When decorating for Christmas this year, our almost three-year-old chose a little ceramic tree to put in her bedroom. She cleared a shelf on her book nook and carefully placed it there. The next day I found her little elephant and giraffe figures admiring the tree. They’ve stayed in that spot through the holiday season.

She loves her figures. She has princesses and animals and characters from her favorite books and shows. They are some of her favorite toys. I bought her the elephant and giraffe on a whim to add to her collection. See, she’s our little elephant, and Patrick—our son who died—is our little giraffe.

Sometimes I wonder how much she understands about the little boy who came before her.

We talk about him. He has special spaces in our home. He has his own Christmas stocking. She doesn’t really talk about him much, though. I figure some day she’ll ask questions, and we’ll answer them as she asks, in the most age appropriate way possible.

We talked with her about Patrick a little this past October 15th, for Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Day. And, as we lit the candle for the International Wave of Light, she asked, “Mama, can Patrick come and live at our house?”

We told her that we wish he could, but that he died and didn’t live here on earth with us anymore. She didn’t ask anything further, so we stopped there.

But, occasionally, she does things that makes me think she understands quite a bit more than we think—like placing her giraffe and elephant together in a place of honor in front of her little Christmas tree.

Then, on Christmas morning, I opened my Christmas gift from her. She’d picked out a necklace with a giraffe for me, completely on her own. She told me she picked it because, “You love giraffes, mama.”

Yes, I do, little one. Yes, I do.

She may not fully understand yet, but she knows her mama’s love, and she feels that her mama has that same love for another little one too.

 

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