She says she won't ever forget him. She still regularly draws pictures of them together, of him alone in a field of grass, of him "as he looks now, wherever he is."
She looks at photos of him while teaching her sister to say the word "Papa", the name she gave to their grandfather who left us a year ago today.
when he died.
I want her to remember how he used to lovingly call her "Zo", how he read her stories, covered in Scotch Tape because she wanted him to be "Tape Boy", how he spent half an hour in the bathroom with her when she was potty training and sang to her while she sat there.
And what can we say to E, who will surely not remember him at all? There is only one set of photos of him holding her, and I remember so clearly having to rush to get the camera to take them, because she clingy at the time and was sure to start crying at any second.
I am so grateful I got the camera in time.
She will hopefully see his smile and know something about his character and his love.
My father-in-law so loved his family, and while we grieve the loss of his presence in our lives, I grieve too the loss of his presence in his granddaughters' lives.
We've gathered here in Vermont, alone at my parents' lake houses, to remember him. We're eating his favorite foods, baking his favorite cakes, looking at pictures, lighting candles, telling stories, laughing and crying. Every time someone calls for "Dad" in this house, right now, it is my husband who answers, bittersweetly, all of us wishing he wasn't the only Dad here, now.
This time of remembrance is for his wife and his kids who miss my father in law daily and deeply and will do so for the rest of their lives. It is also for his grandkids, who may not remember him much at all.
We are teaching them to grieve, as we stumble through it ourselves.