Sweet Talking. Heartbreaking.

I haven’t posted in a while about my dad.  There have been lots of reasons for that.  Mostly, it’s because I don’t really like talking about it that often.  I still talk to Chris about it when I need to, but I haven’t really shared too much with others.  Grief is such a personal and indescribable experience.  It’s just too hard to try to put it into words to make people understand.  I also don’t share much about it because I know that reading about it on my blog sometimes upsets my mom and sister.  Coming across a blog post about Dad unexpectedly can be hard to swallow, and so I haven’t felt like sharing much about it here.

Lately, though, Dad has been on my mind.  Father’s Day was hard.  We went to visit Dad’s grave as a family on Saturday before we all left Pensacola last week, and I was glad that I visited on Saturday and not actually on Father’s Day.  Though I was mourning my first Father’s Day without Dad, it was still Chris’s day and I didn’t want my sadness to overtake the opportunity to tell him how much we love him and how thankful we are for him.  So, I let myself be sad on Saturday, and then on Sunday, even though I thought about him all day long, I tried to focus on Chris.

But this week has continued on, and I have still had a hard time shaking Dad from my thoughts.  I think about him every day.  Sometimes it’s about things he told me or conversations we had.  Sometimes it’s about things I wish I could tell him, especially when things are either really good or really low.  It’s hardest when something happens that makes me call my mom and sister to share, and I become keenly aware when I hang up the phone that I only made two calls, instead of three.  Those times are hard.

Usually, when those sad times come, I have to sit for just a minute and let them pass.  But when Dad has been on my mind persistently for a while, I know I need to stop and sit in that sadness for a while.  I did that the other night, actually.  I had stubbed my toe on the side of our pool this week, and one night around 10:30 before bed, I stopped to examine it.  And suddenly out of nowhere, I remembered that the last time I’d seen my dad we had been in my pool.  He and my mom came down for the afternoon for some reason or another, and he had been swimming with the kids.

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And then my emotions flooded me, but instead of having to pick myself up and face the rest of my day, I let myself dwell in the sadness.  I think my heart needed that.

I don’t speak to others often about missing my dad, but I do talk to my kids about him a lot.  We have pictures of him all over our house and especially in their bedrooms.  We talk about funny things he used to do, like cut all the tags out of Bean’s clothes for him when I wouldn’t.  We don’t talk long about him, but long enough that they keep his memory fresh in their minds.  Bean used to ask questions about Heaven all the time after my dad died.  He wanted to understand exactly where Granddad had gone, why he had gone there, who he was with, and what he was doing now.  Chris and I have explained to him that Granddad went to Heaven to live with God because he had died.  We haven’t explained what it means to die yet and Bean hasn’t asked, but we said that when people die they go to Heaven to live with God because God loves us and has built a beautiful home in the sky for us to live in when we don’t live here on earth any longer.  When he asks what Granddad is doing up there, we let Bean speculate.  He thinks Granddad is playing golf with the Ninja Turtles, bless his heart.  And I always say, “Yep, I bet that’s exactly what he is doing.”

Generally, though, conversations with Bean about my dad are pretty surface level.  He doesn’t talk too much about how he feels or his emotions yet because of his age, so our conversations mostly focus on the practical side of Heaven and death.  Until today.

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Today, completely out of the blue, Bean opened up to me about missing Granddad.  It was a beautiful morning with bright blue skies and big puffy white clouds, and we were driving to Target.

“Mom?” Bean asked from the backseat.  “Is Granddad up there in Heaven right now?”

“Yep,” I said.  “He’s up there right now in Heaven.”

“With God and Lt. Dan, right?”

“That’s right, buddy.”

“Can he see us right now from Heaven?”

“I bet he can.  I bet he is looking down at you right now and wondering how in the world you got so big!”

Bean laughed, “Yeah, do you think he knows I turned four?”

That one hurt a little bit.

“Yep,” I said, “He knows you turned four.”

“Do you think he liked my Ninja Turtles I got for my birthday?  Do you think he plays with Ninja Turtles in Heaven?”

“I don’t know, buddy,” I said, laughing.  “I bet he does, though.”

Bean sat for just a minute and thought.

“Let’s call him,” he said.  “Let’s call him and ask him if he plays with Ninja Turtles.”

“Well, sweetheart,” I said, thinking about how to explain this without breaking Bean’s heart.  “That’s the thing about Heaven.  There aren’t any phones up there, so we can’t call him.”

“Oh,” said Bean.  And then a little more quietly, “But I just miss him.  I just want to talk to him for a minute.”

“I know, big dude.  I miss him so much, too.  I miss talking to him.  Do you miss talking to him?”

“Yeah,” Bean said.

“Well, how do we talk to Granddad?  Do you remember?”

“We pray to God,” Bean said.

“That’s right.  We pray to God.  And it’s not as fun as talking to Granddad himself, but at least we know God will tell Granddad we are thinking about him and we miss him.”

“Okay,” said Bean.  And then he looked over at Gracie and said, “Fold your hands, Gracie.  We are going to pray for Granddad.”

And so sitting right there in the McDonald’s drive thru, we prayed together for my Dad.

“Dear God,” I said, and waited while the kids repeated after me.  “Thank you for giving us Granddad.  We miss him so much.  Please take good care of him and make sure he has enough Ninja Turtles to play with.  Amen.”

And as quickly as it started, that sweet conversation was over.  I ordered my iced tea while Bean and Gracie started talking about what kind of cereal they wanted to get from Target.

Life goes on. I’ve learned that is both the great tragedy of grief and the great promise of joy.

Life goes on, and we carry my dad with us through conversations like these.  And even though they break my heart and fill me sadness, at the exact same time they bring me such comfort and joy.  I like to think that if my dad is not here with me, then maybe he really is in Heaven, playing golf with Ninja Turtles.

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36 thoughts on “Sweet Talking. Heartbreaking.

  1. Rene

    Such a beautiful story. I am in tears. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Sometimes I have the best conversations with God in my car, too. Love that you are so open with Bean Man and so honest about your feelings.

  3. Oh dear, things don’t normally make me cry like that but that really did. God bless, Bean…such an old soul.

  4. Your posts about your dad always warm my heart and make me teary eyed. They’re so beautifully written. I’m impressed with how you handle the topic with Bean, you always have really good answers for him.
    I’ve always kind of thought that when someone we’ve lost is on our mind more than usual, they’re looking down and saying hello.

  5. Megan

    Beautifully said.

  6. Melissa

    I love reading about how you deal with things like this with your kids. It’s inspiring to read about how real + age appropriate you are with them and I am soaking in your stories to keep in mind when I have my own kids one day. I’m praying that things continue to get easier with your dad – for you, your mom, and your sister. Not that you forget, but that remembering doesn’t bring so much pain.

  7. Stephanie

    Thank you for sharing katie, melts my heart that little bean man ! After years of reading your blog I feel part of your family and when I read these posts about your dad , my heart mourns with you.

  8. Lisa

    This was my first Father’s Day without my dear dad as well and I felt like your post could’ve come out of my brain. Thank you for sharing your beautiful but heartbreaking words.

  9. Beth

    <3<3<3<3 tears. what a beautiful post

  10. jenn v

    Oh Katie, my heart is breaking. Bean is such a little grown up. It’s amazing what he understands and how you talk to him about such a big topic. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Thank you for sharing. Bean is the sweetest, kindest, and most clever little dude. Truly a wonderful kid. I’m sorry Father’s Day was so hard.

  12. Teresa W

    Tears. Beautiful post for Bean to remember Granddad by.

  13. catK

    thank you for sharing this story. it brought me to tears. praying for you and your family for His peace.

  14. kirsten

    Wow. i’m bawling. Bean is such an awesome. which you know. that also means you’re an awesome mom.

  15. Amanda

    Melt my heart. He is such a sweet boy and this one has me in tears.
    I don’t know if I would have handled it as well.

    Continued prayers…

  16. So sweet and innocent. I remember when my grandmother died. I was 7 and I would pray to God for her all the time. I treated it like a phone conversation – I would always ask God while I was praying if I could speak to my Granny for a minute. Like I was putting God on hold to talk to her. I would tell her all sorts of random things. And you know what? I still catch myself talking to her today – almost 23 years later. I love that you’ve taught Bean and Gracie to talk to your dad through prayer. I bet it sticks with them.

  17. Katie, thank you so much for sharing. You are a model mama for how to deal with the loss of a parent!

  18. Lindsay

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. It soothed my own heart as I mourned my father this past Sunday, while trying to celebrate my husband at the same time. Good to know there are others in the world truly going through the same feelings. Time heals all wounds, but faith keeps our hope of happiness alive. Stay blessed!

  19. I haven’t really commented on any of your posts about your dad because, to be perfectly honest, I’m not good at putting my feelings into words when it comes to loss. Emotion beats out words. I want to tell you, though, that I am continually impressed by how you have handled such a delicate matter with your kids, especially Bean. You see, to do a wonderful job of impressing the importance of his great life upon him without getting too deep… along with letting him lead take the conversations in whatever direction he needs them to go. Not that I actually know you in real life, but I’m proud of you 🙂

  20. Jessica W

    Beautiful. I’m in tears. And I love the way you explain it to your kids. It shows a lot of wisdom Katie. You’re all in my prayers.

  21. Sarah Choukalas

    You have a wonderful way of talking to your kids and I am positive that you helped Bean more than you know. Thank you for being honest with your feelings and greif, I don’t think you realize how helpful your words are. Sending love and prayers to you and your family.

  22. You had me in tears. I lost my sister to a brain tumor 4 years ago and to this day, I still miss her tons. My youngest doesn’t remember her as he was only a couple months old when she died, but the oldest certainly does. I don’t know how knows when I’m thinking about her, but he never fails to say something about her that just warms my heart. My sister and my son had a fabulous bond. I’m positive there are angels and she’s one of them (and it sounds like your dad is too). We still talk to her all the time through prayer. It’s good that you talk about your dad with the kids. They’ll appreciate it later in life that they have those memories.

  23. Wow. Just wow. I have always loved reading your blog, but never as much as I do right now. As tears are streaming down my face I am reminded of the promise of eternity. I am so thankful we are given the opportunity to see our loved ones again someday!

  24. Meredith J

    My heart is aching a little while I sit at my desk at work, but I’m also smiling at you because your kids are so cute. I really like reading about how you explain and deal with tough things like this with them. Thanks Katie!

  25. SarahK

    This moved me to tears. What a poignant moment. My mom will never get to meet my son (nearly 3mths old) and I look forward to telling him stories of her. I hope Bean is able to keep those memories alive forever. So sweet!

  26. Thank you for sharing this. You moved me to tears as well, as i think about my kiddies and their relationship with my dad. I have to say that you share so eloquently, beautifully, and just perfectly about your grief. All of your posts about your dad are moving, yet still with the lightness that comes with knowing that your loved ones are indeed in a better place. Very touching.

  27. Beanie, Gracie & Tillman's Nana

    I wish I could talk to him for just a minute, too, Sweet Bean.

  28. Rebecca

    Thank you for sharing Katie. My dad had a bad fall today and my two year old was there it really shook her up. He is in the hospital now and she has a lot of questions about it. I love how honestly and sweetly you talk to bean about his grandad. Thinking of all of you and your sweet sweet mom (whose comment brought me to tears).

  29. JustAng

    I lost my mom unexpectedly last year. I understand every word of this post. And I thank you for it.

  30. My heart just broke reading that. I love that you talk to your kids about their granddad and that you let them express their grief in their own way. Thanks for writing this.

  31. Cindy

    My daddy left this earth 9 years ago and I remember the first father’s day was tough for me too. My daddy died suddenly also and I wish so much that I could talk to him for at least 1 minute. Love and prayers to you and your family.

  32. Jenna

    Many tears. You are raising such sweet and sensitive babies by answering their questions honestly and sharing in their feelings.

  33. I’m in tears!!! Thanks for sharing a very wonderful tribute of your dad! I’m blessed that I can still see my dad every single day and I’m looking forward that he will see my future children too!!! 🙂

  34. Sara H

    My family (husband, kids, and I only) aren’t religious although my husband and I came from highly religious backgrounds. We now consider ourselves free-thinkers and we include our children in that. We have yet to have anyone really close to us pass away, but I am keenly aware that the time is coming as my grandparents age. I don’t know why I’ve never exactly thought about what I would tell my children when their grandparents or great-grandparents passed, but you certainly have set my mind ablaze. I believe everyone has a right to their own beliefs and your family’s are just beautiful. I cried for you and your children and I want you to know you have my entire heart with you and yours.

  35. Lindsay

    Well you made me bawl my eyes out at work! Wonderful post, so sweet. Thanks for making me even more thankful for my daddy. I will continue to pray for you and your wonderful family.

  36. Brenda Carter

    It touched my heart so much. Yes I am crying at this moment but I will never forget. God has bought me from a very dark place, but I know that joy comes in the morning..

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