Shortly after losing Preslee, I received a letter from my neighbor. In it she shared her brother passed away years ago, and her parents rarely spoke about him. Though we didn’t have any children at the time, she urged to me talk about Preslee to any future children we might have. She said Preslee’s death pushed her to ask her mom about the brother she knew very little about, and she learned more than she imagined she would.
It was at that moment I promised myself that our future children would know who their older sister was. As our three little boys have grown, we’ve made sure they’ve heard her name.
Last month, as church came to an end, I picked Ledger up from his primary class. His teacher handed him an envelope that read, “Ledger’s Family,” on the front of it. All he could talk about was the envelope on the ride home, and when we walked through our front door, he eagerly opened the envelope and one by one pulled out little stick figures who represented our family. They were colored too nicely to be Ledger’s artwork, so I instantly knew his teacher had made them. And as he grouped them all together, to my surprise, there sat a little girl…his sister.
I’m not sure why I was so surprised, probably because we had only lived in UT for two months and I’ve told very few people about Preslee. I turned to Pat and asked, “How do you think they knew?” He responded by asking Ledger a question:
“Ledge, How many people do we have in our family?”
“What are their names?”
”Mom, Dad, Ledger, Cannon, Cruiz, and Preslee.”
”You have a sister?”
”Yes, she fell into a canal and lives in heaven.” He stated it very matter of factly as he played with his stick figures.
I thought about this experience for the the rest of the day, and realized it’s just part of life for him. He doesn’t feel awkward talking about it, it’s all he knows. Later that night, Cannon, who talks very little, jumped on my lap, stood up and pointed to the picture above my head and quietly whispered, “Pwesee.” It was his first time saying her name. And Cruiz ironically did the same thing the week before while Cannon was sleeping.
One of the most common questions I’m asked by mother’s who have lost a child is, “Do your kids know who Preslee is?” My answer is, “Yes, yes they do.” And though I once feared I’d never be able to mix two worlds, it has happened - much easier than I thought it would.
Since we’ve moved, Ledger has been extremely emotional about Preslee. He constantly brings her up, he asks all sorts of questions about her, including how do we get closer to heaven? (He was only three at the time) Not too long ago, I finally asked him:
“Bud, why are you so sad about Preslee all the time?”
“Mom, I miss seeing her. I used to see her in Rigby, not anymore.”
“You mean at the cemetery?”
”No, at our house.”
I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I do believe in my heart that the veil is thinner for children.
To all you mom’s out there who grieve that your children won’t know your sweet angel in heaven, I promise it’s possible. A little effort goes a long ways, even if you cry almost every time you talk about him/her. I think my tears have taught my boys to love and respect their older sister—something I hope never disappears.