Your letter for December (which would have been my second effort) was due the day after your grandpa died. Since it was so late at night when everything happened, we decided not to wake you up, knowing that you’d be in no shape to talk to grandpa or to really understand what was going on. We also decided to wait to tell you until that night when your dad got home from work. I didn’t want to tell you and then drop you off at school. There just wouldn’t have been time for you to digest the news.
So that evening, we called you into the bedroom where I’d been taking a nap. We told you that something happened the night before and that grandpa had gotten very sick and died. You put your head down on the pillow next to me and cried. And cried. Your dad and I were actually a bit surprised by how intense your emotion was. All that night and the next day, you cried on and off (like I wanted to, but couldn’t).
When we arrived in Regina you were very excited to see your cousins, but we took you to the funeral home first to view grandpa’s body. I could tell you were anxious and nervous by how wound up you were. When it came time to see grandpa, you didn’t really understand why he was “in a box” or why he didn’t have his own pillow. He also looked different, but not nearly enough for you to not recognize him.
So you got to say goodbye.
Even though you had to chance to see grandpa and say your goodbyes, almost nightly you mention the fact that you didn’t get to talk to him before he died. Your dad and I thought we were making the right decision in not waking you, but you’ve certainly made me question that choice. I worry that someday you’ll find yourself lying in a therapists chair and discover that all of your issues can be traced back to not being able to say goodbye to your grandpa the night he died!
But at the same time, I can’t imagine how hard it would’ve been for him to say goodbye to you. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to know you were dying and have to say goodbye to everyone you love, especially to your little grandson.
He loved you so much, Liam. You were his special little guy. And I won’t let you forget.
In the last two months, you’ve asked us –and often stumped us- with questions about life and death and heaven and God. It’s neat and amazing (and a little scary) to see how your young mind works. I’ve also marveled at how big your young heart is. Your grief is pure and so innocent, but so real and deep. It breaks my heart to see you hurt. Although your dad and I often wonder if you talk about grandpa almost every night because that’s when you’re calm enough and when you have our undivided attention… or if it’s just a ploy to extend your bedtime. Likely it’s a combination of both.
There's so much that I want to say to and about you, Liam. You really are such a neat kid. People love you everywhere you go. People at church have nothing but wonderful things to say about you. Kids at school rush to your side when you show up. Simon wants to BE you! You're a great brother and a loving son. You dote on Andrew and have gone from merely tolerating Simon's invasive methods of play to actually playing with him much of the time now. It's so fun to watch you to (when you're playing nicely). You've begun to take on more responsibility in our family and so far have really thrown yourself into it. (more on all that next month since this is already far too long)
So to end I'll leave you with this picture I took this afternoon... pretty typical of where you'd be happy to spend the majority of your waking hours if we'd let you.
Also, here's a little slideshow of why there are more pictures of Simon on this blog than there are of you. It's hard to get a picture of you without you pulling a crazy face, grabbing a prop or striking a pose (often complete with jazz hands).