A common concern I get is how Evelyn is doing, and to be honest it's hard for me to tell most of the time. I worry, of course. She is so precious, and I know this has to be almost too much for her little heart to handle. Since I can't describe what she is thinking instead I'll give some insight into those things I can see and hear.
The night I told Evelyn her dad had died was hands down the most excruciating thing I have ever had to do. I told her the same Saturday in which her dad passed, it was after I had gotten home from the hospital. Walking into my door that night was one of the hardest, and yet strangely peaceful moments I can remember. Being able to hold Isaac and her, and know that our family was still a family after such a horrific day was relieving. My neighbor who had spent the entire day with her told me that she hadn't asked once where we were or when we were coming home. She was simply waiting for the comfort of her mother's arms before asking a question she didn't want the answer to.
At first I battled with whether or not this was the day to tell her, but I was a mess, and soon the house would be filled with talk of funerals, and there would still be no daddy in sight. I asked her as soon as the hustle and bustle had settled if she wanted to talk about daddy. "No" was her only answer. Shortly after I went into our bathroom, and for the first time stumbled across the place Matt had first fell to the floor just hours before. I wasn't able to stifle the sob.
"Mom, you need to tell me why you are crying now."
As I came over to make room on the bed I knew she would never be the same woman, just as I was now a changed woman myself. "Evie, Daddy was very sick today, the doctors could not fix him, and he went to see Jesus."
"Daddy's dead, mommy?" D a d d y ' s d e a d. . .these straight forward and intelligent words. . .these were the heart wrenching few.
Those words from that beautiful mouth will never erase from my memory. It was in that moment that my heart broke for the second time that day. She screamed, cried, and kicked. She demanded her daddy back, and asked why Jesus would take him. . .her reaction had been the exact same as mine, and I had no good answers. My parents were waiting downstairs, and when I knew help was appropriate I scooped that little lady into my arms and placed her directly between my own parents, the parents longing for answers for their baby, just as I was doing for mine. We all held her tight, told her what she was feeling was right, and it was okay to be mad. She cried herself to sleep on that couch in all of our arms.
Fast forward to the next morning. I'm laying in bed, I had Matt's t-shirt on, and I was clenching it to my face for dear life. How was I suppose to get out of bed, how was I suppose to do anything ever again, why would I even want to? Anger fleeting through my body, sadness I could not contain, and then I hear it. I hear the pitter patter of little feet downstairs, "My daddy is in Heaven with Jesus". She sounded assured in her faith. She sounded almost happy at the thought. It was at that moment I touched my feet to the floor to begin 'Day 1' without my love. It was because of her I was able.
I told Evelyn right away that she could talk to her daddy whenever she wanted. That he could hear her, and she could let her prayers be known to Jesus if that was her wish. In the very beginning one of her biggest worries was whether or not daddy was happy in Heaven. It simply did not make sense that any place without her could be a good place. . .another question I couldn't answer because it was mine as well. It was one morning at breakfast that I came down the stairs and saw Evelyn sitting at the dinner table eating her cereal and gazing at the picture boards from the funeral.
"Daddy, I just want to know that you are happy. That you are okay, and you like Heaven."
Whether it was her dad that reassured her, or the Holy Spirit I don't know, but after that moment she never questioned whether daddy was happy or not again.
I have been letting her sleep with me, and the lines are blurred on who's benefit it is more for. We both have nightmares. I'm not sure what her's are about, but she wakes up more often in the night frantically searching for me then she ever has before. There are nights she wakes up crying for him, begging for him back. There are no right answers in those moments, and I thank God for the ability to wrap her up in my arms until the worst of it is over.
It's hard to tell if she can understand any of the emotions that I have in regards to missing Matt. In the car one day, not long after I had started going through his things I began to cry. She says, "I know why you are crying, mommy." I told her that she was right, I missed daddy. I told her that I was thinking about all the twisty ties that I had found while cleaning and it made me miss him. "Oh you are crying about twisty ties, mom? I thought you missed daddy, never mind." I didn't say a word, and in that moment just let her bring the smile to my face that I so sorely needed.
Then there are things that are more difficult to stomach. At the doctor's last week we are checking in with the nurse. Blood pressure, pulse, allergies. . .social history or changes in the home? I informed the nurse that Evelyn's dad, my husband, had very recently died unexpectedly. In only the way a child could, pure as snow, Evelyn looked this nurse dead in the eyes and said, "Why didn't you save my daddy?"
Why didn't you save my daddy. . .ugh. Of course I explained to Evelyn this nurse, and no nurses anywhere, were the reason for daddy's death. And the nurse was very gracious, but if there was ever a time in my life you could have heard a pin drop it was just then.
From time to time I can tell she uses 'missing daddy' to her advantage. She would like a cookie, because she misses daddy. She would like to watch one more cartoon, because she misses daddy. She would like to skip school, stay up late, and eat a sucker for breakfast. . .because she misses daddy. And most of the time, at least for now, I give in when I can.
I do worry for her; worry that she won't have a father figure. And I covet all prayers that are sent to Isaac and her in this very regard. For now, I rely on my understanding of our Abba Father. Try to find comfort that He will shelter them, cover them, and love them the way they need to be.
One of my own favorite verses is Proverbs 31:25, and although usually it is myself that it resonates with, tonight I hand that life verse over to her in hopes that she hold dearly to the words of the Almighty Father who's love knows no end.
She is clothed in strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come.