on to. I have hope that as he continues to grow, his love for his Dad will grow along side him and it is my honour to keep the flame alive.
I will hold you here,
growing stronger in my heart
your forever home