The evening was going great. We’d picked Little Miss from daycare in a happy mood, and she had proceeded to be 100% polite and whine-free for the first time in her toddler life. Everything she wanted came out as a soft-spoken request: “I’d like this, please, Mommy.” No whining, no fussing, no fits. I was amazed, and happily allowed her the privilege of watching the “blue choo-choo train” (Thomas the Tank Engine) before dinner, thanks to her ever-so-polite request. We even went outside the norm and set up the card table and folding chairs and had dinner in the living room (of course, it was Husband’s idea because last night was the final games of the regular baseball season).
Just as I was sitting down to make my burrito, after making sure Little Miss had her cheese, tomatoes, beans, olives, and juice, I mentioned something to Husband about Ryann, the daughter of our friends who died at 18 months old in May. Little Miss looked up with her brow furrowed and looked me straight in the eye and said, “Want to see Ryann!”
I couldn’t handle it. I got up from the table, managed to say, “Oh, honey, you can’t see Ryann!” before the tears started. As I hurried out of the room I heard Husband say, “You can see pictures of Ryann…”
For the next ten minutes I sat on my bed in the dark and used tissue after tissue while I tried to pull myself together. I could hear Little Miss and Husband talking in the living room – Husband trying to convince Little Miss to eat her tomatoes and olives before getting more cheese, Little Miss calmly insisting she have more cheese immediately…and all I could think, over and over, was that Little Miss would never be able to see her little friend Ryann again. It broke my heart.
Of course I think the situation was worsened by the fact that pregnancy hormones were involved, but who would have guessed that Little Miss would remember Ryann just by hearing her name? She hadn’t seen Ryann since mid-May and we hadn’t talked about her a lot in front of Little Miss – that was unintentional, but it occurred to me last night that it was true.
After my private tear-fest I finally made it back to the dinner table and enjoyed a couple of burritos with Husband and Little Miss. She didn’t bring Ryann up again, but I am now reconsidering my decision not to frame a photo of Ryann and hang it in or near Little Miss’ room. Maybe she should hear about Ryann. Maybe she should learn to miss her.
Maybe I should face my fear of crying in front of my daughter and stop avoiding continued grieving for a life lost too soon.
Maybe this weekend I’ll order a print of Ryann and buy a frame. A life that sweet deserves to be remembered.
Little Miss and Ryann, reading together early last spring.