Monday, December 20, 2010

"I miss Ella"

That's what she told me this morning as we were on our way to a meeting.

I had to take the LGBB with me, it's just "that time of year" when there is no other alternative. So we packed the car with little books and crayons and a bumper Pre-School Activities book (she likes the dot-to-dots and mazes the best) and set off a little before 7.30am.

My daughter, this second child of ours, is really quite remarkable. Her attitude and co-operation today were nothing short of exemplary. When she blurted out, on the back of talking excitedly about Christmas, that she misses her sister (whom she never met in life, having been conceived almost two years after Ellanor passed away as a newborn), I was reminded once again just how remarkable she is, and of the Big Questions and how I would always have to be ready with an answer... even if that answer was a sympathetic nod of acknowledgement.

And so it was today, for after she announced she missed Ella, the LGBB then told me informatively, "A long, long time ago, when I was just a leeeeetle little baby (she laboured the point for good effect), I used to play with Ella when she was a girl." Oh, I see! I replied, remaining neutral as always so as not to taint this either way. "And then, when I got older, I wasn't Ella anymore."

I get confused and intrigued by these seeming slip-ups of the LGBB's. But the thing is, they are such consistent "slip-ups" that I do wonder sometimes. She is adamant she used to be Ella, before she grew into being Lolly. I am berated sharply by her and always have been for trying to correct her. And I have read before the stories of kids blurting out details to their astonished parents (mothers, usually) about how they used to be So-and-so but were now - well, duh! obviously - themselves.

Honestly? I don't like the idea that this is her perception. Of course I don't. But I also accept that this is her perception. Perhaps for now, it is the way she is integrating the understanding about how her big sister can be both dead and still a part of the family. Perhaps this is how she feels close to Ellanor. I can hardly blame her for that. This is an area where I have to use much tact, caution and some gentle boundary-keeping. That is all I feel I am permitted to do, for this is not just a "while she's young" thing. The passing of our firstborn daughter will affect our living daughter for the rest of her life too.

She misses Ella. It may seem strange to you, dear reader, but this statement warms my heart so much that it might just fill to bursting. My most precious thing in this world - Lolly - is including our other girl, our guiding light, even in this busy, exciting, festive atmosphere we've got going here. Perhaps this is what makes her feel more keenly towards Ellanor. I know it pulls me closer to her around this time every year.

I know it's not meant to be, but I feel like it's our little secret, Lolly's and mine, that this week she will be hand-holding with Ellanor somewhere in the ever-after "out there". And I feel the luckiest, because I will have her other hand tightly in mine.

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