Children are curious by nature; especially mine. My 5- year- old daughter Julia is constantly full of questions. Some are easy to answer, others are more complex. Regardless, my husband Brian and I have always tried to be as honest as possible. I am very thankful that she is so inquisitive.
I must admit I didn’t have any answers for her latest query. The other night, Julia came to me and wanted to know why Liam’s heart stopped working. She also expressed the sadness in never having the chance to talk to him. I was speechless. Both Brian and I have had similar questions. Most of all, we wondered why Liam was born with such a sick heart in the first place. In a perfect world, I would love to give Julia an answer that makes sense, but there isn’t one. There never will be.
In case you haven’t already figured, Liam was Julia’s big brother. He was born thirteen months before Julia and died at nine days old. Almost immediately after Liam’s death, my husband and I agreed that he would always be remembered and remain a part of our family. That included speaking about him with any subsequent children.
My sadness, which lingers every day, has taken another form. I am now also heartbroken for my other children, who will never get the chance to meet him. As they age, they will begin to ask more and more questions. I already see sadness evident in Julia Our younger son Owen is two years old. I know he will soon experience the same.
As a family, remembering Liam is very bittersweet. As much as it touches my heart to hear Julia say that she misses her big brother, it is immensely sad as well. Both my children will grow up without him. They have been robbed. There are also additional complications that arise in such a painful reality. In the last year, Julia has brought up her own heart. She wanted to know if it worked properly. We have done our best to reassure her and let her know that her heart is perfect. In Liam’s case, the left side of his heart never grew in properly. Julia’s heart was intact from day one. She understands as best as she can. Although prepared for that question, it was a tough one. I am fully aware on how a serious illness can affect the mental state of anyone, let alone a young child. It is tricky. I do not want either of my children to grow up with painful emotional wounds. I do not want them to constantly worry about their own health.
This September, it will mark seven years since we lost Liam. Physically, he was the one born with a piece of his heart missing. Figuratively, he has left a family behind that is brokenhearted. We will go on and continue to honor him in the best way that we possibly can.