The day my husband died suddenly aged 68, three policeman and two paramedics invaded my house within forty minutes. Fifteen minutes later, my two besties arrived from ten minutes away. Fred phoned my son-in-law for me with the news and then the funeral home. I think Jan made a pot of tea later.
My daughter, Lindsay arrived later with Michael. But my granddaughter, at three and a half-years-old was in a pre-school/daycare all day. Ariana bounced through the door late in the afternoon while Michael was cooking dinner.
We gathered at the table and I reluctantly took my place at its head. Ariana, who had only ever seen her grandfather sit there, looked at me for a long moment, then at her mother.
“Where’s Granddad?” she asked.
The moment had arrived when we had decided to tell her.
“Do you remember when your chicken died last week?” Lindsay started off.
And the conversation and explanations began. Ariana accepted it and within fifteen minutes changed the subject as I anticipated she would.
However, at 7 a.m. the next morning, she knocked at my door and crawled into bed with me.
“I’ve questions,” Ariana announced. “Why did Granddad die?”
We talked for a long time. I endeavoured to provide simple answers but her concern was obviously for her mom and dad. Would they be next? I reassured her that they weren’t sick or old, and her parents could expect to live for years. It was enough.
She ran off to get dressed.
Over the week before the memorial service, Ariana had more questions, which we answered honestly with simple facts. We also described the service to her.
However, I have never forgotten that early morning conversation while cuddling in bed with my young granddaughter. It gave me insights and stability, which I drew on during the following days and months. It was as if something clicked into place in my head and told me everything would be all right — it wasn’t the end. The youngest family members were our future and that’s where I would focus.
The circle of life was alive and well.
© Julie H. Ferguson 2017
Vancouver-based Julie H. Ferguson is an addicted traveler who is intensely interested in the history and culture of foreign lands, as well as Canada, and her stories and images reflect this focus. Julie never leaves home without her cameras and voice recorder, always looking for the colour and sounds that captivate readers everywhere.
A non-fiction writer for forty-five years and an avid photographer, Julie is also the author of twenty-six books, including four about Canadian naval and church history, six for writers, and sixteen photo portfolios. Her articles have appeared in national and international markets, both print and online, and her images have been exhibited, published, and sold.