Friday, October 7, 2011


Special thanks to our regular guest contributor Matthew Croke who is filling in for Jackie today!

The first day of pre-school was minutes away.  You could see the parents glide into the room as if on hover shoes, their little ones following closely behind.  My Molly, holding my hand tight and almost hugging my leg, walks in the room with me.  She sees the sand table, pulls away from me like my hand is on fire, and I am quickly forgotten.

The teacher, Mrs. Linda, is a woman in her sixties, but possesses the energy of a twenty year old.  She bounces from parent to parent collecting all the mandatory paperwork and vaccine records.  She bounces her way over to me and I hand her the papers. “Anything we should know about Molly that is not in here.” she blurts out, catching me off guard.  From the tone of her voice I could tell she is expecting a “No.” and then off to the next person.

“You should know her Mom died when she was only 3 months old.” I said, watching her face make the same expression when I tell people the news; cheeks drop, eyes slightly close, and lips held in a forced half smile.  “Thank you for telling me. I am so sorry. Don’t worry, when Mother’s Day comes around, I will make sure we make a card for grandma or an aunt.” she says.

I have gotten better at this, and a few years ago I might have acted awkward which would make the situation more awkward.  But I place my hand gently on her arm, “Thank you so much for looking out for her, but I do want Molly to make a Mother’s Day card for Lisa.  She has a Mom, she’s just in heaven.”  The teacher’s forced smile relaxes into a natural one. “That’s good to know, I sometimes don’t know what the parent wants.

There is something about a death, where the instinct of others leans towards the “the person never existed” phenomenon.  I have a good friend who once brought up Lisa, and at the end of the conversation actually apologize to me for talking about her. “Don’t apologize.” I said “It’s not like you’re bringing up some night in Vegas where hookers were involved.  This is Lisa; she was my wife, I’m proud to talk about her.”

Trying to keep the name alive of the one we lost is a challenge.  But for today, at least I know Molly’s very first teacher will support my wishes of letting her know she does indeed have a Mom, we just can’t physically see her.  


  1. Beautiful!
    What a gracious way to say what needs to be said.
    We want to keep them alive.
    We want to say "yes, they lived! Real lives, beautiful ones that are worth remembering">
    Thank you.

  2. Well said. Thank you.

    As a widow, it is music to hear people mention my spouse's name and bring up something they recall about him or an adventure they shared. It lifts my spirit and yet it happens so seldom....

    But our wonderful spouses lived and touched our lives. They mattered.

    Your post makes me recall a poem I read once-- I think it was titled "Say Olin to Me" and about a father's yearning to hear the name of his deceased son. It is comforting to share memories and hear the names of those we loved who are no longer here.

    Your daughter is lucky to have you keep her Mom's memory alive. Good luck to you.

  3. I agree with anon above. It makes ME feel awkward when people act like he did not exist or are afraid to talk about him. He is still alive to me, in spirit, my thoughts and my heart. I enjoy hearing stories about him also, although I rarely do. It's sad, because it also makes me feel as though when I pass, I will be quickly forgotten, my life will be forgotten, and everyone will scurry off to move on with their lives, just like they have done now. I'm hitting two years which we all know is not a long time, but others think it is long done and over with, and I get no special consideration. I am still grieving, with the exhaustion, tears, missing him constantly, and finding no meaning in life. People disconnected from my grief a long tlme ago. I'm glad you expressed yourself to the teacher, and want your child to keep Mom's memory alive. Thanks for this forum to one else wants to hear it.

  4. I know it's hard . When people talk about my late husband I have to remind myself he has passed. It has been almost 6 months now and I still wake up and say "why am i on this side of the bed" Oh ya that's right he passed away. Thinks like that happen to all of us I think. Grieving isn't a picnic and when people tell you he's in a better place It doesn't help. We all miss our loved ones.

  5. I, too, am coming up on 2 years, after the holidays, which I am already dreading. Everyone (but my grief group and a few closest friends) thinks I have moved on from that life, but it is still very much a part of me, and always will be. I do see signs of healing, but the journey is not over yet, and may never be.

    I have started to bring my husbands name up in conversations on purpose, it seems to help put people at ease. Those who have not experienced the loss of a loved one often have no clue to what it's like, and I have to keep reminding myself of that, because I, too, was once like that, clueless.

    Matthew, sounds like Molly's teacher "gets it", you just have to communicate your wishes with her, and have started that open dialogue at first meeting. The sand table brings back fond memories, my husband built one 20 + years ago for our preschool, as well as the coat racks and climbing loft . I wish Molly many fun filled learning days in her first school experience.

  6. Wonderful post Matthew! I, too, am coming up on 2 years and like others have responded it is so difficult because the world around us has considered us to be "over it". I don't believe that will ever happen as our lost spouses will always take up space in our hearts. I very much need to hear stories and be able to talk about my husband either through tears or laughs. At least we have this venue to being expressive.

    I also believe your strength and ability to keep Lisa alive spiritually will enable Molly to do the same. Blessings to you!

  7. That's beautiful, and I so wish my dad felt that way. We lost my mom 5 years ago next week, and he hates it every time I bring her up. She was my best friend, and to not even be allowed to bring up her name or happy memories is very sad.