Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dinner conversation

I had a couple of rougher-than-usual grief days this week. One night Cooper and I were talking, and I told him that I was having a "tough Daddy day."

"Oh, Mommy, we all have those," he said as he patted my hand. "I have more than anyone."

Cooper has been a little quieter this week. We're getting him ready for a weekend camp for children who have had a death in the family during the past year. Sunday is the family meeting day, when all the kids who were accepted plus their family members get together to go over plans and rules.

Tonight at dinner he said, "I'm feeling dull." (Big sigh.) "You know, I've lived in this house for eight years. And it feels blank without Daddy."

I nodded in agreement.

"And I'll bet I'll be the only fourth-grader whose daddy has died," he went on, referring to the upcoming school year.

I told him he was probably right.

Katie, ever the optimist, added, "One day you'll be a daddy, Cooper!"

That didn't cheer him.

"My babies won't even have a grandpa," he said.

I gently reminded him that his wife would probably have a living daddy, and that he would be the grandpa.

"But I understand why that makes you sad," I told him. "Let's think of the kinds of things we can one day tell your babies about their grandpa in heaven."

With that, we started telling Steve stories. We recalled how he liked to wrestle with Cooper, read to both of them, go to the park, take Margie on walks, go to the Double Dip for frozen custard.

We remembered the nights that Steve would be in charge of searching for Cooper's or Katie's special blankets. When he found Cooper's B, he would hide it under his shirt, with just a little yellow corner peeking out. He would walk into Cooper's room, feigning dismay over the lost blanket and exaggerating his protruding belly. Then Cooper would notice the hint of yellow and tug at it until B was free.

With Katie's B, he would often cover his head, put his arms out in front of him and pretend to be a ghost or a mummy. Katie would always giggle as she pulled B off his head.

We talked about Steve's excellent, realistic animal noises -- and how when Cooper was little he insisted on knowing what a walrus said. Steve and I finally developed an answer: brup, brup, brup.

I reminded them about "races" after church. Steve would often drive to church ahead of us for early choir duty. When services were over, we'd leave in two cars. Steve would drive Cooper, and we'd compete to see who made it home first. Steve would always win (even if that meant I had to drive around the block a time or two).

I asked Cooper how Daddy made him feel. "Like the very best," he said.

Then Katie hugged the air above her, her way of giving Steve a hug. Cooper did the same and added some air kisses.

I gave Cooper a big hug and thanked him for telling me how he feels and reminded him that it's OK to feel sad and that it's good to talk about it.


Heather Lynn said...

Hi! You don't know me, yet. ;) But I found your blog on facebook through Kelly Starnes. I am a mom from Bledsoe. I just wanted you to know that your family is in my prayers and your kiddos are adorable. Also I LOVED your family photos! SO SWEET!!!

Anonymous said...

thank you.. for always being so open.. and honest.. for sharing with us your triumphs and trials... for letting us see the grace you cling to daily.. and how you bring steve into the present using words of wisdom and wit he used in the past... for allowing your children to grieve... but not wallow in the sadness.. but rejoice in the love and life steve so brilliantly clung to...
you are simply amazing... you have run this race of life.. and encountered the hurdles with the beauty. Praise be the Lord.