Where exactly is Daddy?

Poor Daddy. In Evie's pic he's a wispy Casper the Ghost
Poor Daddy. In Evie’s pic he’s a wispy Casper the Ghost

Evie’s having a tough time right now. Night terrors and lots of questions about where exactly is daddy. It started a few weeks ago when I told her I was going away for a few days for a wee holiday and she would be staying with her Grandma Pat. Her immediate reaction was to cry and tell me that she didn’t want me to go because I might not come back. When you hear things like that your heart breaks into a million tiny pieces all over again. In her experience of the world people that you love, and  love with all your heart because they are your whole actual world, can simply vanish in the blink of an eye, or indeed an afternoon snooze. So of course she doesn’t want mummy to go away for a few days because she might not come back, that happens.
While I was away she had some night terrors and my sister and my mum had to cope with it as Evie screamed and then just sat not awake and not asleep in the corner of the room, staring. Now since my return she’s been having more nightmares and she’s been calling out for daddy in these dreams. Aside from a finger trapping accident in the back of the car a couple of months ago, Evie has not called out for her daddy since the day he died. And that’s the case despite the fact that up until that D day he was her number one go to in the night due to an arrangement between me and Col while I was in late pregnancy and subsequently had Isla Baby. I’d happily been substituted for Col as her favourite person to see through the bars of her cot.
I wonder what she dreams of that leads her to shout out for her him in such fear. Is she losing him all over again in her unconscious imagination? Is she scared of him if or when he visits her in her sleep? Does he appear to her as he is in the photos I show her? Or does she have real memories that recurr? I dont know any of these answers and the tears are bouncing off my keyboard here. Arghhh. Just when you think life is back on a copeable, even keel, and perhaps even showing promise at being good again…well, things like this knock you for six because you realise this is a life sentence. My girls, and so many others like them, will always be going through a stage in their grief. Currently for Evie it’s working out what death means (and thank you Winston’s Wish for the kind woman who reassured me that I am saying and doing the right things in my hour-long phone ramble last week). Isla, well at nine weeks she didn’t really notice Col’s disappearance because her nappies still got changed, she got her milk every few hours and she got looked after with love, I think, but soon  she’ll be faced with the realisation that her wonderful little status quo is not quite the norm and will start her wee journey of grief that may or may not take a different path to the one that her big sister is now on. And it’s hard for me because I like to fix and move on but in this situation you simply can’t. I can’t sweep their grief or mine under the carpet and start again. That would mean forgetting what we’ve lost and it’s my mission in life that none of us ever forget Colin. But we do jog along into our future without him and that future holds so many significant dates that he won’t see. This week all the Facebook pics proud daddies took of kids going to school…well my stomach lurches knowing Evie and Isla will have a different kind of experience of that moment and there will be one huge big hole in that morning. That’s just the start of it. Graduations and weddings, 18ths and 21sts…the list is endless. But actually I know it’s the normal days, it’s the growing up around what’s supposedly normal and seeing difference, that will have Evie, and Isla too down the line no doubt, asking the big ‘death’ questions and screaming out for daddy in the dark of night.
Yesterday at nursery pick up Evie was anxious to find a picture she had done because she wanted to take it home for me, not put it in her nursery work folder. It is the one attached to this post. It’s her version of a normal family portrait and it had me weeping in the car home. Evie, Isla and I take defined forms while daddy seems to be floating off with his scribbly no face body heading skyward. She talked me through the picture in the classroom and when I smiled and said, ‘Is that daddy in the sky?’, she was quite adament. ‘ no. That’s him here with us.’ What do you say to that?

14 Replies to “Where exactly is Daddy?”

  1. My kids are much older and out on their own. My husband, their dad, died a little over 4 months ago. The phone calls from them come in the night, or I see one of their fb posts about missing their dad, about having an impossibly emotional day and my heart aches for them more than my heart aches for me, for their missing of him. There is no easy way through this for anyone, and the absence of dad is so very present.

    May your kids have an easing of their pain, recognized or not. And may you find, somewhere in the depths of you, whatever it takes to continue to say or do whatever they need.

    1. There is no easy age it seems to lose your parent to death. Horrid. And I can’t identify because I have both parents so my experience of childhood is very different. I can only apply my own grief but like you I feel everything 1000X more for my children. Harsh times. XX

  2. I have a lump in my throat reading this i just want to give you all a big hug and tell you its going to be “ok”.

    Just take it one day at a time and keep on venting here.

    I had a really bad Tuesday this week just missing my dad so much (he died 1st August 2012) and being angry and upset at the whole world…. today is a better day though!

  3. The picture Evie drew is a heart-breaker; BUT it describes so well without words, how when people we love, who are an integral part of our being – die…….stay around us / with us / and remain a part of us. . My love and thoughts are with you all.

  4. I too was crying for you ,your lovely children & myself ! My husband passed 10 years ago at 46 & we had no children as it was a 2 nd marriage for him & 1st ( eventually ) for me ……………i know how hard it was coping & you have the double whammy of your children coping too my heart & lots of love is being sent too you all x

  5. You write beautifully. Keeping Colin’s memory alive is the best you can do for your little ones I never knew my Dad as he died when I was 2years my Mum never talked to me about him as it was all to painfully I guess. But I met a cousin for the first time recently at an aunts funeral and she remembered him and told me I had his eyes this ment so much to me and I’m in my 50s now ! Well done you x

    1. I am sorry that you too are in this hard old place called grief. I hope your wee ones are finding their way through. So little though. I talk about col everyday and am currently working up to going through even more photos. So the house will be filled with him. Good luck on your journey. Xx

      1. I find your posts very encouraging. I am certainly not glad anyone else is experiencing this grief, but encouraged to know I am not alone in this journey. Others have walked ahead of me and others will walk behind me; we all have something to learn from one another.

  6. I know your pain. I lost my husband 5 and 1/2 months ago; he was 42 and died suddenly of an enlarged heart – no warning and no preparation. My 3 year old son was with him when he collapsed and died instantly. We have two others, aged 5 years and 18 months. I dread the day when my children are old enough to draw family pictures…and Daddy isn’t there. I dread so much – the rest of my life without my perfect partner in life and my children’s lives without their father. No teaching baseball in the backyard, no more tickle giggles so loud I have to ask them to settle down, no Daddy at Dad’s night at school. I find my peace and comfort knowing my husband is in Heaven with Jesus and is happy beyond what we can comprehend. While my husband is gone, we have to continue with this new life looking for the blessings we have because so many people have been so good to us.

  7. I’m so sorry for your loss. My husband died almost six months ago after a five-year battle with colon cancer. We have a seven-year-old daughter and, while having her forces me to go on with life and even laugh some days, it’s not easy dealing with my grief and hers, too. She draws him in every family picture, she writes his name on every card we send to someone — he is still very much part of her life. She’s been seeing a play therapist to work through some grief issues, but like you said, there are going to be days far in the future (graduations, weddings, etc) that will bring new kinds of grief; I just pray we’re both strong enough to face everything with hopefulness and courage. Thinking of you and your dear girls…

  8. I know this was written a little while ago – I read it last year when you first posted it but have now just re-read it. When you wrote it, my husband was still alive (although very ill with cancer). He passed away in November and we have two young boys under the age of four. I remembered you writing about these nightmares as my oldest son has just started having them where he wakes up crying and shouting for his dad.
    Does Evie still have these nightmares regularly? I think I was just a bit shocked as my son was finally starting to be more confident and playing with other kids during the day and then all of sudden he starts getting these horrific nightmares after 3,5 months.

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