My little guy was only eighteen months old when his big sissy was killed, yet he grieved deeply—things only an intimate family member would notice, from obvious sadness, to delayed speech, to extreme attachment, to outbursts of anger for no apparent reason, to speaking of death constantly once he figured out the words… It has been a most painful experience to watch all of my children nearly drown in grief, struggle to stay afloat, and now press forward with faith that they will see their big sister, Josie, again. Perhaps watching them grieve has pierced my heart more so than even the personal grief I bear…
My biggest fear for this littlest one, was that he would soon grow up without any memory at all of the big sissy that played midwife to his mommy when she labored with him—the big sissy that adored him with her WHOLE, ENTIRE HEART!!! I felt determined to make her name, her life and memories a part of our family’s normal, everyday conversations—for our sake, but especially for his… I wanted him to feel like he knew her as though she had always been “present” in his life.
One of the very few dreams I have had of her after she died, was that of seeing her standing there smiling at us… My little Will recognized her instantly, and even reached out his arms for her to hold him. This dream brought me immense comfort! It blessed me with the certainty that he would NEVER forget his biggest sissy, and she would ALWAYS be a part of his life! Her legacy would not die.
He is nearly five now. Some may think I am exaggerating the fact by saying that he remembers her right off nearly every single morning… However, “I miss Josie!” is literally the first thing out of his mouth most days. My heart sinks, and then I force a smile as I tell him, “I know,” and, “I miss her, too.”
Then, with a great twinkle in his eye and a dimple in his smile, he gleefully proclaims, “She be back!!!” This time I cannot help but smile, as I reply, “Yes, she’ll be back!” We have spoken of her resurrection since the night she was ripped away from us…
I used to believe that talking about death was not wise with especially young children, believing it would create unnecessary fear and anxiety. I have now witnessed just the opposite—my little Will is a stalwart example of faith, hope and light. Of late, it has caused my heart to skip a beat and my eyes to water when he mentions how much he misses Josie, because I, too, miss her more and more with each passing day. He quickly notices my pain and reassures me, “She be back!!!”
His faith has bolstered my own. To him, Jesus is as real as his big sister, Josie, that he miraculously knows, remembers and loves… It has always been my prayer that she would continue to be an integral part of his life, and God has heard my heartfelt plea.
I believe that by hearing us speak of her freely, and without fear, her memory and spirit has been kept very much alive in our hearts and home. I do not doubt, either, that Will’s adoring big sissy has paid him a few special visits over the past three and a half years—unbeknownst to us… It is impossible for my heart to linger in despair when that little voice boldly attests, “She be back!!!”