Ella recently got a new book, S is for Spirit Bear by G. Gregory Roberts. It’s a wonderful book about things that are unique to British Columbia done by following the alphabet. She loves it and it’s become her new favourite book before bedtime.
One of the letters is all about Terry Fox, and this story has really taken root in Ella. She’s trying, in her own way to understand. To understand about death and how people leave this world. So last night, we watched a little video about Terry. At the end, we talked for a few minutes and then I said it was time for sleep. I gave her a cuddle for a minute and then kissed her goodnight. As I stood to leave, she reached out for my hand to stop me. When she looked up at me, she had quiet tears streaming down her face. Then she asked, “mommy, little kids don’t die right?” I wish I could have said no, but I said sometimes. Then she said, “but mommies and daddies don’t die right?” So with a very heavy heart, I tried my best to explain to my little girl that everyone dies at some point, but that I hoped to be here to watch her grow and maybe even have kids of her own one day. I held her as she cried and couldn’t understand. I held her until she settled enough to fall asleep. My heart broke a little last night. At the loss of innocence that comes with trying to understand death. At the questions that she so desperately wanted me to answer in a different way, but I couldn’t.
Ella, I love you more than words could ever express. You and your sister mean the world to me. I wish that I could have told you what you wanted to hear last night. I wish I could have reassured you in a way that you could understand. I hope, one day, you’ll understand that life is beautiful, even with the “ugly” parts. That through pain and loss, you become stronger. That even when your heart feels like it’s been shattered into a million tiny little pieces, that your life was richer for having known the person you lost. You are my sensitive one, and I know there will be times that this whole concept will be hard to understand. But I also hope that you know, I will always, always be with you, even when I’m gone. I love you to the moon and back again! Keep smiling and keep asking me the tough questions.