“Aunt Jenny, I wish I could hold Emalynn.” The words rolled off her tongue as naturally as when she’d asked her dad for chocolate chips in her waffle that morning. It was a matter-of-fact statement from a not-even-yet 5-year-old little girl. I just looked at her and whispered… me too sweet girl.
It was not the first time my niece spoke candidly of Emmy. In fact, it happens on a fairly regular basis. She speaks honestly…bluntly…with no reservations. Something no adult has been able to do with me when it comes to the death of my daughter. And friends…it is so refreshing. Every time she says that beautiful name…Emalynn…it keeps her memory alive.
As a bereaved mother, I wish this kind of conversation was the norm. I understand…it’s hard. Hard to find the “right” words. Hard to know when (if) it’s the “right” time. It’s uncomfortable. I get it. But, it doesn’t have to be.
The thing about kids is…they don’t have the barriers of social context holding them back. That’s why we have the saying “Kids say the darndest things…” because they do. But those “things” kids blurt out, that are so often an embarassment to their parents, are always honest. And real. Because kids don’t get it…that some things just aren’t supposed to be said out loud. Or maybe…maybe adults don’t get it.
By no means am I saying we should remove all social filters on the thoughts that enter our minds and escape our mouths. The words we speak are powerful. But so are the ones we don’t.
At one point or another, we all face difficult circumstances. The loss of a loved one, a life-altering health diagnoses, infertility…all of these things are part of life in a fallen world. Often, what we truly need in our darkest moments is honesty…to hear those words most are afraid to say out lout. We need someone to be frank…like a 4-year-old.
“I wish I could hold Emalynn…” Yes, baby. Me too.
Thank you Ella, for continually giving me grace.
**As a side note – or a highlight really – I have to thank my brother and sister-in-law for always keeping Emmy a presence in their lives and the lives of their daughters. Their girls are young…and it would have been just as easy to let them forget her life…and her death. Instead, they have chosen to talk and to teach and to treat Emalynn as an equal part of our family. I am eternally grateful for that.