Learning To Trust

July 27, 2016

There is nothing like that feeling I get when my children speak of their sisters.  We can be out running errands or just meeting someone new.  My heart does a double take and I find myself holding my breath, watching for the telltale signs.  Today, it went something like this as my three boys were in a waiting room and I came out of a doctor’s office with my daughter.

Random Mother sitting waiting room: “Your three boys are so delightful!”

Me:  “Thank you!”

Mother:  “The little one is so friendly”

Me:  “Yes, he is a social butterfly”

Mother, as she sees my daughter peeking out behind my legs:  “Wow, so you have four!”  And I can see the wheels moving in her head with the next line she delivers:  “So, you have your hand full!”

Now at this point in any exchange, I tense up because first of all the number of children is mentioned and secondly, my children are listening to this and have a compulsion to correct this woman.

Son #1:  “Oh no, we have 6 children in our family.  One died when it was a speck ~ her name is Alice.  One died when she was born ~ her name is Amelia.”

Son #2: “Yep, we have three boys and three girls, but two are in heaven right now, so M is the only living girl in our family.”

Mother, politely smiling and briefly making eye contact with me as she stumbles to find the words. “Really?!”

And at this point in most exchanges, I start to get defensive because I can hear the judgmental in most peoples voices.  They are usually thinking that these children are either making up a story OR they know WAY TOO much about life and death.  The look of pity sets in and then I have to find a quick exit . . . which goes like this.

Me:  “Um, yes, it is true.  Have a nice day.  Come on kids . . . time to go.”

I wish I could master the polite silence in a room when this happens, but for the life of me I am driven to speak up.  There is no amount of chit-chat that will make this situation with a stranger easier, but I also sometimes yearn for the grace to just smile and say nothing.  To learn to trust the moment for what it is, my children’s moment and not mine.

The funny thing about having living children before experiencing a loss {at least for me} is that there are just too many personalities to heard and reel in.  Each of my children are very different and have a unique way of self expression.  So, when they get started ~ stand BACK, because they will TELL you all about everything.

It doesn’t matter, because for them, the subject is not an uncomfortable one.  I began to realize that my children never saw the reactions that I did.  They only saw the opportunity to share their sisters ~ people they love ~ with someone else.

It is in my nature to protect my children and the memories of the ones who are not here.  But what I failed to see was this ~ my children were protecting their memories as well.  If a memory is kept secret, it fades.  If a memory is spoken aloud, it comes alive again.  So, my children keep their sisters alive in the ways that come most naturally for them . . . they talk about them {even with perfect strangers}.

They have the simplicity of childhood to buffer them from the cruelty of a harsh or horrified look.  After I recognized that, it didn’t matter what the receiver of this information did, I had to learn to let my children take the lead.  Even when someone has been so brazen as to try and correct my children or imply that they are somehow ‘making things up’ they are bold and confidently stand their ground against any adult.

It still gives me pause to see them so confidently share their story with others when I cannot. Their faith is childlike and they are teaching me to trust again.

Now that is beautiful.

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    Stephanie Dyer, a mother of five children with four who walk on earth and one who soars, spends her days homeschooling and her nights painting. She has used her years of training and counseling as a LMSW-ACP to help her children deal with the loss of their sister. A self-taught artist, Stephanie currently owns and operates Beyond Words Designs, the company through which she publishes her artistry and runs the Donate Art project, a charity begun in honor of her daughter Amelia.

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