Empathy by Six Now
Our Little One had her first birthday with our family this last weekend. She reached the exciting age of four. She is excited mostly because being four means presents, being allowed to go to our church Kids' Club, and moving up from her pre-schooler swimming class to a "real" swimming lesson like her sisters.
Her fourth birthday also brought her first real tears that we have been able to attribute to (and name for her as) grief for the loss of her foster carers. No doubt she has grieved for them over the last seven months, but we have mostly seen it through behaviours.
This weekend we had proper big, fat, wet tears accompanied by whole body sobbing, buried in my neck. Clearly this was not just about missing out on opening the pass-the-parcel that had just occurred. The birthday cards from her wonderful foster family were certainly the reason behind the tears.
"Baby Girl, are you sad?"
"On your birthday?"
"I wonder if you're missing somebody?"
Slow nod and more tears.
"I wonder if you're missing X and Y?"
Uncontrollable sobbing and a hug so tight it took my breath away.
So we talked for a few minutes. About how it's ok that she misses them. They were her first family. They took care of her for so long. How she loves them.
We talked about her Gran. My Mum. Who never met her youngest two grandchildren. Who I miss. Every. Single. Day. Who would be so proud of Little One. Just like X and Y are proud of her.
And off she went. Happy again.
I can't even begin to imagine what this is like for Little One. And I may never really know what she thinks or feels about this time in her life.
But I do know what it is to suffer loss. A crushing, all-enveloping, devastating loss.
And I pray that this empathy helps me to be a good, loving, empathic Mum to our little girl. And our older three girls. There has to be some good come from the loss.