The thing is that life and death go hand in hand. My parents come up a lot with my children. Last week as we were driving my 4 year old son asked me out of the blue, “Where is my grandfather?” It was not in our usual “grandma-papa-yaya” language. He was asking me where my dad is, and I told him the truth. That his grandfather died before he was born. That his grandfather would have had loved to know his grandson! His grandfather was funny and handsome and loved to play! And I fight angry, disappointed tears because he should be here. My son deserved that.
Each of my children at different phases of their development have noticed that their dad has two parents, but their mom does not. They themselves have two parents, but their mom does not. Their friends now have one parent, but they used to have two. Children notice, and why not? It is plain to see. It is fact. I suppose this is the life part. We live on. We live in the wake of decisions people make. We must explain, plainly in language that children can understand, that death comes when it comes. That Mama had a daddy but he is gone now. He has gone ahead.
Our minds often travel to our late friend Alexis. We cannot hide from his loss even though it has been more than a year. A year is not a long time. I used to think it was but now I know. I nearly rolled my eyes at myself for still feeling the loss of my own dad even though it has been nine years since his death and nearly 13 since he was a part of my life. But I stopped. It is ok. Death close up alters your perspective. It is real and large and I hate the word “traumatize” but it shakes you up in a way that cannot ever be fully reordered. It cannot go back to the way it was. You heal, time is kind that way. You can get back on your feet. You can love again. But it is not restoration. It is management.