Some years ago, when Aly, the eldest of my grandkids was about two and a half years old, on a video call she asked me about her grandpa.
Aly – Dadi, do I have a grandpa?
“Yes, you do?”
Aly – Where is he then?
“He’s not here now,” I said, wondering if she had already learned that he had died long ago.
Aly – I know, she said, with wisdom beyond her years shining from her eyes.
“So you know he isn’t here with us, and you know why, yes?”
Aly – Yes, he is in heaven.
“Yes, sweetie. Your grandpa is in heaven.” I was relieved.
Aly – Does he know about me?
“I’m sure he does.”
Aly – Can he see me?
“I believe he can whenever he peeks through the clouds.”
Aly – (Beaming a bright smile) Does he love me?
“Oh, my dear, you cannot imagine how much he loves you. He adores you.”
Aly – (She’s glowing by now) Dadi, does he miss me?
I choked on my words as tears threatened to spill out and said, “Trust me sweetie, he misses you very, very much.”
Her little heart found a lot of comfort in that assurance. She flashed her angelic smile and settled into the couch more comfortably, content in the knowledge that her grandpa knew about her; loved her; missed her.
Sometimes it’s so much better to sugarcoat a bitter pill.
PS: Down the road, in the present time, she’s eleven and asked me about him and wanted me to tell her how he died, how I felt, and how her father and his brother took it.
This time, I didn’t sugarcoat the pill. She was ready to hear about pain and loss.