These last few weeks have been filled with more travel, stress, fun, and sadness than I could have planned for. Aside from doc appointments, a trip to Disneyland (recap coming soon!), and TWO birthdays for my TWO girls, we also headed home for the funeral of my Grandpa Ron. He was the man. He was actually Vita’s man as she had staked her claim on him years ago and they’ve been best buds since. She had a mega crush on him and would tell random strangers about him on the daily. She was planning to marry him. We hadn’t yet had the discussion on marrying family members and how that’s not socially acceptable. 😉
He died of Stage 4 Lung Cancer and quickly, too, as it was just two months after his diagnosis. I won’t go into the amount of loss that he experienced in his life as that is not my story to tell, but I will tell you that Grandpa Ron had experienced the heartache of ten lifetimes in his short 71 years on this earth. Because of this, he didn’t want to pursue treatment as he knew there was no cure, and he knew the toll that Chemotherapy can take. He planned to live his last months as best he could. Unfortunately (and courageously), he acquiesced to the many requests of his family to try out a new form of immunotherapy that he qualified for. If you’re familiar with that, you know it can take a strain on the body. On any body. And every body reacts to it differently. His just wasn’t strong enough, and he passed within weeks of his first treatment.
It’s a strange thing to try and explain life and death to a four year old. I had been avoiding this conversation with Vita as I knew she would struggle with the news. Once I had learned that he was going to pass in a matter of days, Logan and I decided we needed to prepare Vita and try to help her understand just what was happening. To my surprise (but honestly, how surprised could I have been because she’s wise beyond her years), she understood. She really understood. She asked appropriate questions. Her thought process was working overtime and she was incredible. There were tears, of course, but after spending some time in her room alone, she emerged calmly and simply said “Mom, I’m okay about this now.” I was floored.
Since that day, she has told me how she prayed for a “New Grandpa Ron” to be made for her and my Grandma Sue to marry. It may seem inappropriate to say, but she was sort of the MVP at the funeral. She helped to alleviate some of the sadness that was being felt by each person in attendance. And I’m grateful for her.
She still asks questions about him regularly. She asks if he can see her. And hear her. If he still loves her. Of course, my answer will always be “YES”. We gave her a giant picture of the two of them to put in her room. Other family members have passed while she’s been around, but this is the first that has really affected her daily routine. I worry for our next visit to Utah when we go to his house and he’s not there. I don’t know how she’ll take that, but I have to believe she’ll be more of a champ at her age than I am at mine.
How do you handle these conversations with your children? I’m not that great when explaining loss and I’d love some insight as I feel I’m navigating this with a blindfold on. I always thought I’d have many more years before we had to have these kind of discussions with our children. Vita has always been ahead of the curve, but we’re about ten-years-too-soon on this one! I know that she is handling things as best she can and it’s more of a testament to her knowledge and maturity than it is to mine and Logan’s parenting.
I’ve got lots more planned to share with you next week including an update on both girls – Vita turned 5 while we were in Utah! (There was obvs a unicorn cake involved.) And Mars is 1! Baby girl has surpassed all our expectations for her at this age. She’s crawling and just started standing on her own. She doesn’t do it all the time, but when I’m not looking, she’s on her feet. She’s eating purees and I just gave her her first (micro-sized!) taste of bread and she was in heaven. I’m so proud. She’s obviously my child. All that to come next week, so stay tuned! We’re alive. We’re just bouncing back from a few sad days. 🙂
photography \\ courtesy of my iPhone