Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Three Months Later

Every once in a while, out of the blue, Big Kid will break out with, "I really dest miss Heidi Weeze." Today he came up with it again out of nowhere and said he wished she could teach Murphy to bite at and chase the water coming out of the hose, like she used to love doing.

Ugh. It just takes my breath away every time he says it, because it's been a little over three months since she died and I still miss her Every.Single.Day. Overwhelmingly so, every single day.

He also says strange things about death and dying and I feel partly responsible. In having an elderly dog, I had thought about the talks I'd have to have with him when and if we ever had to put her down. I pictured it as a calm, sad, informative, beforehand discussion.

Since she died accidentally, it didn't quite go as planned. Because being on my knees sobbing, "No no no no no no God, no please not like this, no please not right now, oh God no, no no no no" and dry heaving was definitely not part of the plan.

I didn't mean for him to witness such raw grief. He shouldn't have been standing there stunned, and scared, and offering me hugs and drawing me hearts. The parent doesn't freak out, the parent stays in control. The parent presents the first lesson with death as a teacher, not a raving, retching, suddenly religious maniac. Damn, damn, damn.

It's just that I'd been her parent twice as long. For that devastating few minutes of not knowing for sure, parenting him took a backseat because I was more worried about her short term situation than his long term one.

Of course we've discussed it afterwards. Calmly and sadly and grieving in a respectable manner. But he recently asked if people in our family can die, and I could tell it was something he's been worrying about. He was very thoughtful after our recent viewing of Charlotte's Web and has started several conversations with, "Did you know spiders sometimes die?" and we end up talking about it some more. I once said, "I'm dying" about something that hurt (imagine that) and the alarm on his face made me quickly explain myself. I know dying is sad no matter what, but I feel that the manner in which it was presented really drove the point home with Big Kid.

It's sweet, but also really sad, to know that he misses her like I do, that the whole family is still thinking about her and noticing her absence daily.

It's also a reminder of how hard this whole parenting thing is, and how things never go as planned, and how you don't get do overs. It's hard to be a parent instead of just a person sometimes.

19 comments:

Maggie said...

Honesty is the best policy. It's ok for them to see you cry. I've been through deaths of pets with my kids and unfortunately the death of their sibling as well. Grief is part of life. You're handling things well. Hugs to all of you.

Kimmers said...

You know, it's ok. Sometimes things just don't go the way you plan them. Here's my Positive Spin on this: Maybe it's a GOOD thing that he got to witness such an honest and heartfelt reaction to the death of a loved one. Maybe that, followed by your explanation and discussions, will have more of a lasting impact on him than something you had planned out in advance.

For what it's worth, I think it's obvious that you're doing a great job with him.

jennyandcompany said...

It is hard. both of my husband's grandmothers have died in the last couple of years, so mine have had to face it.

Tyler is also waaaaay too aware of his heart problems, and once in the hospital started talking about how his heart was broken and they can't fix it and he was going to die. It was crazy, my husband was so upset. It just makes me wonder what in the world goes through his mind that he doesn't say out loud.

Melodie said...

I think you're doing a great job with explaining everything to him. And maybe it was a good thing that it was unexpected. Not every death can be predicted, and sometimes we don't have time to adjust beforehand or even get to say goodbye to our loved ones.
Maybe it wasn't great for him to see you so freaked out when it happened, but at least he knows that you are feeling the grief just as much as he is and it's okay for him to feel that way, too.

Life, Love & Lola said...

This broke my heart. I think it's so special that BK still thinks of Heidi Louise. Especially since he's so busy keeping an eye on lk and making sure he stays out of the trash and such...No one said life would be easy Ashley...but it sure is worth it! I think your an Awesome Mom! Here's to YOU!!

Mama's Losin' It said...

I used to be able to cry in front of the kids without them even noticing. I remember the first time Maile caught on...the look of concern that stretched across her face stopped me in my tracks...and then made me cry some more for doing that to her. I love that nurturing side of her, but I don't ever want her to feel the need to mother me.

Bless BK's little heart!! Big heart I should say! And here's praying he never has to experience that ever ever ever ever ever again. Amen.

momtoabean said...

Oddly enough on my commute home yesterday I wondered how you were doing in regards to Heidi (I'm not a crazy person I swear..).

My niece was only 2 when they had to put her dog down and she is now 6 and still will bring her up and say "Sukie is in Heaven with Nana".. and things like that. Or if she sees a beagle she will call her Sukie.. pretty crazy as she was so young when it happened.

Anyway..no point to this comment really :) I really loved this post.

Anonymous said...

That was beautiful. Life can not be planned. Cheers to Heidi Louise for the great lessons she brought to the Ashleys!

Migraine Mom said...

Oh Ashley...I honestly think that him seeing you sad is normal..at least then he knows that it is okay to grieve. Often we try to shelter our children from lifes hard time and I think in the end we do them a dis-service. I'm sorry you are feeling sad...

Elizabeth in Apex, NC said...

The hardest thing I've ever done was to tell my then-four-year-old son that his darling grandmother (my MIL) had died. It's never easy, but we do the best we can. We are never at our best in emotional extremes, but they exist and every time he broaches the subject of death, of your dear pet, you'll be able to let him see the other aspects of grief. You did good, don't worry!

LceeL said...

Never said better - by anybody I know, anyway.

aj said...

Ashley,
I agree with the others. It's ok for him to see you react that way. It's only natural and like you said you couldn't have been prepared for something like this. I think you handled it very well! Keep up the good work:)

Monogram Momma said...

This is such an impossible thing. When we lost our 12 year old chocolate lab in december, VERY suddenly and unexpected, our boys unfortunately witnessed my uncontrollable grief and outpouring as well. TO me, it has felt every single day like losing a child b/c that's what she was to us. She was like our first child. I totally feel for you, Ashley becuase I cry for my girl every single day. Even yesterday I thought to myself "Would people think I was crazy if I showed up to one of those group grief counseling sessions at a local church???" SOme days I feel like I will never get over it and the boys will say they miss her, but then I just loose it again. Ugh. I just know what you're going through.

QueenMother said...

It has been two years and I STILL miss Magellan so does the lawyer. It is ok for your kid to see you grieve. RIP Heidi.

jenn said...

It's so hard, but in the end I think it's more important that you showed him that it's OK to show your grief rather than to try to script it.

Five months after our beloved cat died, my six year old broke down sobbing at a restaurant. We hadn't even mentioned the cat that day; it was just completely out of the blue. Heartbreaking, but totally part of the process.

Big hugs to all of you.

Kaye said...

Hi,

I am Ab's MIL. Anyway, I am also a middle aged nurse, I think that BK is probably 5-6 so it is perfectly normal for him to really start talking about death---it becomes a real and permanent state in their minds about then. I think your raw emotions were perfectly okay for him to see, he now knows that even big people can be very sad and hurt in times of loss. He will always remember it, but you didn't suppress anything nor expect him to. So...don't beat yourself up!

Buttercup said...

This post made me cry, in that good healthy clean out the eye gutters way that I haven't been able to do lately.

Thanks for sharing. I understand your concern for BK however I believe if you had really messed him up he wouldn't be able to share that he misses her.

Sometimes life hurts so bad we do fall on our knees but you have shown your children that after a little while you pick yourself up and keep going even if it still hurts.

Renee said...

Please earmark this entry to go in the book someday. It's so touching, true, heartfelt, and well written.

-The Renee

Anonymous said...

I just....wow. Well said.

-DimKnit (too lazy to log in to Wordpress)