You know how kids love to imitate us? The other day Ann Catherine told me she wanted to check her email. Cracked me up. You think she's noticed her mommy doing it?
So I pulled up a word document and let her just type away. Now she loves "checking her email."
The other day she asked if I would let her do it, so I pulled up the word doc. I needed to leave the room to do something so I asked Chris to sit with her in case she needed help.
A few minutes I walked back into the room.
Me: "Sweetie, are you checking your email?"
AC: "Yes, I'm emailing Melissa."
I just stood there - stunned. I looked at Chris. "Did you tell her to do that?" I'm thinking that surely he told her, "Why don't you email Melissa?"
"No," he answered. "It was all her idea. She wanted to tell Melissa about the balloons she sent her the other night." (We recently sent balloons to her on my niece's birthday.)
Ann Catherine just looked at me smiling from ear to ear. I didn't know what to say. Finally, I said, "Honey, I think that's great. I'm sure Melissa loves getting emails from you."
I walked back into the bedroom and just thought about it. Ann Catherine is starting to talk more and more about Melissa. I am so glad she does. But, it often catches me off guard. I feel like I just need a minute to regroup when she mentions her, especially if I'm not expecting it.
At the same time, I am so grateful that Chris and I have chosen to talk about Melissa in our home. No, we don't bombard Ann Catherine with it. She'll have plenty of time to learn and understand about her sister's life and death. But I am so grateful that we made the decision to talk about her. She is part of our family and part of our home. And it's important to me that Ann Catherine knows that.
A couple of days later, Ann Catherine, Lily and I were taking a stroll. Out of the blue Ann Catherine says, "Mommy, I was very tiny when I was born." I agreed and said, "And where were you?"
"The NICU," she answered. Then she added, "With Melissa."
Ann Catherine has never really acknowledged that Melissa was in NICU with her. It so caught me off guard.
"Yes, you were," I said.
Then she looked up at the sky and said, "Mommy, Melissa's in Heaven. It's so far away. I can't even see it!"
I thought for a minute. Yes, Melissa is in Heaven and it's far away. But, I don't want Ann Catherine to think that Melissa is just off in some faraway place and that we have no connection with her. So I said, "You're right, Ann Catherine. Heaven is far away. But you know what? Melissa is also in our hearts. She's in my heart. She's in Daddy's heart. She's in your heart and she's in Lily's heart. So just remember, she's never far away. She's always right here" (and I pointed at my heart).
And as she often does, she brought some levity to the situation. She just kept staring at the sky and said, "Mommy, Heaven is so far away we need an airplane or a rocket ship to get there. A really BIG rocket ship!"
I just laughed. I so needed it at such a heavy moment.
I am so grateful that God gives us these "teaching moments" with Ann Catherine to talk about Melissa. I never want to scare her, but I also want to be completely honest with her. Please pray for me and Chris as we navigate this road that, unfortunately, doesn't include an instruction manual.