A Sister’s Grief

Flora has a deep and abiding sadness over the loss of her brother Gabriel.

And I’ve no idea how to handle it sometimes.

Last night, we sang happy birthday to my nephew L. His birthday was actually last week, but I am a Bad Aunt, and completely forgot to call. Or I’m a Good Mom because I forgot to call because Kate was suddenly ill with a fever.

Either way, yesterday I took advantage of Niece and Nephew being next door, brought them to Flora’s soccer game with us, and then we went out for dessert. Yes, I was that woman in the Eat ‘n’ Park with five children, including three *very giggly* girls.

Once we got back in the car, I asked all the kids to sing happy birthday to Nephew. Michael wanted to celebrate his birthday with a song, too, but because his birthday isn’t until December, I told him he’d have to wait.

Then I listed the order of birthdays: Kate, Niece, Nephew, Flora, Michael, then Kate again. I added Jesus’s birthday (Christmas) for good measure.

Flora asked when Gabriel’s birthday was. I told her he was delivered on June 8. (I don’t call it a birthday.)

She proceeded to get very upset that we never celebrate his birthday.

Which is true. We mark the anniversary of his death, usually by going to the cemetery and placing flowers on his grave.

“Yeah, but we don’t celebrate him,” she pointed out, starting to cry. “That’s not fair.”

She was oddly insistent on the “celebrate” part.

I was utterly non-plussed.

It’s not that I don’t think my pregnancy with Gabriel isn’t something to have been celebrated. Dan and I did celebrate it. To say it ended badly is a gross understatement.

And while I acknowledge Flora’s feelings of injustice, I did point out that we don’t celebrate the birthdays of deceased people, people who aren’t with us.

“But he is with us!” she insisted. And I do somewhat agree with that point.

I feel bad that I can’t help Flora with her grief. I don’t think she’s silly to miss a brother she never knew, a “big brother” who predeceased her conception. I miss him every single day, although my grief is not as visible as it used to be.

However, I also don’t think I’m going to buy a birthday cake on June 8, fair or not.

What do you do with others’ big emotions?

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One thought on “A Sister’s Grief

  1. Wow. You can see Flora’s head dealing with both the fact that people die and the fact that she lost a brother she’ll never know. I think we celebrate people’s birthdays because we have to stop and remember to be grateful for people who are around us every day. But when people die, you are right, we celebrate our memories of them every day, not just the day they were born. But in Gabriel’s case, wow, is that hard. My heart goes out to you and to Flora, as she learns, perhaps a little too soon, about this baggage we carry called grief.

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