We went to Wisconsin this past week for a couple of days. This time, when we came to the cemetery, we didn’t drive past. We stopped. The cemetery is at the top of a hill. We got out of the car and trudged through the snow. We stood with the cold wind whipping on our faces looking at the frozen light blue flowers. A wreath held a laminated card that says “Henryk Otto Thiel.” A broken little family standing over a little grave. His body was really there under that ground.
We stood for a minute and then prayed. Then we said, “Ok, let’s go.” And Lily said, “Ok, let’s go in and see Henryk.” When we had told her earlier in the car we were going to stop she started getting upset. We realized afterwards that she thought we were actually going to see him. She had been working herself up to it. I went in the car and cried while Michael stayed out by the grave and explained things to her yet again. That Henryk’s body is in the ground because it stopped working, but that the other part of him, his soul, is in heaven. She was confused why we weren’t getting him out. Michael explained that we can’t bring him out of the ground. We think she got it, as much as any of us get it.
Today she was playing with a toy phone and said, “I’m looking for Henryk’s soul in the contacts. Oh, here it is, I found it. ‘ Hi Henryk . Merry Christmas to you. See you soon baboon.'”
So many people have been asking us how Lily is doing. We are so thankful that people ask about our Lollipop, our Lilypad, the Pumpkin, the Peanut, the Honey Bunny, the Lilybird, the Scrump Nugget, the Goof Ball.
Lily is moving through the process of healing from the upset to her life and also understanding death. Each day there is a new facet to her perspective. At first she kept thinking Henryk was laying on our bed in our room. She kept saying, “Henryk is in your room,” and we kept telling her that no, he wasn’t, he was gone. Then finally, after she kept saying it, I asked her if she really thought Henryk was in our room. She said, “I know he’s not. But he’s in your room.” She was just trying to figure this out.
Then for a while she thought he went back into my belly and asked him to come out again. When I told her that is not where he was, she wanted him to be in her belly. Then she asked to have more babies so we could be happy again. Yesterday she told us that Splatter, one of her toy trains, was kind of sad because Henryk is gone.
Shortly after Henryk died while we were standing in line at Barnes and Noble a woman and her small son came up in line behind us. Lily started yelling that she wanted the boy to go away. He had to go away. She was so upset we just left. Michael talked to her about it twice afterwards and basically gathered that she didn’t want that other mama to have a boy when her mama couldn’t. She said that mama could stay but the boy had to go.
We have some dear friends who are expecting a boy and when we were telling Lily that there was a baby that would be coming out she said, “The baby boy will come out and then he will die.” We had to explain to her that not all babies die, but that Henryk did because he was sick.
Some days she does really well. She is so sweet and funny and learning so many things quickly. Other days bring pretty emotional melt downs. More emotional than a normal tantrum. Transitions, like leaving home or going from one thing to the next, can be a challenge and need a lot of lead time.
We are just so happy that she is talking to us, and pleased that she can verbalize these things. We figure talking through things is the most helpful for her long term. It has been quite special to be able to focus on her again. She really is a shining star to us.
And we are sure that Christ will redeem both of our children’s lives. The Psalmist describes his grief here: For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. (Psalm 31:10) But then Isaiah says: And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35:10)