So, my son just turned 6 years old. I know every parent says this, but my son is very smart and advanced for his age. Being so smart means he is also much more emotional than other 6 year olds. What I mean by that is that he is more emotionally involved with things in life than other 6 year olds.
Let’s go back just a bit. This year, in September, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She lived only an hour due to a rare but fatal disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type II. You can read more about that part of my life on my other page, just search for TEAM ALEENA. We found out that she had this disease and would not survive long after birth when I was about 6 months pregnant, so we had almost 3 months to try and prepare ourselves as much as possible. During that time, I met with a psychiatrist to help me along the way. I asked the doctor how I was supposed to explain all of this to my son. She told me that I just had to explain it in words that he would understand (which I did).
My son was so very excited to become a big brother. He had already been telling all of his teachers and friends about his little sister. He would ask every night to watch the DVD of my ultrasound because he loved to see her face and her heartbeat. He wanted to buy her a toy every time we went to the store so that she “wouldn’t be board” when she got here. He would sit for hours at a time, watching cartoons with his hand laid on my stomach so that he could feel her move.
One night he lost a tooth. So, he put his tooth under the pillow for the tooth fairy. The next day he received $0.50 for his tooth. Our neighbors happened to be having a yard sale. He saw a pink bouncy seat that they were selling. He went up to the neighbor, all on his own, and told her that he only had $0.50 from the tooth fairy, but he had to buy that seat for his new baby sister. He came running inside so happy and proud of his self showing me what he bought.
When we broke the news to him he was heartbroken. We decided to let him meet his sister before she passed away. That moment was precious and is one that I will never forget! He gave her tons of kisses and held her. When we laid her to rest, he helped his Daddy carry her casket and lay it in the ground. He talks to her every night to say that he loves her, hopes she had a good day and hopes she sleeps good without any bad dreams. While it makes me so happy that he is so smart, it also has it’s downfalls.
He has times when he will just start crying because he misses her so much. He worries about her so much because while he understands that she is in heaven and not here, he doesn’t really understand that being in heaven means that she doesn’t get scared, feel sad, feel lonely, get board or anything else that he may experience here.
So, this year for Christmas, we did the “Elf On The Shelf” thing and he absolutely loved it. He named his elf Jack. Jack became his new little friend and brought such pure joy and excitement to my son. My son told Jack that all he wanted for Christmas was a picture of his sister to put in his room.
So, for Christmas Eve (which is when Jack has to go back to the North Pole), we decided to let Jack give him his first present, a picture of him and his sister. The happiness that was in his eyes and voice when he opened that gift was wonderful. You would have thought that he just received the coolest toy in the world!
But then he realized that when he woke up in the morning, Jack would be gone. He broke down crying and begging for Jack to stay. He told us that he already had to let his sister go back to Heaven, he didn’t want to have to let Jack go back to the North Pole too. He cried and cried until he finally cried himself to sleep.
This broke my heart. I prayed and prayed, asking God to please take his heartache away. As an adult, I understand death and my emotions and I know how to deal with the pain and heartbreak, but what about my son? What about my son who is smart enough to be heartbroken and feel loss, yet not old enough to really grasp why it happens or how to deal with it all??
Sometimes I wish that he wasn’t so smart, because then maybe he wouldn’t really understand that he even had a sister for a while. Maybe he wouldn’t understand that she died and can’t be here with us. Maybe then he wouldn’t be so sad about losing her and now his new elf friend. Maybe then he wouldn’t know the feeling of heartbreak and loss at only 6 years old!
This morning before he opened any of his gifts, he turned to his dad and I and said that maybe if he gave all of his presents back to Santa, Santa would give him back his elf and sister. He is smart enough to think of something like that, yet not smart enough to really understand why that isn’t possible.
I pray that next year’s Christmas is a little more happy and magical. I pray that he forgets.