Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Jazz - The Super Special Bear

When I was younger I collected teddy bears. I'd get one while we were on vacation and it kind of became a thing. Then I got them for birthdays and Christmas and eventually I had way too many. When I moved to North Carolina I brought with me only what would fit in my car so almost all my bears stayed with my parents. But Jazz Bear came with me. I got Jazz Bear at the end of my teddy bear collecting phase. I saw him in a store and thought he was adorable with his big belly and he's so soft and cuddly...but I was "too old" for that so I didn't get him. 

My mom did. She surprised me with him later (and for some reason she named him Jazz Bear). But when I moved, he pretty much stayed in closets until I had Grant. Then he became Grant's.

When he was old enough, I told Grant that Jazz Bear is very special. That's he's sort of a present from my mom because she gave Jazz to me and now he belongs to Grant. And that if he hugs Jazz it's like getting a hug from me and my mom. He accepted Jazz Bear as a special thing and most of the time when he wanted to sleep with him Grant would say "Jazz is special because he's from your mama and he was yours and now he's mine, right?" And that was as far as I'd ever been able to go with it because I get really emotional talking about that stuff with Grant.

Next week we'll be coming up on 5 years that my mom has been gone and back in February was 4 years since my dad's passing. It's still hard but I've learned that talking {and writing} helps. So it's appropriate that Grant initiated our first real conversation about my parents. For me, it came completely out of left field but looking back, I think he's been wanting to ask. But he's a smart kid and kids pick up on way more than we give them credit for, so I think he doesn't talk about it because he knows it's hard for me.

It started with Jazz Bear at bed time, it usually does. Grant couldn't figure out which animal to sleep with, so I suggested Jazz. Grant said "Because he's your super special bear, right Mama?" I told him, again, when he hugs the bear it's like a hug from me and mom. Which made him ask "But she died already, right?" I said yes and he asked how she died. I didn't want to get so detailed that I scared him but I wanted to answer his questions. So I explained that she was very sick and that she went to a lot of doctors but they couldn't make her better (an explanation that I'm always worried will scare him but I have yet to find a better way). He knows she's in Heaven so he says she's "up there". 

He also asked if my dad died already too, which he knows, but I think he was just trying to talk about it. So I said yes. He asked why my dad died. You can't explain alcoholism to a 4.5 year old so I said that he, too, was very sick. That he tried to get help to get better but the doctors weren't able to make him better either. He just said "Oh" and laid there quiet for a minute, like he was thinking.

He asked "Who else is up there?" I told him my Uncle Charlie is up there with my mom and dad. And our dog Brodie. And my Grama. He asked "...do you...miss them?" Which of course I do, I said I miss them all the time but I tried to keep my tone light and not sad. I was pretty proud of myself for not breaking down because this was the longest we've ever been able to talk about my family.

Then he broke my heart. He was very serious and a little sad and I want to say even a little sorry for me. He said "So...you don't have any families left?" So I reminded him of how much family I do still have left - him, Husband, my sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws - and that seemed to cheer him up. He was done asking questions then, for now, so it was a good note to end the conversation on. 

He asked some good questions. He was very serious and I feel like he really listened. It was a really difficult for me but I know it's going to have to happen more so I'm happy that I handled this first one so well. It's important that Grant knows my parents and I'm going to be the biggest part of that so I'm glad we're heading in the right direction.

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