It had been almost six months since our daughter Kendall died, at the age of nine, of an inoperable brain tumor. Though I could not dare to pretend that life was going smoothly, we pulled together and tried to get on with living--for Kendall's sake.
--- Copright © 2002 Loretta Bjorvik
I kept telling myself that Kendall knows that I love(d) her and that the important thing now, is to make sure that the two here, at home, know that I love them; for me not to dwell so much on a child who, currently, is celebrating in the presence of God... but to focus on the time at hand-- with Joshua and Celeste!
Recently, I had became aware that my youngest, Celeste, was modeling herself after a Jester to urge Paul and I out of our fleeting times of sadness. It was not her job to keep us smiling and I didn't want her to take on the role of "caregiver and keeper of her
parent's hearts." She knew that there was a particular smile that she could flash at us, that pushed our emotions to the side and caused us to explode in an unbridled laugh.
Now, this was a welcome change at most times, but there also needs to be a time of tears to cleanse. Rest assured, Paul and I weren't going through our home in a depression. Just moments of sadness might overtake us, when it wasn't easy to retreat into the bedroom, or save it for the shower. These times were pretty few and far between, but to a six-year-old child it must be painful to see your parents grieving anyway.
Celeste came over to me as I sat pondering a memory; apparent sadness and loss must've been poised across my face. "Mommy?" she voiced. As I looked up to answer her, she flashed that cheesy grin that usually precedes a spontaneous "crack-up". And true to form, it did.
I wanted her to know that it wasn't her job to "keep us smiling," and I asked her to sit on my lap. "Celeste," I wanted to protect her heart so I guarded my words carefully, "Mommy likes it when you make her laugh, and you have a special way of doing that, too."
Celeste smiled with approval. "You know that we all miss Kendall," I continued, "and sometimes when we think of her... we will be happy, and sometimes when we think of her it will make us sad that she isn't here with us." I paused to read her expression. "Sometimes when we're sad we might cry."
Celeste was gazing at me steadily and mirroring my facial gestures in an effort to empathize. "The thing is, Celeste, that I know it makes you feel sad to see Mommy or Daddy sad and you want to make us smile, but there is a reason for the tears."
She was nodding her head to show her dislike for our tears.
"You know when you fall down and scrape your knee?" I was receiving an example from God. "Yes..." Celeste's eyes were large and intense. "What do we have to do before we put the band-aid on?" "Wash it." She was confident in her answer. "That's right. When Mommy and Daddy cry, it is like God washing our hearts so that he can put His bandage on us and help us to heal."
Was this really me talking?
Celeste was thinking this over. "So even though you may not like to see us crying, sometimes we need to because it is actually helping us to heal. So even though I love to see your beautiful smile, please don't be upset when you see us having a short
moment of tears. Just know that God is helping us to wash our hearts, so that He can heal them."
We concluded our talk with a tight hug and tickle and Celeste bounded down the stairs to resume her play.
"Thank you, God," I prayed, "for not only helping me to explain to Celeste, but for explaining it to me."