When I think about our situation as a family of three now, I feel like I am so grateful that Joe and I have (had?) 2 children. Going through this with only one child seems like it would be so much harder.
As much as they drive me absolutely nuts lately with their bickering and fighting, I am so glad that they have each other. They are so opposite in so many ways, including how they display their emotion about the loss of their father. Alyssa does not go more than a few days without mentioning her daddy in some context. If it isn't a story, or a simple sentence, or a question about him, it is a quiet declaration of "I miss daddy".
Luke rarely mentions Joe. When he does, it always takes me a little by (pleasant) surprise. It's weird because Luke and Joe were very close and he has way more memories of his father than Alyssa does. When I ask him what he thinks about daddy he says he misses him but he doesn't think about him much. I do believe that Luke is telling the truth, but I also worry because I believe that when he thinks of his dad, if it feels painful to him, he tries to put it out of his head.
Luke is a thinker and that has been apparent at least since the age of 3. He is constantly sizing up whatever situation he is heading into before he decides if he's going to take part in it. He understands better than Alyssa what "death" means and the enormity of it. He was 6 years and 6 days when his daddy died. I think his mind is still taking it all in in small doses and when it gets too much for him he shuts it off. I know kids can do that. I just worry....because I am his mother....and I want him find a way to deal with this so that it doesn't come out negatively later in life. I can't tell you how often I wonder how my kids are doing mentally with this loss. I just have no way to tell.
One night on the way home from group Luke made a comment though that really gave me hope that **he is okay** and everything will be fine. He was talking about something that happened- and it was all kind of vague- but the idea was that a child in his group strongly expressed sadness that his/her parent had died. Luke kind of acted like he couldn't relate to what the child was feeling, but not because he doesn't love and miss Joe, but because (he said...with certainty):
"I just feel like he is up there mommy. I just feel like he is there."
Obviously it is impossible to convey Luke's tone by writing it, but the way he said it made me think that this kid feels his father with him. Still. I have never said or felt the way Luke said he was feeling, so I know he wasn't repeating back to me something he's heard me say. This was all him and it was 100% expressive truthfulness and the most real thing that I have heard him say about Joe's death. It was crazy to me to hear and it made me think- for the first time- that maybe my son is so unapparently phased by the death of his father because Joe is actually helping him deal in some way.
I don't even know how or if that is possible. But I know that intellectually speaking it would be Luke that needed the most help dealing with Joe's death out of the three of us. Alyssa was barely 3 when it happened and I think that Joe would have confidence in me that I would make it through somehow. But Luke....Joe was his buddy, his playmate, his joy and smile and his yes-man. How could Luke sustain this blow with so little resistance? If it is possible, and Joe is still with him in his little head, in his dreams, in his unconscious thoughts, somehow, anyhow, then it all makes a little more sense.
I have never felt Joe's presence since he died. Never. It is sad to me. But, at the same time, if he is with Luke then that thought gives me an unbelievabe amount of comfort. It's just one way of looking at it, but it's a way that explains a lot to me.