The other weekend we were travelling home in the car, from a fun filled family day out, when Top Ender said in a quiet little voice;
"Mummy? Do you know why I was crying a few minutes ago?"
I didn't. In fact, I didn't even know that she had been crying. She explained that she had been thinking about Nanny Maw (my Maternal Grandmother who died on Top Ender's Fifth Birthday) and about how she didn't spend enough time with her when she was alive. This broke my heart, as a seven year old shouldn't be suffering from guilt over the time not spent with someone whilst they were alive. In fact nobody should be judged over the time that they did or didn't spend with relatives or friends whilst they were alive.
I tried to put Top Ender's mind to rest with the a promise of a big hug when we got home and then I started telling her stories about Nanny Maw that soon had us both giggling again, but as I sat in the front of the car in the dark I started to cry again. Crying for the loss of someone I loved and for the loss of innocence of a young girl who learnt about death far too soon.
When we got home, I cuddled Top Ender on the sofa and after a few minutes gently broached the subject again. I wanted to let her know that sometimes when someone dies we wish we had done things differently, that we had told them how much they meant to us or had seen them more often but that no matter what the times that we had shared together were the important times and it was those that we should remember. I wasn't prepared for this though, how can I tell Top Ender that everything she is feeling is what I am feeling too?
I don't have any major words of wisdom, I don't have a magic wand that I can wave that can give Top Ender and I one more conversation with Nanny Maw. All I have is my love for my daughter and I hope that it is enough to take away the guilt that she wrongly feels.
I spoke to a wise woman earlier this evening, she told me that wishing we could take away the hurt in one swoop wasn't a wise idea because we have to process these emotions, to understand our feelings and although it hurts, when we come out the other side we are stronger for it. That wise woman is dealing with her own hurt right now, but she gives me hope that the hurt and guilt that we feel over the death of loved ones will one day not hurt quite so much.