If you’ve ever watched the Disney Junior channel, and really paid attention, you’ve probably noticed that the majority of relationships between girls are that of sisters. Not friends, sisters. A few animated shows depict this, but you especially see it in the commercials and Disney advertisements.
Kyleigh’s younger sister is almost 3 1/2 years old. She loves all things princess, dolls and pink. This means we watch a lot of Disney Junior. A few months ago, when Sister would see two girls at the park, store or school, she would ask me if they were sisters. Then one day, she asked me if she had a sister. Now, if you know anything about our family, you know that we talk about Kyleigh. A lot. Sister has heard Kyleigh’s name since birth, at every holiday, as we’re planning the Run/Walk, as we’re doing the Diaper Drive. A lot. Kyleigh is not absent from our home, so when Sister asked if she had a sister, I was a little surprised. I answered with, “Of course you do, your sister is Kyleigh.”
Her reply was, “Where is she?”
I proceeded to give her the short, three year old version, and after that, the conversation ended. In my mind, she had been told about Kyleigh a lot and had a clear understanding that they were sisters.
A few weeks later, Sister started referring to a friend of hers as her sister. I gently corrected her and reminded her again of who her sister is. This has continued off and on, but it doesn’t upset me like I thought maybe it would.
With Kyleigh’s birthday being next week, and the Diaper Drive getting underway, there has understandably been more talk about Kyleigh in our house. Yesterday, Sister painted a picture. She showed it to her brothers when they got home from school. One brother asked her who the painting was for. Sister said, “I’m going to give it to Kyleigh!” Brother told her she couldn’t give it to Kyleigh, thus beginning the back and forth “yes, I can”, “no, you can’t” that siblings often do.
Then Sister asked once again, “Where is my sister?”
We explained again that Kyleigh is in heaven with Jesus. Sister replied, “But I don’t want to die.” Insert my heart breaking into a million pieces. Then Brother stepped up and took over. He explained to Sister, in only a way that children can, about why Kyleigh isn’t with us, but that she’s still their sister. Then he had a great idea. He walked Sister over to the cabinet where we keep memories of Kyleigh and proceeded to take the unused picture stand off the bottom shelf and put Sister’s painting for Kyleigh on it. Sister got excited to see her artwork displayed and was content with “giving it to Kyleigh” that way.
Every time Sister talks about sisters, my heart aches. I have a sister. I know what she’s missing. I know that some day she will understand. For now, I have to remind myself that she’s only three and none of this makes any sense to her. And it shouldn’t.
Today is Maundy Thursday. The day that six years ago, Kyleigh left us. The date changes from year to year, but Holy Week will always have an additional meaning to our family. It’s hard to believe that six years has passed. We have come a long way, but are ever so often reminded by questions of, “Where’s my sister?,” that grief will always be present. We do so much in Kyleigh’s name that sometimes I think people assume that takes the pain away. Having Kyleigh’s Gift gives us a focus, but the tears still flow.
If you feel led to remember Kyleigh on her birthday this year, please consider donating to the Kyleigh’s Gift Diaper Drive. We thank you in advance for remembering our baby girl.