Many of you have asked how the kids were doing. I’ve been meaning to post about that for a while, too, but have been a slacker.
Halle is just 19 months old so she does a great job walking and babbling and having tantrums. Understanding complex ideas? Not so much. For all I know, she just is having a good time getting to be at Nana and Papa’s for an extended “vacation.” She’s loving it (except for those tantrums I mentioned). I had her home very briefly, but the real test will be when we’re back home for good and seeing if she wanders around looking for Mommy. Expect that day to be soul-crushing if it happens.
As for Brady, I got great advice from folks at a place called Cornerstone of Hope, which was started by a family who lost a young child and now they minister to people who are grieving. I also received some books and pamphlets about toddlers and death. So, I was prepared to explain it all to Brady as plainly as possible (i.e. not using alternative phrases for things like “she passed on”). The night I had originally planned for it was the Thursday immediately after Stephanie was gone, but decided against it because of how the night was going and it said that kids remember how and when they found out and what they were doing. Heart-breakingly, Brady asked me that very night, “Why Mommy no love me long time?” He was afraid that Mommy was at home or the hospital and didn’t want to see him. I reassured him of her love for him and prepared to explain everything Friday morning.
It went well. I reminded him of Mommy’s seizures and explained that it was why she was at the doctor’s and why Brady and Halle were at Nana and Papa’s house. I told him that they had been trying to make her better, but she was too sick and the doctors couldn’t make her feel better and so she died. That was followed by talk of Heaven and how we’ll be with her again someday, but now we can’t see her or talk to her. She won’t be at home, but Daddy and Nana and Papa and other family members and friends would make sure he and Halle were taken care of. I told him that Jesus could pass along messages to Mommy if we want to tell her we miss her and love her. And he’s allowed to feel anything he wants; that even Daddy gets very sad or mad or worried or scared. He did a great job with all of it. We then drew some pictures to put in the casket (which I also explained – “her body will be in a box, but it’s just her body and not Mommy”). He even told my uncle and his second cousin that Mommy is dead now and in Heaven. He seems to get it. He asked to go home that day, which we did, and he just played with his toys while we were there, which I’m told is a healthy sign.
He will occasionally tell me he loves me and then follow it with, “And I love Mommy.” There have been a couple comments from him where I thought he might still not be sure, but when I ask him about it, he actually understands even more than I had thought. He’s a very bright kid and has a great memory, so I’m not surprised by his grasping of things. I’m still angry that they don’t have their mother, but at least they’re doing okay about it.