I went out to start my Easter shopping yesterday…yes, yesterday. Between a back “issue” and a stomach bug plaguing the house this past week, I was left the day before Easter battling Walmart. Ugh. On my list was to find a book about the meaning of Easter for Brayden(my 3 year old). After a few trying moments throughout the store I had found myself at the “Easter book” section. Thumbing through books of Peter Cottontail and various other bunny books, I came across a book about Heaven. It was geared toward “little ones” and as I was reading through it…I was suddenly feeling it very heavy that my three year old had heard the term “heaven” a whole lot…and I am sure that he had NO idea what we all were talking about when we said that’s where Daddy is…other than it lies somewhere above the clouds we point at when telling him. Matter of fact, it occurred to me when the next book I picked up “Daddy is my Hero”…that he probably has no idea what a Daddy is! The guy in all the pictures that we all look fondly at, but in reality he likely has no memory of being with and adored by. I put the Daddy book back on the shelf, but put the Heaven book in my cart…
(Bray at the Falls, Easter Sunday ’14, where part of Daddy’s ashes were spread)
The night continued on as expected…chaos and fun..and then all the kids were in bed. It was time to get everything together for Easter Morning. I (shockingly, cough) checked in at the computer…likely to update a facebook status or check in on my newsfeed…when I noticed a folded over paper with text on it to the left of the monitor. I am not sure which kid had been reading it and left it there, I haven’t asked. I honestly never knew it existed in that form before that night. The only time I read the words on that paper were, first, by Mackenzie’s English teacher…who sent it to me by email attachment so that I had a chance to absorb what Mackenzie had written before she brought it home in her final report. And then second, by her report she actually brought home…in which I was eternally grateful to the teacher who gave me a heads up and a few weeks notice to figure out what my reaction would be!
The following is a narrative of a ten year old girl who is about to, and does, lose her father figure. It doesn’t speak of Heaven or where he goes…that’s something she and I talk about often, but is not in print. Between the books at Walmart and the narrative I stepped upon, I couldn’t help but think about the children, at all different stages, that Michael left behind. A 1 year old, a 10 year old, an 11 year old, a 13 year old, a 16 year old and a 20 year old. Not all by blood, but all his children and lives he deeply impacted. It’s hard to comprehend what these children think about in these times and how they process everything.
I am blessed that my daughter’s assignment that very Fall was to write about something important that has happened in her life. This was an important tool in her healing. I have shared this with a few close to me…along with the named “Allison” (who was AMAZING) and with Mackenzie’s permission I am sharing it here:
(Mackenzie and Brayden viewing the falls)
The Hospitalby:Mackenzie ClarkMy step dad got very sick and went to the hospital. My mom went first. Then the next day after Dj’s football game we went to the hospital to visit him. When we got there it was very quiet in the waiting room. Then a girl named Alison came and talked to to me and Dj about a lot of the machines and what is happening. Then while we were waiting she gave us things to do like a container with sports stuff and you try to find them all and if you find the penny you get 1$. We didn’t find it though, there was also coloring and playing with dough. Then it was time for us to go in. When we got in it was very sad there was so many machines helping him breathe, stuff to feed him, his heart rate and a really cool one it takes out his blood and cleans it out and puts it back into him and he was very swollen but really warm. I gave him a card and one of the nurses read it to him . And I got very sad when I walked in. After that we left but I didn’t want to leave him. When we got home and we said a prayer for him to get better. The next day we went back and visited him again. We had to wait a little again but Alison came in again before we could go in. Alison came in and gave me some play dough to take in to squeeze. When we got in there it was still very sad. And one of our pastors came in to say a prayer to Mike. After that me and Dj went with Alison into her room for kids. Me and Dj made a poster type thing and we wrote stuff and then we went to one of the rooms and got wet toilet paper and would throw it at it and it wash those bad memories away and it wash those things away and it made me feel good. After that we picked up the toilet paper and water. Then we went back to Alison’s room . And my mom was there and I left but Dj stayed cause I think he was embarrassed to cry in front of other people so he stayed with Alison while we went back to visit Mike. When we got there was a priest he said a prayer and then he left. After that this was my very last goodbye to him so I wanted to to stay in their for a long time and we did, and I had to my squishy ball thing that calms me down a little when we go in there. I squished it really hard and gave him a hug and a kiss then we had to leave then it looked like there was 20 machines! Trying to help him it was a little scary but I tried to stay there as long as possible and we had to leave every now and then for other people to come in. So we kinda went back in forth . But we took a little break so we could kinda breathe from all the crying so much and we went in and out of the room and into the waiting room. I wanted to talk to Kyle and Alyssa, Mike’s children. But I usually see Alyssa every Sunday for cheerleading. But sometimes I look over and shes crying . But then it was our very last good bye I gave Mike the biggest hug I have ever given him and a kiss. And said bye to Kyle and Alyssa. And we all left. Then me, Dj, Jamie, Emily, Zach left . So we went to Mcdonalds and I texted my bff Gabby and she knew Mike for a long time, we even did his makeup and nails once and we didn’t have nail polish remover, but she was sad. So we finished and went home and watched a movie and I watched the Smurfs and we had popcorn and lots and lots of candy! Then my movie was over and my mom came home and Mike was gone he didn’t even struggle it was only like 5 seconds and his breaths got smaller and smaller and smaller then his whole body stopped. Then he was gone and it was the saddest thing ever but I keep one picture in my bag and 2 on my wall and Mike will always be in my heart forever.(Michael and oldest son Kyle at the falls, Gonic Trails in 2011)