My younger daughter was born after the death of her daddy Chris. During the worst of my grief she was too young to comprehend what was going on. She lived it with me and I believe she felt my emotions; that remains very different than understanding it.
A while back I had one of my wisters (widow+sister), Bea, over to my home to meet the new baby. We sat and talked. She hadn't realized I lost my dad and my husband so close together. Very naturally, the story of our heartbreak flowed from my lips. I spoke of it in greater detail than I usually do. I knew it was a safe space to do so.
My seven-year-old was in the room as Bea and I talked. She was playing a game on the iPad and it didn't occur to me that she might be listening. I got to the part of the story where I found out Chris had died and the fact that I broke the news to our families. Sweet Aurora came over to me with tears in her eyes and hugged me tight. "I'm so sorry that happened to you, Mommy," she said. I hugged her back with equal pressure.
"I love you, too," I replied. Then I continued, "You know what? Even though you were just a tiny, tiny, baby in my belly when Daddy Chris died, you helped me that day."
"I did?" she asked.
"Yes, you did. When Grandma and I were driving back home the morning after Daddy died, I felt you kick-kick-kicking away right under my seatbelt. It was like you were telling me 'Everything is going to be okay,' and that helped me have hope."
Again Aurora squeezed me in her arms, curly head on my shoulder. She went back to her game, her tears all gone.
This was a new experience for us both. I think it was the first time it truly clicked for Aurora how hard it was for me. Did I want my sweet girl to have to hurt for me? Of course not. (Obviously I never would have chosen any of this tragedy to fall upon us, yet it did). I can be thankful that my daughter has the capacity for empathy. I appreciate that she desires to show compassion on those who are in pain. I can thank God that she is not bitter over what might have been.
My daughters have not been given an easy lot in life. The Lord has continued to be gracious, though. They are extraordinary girls and I am so blessed to be their mom.