Working on the computer tonight, just doin' my usual, when my daughter, Olivia --who should be asleep-- comes to the side of my chair and tugs gently on my arm. It is not uncommon that this will happen. Though my oldest is sleeping comfortably in her room, Olivia still sleeps in the living room most nights. It's a work in progress.
But tonight, instead of her usual "I'm not tired," or "I'm thirsty," she said something that she hasn't said in a while, perhaps a few months, and it took me a bit by surprise.
"I miss Poppo."
I didn't know what to say at first, so I scooped her up and sat in the recliner and talked to her about it. Basically, it's hard to help a four-year-old understand death. She had a lot of questions about why. We talked about heaven, and Jesus and how long people live. She asked about a few people one at a time; me, mommy, Meema, Bubbi, Poppi, Grandma and Grandpa; and asked if we were going to die. I assured her that most people live a long time. I used my Aunt Ruby as an example, who is nearing or around 90. I also reassured her that death is only a sad thing for those left here on earth. Poppo is in heaven with Jesus (who she thinks is a baby?) and he is no longer in pain. He is happy. Best of all, she can still talk to him or Jesus any time she likes just by closing her eyes and praying. Poppo is right there, in your heart.
Most likely, this was just playing right along with what she wanted, which was just simply a few minutes more of my attention even though she should have been asleep. Four-year-olds can be manipulative, just because they don't know any better. Sometimes as a parent, even though you know your heart strings are being pulled for this reason, you play along just because it helps you too.
I miss ya, Frank. I thought I had more time to spend with you. But I guess everyone's time is limited. I pray to see you again some day. Good night.