We are a little over two weeks into a major life event, my dad’s passing. I feel different emotions daily, hourly, and sometimes it makes me question myself. People grieve differently, types of death cause people to grieve on different levels. I had a good friend tell me “There’s no right way to feel. Whatever you feel is right for you.”
Sometimes I feel sad. Other times I feel peace. Then there are times when I feel completely like myself, happy, silly, and like nothing has happened. Those are the feelings that make me question my sanity. Should I feel ok? Should I be happy? Am I supposed to be sadder than I am? Then I will feel sad again. It’s a cycle.
The night after my Dad, “Grandpa”, passed away we had a rough night with the boys. They seemed to be doing alright through the day, but when bedtime approached feelings surfaced. I was upstairs tucking them in while Jeremy made their lunches and got things ready for school the next day. I sat on the top bunk Indian style, holding hands with my two big guys. We took turns praying for Grandpa and our family. I started the prayer, with contained sadness. Tears began running down my face, but I was silent. When I finished, Phoenix prayed. His soul is beyond his years. The words he spoke were calm, peaceful and comforting. Then Griffin prayed his best little prayer, the kind that makes you laugh a little inside because it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sensical or not, it was his own, and it was perfect. I noticed that we all had tears pouring down. When we finished praying I talked to them a little bit about Grandpa and happy times. Things seemed light and positive. I kissed them both, tucked them in, and started to walk away. As I turned my back I heard Phoenix’s cry, a cry so hard he couldn’t catch his breath. I knelt down beside his bed, rubbed his head, and kissed him. I took his hand and put it on his heart with my other hand on his forehead and said: “Hey Phoenix, I want you to do something for me ok?”
“Ok” he gasped out.
“I’m going to count to three and I want you to breathe in really deep and then hold your breath for three seconds ok?”
“Ok” he gasped again.
“Alright 1-2-3, breathe in, and hold it! 1-2-3, now blow it out. Did you feel that?”
“What?” He asked in a sad voice.
“Your heart beat. Did you feel how hard it was beating?”
“No” he said.
“Ok, let’s do it again. This time when I count to 3 and you breathe out, I want you to feel how hard your heart beats. Ok?”
“Ok” he said.
“Ready? 1-2-3… Breathe in and hold it! 1-2-3… Let it out, and feel your heart beat! Did you feel it that time?”
He nodded yes with calmness.
“You know what? Your heart beats so hard. Do you know why?” I paused as he shook his head no. “It beats that hard because there is so much life inside you. Grandpa’s heart was weak, and had to stop beating so he could go to Heaven. But, as long as your heart beats, you have life. Grandpa will always be in your heart for as long as it beats. Anytime you feel sad, I want you to hold your hand on your heart, breathe in, hold your breath, breathe out, and feel your heart. Then think of something happy that you and Grandpa did together. Ok?”
“Like when we worked together out in his shop?” He asked me eagerly.
“Does that make you happy to think about?” I asked knowing his answer.
“Yep!” Smiles gave his reply away.
“Then that’s what you should always think of!” And, the happiness returned. Peace and calmness took over, and all was good in the world of Phoenix.
I let a deep breath out, told them I loved them, and started to walk away again. As I grabbed the doorknob I heard, what I thought was a super powerful cackle of a laugh, but I was wrong. Griffin, the child that shows very little range of emotions, let out a guttural scream. I have never heard such deep pain in his cry before. He was hyperventilating, so much so that it alarmed Jeremy, and he came running up the stairs. I bent over Griffin’s bed and started the same breathing exercise with him. His tiny little brain didn’t understand what to do with his feelings, and he hurt. It was too much, but I somehow stayed calm enough to calm him down. Phoenix crawled in the top bunk with Griffin and repeated the things I told him. It was sweet. They had each other for comfort. We ended the episode with a laugh, and all was good in the world of Griffin and Phoenix.
Jeremy and I left their room. I couldn’t get to our bedroom fast enough. I just stood in the middle of the room next to our bed with my back to the door, because I knew. I knew that Jeremy was there. I tried so hard to keep it together, but emotion involuntarily puked out of me. There was no containing it. That moment was hard. Jeremy just hugged me while I ugly cried. I took in a few deep breaths as he said some reassuring things to me, and life was calm in the world of Robyn.
Since that moment, Phoenix and Griffin have remained upbeat, happy, and without sadness. We comforted them, and those words stuck. They trusted the words we told them to be true, and actually applied it to life. I know this because I have had a couple brief moments of sadness in front of them since that night. Phoenix tells me Grandpa is in Heaven, and he would never want us to be sad. We aren’t supposed to stay sad but instead be happy for him. I always agree and tell him that he’s right. It calms my soul. Griffin is a different creature. Want to know why? Well, let me tell you.
As I was making lunch for him this weekend, he saw the funeral program with my Dad’s picture on it and asked: “What does that say in there?” I told him it was the day Grandpa was born, the day he died, and some other stuff. It was quiet for a second, and then I said: “Griff, I miss Grandpa.” Without missing a beat or asking any other questions he held out his hand and said: “Want a Cheerio?” I just laughed, rubbed his head, and said “Sure!”
What would life be like if we could Return to Innocence? Who has the authority to give it back to us, and how can I find them? How much better off would we be if we took the advice we give our children and applied it into our own lives more often? Why can’t all sadness be cured with Cheerios?
What, in life, can you see through the eyes of a child today?
Here’s an excerpt I took from www.gotquestions.org : “Of course, children are easily fooled and led astray. In their artlessness they tend to miss the truth and be drawn to myths and fantasies. But that is not what is meant by having a childlike faith. Jesus promoted a humble, honest faith in God, and He used the innocence of a child as an example. Emulating the faith of children, we should simply take God at His Word. As children trust their earthly fathers, we should trust that our “Father in heaven [will] give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11).” https://www.gotquestions.org/childlike-faith.html