Home > Death, Love, Parenting > A light for Eva

A light for Eva

I talked
about death
with my son, Li’l D,
two years ago.

Two months ago,
he overheard me talking
quietly with his dad
about a mom who
lost her kids and
asked, with
trembling voice,
“Did the baby
die?”

I opened my mouth
to speak, but I had
no idea how
on earth
to answer.

My husband
squeezed
my knee.
“Tell him,”
he encouraged.

I did,
with breaking
voice.

(My husband and I
try not to info-dump
on our sweet six-year-old,
but we also try to answer
honestly the questions
he does ask.)

Tonight,
I asked Li’l D
if he would mind
taking a picture
for me.

We talked about
why.

Because
we’d already
talked about
kids dying,
I answered
without
pause.

I explained
that a friend’s
daughter, Eva, died
a year ago today, and that
I would like to light
a candle to show
that she still
shines
for me.

I showed him
pictures of Eva,
and answered his questions.

“What’s that thing
on her eye?”
he asked.

“Different people are born
different ways, and she
was born with that.
That’s all.”

And then,
finally, after many
more questions, “But how
could a baby die?”

I could barely
say a word before
he shook his head,
vehemently, and said,
“Too sad, too sad!”
before scampering
away.

“I understand,”
I said aloud, before
mumbling that I feel
it is so important
to remember,
aloud; to show
for those who
feel the loss
ever present
that I
still see
their love’s
distinct
light
shining
from
afar.

A year ago,
I promised to
remember the
light in Eva’s
sweet smile.

Today
I do,
I do,
and
I will
tomorrow,
and next year
and the year after,

lighting a candle
in recognition
of Eva’s sweet,
sweet light
I still
will
feel.

d candle

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  1. February 25, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring.

  2. February 25, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    You keep her light shining mama. Perfect way help your son understand the importance of remembrance, and keeping your word. If you’d like, (and if I can figure it out,) I can re-post or link or whatever it is on my page, but only if you want me too. It’s the very least I can do in this world that is without a soul that obviously touched your lives, hearts.

    • February 26, 2016 at 3:27 am

      Thank you so much for the kind thought. From Tessa’s one-year post, many people shared with her their lights for Eva. If you felt moved to share one, too, that’d be lovely. (Next year, I’ll probably email a picture direct versus posting, but this year … a post felt right.)

      Here’s Tessa’s request from her post 2/24: “Think of Eva tomorrow. Light a candle for her and send her a goodnight kiss. She would have loved that.”

  3. N.
    February 25, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Death and sickness in our little ones… there is nothing more heartbreaking in this world.. hugs to you and yours

    • February 26, 2016 at 3:37 am

      😦 After posting this, I walked into Littler’s room and found his face double-wrapped in his blanket. In light of what I’d just been writing, I panicked … before removing the blanket entirely, and then changing my mind and re-tucking him.

      Tessa is a WordPress friend. I almost included the word “blogging” before “friend” in the post, but leaned away from it–in light of my recent “The Postman” post–after reading the text of and comments on my Instagram post from the morning I learned Eva had died:

      I have been sad about [J’s] impending last day at his school (tomorrow). This morning I really can’t be bothered. He is still with me. A blogger I’ve followed since well before her baby was born began her night with a coughing baby; she ended her night with an ambulance ride where her little girl could not be saved. I cried much of the drive to work, and felt ridiculous doing so. I never touched her in person. I never once have hugged her mom. But I have held them in my heart and, indeed, many of my physical world friends began by our hearts connecting over the internet: […]. This morning my heart breaks for a friend I’ve never hugged, holding close the signs of love and life enduring around me. Love you all.

  4. February 25, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Sad, too sad, as your little one says 😦

    • February 26, 2016 at 3:38 am

      I loved the honesty of his response. As adults, I think we try to find words, reasons, and explanations, but those two words really did say it all.

  5. February 26, 2016 at 5:42 am

    Wow. Great post! I hate talking about death with children so small because you don’t want to scare them. I like the way you did it though. You gave him something good to see instead of just the death.

    • March 3, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Thank you! I knew we would end up talking about death someday, and I thought I was kinda prepared … but the moment Li’l D asked me out of the blue one day if I was going to die, I knew I was not prepared at all. He was only four at the time, so I kept my responses to very short answers to his questions. (I wrote more on this in a post called “Li’l D’s letter to God.”)

      He was really sad about death on and off for a couple of days, but the love that we shared through our discussion and the insight that I gained into his heart was worth the ache of acknowledging his questions and sharing what little wisdom I’ve accumulated in relation to them.

      I felt my mom with me in the discussion, as I hope he will someday feel me with him in like discussions.

  6. February 26, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Your little one is wise beyond his years.
    This is too sad, indeed.

    I am a candle lighter too. ❤
    Eva is such a beautiful name. May she rest in peace.

    • March 3, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Thank you. ♡

      He really is. I sometimes see statements about how we should respect our elders and picture Li’l D, thinking with a headshake, “No, thanks. I’ll respect wisdom, not age alone. There are so many foolish old people, and so many wise young ones!” The fact that wisdom is sprinkled between play and flights of fantasy is irrelevant (or maybe even positively correlated to wisdom?) to me. 🙂

  7. February 26, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    And as I wipe tears from my eyes from reading this amazingly open post, I am reminded that friendships take all sorts of forms. We may never meet some of our online friends but the connection (no pun intended) is still there. The feeling are real. I am in awe of the way you are able to approach subjects that we as adults often find so difficult, with your child.

    • March 3, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words. ♡

      So many times, when I have conversations like this with my son, I wish I could go back in time and tell my mom how great she did when she modeled these conversations by having them with me … and in general. I can’t go back, of course, so I try to say thank you by going forward with her in my heart as I do things of which I think she would’ve been proud.

  8. February 26, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Lil’D is absolutely right, it is just too sad.
    Thank you for sharing Eva with your family, and for remembering her. It means so much to me. xxx

  9. February 27, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Lighting a candle is so comforting for everyone involved. Well done with answering the questions. It’s a hard one.

    • March 3, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      Thanks, Elyse. I’m not excited about going through these questions with another tiny human, but … I surely hope they will remember the way I listened and answered, and take heart.

      Rache and I exchanged some texts around this earlier. We agreed that no matter how individual parenting questions are answered, the thing that’s really important is the love with which those decisions are offered. It’s so easy to feel the weight of each individual decision, but parenthood is more than the sum of those decisions. It’s the love woven throughout that wins. (Would that all kids knew such love!)

      • March 3, 2016 at 6:09 pm

        Those are life- long questions. We have to ask them and answer them many times throughout life. Because we really don’t have the answers to them!

  10. February 29, 2016 at 3:56 am

    This, it is beautifully done and spirit lifting. You are a light. ❤

  11. February 29, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    Very poignant.

  12. March 2, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    It is so healthy for our Children to learn about loss, but at ages that are appropriate, I lost my second son at two and a half months. His older brother was just 2. I chose not to have my son attend the services, my first memories were at 2 and they were not positive. I don’t regret my decision, my oldest son still knows of his brother, and my two later sons who never knew him know of him as well. He is carried forever in all of our hearts even 21 years later. Eva if you haven’t seen another angel named, Grant, call his name and he will play with you. ❤

    • March 2, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      I agree about children’s readiness for dealing with death. So sorry for the loss of your son Grant. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your story.

      • March 3, 2016 at 7:31 am

        I don’t actually understand your comment. Kids shouldn’t be told about death, though they have already witnessed signs of it regardless of its address in conversation? Until a certain age? Until –? There is so much I find troubling in rules that are intended to encompass whole groups of people–even kids–as identical and requiring identical guidance, as re: and as apart from death.

        • March 3, 2016 at 11:00 am

          You make some very good points. My only concern is telling them more than they need to know before they are ready to handle it. I am sorry if I did not state this very well. Each situation is different depending on the circumstances, the age of the child, the culture…so it is not wise to set steadfast rules. Thank you for sharing.

          • March 3, 2016 at 5:45 pm

            Thank you for your thoughtful reply. When I posted my earlier comment, I debated between “post now with only two minutes to do so” and “waiting and providing a more nuanced reply.” I never feel after the fact that the former was the better choice, but I keep making the choice anyway. D’oh!

            I let D’s questions guide me before. I have no idea how any of this will play out with Littler, save that I will bw guided by his questions and answer with deference to who he is and where he’s at. My heart already aches a little at the thought, but I am somewhat heartened to know we will grow together for it. It’s impossible to envision, though, because J is already such a different person than his brother.

            Plenty to keep me on my toes!

            Thank you again.

          • March 3, 2016 at 8:43 pm

            My heart goes out to you.

        • March 3, 2016 at 7:58 pm

          I just wanted to say that I am so sorry for your loss. I can not even begin to imagine your pain. I admire your strength and courage.

    • March 3, 2016 at 7:28 am

      First off, I am sorry for your loss. I know it is something that does not diminish simply because time has passed.

      I believe all ages are appropriate for discussing death, and this is a belief supported by extensive reading on the matter as well as personal experience.

      My mom discussed anything and everything with me, even if it was sad or nearly impossible to comprehend. From her openness to cast out a line and respond to whatever came back I learned that I was worth conversing with, worth teaching, worth listening to, and trusted to comprehend and grow from my new comprehension. I do not think it was an accident that my siblings and I have so long and frequently been called compassionate. It is a direct result of my mom’s trusting her guiding intuition, and also trusting her kids to see and take in the world as it actually is … not as we wish it, or wish others could/would see it.

      A discussion with a 3yo will surely differ from one with a 13yo, for a variety of reasons which include the fact it should be guided by kids’ questions. A 3yo’s questions will greatly differ from a 13yo’s.

      I disagree with categorically refusing to address certain things with kids. Kids take from our silences not comfort, but very different, disempowering lessons than the ones we intend.

  1. February 26, 2016 at 2:32 pm

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