I guess in order to understand this post you have to know that Joe's brother, Jeff, has been visiting every weekend since the summer, and that he kids love, love, love to see him. Just saying the name "Uncle Jeff" elicits loud screams of excitement and jumping up and down from Luke and Alyssa.
Yesterday morning Luke and Alyssa and I were sitting at the island eating breakfast. We were talking about regular everyday stuff (ie Cars the movie) but then it was quiet for a minute or so. Alyssa asked me in a sad voice "mommy, when is Uncle Jeff going to die?".
I looked at Alyssa and I said "I don't think that Uncle Jeff is going to die for a long, long time. I don't know for sure when anyone will die Alyssa, but most people live to be old". I could barely get the words out and I sat there for a few minutes until the kids started talking about other stuff again. I got up and went outside to take some frustrations out on a snow pile I've gotten to know quite well this winter.
I knew that I should have said more to her, asked her questions, etc but I just could not do it at that moment. All of a sudden I had this rush of knowledge that my little girl is not going to come out of this unscathed. That her wounds will be deeper than the fact that she never got a chance to know her father past the age of 3; that her memories will be few (and precious), but few. Those things are terrible enough, but the loss has the potential to do much more than that. Alyssa does not have the privilege of knowing that family has longevity. Her little mind does not know when a person she loves will leave her.
While I was outside I thought of conversations Joe and I have had since Alyssa was born. He would say to me "there is something very special about what I feel for my little girl". We talked specifically of the unique opportunity a father has to make a difference in the life of a daughter; how his relationship with her could potentially lay the foundation of how she relates to boys and men for the rest of her life. Joe had plans for her. Not the "kick any guy's butts that come within 10 feet of her when she's s a teenager" type of plans. He understood the impact of his love and attention toward her.
Now he is gone. And she asks me "when is Uncle Jeff going to die".
Not only has her father disappeared into nothingness, but now she wonders who else will too. She doesn't often do it outwardly but her mind is being shaped and changed by what has happened.
I am so pissed that this has happened to my daughter. I am pissed that I cannot fill the shoes of her father. I just want to hold her and hug her and cry and tell her a thousand times "I am sorry". But she would not understand, because she doesn't know what she lost.
But I do.