I thought it was just me that had a face for the world and then one with the cracks that I tend to keep for behind the closed doors of our home. I am discovering this week that although Evie may look the spit of Colin she is most definitely like me in this ability to create a happy exterior when inside you have a chasm of sadness that dissipates but never will go away completely.
For a longtime Evie and I have had chats at bedtime about a funny feeling in her head. I have reassured her and given her lots of love to help her talk about it but I put it away during the day because she seems so happy. Happy with friends. Happy with nursery. Happy with all the things she likes to do…ballet, tennis, Rainbows or whatever. I should maybe have addressed it more but I perhaps have not wanted to admit there is more to it. She simply never shows this sadness to the rest of the world and I keep thinking if I can just keep her going, keep her happy all the rest of the time, well then this sad feeling inside her will go. In short she’ll get over it.
I should know by my own experience that there is no getting over Colin’s death. This week it was reported to me by the her nursery teacher that Evie spent her morning there very disconnected from her friends, tearful and then hysterical. When taken aside by a teacher she said she was missing daddy. I have seen this before but never has she displayed to anyone but me. I wish I could change it but I can’t. It happened on Wednesday morning and by Wednesday afternoon she was actually unwell so perhaps a wee sickness bug brought it on. But it is in there and she must lock it away. We talked yesterday about it and she asked me to not talk about it again. When I asked tonight if she felt a bit better after not feeling so well and she said: “Mummy I wasn’t sick. I was sad.” So I replied that I was glad she had been happier since and she simply said before she turned over to sleep: “I always feel like that. The feeling in my head – it’s always there. Can we go to the doctor?.”
Gut wrenching stuff but of course she must feel this loss and as she has just turned five she is probably only now starting to grieve what she has never really had – a daddy in her life.
Retrospect is a marvellous thing. So the day Col died, in the madness of people dropping in and good friends taking on the childcare duties as I numbly sat, I never really thought too much of what a 22-month-old would take in. As a family we’ve always thought there were things that demonstrated her affinity with the sudden loss. For example, the night after he died she refused to ever take her nighttime bottle again – it was more often than not Col’s big indulgence to get home in time to feed her it. Bath-times with Col were a blast. All silliness and games. The night before he died he and our close friend bathed our children together. There was fun and hilarity. He died and she wouldn’t step in a bath for weeks, in fact almost two months, after daddy disappeared from her day-to-day. Yet she never asked for him again. About a year down the line, while I was driving, she caught her finger in the fastening of a bag in the back of the car. It was the first time I had heard her scream for daddy after February 25th, 2012.
Due to pregnancy and then early days with baby Isla, Col had become Evie’s go to when things were bad. When she tripped she often called for him. At nighttime it was for him she would scream if she woke in the night. I wonder if all these things have lain latent inside her and now as she realises he is not here and won’t ever be, it is coming out. Maybe I am over thinking it. I just don’t know I just know that suddenly, as her little sister works out that Daddy wasn’t around for long and obsessively talks about what he did, what he liked and how he was with her, it seems to have awoken something shut tight away inside Evie and she can’t keep it that way, always, and this week it leaked out. I also know she will push it all away again because I do too. I can talk so easily to people in my life about Col and his traits and what he did and how he did it. But it’s like a I have a blasé disconnect to it all. But like anything you push down certain catalysts make it spring up. For me, I wanted to weep when hearing her nursery teacher tell me how upset my little girl had got about not being able to have her Daddy. The tears started to come but I just pushed the disconnect switch and I survived. I have now seen this in my little girl and I want to tell her not to. I want to tell her to scream and shout because if she is only starting her true grief journey at five then she needs to let it out to heal, even if she will never completely get rid of that feeling inside her head…it does get easier to cope with.
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