did sissy die there?

I try to prepare.. especially for things I think will be hard for the kids. Not sure why.. I am pretty much always wrong.

Jonathan had a kinder prep day today. I was worried about how hard it would be for him.. and me.. But he was nervous in the more typical jittery way. Being at Jennifer’s school didn’t seems to knock him the way I thought it might.

He was bummed at first when he found out he wouldn’t be in her room.. But that was really all. No kids in uniforms.. lining up in a different spot and I guess just knowing it wasn’t a school day made it easier for me than I prepared for.

..until I got in the car.



“Mom did sissy die there?”

Like being slapped in the face. A sudden and harsh burn.

So we talked. He asked who was there when she died. He asked what cancer is and why Jennifer got it. He asked what EXACTLY I did to try to save her.

He was scared she had died there at school.. That’s what started it all. “Mom did sissy die there?”

He can’t quite piece it all together. I never would have seen this all coming.

He wishes she hadn’t moved to heaven. He wants to have her here. He is sad. Big overwhelming sad.

We parked and I asked if he would like a hug. “yes.” I didn’t even unbuckle him.. Just held him still in his carseat. Then I looked at him.

The pain washing across his face ripped into me. Tore me apart. I remember that look from my other son. The day we told him sissy’s body stopped working. .. I remember when Jonathan lept into my arms. So totally confused about the tears burning his eyes when he wasn’t hurt.. well at least not the way he had, up until that day, known as hurting.

I will never ever forget the way he looked or the force that he drove himself into me with. The way he felt pushing and clawing into me. .

My almost 4 year old boy Nicholas had the same lesson about pain today. His chin quivered and he his eyes just bore into me as they were overtaken by tears..I just sat there..

This picture captures him pretty well.

Helpless. Holding his wide hand watching his innocence being stolen. A slow silent overtaking.

Right there. .. 9:30 a.m in the back of my minivan parked in my driveway. He was propelled to a new level of life and grief and understanding … one that I am not sure I knew until I heard her last breath.

I will never ever forget the way he looked at me.. the depth of pain in his eyes.

I unbuckled him as the tears fell from mine.. I took off my sunglasses so he could see that I knew.. without words I knew.

She loved to take care of Nicholas from the very beginning. ..
She loved to take care of Nicholas from the very beginning. ..

I watched his face change and struggle against what it was being forced to see. It was reminiscent of watching a man cry .. The impact that carries. .My stoic little boy.. This little man of mine. Gripped by our truth. Brave enough to ask questions.. to want to know the answers.

I’m not sure any tears actually fell for him. I almost wish they had. That would be something I was equipped to deal with.. a 3 year olds tears.. But this was so very different.

please help me sissy

help me with him.

help him jennifer

he needs you

more than he needs me.

DSC_0793..until there is a cure..


6 Responses to “did sissy die there?”

  1. your instincts, and the way your heart moves you to react as you navigate this impossible reality, never cease to amaze me. Sending you so much Iove. You never leave my thoughts.

  2. As difficult as it must be for you how wonderful for the children that these moments come up for them and they can talk to you and sort it out in their minds and hearts. Love to you all, you are an amazing family with a great ability of how to help the children through this pain.

  3. I will forever remember this, as I too have to explain and then see understanding of why Sloane’s older sister (Maren 3) cannot walk, or why she cannot tell mommy when she needs to go potty. Not your depth of understanding with Nicholas, but on some level I see the great young mind, feeling the daily pain. I read your blog and am amazed every time. Thank you for allowing the Bristow family into your world.

  4. I will not just be sorry; I’ll be active. I want to Flutter right now…for Nicholas, so no other little boys ever have to have that look on their face again the way you described it.

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