I Have 3 Children, Even Though You Only See One
Trigger warning: child loss
I am the mom with two dead daughters.
If that sounds harsh, it should. It’s a harsh reality.
Everything I do feels like I’m going “against the grain”…uncomfortable. I’m painfully aware of all the things we’re missing out on — Addie’s first year in school, Viola’s forming laughter and baby rolls. Instead, there is an alter of sorts in our bedroom that allows me to greet their beautiful faces each morning, and wish them sweet dreams every night. Both an act of comfort, and a plea of desperation — please let them hear me.
My days are filled with “why’s” and ‘”what if’s”…I imagine they always will be, as a momma I think that’s natural. I try to let the questions come as they may — separating myself in to the woman I am internally versus the woman I try to be when supporting others with their loss. Continually telling myself that these feelings are valid, but I didn’t do anything to deserve this, that this wasn’t all my fault. The plan is that if I tell this to myself over and over, perhaps I’ll believe it.
They may not be here physically, but they’re still my daughters. Both a huge part of my heart and soul. Nothing — not even death — can diminish the love I have for these girls. I will carry them, just as I do Charlie — with honor and pride, for the rest of my days.
He is the dad with two dead daughters.
If it makes you uncomfortable, that’s okay. He has to live it every day.
I watch him constantly working. Never letting his mind or hands stop. You can tell by the task he chooses as to what kind of day he’s having. The harder days call for things such as chopping firewood or moving ridiculously large rocks. Headphones always in, drowning out his own gnawing thoughts.
Our paths of grief, though winding together, differ greatly. In times like these, he is a man of few words. Can you blame him? What is there to say?
When we do speak, it’s usually what most would consider “small talk.” I don’t mind; we both need a little taste of the “normal” life. He needs shelves in the garage, really needs to open up the culverts out by the road, and wants to show me his sketches for the front and back patio. Are these new plans? No. But, this is the kind of listening he needs from me — and the kind of simple conversation I need from him, so it’s a win-win.
There are no words to describe just how unfair it is that Addie and Viola didn’t get to experience growing up with this man as their Daddy. I watch him with Charlie, always finding ways to mention his sisters to him…keeping our family together, one night-night story at a time.
He is the boy with two dead sisters.
If it hurt reading this, imagine it being your reality.
A three-year-old’s grief can be odd — the way they see things, their “triggers” if you will. One of Charlie’s is wooden chests, or really anything with an opening top — the vanity seat being a big one. The only time he got to see his baby sister was in her casket, so naturally he assumes she stays in nice boxes. No matter the bi-weekly visits to her and Addie at the cemetery, he still takes time to send his love to Viola through the open lids of empty boxes, getting angry any time we try and explain that she’s not in there. We’ve decided to think of these boxes as a sort of string phone, letting him pass messages to her whenever he wants.
He’s told daily how special of a brother he is, and how much his sisters love him. As parents, we worry about how to make sure they are a part of his life, I can only imagine how hard it is to be a boy with two sisters that aren’t here. He may look like an only child, but I can assure you, he’s not.
This is the hardest part, by far. Holding his hand as we try and navigate our newly given family dynamic. There are so many things he doesn’t fully understand, and for that I’m grateful.
We are a family of five.
If that count sounds wrong, it isn’t. You may not be able to see all of us, but we’re here.
Staying hushed isn’t doing us any favors. Trust me, you’re not going to remind us Addie and Viola died — we are cognizant of that every minute of every day.
Almost six years have passed since Addie died, and we’re right at the four month mark for Viola. Has it gotten any easier?
Not at all.
But, we’ve gotten stronger. There aren’t many things in this world that can make or break you quicker than the loss of a child. Twice now we’ve held on, deciding that we weren’t going to let the other fall.
We push hard because our love must reach unimaginable distances. We wake up every day ready to build memories for us all through the eyes of our little boy.
We’re a family, just like you.
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