Friday, November 06, 2009

the hardest part

Also posted on Widow's Voice

As a widow with young children, the worst thing about parenting now is NOT watching fathers whirl their delighted little girls around in the air or push their little boys on the swings. It is NOT arriving to your child's dance recital alone and wishing that someone was there to experience the joy and pride with you. It is NOT that you are now the only one to remember the day of your little one's birth or what their first word was. It is NOT the strange and uncomfortable silence when your child announces to the check-out clerk that "daddy is dead". No, the worst thing about being a widowed parent is that you can't fix that their other parent is gone....forever.
All parents want to fix their children's injuries, soften their disappointments, explain any misunderstandings and replace what is broken. But no matter how hard I've tried, I cannot bring him back. I can't make it better. I cannot take the pain away.
Nineteen months since my husband, Jeff, died and our seven year old daughter still cries for him often. I can often tell when it's coming. When missing him has overwhelmed her. She becomes angry and combative. She screams and yells at any small injustice, whether it be her three year old brother adding his own embellishments to her drawings, my requests that she keeps her fingers from my nostrils (she is a true pest - like Jeff was).
When the crash comes, she sobs. Her little shoulders shaking as she asks me for the millionth time why he died. She rages at the way things are and screams that 'it's not fair'. I feel helpless. I want to soothe her little heart. I want to offer some remedy for grief, a magical elixir.
Last week, she asked me if Jeff and I really did have Santa's phone number. I was confused by the change of direction in our tear-filled conversation. I misunderstood. I thought she was tired and just saddened by the world in general and had a desire for some toy. But no. Our little Bean wanted Santa's phone number because Santa "knows everything" and Santa would know Heaven's phone number. She wanted to talk to her daddy.
That night, I tucked her into our bed, with his shirt swaddled around her little body, the necklace containing some of Jeff's ashes clutched in her hand and a hotwater bottle nestled into her back. She fell asleep with tears on her I did - not just for the loss of Jeff, but for the sadness that my little ones bear.
What I have learned in these last nineteen months is that the best, and really, the only thing I can do for her is to be here. To let her lean on me. To hold her hand. To bring her tissues and hot water bottles. To hold her on my lap and listen as she cries. To assure her that we will smile again and that I will be here whenever she needs me.


Kathryn said...

You wrote that so beautifully Jackie. I'm sorry for all the hurt you and your little ones are going through.

FYI- There's a place here in Germany where they say Santa Claus lives. In mid-November one can write to Santa Claus there (AKA the Weihnachtsman) and he will write back to you. They get letters worldwide and so obviously will answer in English too. Here's the address incase you & your kids want to write there.
An den Weihnachtmann
16798 Himmelpfort
It's a place called Himmelpfort. Himmel also translates into Heaven.

Jill said...


I read this post this morning but just couldn't come up with words to say how touching it is (I still can't). You are able to explain so well what you're going through.

And it just stinks so much.

Anonymous said...

It's so true. At first, I'll admit, I wasn't sure where you were going as the other items on the list are so hard too - but you nailed it (as usual).

This hurt is too much. Too much for anyone to bear, let alone a child.

I think you are also exactly right in that all you can do is to be there. Just like with us - grieving widows - there is nothing to 'do'. There is noting to say to take the hurt away. There is no 'fix'. Most often the best thing a person can do for us is to listen, be there, offer a safe place to cry, rub your back, take your hand . . . . presence. I doubt it's much different for them.

That said, it is definitely the hardest part. And it hurts. My heart is with You, Liv & Briar.


TheSingingBird said...

My heart just aches when I read your words here Jackie. It has been just over a year since our family member and her young daughters have lost their dear one. Perhaps Liv can write to her Daddy and "send" letters by gently releasing them into a campfire, watching the smoke as it drifts upward. I've read somewhere that the physical act of writing can help release emotions more powerfully than typing or speaking can, and just maybe Liv will find some answers in her dreams and quiet moments.

Much love and blessings.

Janine (txmomx6) said...

Very, very touching, Jackie.
I wish I, too, had Heaven's phone number.

Poppy and Mei said...


Anonymous said...

My heart swells with tears and sadness. But it also swells with hope and pride with how honest,real and present you are. Sending a HUG

darcie said...

crying right along with you and Liv as I read this post - hugs to you and your little friends Jackie -

Anonymous said...

I have never commented before...but, That was HEARTBREAKING...your poor little angel. It is impossible to understand as adults...what must death be like to be a child?
You are doing all you can for her...she knows you are there.