In this blog I will write about my experience being a young widow who is navigating her way through the uncertain and rocky road of being a single mother unexpectedly and parenting a young girl while managing my own grief. But I also will tell the stories of Julia and her own process of losing her father.
Julia’s first response after hearing that Wesley had died was to comfort my parent’s collie, Lucy. We are Episcopalian and were in the Easter Triduum period of Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday when Wesley died. Julia was there when he died peacefully in our home and his last words were to her, which is a blessing beyond measure. In those harried minutes with emergency medical workers I told her we needed to pray because “Daddy is very sick.” Which he was, we just did not know that detail yet.
The first morning we awoke without Wesley was Easter Sunday and we opened Easter baskets and saw the Easter goodies that the jolly bunny had left for us all at my parents house. Then I sat Julia down and told her that Daddy was gone. The man who had proudly donned a pink Brooks Brothers polo shirt on the day she was born, had relished the first time Julia called him “Daddy-o” and honestly had bought most of the Easter candy she had just opened in her basket has passed away and now lived in Heaven with Jesus. I explained that just as the Holy Spirit lives in our heart Daddy lives there now too. Even though we cannot see him, Daddy still sees us and loves us both very much. We may be sad and miss him but Daddy is in Heaven and is not sad or sick. I sat on my childhood bed with my sweet daughter beside me and opened my mouth to tell this little girl that her Daddy was dead and amazingly the words came.
But I believe they did not come from me, it was Wesley putting those words in my mouth because that is the way he would have told her should I have been the one who passed away. Kindly, gently and honestly. Her response to being told that her father was dead was immediately to comfort those who she thought would mourn, namely Lucy-Pup. Which was Wesley’s spirit through and through, immediately thinking of how he could help another person and bring them comfort. So comfort she brought to her four legged companion who she thought might need a hug and kiss because she would be sad.
As days have morphed into weeks and weeks to months we have had so many moments of blessing and comfort, some of which I’ll share on this blog. But the peace that Julia feels knowing that Daddy is in Heaven cannot be measured.
Some have asked that since Wesley died over Easter if that holiday will hold an unhappy association for Julia and me. No colored eggs or fluffy bunnies? No joy at the Resurrection? Nope, we find just as much joy in Peter Cottontail as we always did. In fact, if anything the timing has helped immensely in this process. Because Jesus just took Daddy with him when he rose to Heaven on Easter Day. And that makes me smile.