January 23rd we lost my husband's father tragically & unexpectedly. This is challenging in so many aspects but when you have children the task of explaining the sudden death of someone they love, it's even more challenging. As our children are 11 years apart in age, we had to deliver the news in two separate ways.
For our 13 year old, we were honest about what happened and let him know that his grandpa (or Papa Simon as we called him) loved him very much and will continue to love him. We explained the details of how he died and what it meant to the family. It was a heartbreaking task. Having him collapse into my arms with the almost expected question over and over again "Why? Why? Why?" was almost too much for my heart to take. Luckily we had a different situation with our 3 year old. His level of comprehension being different, we simply explained that Papa Simon lives with the angels and Jesus now. An explanation that flew effortlessly over my little boy's head.
I think that on some level we all believe that when a loved one leaves us that they are still with us. Watching over us. Being our angels. But do we need to see it to believe it?
Then there is the process of healing my husband. It's been a mixed bag of emotions as we deal with his father's death and the impending birth of our third child. He has good days and bad days. As much is to be expected. On one of his harder days he had secretly asked his father to give him a sign if he is still here watching over us. Anything to know he was still close.
A few weeks ago while reading bed time stories, our 3 year old said to my husband that there is a ghost in his room but it's not a monster. 3 year olds have very active imaginations so we shrugged it off. Then a few days later as they were playing play dough at the kitchen table our son announces, "Dad, I live here".
My husband replies, "Yes you do".
"Yeah. This is my house and I live here"
"Yes you do. You live here, and mommy lives here, and brother and me".
Then it came.
"Yep. I live here. You live here. And Papa Simon lives here now".
This simple statement, delivered as if it were nothing, hit my husband like a ton of bricks. He called me at work right away and we wept together. We truly believe that children can see angels because they don't know that they can't. My husband had asked his dad to let him know if he was with us and his father responded. I know he is here. Watching over us and caring for us and our unborn baby. Though my husband and I haven't seen him, we believe. And that is enough to start to fill the hole that his death left in our hearts. Belief is a powerful thing. Whether you see it or feel it.