It’s been eight years since we said goodbye to our Elise. I still get anxious as June comes to an end. I get urpy when the starry bunting goes up for sale. I still feel wistful when we watch the fireworks in uncomfortable lawn chairs. It still feels like someone’s missing.
I still try to make her extra short life meaningful and happy. I’ve smocked some dresses for other little girls who’ve gone to Heaven before their first breath. I try to do it every year, but once my little brood on Earth doubled, I had a hard time finishing. I started one dress three years ago (!) that I’m determined to finish this summer.
But my grief has changed. I’d like to think it’s “aged.” Like wine. Sweeter.
All because of these little people around me.
When they see a little girl in a picture book, my oldest explains to his brother, “That’s Elise!”
When he asks about Heaven, he imagines that her house “smells like grapes.”
When they look at my baby charm bracelet, they ask about each charm — the ones for themselves and for their siblings in Heaven. I explain that they for sure had an older brother in Heaven.
“What’s his name?” my oldest wonders.
“Well, we didn’t name him, honey, because we didn’t get to know him enough. What do you think his name is?”
He thinks. For a long, long time. “Sonic. Yes, Sonic!”
Awhile back I told them that when they find a penny on the ground, that’s Elise saying “hello!” This helps them and me. They feel connected to their sister and it helps me remember. And it saves me from having to lean over to pick up any change we find.
On a recent and long car ride, my oldest pensively decided, “Mommy? I think that Papa and Sonic are sending me pennies from Heaven too.”
He is planning a party for Elise’s birthday. “She’s never seen a train movie. So I think it should be trains. . . . and red. She needs a red cake!”
Celebrating is so easy for him. So joyful. I think, thanks to these little ones, my grief is growing up to be more like theirs. It’s maturing to be more like a child’s.
A foretaste of Heaven, if you ask me.
Cross-posted on Mothering by Grace