Emmett is bursting with questions this year. He is getting older, wiser and more interested. He knows Uncle Greg through stories and photos and he also had a recent and jarring introduction to the reality of loss when Gram Gram died a month ago today. He knows more, understands more, he misses someone who was a cherished friend and playmate to him.
He wants to know where she is, and he wants her to come back home. I told him she is with Uncle Greg, now. I told him she is in heaven, and she would celebrate his birthday with him. Emmett asked me where heaven is, and I told him I didn't know. I said it could be anywhere- all around us, or in the sky, or someplace we haven't even dreamed up. He told me it's in the sky. He told me they can come back down here when they are ready.
I reminded him that they are both gone. We can't ever see them again, here. This means so much more to him, now, because he wants Gram Gram back. He relates this to Uncle Greg and he wants him to come back with her. He wants to see him, hug him, talk to him, really know him. It breaks my heart that he can't.
We made a birthday cake this morning, Emmett and me. He helped- mixed, cracked the eggs, fetched the ingredients and the measuring spoons. We were a team. He asked me, "How will Uncle Greg have a piece?"
I said that we would celebrate for him, eat it for him, since he isn't here. Emmett said, "Gram Gram will make him a cake." I said that was a nice thought, and I hoped she would. He asked me what kind it would be. The answer, of course, is chocolate with mocha frosting. We decided Uncle Greg was lucky to have two birthday cakes.
Emmett happily ate his piece of cake (cut off pre-frosting- Emmett does not like frosting), chatting casually about heaven and the sky and birthdays.
At bedtime, I thanked him for celebrating Uncle Greg with me today. I told him I am glad I can share this with him and we can remember him together. He asked if we could do it again sometime. I promised we would, every year on his birthday.
Then he told me he thinks Gram Gram and Uncle Greg don't live in the same place in the sky, "but they visit sometimes."
"I think that's nice. They can go back and forth where they live and spend time together?"
"Yes. They can. . . Remember we had snacks at our hotel at Disney? On the shelf?"
Today has been really tough for me. Greg's birthday has hit me fairly hard, especially right after losing Gram. I am sad and I am struggling, but tomorrow is another day. We made it through the day. And Emmett has been an enthusiastic and curious help and distraction today. We looked at photos, talked about my memories and had friends over for lunch and cake to celebrate. As long as we keep making new memories and treasuring the old ones, we will continue to heal.