We were packing up our bags to go up to the mountains this morning, and Thea decided to “help” by grabbing a few things and putting them in her backpack. What were they? A pair of socks, a magic wand, a book on mermaids, a set of coasters and a framed picture of me and my dad that I keep on my dresser. When she asked if it was ok, I felt such a warmth fill my heart and knew I was doing the job I had hoped I was doing in keeping my dad’s memory alive.
Know that I am with you the only way that I can be, until you’re in my arms again- remember me.Coco
For those of you that don’t know me, my dad passed about 5 years ago, before his super awesome granddaughter was born. When I got pregnant I knew that I wanted to do everything I could to not only keep his memory alive, but also to create a special relationship with my daughter. I had no idea what I was doing and really didn’t know how to make it happen, so I kind of just followed my heart.
I did all of the things that seemed appropriate; she has a picture of him over her bed, and her middle name is Hansley, which we created out of his name, which was Hans. All of her monthly baby pictures were taken next to a bear that was made out of one of his old shirts, and I have a book full of pictures of him on our coffee table next to all of our other photo books. Can you tell we had a really close relationship?
I wanted her to feel comfortable with the sight of him, and use these things to trigger questions and conversations as she got older. I wanted her to know all about his crazy sense of humor and what a genuinely good person he was. Most of all, I wanted her to feel like she could have a conversation with him, whenever she missed him or was feeling sad. How does one create a relationship between two people that have never even met?
The conversation began when she accidentally let her balloon go in the Costco parking lot when she was two. I told her “wow, I bet Papa is going to be SO excited to get that when it gets to heaven!” And it all started. We were able to talk about how he lived up there, and even though she can’t hear him answer, he’s always listening and there whenever she needs him. Her own guardian angel, how amazing and special is that? We just kept it simple, and it was exactly what needed to happen. As parents, let’s not be afraid of upsetting our children with talking about people passing on. Does she fully understand what happened? No, and honestly that is probably for the best. She will one day, but by then her special relationship with her Papa up in heaven will be strong enough, and the only thing she knows, so she won’t view it as a loss. It will just be how it has always been for her.
People that were special to us and a huge part of our lives that are no longer with us deserve to be remembered. Watching Coco every time is such a reinforcement of that for me. I’m going to be honest, I wish our family could pull off an ofrenda, because what a special day would that be to put all these things out and talk about everyone no longer with us! I’ve always been so jealous of such an amazing tradition!
“Our memories, they have to be passed down by those who knew us in life – in the stories they tell about us.”Coco
So when she does things like see a bird and asks if it’s going to visit Papa, or falls asleep holding his picture, I know that I’m doing the right thing by encouraging such a special relationship and keeping my dad’s light alive. And who knows, maybe one day she will be able to share all the stories we’ve talked about with her own kids!