Thursday, December 8, 2011

vulnerable ...

Yesterday afternoon, while I was washing dishes, Dizzle asked me a question completely out of the blue,

"How did your daddy die?"

It hit me like a ton of bricks. First of all, she had never asked me that question before and I didn't know how honest I wanted to be with the answer. And second, she asked on what would have been his 56th birthday, a fact she was completely unaware of.

I thought for a moment and decided to tell her the truth without giving any detail.

"He died of a heart attack."

Which of course, opened a can of worms.

"Well, what is a heart attack? How does that happen? Why did it happen to him? How old was he?

Trying to compose myself, I answered her questions.

"A heart attack is when your heart stops working. It happens for lots of reasons, sometimes doctors can get it to work again and sometimes they can't. They couldn't help my dad. The reason why is not important. It just happened. He was 46."

At some point, I was crying more than I was talking. I'm sure I was freaking her out. No, I know I was freaking her out. I could see it on her and her sisters' faces. I don't think that any of them had ever seen me cry for any reason other than physical pain. They didn't really know what to say.

Once I got it back together, I took Dizzle aside and tried to explain why I had gotten so upset, which, of course, caused more tears. I wanted her to know that I wasn't upset with her or her question. I wanted her to know that it's OK to be vulnerable. And I wanted her to understand why I was crying.

So, I told her the truth.

"Dizzle, I'm not upset. It's just that sometimes when you really miss someone it can make you cry. Not because you are mad or hurt, but because you are sad and you know that nothing you can do is going to change your situation. Imagine you were never able to see me or Daddy ever again. Wouldn't you want to cry about that? That's why I am crying."

And she, being wise beyond her years, said, "Well, but it gets better, right? You don't always cry. But, I bet Mimi's really sad too."

With a new onslaught of tears, I told her, "It's not that it gets better, it just changes. You always have a bit of sadness with you, but you learn to think less about the sadness and more about all of the happiness. But you always remember."

Then she started crying too. I just hugged her and told her I loved her, and that I always would.

39 comments:

Lesley @ racingitoff.com said...

And now I'm crying. You're a great mom. I'm so sorry about your dad. I'm quite certain he would be proud of you and the way you're raising your girls.

MotherRunner said...

You're a good mama - I hope I'm strong enough to let my kids see me cry when they ask me the same question about my dad. And you're right about it just changing and not really getting better. Lots of hugs to you this morning.

Silly Girl Running said...

Yep, made me cry. So sorry about your loss.

Mustang said...

You are such an amazing mother. You should be very proud of what an awesome job you do every day.

bobbi said...

Crying here too...you are such a good mom - your girls are a testament to that...

trifitmom said...

hugs and peace to you

Rene' said...

I have tears streaming down my face right now. What a heart felt conversation. xoxoxo.

Mom_2_Pippa said...

That is a tough conversation to have but such an important one. How is it that kiddos just know exactly when to ask a question that is so wrong, yet right all at the sametime. Sounds like you have some great kids on your hands!

Running Ricig said...

Oh man. So sorry. What sweet girls you have though!

ttmom531 said...

Oh Tonia.....{{HUGS}}....You made me cry too....Your dad is looking down at his beautiful daughter and her beautiful family and SOOOOO proud of the mother, wife and friend that you are. I JUST KNOW IT!!! xoxoxoxo

Lacey said...

Hold on..let me wipe my own tears....Okay, there we go. Having that conversation with your three little girls is so important, and I'm so glad to see you chose to have that, even in a vulnerable state. I remember when my grandmother passed. I was very young, but I was extremely close to her. She battled years of colon cancer and I remember helping the hospice nurses, changing her colonoscopy bag, cleaning bed sores...all of that, with a big smile on my face in hopes that it would make her feel all better. So, when she passed, I was sort of numb, and didn't know how to react. Death wasn't exactly something I understood yet. Despite my young age, I still remember the conversation my mother had with me, clear as day. I sat there as she explained what it meant to have her gone, and as I started to understand as she kept explaining, I remember she just told me it was okay to cry. And that's when I lost it. Emotions are a healthy part of healing and experiencing life, and I'm grateful to a mother who was able to be strong enough the morning after her own mother's death to explain that to me. Your daughters will be grateful to you as well, for still having that conversation with them, even if you did have to show how vulnerable you are.

fancy nancy said...

Crying over here! What a touching time for you to have with your daughter. My mother's father died when she was 7 years-old from a heart attack. I can remember as a child that Christmas Eve service my mother would cry when Silent Night was being played. This was the only time I saw my Mom cry. She said it reminded her of her own father and that she always missed him. It made me realize how blessed I was to have my father right there growing up because my mother didn't have her Dad there during those times.

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

You're making me tear up now!

Such a good lesson to teach the girls! And kids will certainly say (and ask about) the darndest things.

Katie said...

Wow! I am crying too! What a wonderful moment with your daughter. I have had something similar happen with my oldest son. It is so great to be able to share with them and help them understand and be REAL with them, but so hard at the same time.

Marlene said...

:( Sending you a big hug. I can't imagine what it would be like, so no doubt it is a difficult concept for a kid to grasp. Sometimes a good cry is soothing to the soul!

Kathy said...

You handled this way better than I did in a similar situation! I was caught completely off guard and kind of stumbled and stammered through it. Your daughters are lucky that you are so open with them!

robinbb said...

Thank you for sharing this. My family has dealt with death this past year and it has been sooo hard. My daughters are the one that have been dealing with it better than others. They have been very curious but have also been very helpful in dealing with my grief. Hugs to you.

Michelle said...

Tears here too. Life lessons are incredible.

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

TEARS... you are so right it never gets better... I am 100% with you on this..

Makes me wonder if she saw him?? Asking the question on his birthday and all...

HUGS

Jen said...

Such a tough conversation but I too have been there. Hugs

MCM Mama said...

{{{HUGS}}} What a hard conversation to have, but you did a great job!

Jennica said...

Wow, that was beautiful. It is so hard to be vulnerable, but it is so good for us. I echo the sentiment that I am sure that your Dad is VERY proud of you.

Jessica Karazsia (@irun26at8) said...

Yep..I think you got all of our tears flowing. I think it is noble and I admire you for showing your children that it is alright to cry.

Dani said...

You totally made me cry with this post. I think what you said and showed your daughters is beautiful and something they will carry with them always.

Julie @ Hotlegs Runner said...

crying so early in the morning. *hugs* you're a great mom!

jamie@sweatyhugs said...

Choking back tears here. as I can completely relate. My daughter tends to ask me questions like that out of the blue. It's so hard somethings. HUGS!

mommyrunfast said...

Tears are so therapeutic. What a lovely mama-daughter moment, thanks for sharing!

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Although the Bible says many things about death and "heaven" what is "next" is very unclear. Due to that fact I keep a very very open mind to what might be. Too often things have happened that, whether it be God or a deceased loved one or whatever a person wants to call it; I have been convinced that there was a connection that remains with those we don't see in the physical form. Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part. I would like the idea that my daddy and grandparents could know my little kids. Or maybe they do.
Either way, you shared an amazing teaching moment with your little girls. Showing them so many things in those few minutes. I wonder if they will remember that day. The day they saw their mommy showing an endless kind of love. Girl, you are an above average mommy!

H Love said...

Your vulnerability makes you so STRONG for your girls. Sharing those memories and feelings will impact them and make a difference. So hard!! HUGS!!

Char said...

You dealt with that situation so beautifully. You showed your girls that tears aren't always from a bad place - they come from love too.

Jessica (Pace of Me) said...

oh tonia, this post made me cry too. how amazing that she brought this up on your father's birthday ... WOW. i can only imagine the emotions, and really believe your father is watching over you and all of your family. i think you put it so perfectly for her to understand - we always miss and remember but don't feel sadness every minute. i lost a very close friend when i was in college, and i miss him every day. it was beyond painful to deal with his sudden death and i hope my children never have to experience anything like that in their lives. as their mother i want to protect them from pain like that, but i know there is only so much i can do. i want them to know that i am here for them - that we can always talk about how we feel whatever the emotion. you handled this beautifully and your daughters are so blessed to have such a real, honest and loving mother.

ajh said...

I'm so sorry you lost your dad when he was 46. It is amazing that Dizzle brought it up on his birthday. You did well with your conversation. Your girls are lucky.

Christina said...

Sending you virtual hugs.

HEATHER @ runfastermommy! said...

out of the mouth of babes. She is wise beyond her years! *hugs* to you my friend!

Trisha R said...

This reminds me of when my dad died, I was 15 years old. And my aunt came to the house and she told me that I'll never stop missing him, but that it gets easier eventually.

Kerrie T. said...

Aw. Good Mommy.

Jennifer said...

Had similar conversation with my son about my father in law. He passed at 50. Hugs to you

5 Miles Past Empty said...

Kids are so amazing. I love their logic and their purity and the way they understand life and the world. You did an amazing job teaching your girls a valuable lesson....

Colleen said...

Wow. ((HUGS)) to you Tonia... what an amazing little girl you have. And what a hard conversation to have - you did great!