"There's no man in our family," Audrey says to me tonight as she's laying in bed about to fall asleep. "You mean like Appa?" I ask. "Yeah." "What made you think of that?" "I don't know- I just thought of it..."
I have to admit, I was a tiny bit grateful that Audrey, though I knew she was grieving in her own way and would re-grieve as she grew, was not old enough to really process what your death meant at the time. But now...day by day- it's like watching some horrible secret come to light in her mind and heart...and it's quite painful to be the sole spectator to these quiet moments of gross revelation. When will the day come when I'll have to explain to her that the "special hill" we visit is where your body is buried? How will that happen, I often wonder.
It's usually at night when she regresses and starts to speak of you. The other night, she came into the kitchen where I was when she was supposed to be trying to sleep. She said she wanted to chat, and got up in her chair at the table. "Remember that dream I had about appa?" This was almost a year ago. "Yeah..." Then she retells the whole dream- how she was so excited to see him and went to get her book and then..."he disappeared..." she trails off looking as if she's about to cry. Besides that one night when she woke me screaming and crying out for you, that is the strange thing about a toddler's grief process. I have never seen her cry for you besides that night- though I know the pain is there and here it surfaces.
The past week or so has been emotionally charged as well as stressful.
Audrey had her preschool "graduation" on Wednesday. I've been house hunting and finally took a big step and put a bid on a home that I thought would suit us, which it appears is now ours. I don't have the mental or emotional energy at this point to try to articulate the emotions behind this move and behind this life change, or behind watching our daughter finish her very first year of school by myself except to say-
Oh how I wish you could've been there.
And another first...a Father's Day craft at school. I didn't see this one coming since school finished well before the "holiday," but her teacher has foresight and had the children bring home the craft on the last day as a part of the bucket of goodies, with helium star balloon attached, that she'd prepared for them. She looked at my dad who was at the little ceremony and said there was something special in there for him- but I wasn't sure if she was looking at him or me...so I was interested to see what was in the bucket. It was a bank made for grandpa and a card with Audrey's words to her grandpa written in quotes by the teacher. Cliches are to be avoided at all costs, they teach you in writing classes- but there is no better way to say it than that it was like a punch in the stomach or gut when I took those things out. "Were the other kids making these for their dads?" I ask her. "Yes."
So, this is how it will be.