Last night my Sweet Girl had trouble sleeping. It’s been a while. She was pensive and sad, but she was willing to talk to me.
But before I continue, I have to explain what she’s doing right now. She thinks that she’s learned to hold her breath.
“Look! I’m holding my breath!”
Then she sucks in a deep breath, puffs out her cheeks, and quickly clamps her hands across her mouth to hold her face. While she breathes through her nose. But she’s HOLDING her breath. With her hands. Get it? ::nudge nudge:: GET IT???
Okay, so last night she comes into my room with her head hanging, feet shuffling, and eyes teary.
“My eyes aren’t working. They won’t stay closed and let me sleep.”
“Are you having trouble tonight?”
“It’s my eyes. They won’t stay closed and my brain is all… um… ”
“Thinking? Is your brain doing too much thinking?”
So I offered to let her lay in bed next to me and to give her some sensory input. Her skin was dry and itchy so I massaged some of my favorite body butter on her, and that helped relax her perfectly.
“Are you feeling better?”
“What’s a casket?”
“O… kay. We’ll go with that. Is there something you want to talk about?”
“Yes. Do we know someone who passed away?”
“Yes, honey. Are you telling me you want to talk about Nonnu?”
::tears spring to her eyes::
“Yes, my Nonnu. He had a casket. Why a casket?”
“It’s a special silky kind of bed in a pretty box so that someone has a nice place to lay down when they’re buried. Does that make sense?”
“Yes. Why did we kiss roses for Nonnu when we… um… and we gave him the roses… we kissed roses… why we do that?”
“Why did we kiss roses at the cemetery? It was a special way to pass along a last kiss since we couldn’t kiss Nonnu’s cheek again.”
“Do you miss your Nonnu?”
“I miss him. I sad about Nonna missing him. She always sad now.”
“Do you want to think about a happy memory about you and Nonnu? Do you remember when you and Nonnu would sit at the table with salad and hot peppers and bread?”
“Did you know that your name is very special to your Nonnu and Nonna?”
“Well, it is. You know how Daddy talks about your Uncle F? He was Daddy’s little brother. That means he was Nonnu and Nonna’s son and your uncle, right?”
“Well, his whole name was F-. His nickname was Fe. Your whole name is G F-a.”
::sweet smile and more tears::
“That made you very, very special to your Nonnu. That’s why every time Nonna writes you a card, she writes it out to ‘G-a F-a.'”
“I like that. My name is special. Nonnu thought I’m special.”
It was so poignant and the look on her face was just so… angelic. I couldn’t believe a.) the length of the conversation and b.) how much thought was going into what she needed to ask. Encouraged, I prodded her a bit.
“You’ve been thinking about this a lot haven’t you? What else have you been thinking about?”
“I see Nonnu before he passed away. You can’t say ‘die’ or ‘dead’ because those words hurt people’s feelings.”
“Yes, you’re right… passed away is a gentle way to say ‘died.'”
“I see Nonnu when he was died. He was in bed.”
“Did that bother you? Or scare you? Was that the wrong thing to do?”
“No! I not scared. I sad. I said good-bye to Nonnu. He not scary. It was sad. Nonna was sad. I sad for Nonna. I sad for missing… I just… I not…”
“It’s okay, honey. I’m sad too. You’re doing great. I’m happy you talked to me. Is there more you want to say?”
“Yes. You are dangerous with a hair brush. And I mad you not ever let me have chocolate again! I hate lactose intolerance! I not going to be lactose intolerance ever again! I want chocolate!”
And there we have it. The chocolate. I pointed out how many different ways she can have chocolate that doesn’t have milk in it, and how the next time I go shopping I’ll try to find some of her special chocolate. But the tears over the chocolate didn’t just glisten in her eyes as they had through the above conversation, or trickle down slowly.
They burst out of her eyes like a rain storm.