It’s funny how kids seem to be able to sense your mood and react to it. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about daddy from my youngest this week, he is obviously at the forefront of her mind and she has been talking a lot about her birthday (just six days before he died) and how her dad featured in it.
This seems to have coincided with an almighty low week for me, where the excitement of the past few weeks and all their distractions has gone, and I’m feeling pretty hard hit by it all. Florence is still only two, so she’s just learning to express herself but the meaning is definitely there. She has been telling me daily:
‘My daddy was at my party. My daddy gave me presents. He had candles.’
Now I love that she’s talking about it, and thinking of her dad, but it makes me so sad at the same time. No child should have to be told their daddy isn’t there for them anymore, but to have to keep telling them just seems too cruel. It’s almost as if she’s memorised my response now, as she repeats back to me:
‘He very poorly, he went hospice, he died. My daddy died.’ While I’m wiping away the tears she comes out with her new lines, which are the sweetest ever:
‘My daddy loves me. My daddy is my best friend’.
How adorable is that? Now the best friend theme is ongoing as I am also her best friend, as is her brother sometimes, but she knows it means you like someone a hell of a lot and that’s good enough for me.
My son, being that bit older, has much more measured thoughts about what will happen now his father has gone. These are some of the gems he has come out with these past few months. These questions usually come out of nowhere, while we’re in the car, eating dinner or getting ready for bed.
They go from general musings like: ‘If dad gets chocolate from Father Christmas, can I have it?’ Me: ‘Well, I don’t think somehow he will be getting anything from Father Christmas this year love…’
To incidents while we are out, such as this one when someone saw Sam try to set up a giant game of chess in a play area. Lady to Sam: ‘Do you know how to play chess?’ Sam: ‘Oh yes, I do because my dad taught me before he died!’ Oh. Awkward.
Last week he started singing the song from the Lego Movie, with his own additions. It went like this: ‘Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when we’re part of a team… Oh yeah, but one of the team’s dead. *Shrugs* What? Dad’s dead, and he’s part of our team, so…’
Also, I’ve struggled to read Julia Donaldson’s Stick Man, a favourite of both of theirs, as the ending shows their lost stick dad return to the family tree for Christmas. Sam has even looked at the picture on the last page and said: ‘Look at that, if we had another baby and daddy came back, that would be like our family wouldn’t it?’
These shake even me but the ones which make me the most upset are the times when he wants to know more about what physically happened to Roger. In the weeks after he passed away in July, he asked questions like these.
‘What was Daddy’s last word? What was the last letter of his last word?
‘What did he look like?
‘Why couldn’t the doctors cure him?’
The last question is the one we’d all like to know the answer to, and it’s tough when you’re little and you believe doctors have all the answers and are there to make poorly people better. Sometimes they don’t, they can’t, and the realisation of this can be a bitter pill for kids to swallow. It leads to anxieties like what will happen to them if they get poorly, or to other people they love? It’s part of growing up but sometimes I just feel like they’re being forced to grow up much too fast.