I was standing outside my daughter's class the last week of school. She was going to go to a friend's after class and I had brought her play clothes for her. I stood quietly out of the way listening to the classroom routines.
They put away their papers, they picked up garbage. They readied for lunch. Then the teacher said, "Ok, if you have a sister, you can line up first." Most of the class came tumbling over to the door, and I felt sad for my daughter, to be alone. A little wave of sadness went over me for the daughter who is alone instead of the two giggling girls I should have.
But then I saw her dark little head jostling around with those in the line up first, and I was puzzled for half a second. I thought she hadn't heard the instructions correctly.
Then I smiled. She did. My daughter is bright. She heard them.
It is just that she has always known that she does have a sister. My heart smiled. These little moments are a gift for my heart, for the quiet part that grieves my baby who died before I held her.
The world so often tells us to "get over it" or to "go on". People think about getting help for us if we continue to remember, so we learn to be quiet.
But the giggle of my daughter lining up, "I do have a sister. She just lives in heaven".
A gift. My daughter is not forgotten. She is remembered by her brothers and her sister.
I hugged my daughter and handed her her play clothes and left with a smile. Grief of a baby is often worse because it seems that there is no one to remember, that your child will slip into the mists of never being known, remembered. I smiled quietly - she has not been forgotten.
You know what else? My kids are less afraid of death than I was as a child. Death is only to them, going on in life. Heaven is not a strange place - it is where their sister is, where we will all be together one day. I am thankful that I did not keep their sister's short life and sudden death from them to sheild them. I gave them a gift with the knowledge of her existence - they know there is a reality beyond death.
And they surprise me with their matter-of-fact acceptance of the sister none of us has yet met. That makes me heart smile.