She sits at her table with a stack of laminated photos of her sisters, each one telling a story about a brief moment in time during their life. She shuffles and organizes them into piles as she gains a sense of connection to her siblings. They are in no particular order although I do think she has her favorites. The one of Abigail jumping into the water is usually on top followed by the one of Anna and I hugging close.
Sometimes I find her “talking” to their school photos as if having a conversation about what friends came to visit that day or what treasures she found on our last walk. I can’t help but daydream about the advice they would give or the excitement they would show her over her found objects. I often sit next to her and tell her details of the moments before and after each photo was shot, feeling blessed that I was able to capture their faces or feel their embrace as our photo was taken.
Her attention is then cast onto something else, she leaves the table and finds a toy to play with. Life is simple in her young mind. My heart aches knowing her life won’t always be simple.
Having older sisters in heaven is what she will always know. The memories and the details we share of their life here will create for her a sense of knowing and opportunities for connection with her sisters. Their belongings (clothing, toys, treasures) are theirs and identified as such. These belongings are passed down to her when our hearts allow, which in some cases, is a lot more difficult than others. She has already found Abigail’s make-up drawer and knows that it is off limits per her big sister’s request (it was off limits to Anna). Anna’s American Girl Doll sits on a shelf in her little sister’s room and is admired from afar. Someday soon I will introduce her to Anna’s cherished doll and tell her all about the adventures they had together.
In our world bad things happen, which means we dailyfight the desire to put our littlest in a bubble. Running and climbing have become our new norm so we work hard to take deep breathes when bruises and scraped knees appear. We want our youngest to live life to the fullest, just like her siblings, so when fear grabs hold of our hearts we acknowledge it and ask God to replace it with peace. He is forever faithful and continues to help guide us as we learn how to parent while navigating through grief.
In the future I know there will be hard questions and longing. We will try to find the right words to the question of “why;” one we have yet to find an answer for ourselves. Through it all we will be open, honest, and will continue to create opportunities that are rooted in love to help the connection with her sisters in heaven. We will honor and nurture how she chooses to grieve a loss she has yet to feel.
Just like that, she is back at the table filing through her sisters photos again. She looks up to me with the photo of Anna and me in her hand and says, “mama.” I wish life stayed simple forever.