Adaline is three. She recently said to me, "Mommy, I will never forget the Day of Charlie." She doesn't remember everything, but she remembers enough that it will stick with her forever. She remembers riding in the truck and asking if he was okay. She remembers Mommy and Daddy "crying and crying over and over and again." She remembers the screaming and the sadness and that we went to live with Nanny. Sometimes she asks me , "Remember when we used to live at Nanny's house? Why did we not live at our house then?"
It's hard to hear the things she says sometimes. Sometimes I'm busy, and I don't want to think about Charlie right at the moment she wants to talk about him. Often she will ask to look at his pictures and she will say things like, "Please show me my brother. He is always my brother and I cant see him if you don't show me." And stopping in the middle of my day to walk her out to his grave site or look at pictures or talk about him often times breaks my heart in ways that I can't even explain to her. She, unlike us grown-ups, can't pick and choose what times she wants to grieve and when she doesn't. She doesn't understand that it's not a good time to start weeping and have the rest of my day thrown off by extreme sadness. She just wants to remember her little brother.
The worst is when she tells strangers at the store about her little brother. People "ooh" and "ahh" over the twins and then ask her how she likes being the big sister and she will say something like, "I've been a big sister forever. I have a Charlie too and Ill always be his big sister." And then people will say, "Oh, my, you have another one too?" Yes. Yes, I do. He's with Daddy. Or he's at home, or at my mom's or whatever. But now she's getting old enough to ask me why I said that. As we were walking away from someone yesterday she said, "Charlie's not with Daddy, Charlie's in his spot in the ground where his picture is." And the lady looked at me very confused. Smile big smiles- that's what I try and remind myself to keep from being this crazy lady with twins and a toddler weeping in the middle of the produce section at Kroger.
One of the things that has come up in conversation with my mom and my husband lately is how and when we are going to explain Charlie's death to the twins. We walk back to see his grave regularly, and even though they are only 8 months I know that at some point we will need to explain to them that he was their brother. And at some point that they are rainbow babies, born just shy of one year after him, conceived just 5 weeks after his passing. And how will they feel? What questions will they ask? Will they think things like, "If he hadn't died, I wouldn't ever have been born." Because it's true- we never would have tried to have another baby any time soon if we hadn't lost him.
Having kids is so awesome and amazing, and even though I've been at it for a few years now I still don't think Ill ever get used to the idea that your emotions can't always be kept where you want them because kids have questions. And I have to answer them, even if it's not a good time for me.