Journeying On

This morning my toddler woke me up and demanded we make “dada juice” (carrot and apple juice). I informed him that we didn’t have any carrots and, to be honest, we were out of everything after most of the food in our fridge went bad following the return of a spontaneous trip to California.  He asked if we could go to the store and buy carrots.  What kid asks that?!  He nodded his head and said, “Yes? Yes? Yes?” in the same persuasive manner his father used to get whatever he wanted from me. I smiled and said, “Sure!” He kissed my cheek and did his new penguin dance, celebrating his happiness in anticipation of making “dada juice”. 

While driving down the road en route to the grocery store, Cullen started talking about his dad, Matt.

“Mom, I have a Daddy like Oliver has a Daddy right?” Cullen asked, reflecting on his time spent playing with his best friend and his best friend’s father on the playground after school.

“Yes! You have an amazing Dad who loves you very much,” I say, reassuring him that he is correct on all accounts.

“My Daddy is in the stars? Why?” he then asks. His understanding of things in this life is evolving and his questions are getting deeper.

“Daddy died,” somehow comes out of my mouth, tasting bitter and cold. I’ve never said those words so directly to him. His eyes widen.

“Where?” he asked.

“At our house,” I said, afraid I was over sharing, but it was early so my brain was still a little groggy.

“Oh! How come?” he digs deeper.

“Daddy got really sick with colon cancer and died. Then he went to the stars,” I said, expanding his understanding of why his dad was “in the stars”. 

“Is he still sick?” our toddler wonders aloud.

“No, he is not sick anymore,” I say.  

“Mommy, why did Daddy have to die?” 

Tears begin streaming down my face. Our baby is asking the very question I ask of myself daily.

“I don’t know buddy,” I respond.

“Mom, you crying because you miss Daddy?” he asks, shooting another direct question my way. 

“Yes, Mommy misses your Daddy so much!” I reply, turning to look at him as I arrive at a stop sign.

“I miss Daddy too, Mommy,” his eyes soften as sadness spreads over his face.

My heart breaks a little more. I take a deep breath, attempting to collect myself so we can get the kid some carrots for goodness’ sake. How is this our morning?!  How did this all come to be?  His questions and understanding are expanding, and it will only continue.  Our sweet boy’s loss of innocence is real. His friends have real life Daddies, while his Dad now resides in his heart.

A few days ago, while on a trip to California, the babysitter informs me that Cullen shared with her that his dad is “in the stars”. I gave her the cliff notes version of our past three years and she gave me her condolences. Despite our family looking different from most of his peers, I am thankful that Cullen is able to acknowledge he has a Daddy; a Daddy that loved him with all of his heart.  Cullen’s birth gave Matt the greatest reason to fight to LIVE!

During our trip, I was taken back to memories of our time in California two years ago as a family of three. As I stare at Hotel Del Coronado, I long for that family and that life. I smile, thinking of how Matt laughed at me and questioned whether Cullen was our child because as a 10-month old he declined to play in the sand at the beach.  I now turn around to see our almost three-year-old son and niece, Chloe, splashing in the ocean.  I can’t get him out of the water. He even chants “Ocean! Ocean! Ocean!” in hopes of building sand castles and wading in the water endlessly. He is our kid. 

Back to the reality of today. Sitting in the Sprouts parking lot.

“You ready to get carrots?” I smile and ask my sweet boy, still in his Batman pajamas.

This morning was unexpected, but so is this life! Who knew that two years ago that family trip to Coronado would be our last together? Now, Cullen and I return from California trying to make sense of, once again, why Daddy had to die. 

Cullen and I are taking it one step, vacation, breakfast and car conversation at a time as we move our way through this life. We are still juicing and eating oatmeal for breakfast in the exact same way Matt prepared for us each morning because Matt is always with us. 

Always & Forever!  Live Moore!!!


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