Thursday, November 8, 2012

a bit on the heavier side

There has been quite a bit of talk of death around the house lately. A hawk terrorized the chickens, two stray dogs broke in, the neighbors cat found the homemade-electrolyte water bowl, all these moments set us up beautifully to start a conversation with my girl about predators and prey. Big animals eat small animals, which in turn eat smaller animals and bugs. The prey must die for this to happen. Since we brought the chickens home to live with us, its our job to keep them safe from predators. (Not really sure how I'm gonna handle the transition from pet to food conversation later in life, with myself or in my mom role, but that's a story for another day.) Nature had set me up with a foundation for introducing a truly difficult subject.

My husband's father passed away last week. When I gently told E "Daddy's Daddy died today," she was a little taken aback, disgruntled, and clingy. She spent the night in our bed, needed to know everyone really was where they were supposed to be, and basically checked in with me constantly. Last night I shared with her the passing of an old friend of mine soon after I learned of it. I showed her a picture of him, since she has never met him, snuggled with his young daughter on his sick bed. She immediately needed to hug her daddy. Again, she spent the night in our bed, calling out occasionally but peacefully drifting back to sleep as soon as she heard our voices or felt our bodies.

True, it may have been less 'traumatic' if I had just not told her about death visiting 2000 miles away. I could not have shared with her the jolt of death, even when expected, that I was experiencing. However, I firmly believe that children deserve to know what's going on in world around them in clear terms. They sense when things are happening or if something is bothering mommy. If I hide events from her I foster mistrust later in life, I teach her to hide her pain. If I cant share with her my emotions now, in plain simple language, how can I expect her to share with me as she gets older and her issues become more complex? As a parent, I am a model of how to behave, of how to interpret the events around me, how to live peacefully yet meaningfully in the world. I shared the voting experience, let her cast my ballot and stay up to watch them count some of votes, explaining that while boring, it was a very important day. If this deserves special recognition, how much more special should be sharing the memory, ending and all, of loved ones with my child!

She barely knew her grandpa. I believe she saw him 3 or 4 times in her 2 1/2 years, due to the miles that separated us while my husband finished school. The moments she had with him were small, but beautiful. The photos are precious. I know she understands what has happened. I wish I could take her to the funeral, to let her partake in the beautiful ceremony of honoring a loved one's passing from this life to the next, but alas our finances don't allow for it.*

My friend Ryan she never met. Seeing the photo of his sweet daughter unwilling to leave his side impacted my little girl in ways I may never comprehend. I am hoping that fostering her awareness of the fragility of life encourages her to be a compassionate risk taker who lives life to the fullest, blesses everyone who knows her, and has no regrets at the end of the day (just like my friend Ryan).

Grandpa Dave died of complications due to a long battle with hepatitis C, resulting in liver failure, among other things. He lived a life full of music, laughter and grandchildren. He died happy and peacefully at home with his loving daughter by his side. I am proud to be apart of his family and thankful that he blessed the world with five wonderful children (especially my husband) and five smart, funky grandchildren.

photo credit unknown

 Ryan died in hospice care after a strong fight against cancer. He lived as an example of love, one who never met a stranger, joked about everything, and brought a community together. He is survived by two young children, his ever-faithful caring wife, and an extended family I am truly blessed to have known my entire life. It would be a disservice to Ryan not to mention his faith and devotion to a Christian God that mainstream America has nearly forgotten and mislabeled. His faith tradition and mine have distanced over the years, details I will leave out for the time being, but I sincerely wish the entire world could have known him. He would have changed their perspective of life.**

I know this has been a bit dark and sad for a homestead blog. My apologies if I have spread a cloud over your day. My hope is that you leave here and examine you life a little today. Is it what you want it to be? Are you living to your full potential? Are you leaving things undone? Go. Hug your loved ones. Live in the present. Do not waste a moment!

* My husband will be able to attend his father's memorial service due to the generous love of family.
** If you would like to read more about Ryan and his battle with cancer please visit his blog at
If you would like to help Ryan's young family by making a donation, please visit

1 comment:

  1. On the contrary, I did not find this a downer post. I appreciate your honoring those who have past, your involvement of your daughter in the process, and acceptance of what events life brings to your attention. Thank you for sharing your story.