Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Balloon to Heaven

Tayja had a special connection with Grand Daddy, her great grandfather. Both were early raisers and when she'd spend time at my parents house, the two of them would be up almost with the sun fussing around in the kitchen. Dad would take Tayja along with him to run errands be it to the grocery store, bank or auto repair shop. They adored each other.

When I left MN to see my dad in hospital in Pittsburgh after he had a cerebral aneurysm, I told Tayja that Grand Daddy was very sick and I'd be gone a few days.

She asked a few questions.

"Will you get to sleep at the hospital with Grand Daddy?" No, I'd be sleeping at my parent's house.

"Is it the same hospital we took Sweet Heart (a cat) to when Red (a greyhound) hurt her?" No, he is at a hospital for people. There will not be any cats there.

"When will you come back?" I don't know. I hope in 4 days. Roxana will be her with you and we can talk on the phone everyday.

"Can I have two cookies and an ice cream sandwich for desert while you are gone?" Of course not. You may have one cookie or one ice cream sandwich.

"How about just two cookies?" Nope. One cookie.

"Okay. I'll have one ice cream sandwich cause it's the biggest!"

My dad died the day I got there. I talked to Tayja everyday but did not tell her that her Grand Daddy died. It did not seem like the right way to tell a child something so serious, so permanent, so life changing.

I told her that my dad was not getting any better. "Okay. I'll draw him some pictures to help him feel better."

I was gone more than a week. When I came home I told Tayja I had sad news for her. I told her that my father had died.

She listened and then she asked, "Did he die at the hospital?" Yes.

"How old is Grand Daddy?" He was 70 when he died.

"That's old." I guess that would look old to you.

"You are 46, right?" Forty-seven.

"How old is Roxana?" I told her.

"I am six. You and Roxana will die before me." That is most likely.

A couple of days later she crawled into my lap crying. "I am sad about Grand Daddy." So am I.

I showed her photos of my father as a boy, as a teen and as a man. We looked at photos of him holding me when I was a baby, photos of him holding her mother as a baby and photos of him holding her as a baby. My father has always loved his babies.

"Is Grand Daddy in heaven with Sweet Heart?" What makes you ask that?

"Well, Peaches went to the hospital and died. She went to heaven. Grand Daddy went to the hospital to die. Daya told me that when you die, you go to heaven" Oh. Well. Daya (my mother) would tell you that Grand Daddy is in heaven.

"That's good. They can be friends. Does Grand Daddy like cats? Or does he LOVE them?" I don't know. As long as I've known Grand Daddy, he has only had dogs.

"Oh, well. He will like Sweet Heart."

A couple days later, Tayja asked if we thought Grand Daddy missed her in heaven as much as she missed him.

Roxana suggested that Tayja write a message to Grand Daddy on a balloon and send it up to heaven.

It took a while to find an environmentally friend balloon, but Roxana did.


Holly said...

oh. my.

First off what a wonderful way to address such a sad issue.

Second, what a terrific way to help her understand that it is ok to be sad.

Third, what a great way to help her "send a message" to your dad.

Robin you rock.

theCloth said...

Thanks for sharing these moments between you and Tayja. They help to remind me why kids are so pure at heart.

You're a good mom.

*Sarah* said...

awwwww :') :'( saddest sweetest thing ever.

some random female said...

I think you and Roxana may be the most awesome parents in the history of the world.

Jane said...

This is so beautiful.

Wow . . .

Thank you for sharing it with us.