As a parent I am always trying to protect my daughter from the world. It is not because I want her to be oblivious to the way the world works, but rather I want to make sure she can have a childhood. I was naive to think we would make it until she was through her teenage years without a big event that directly effects her life.
She was so stoic when Justin passed away. I could see this person that was not an 11 year old at all, but a grown person that felt like she had to help others. There were moments where I saw the little girl, like when she held my hand and looked into my eyes with tears in hers and said “mommy I promise I won’t ever do this”. As a parent its a defeating feeling to know that this is something you can’t protect them from.
I feel I have done her a disservice though, because grief takes me over and it comes spilling out over everything in my life. While we have constantly been talking to her and checking in on her, I think she believes she needs to be strong for me. She was seeing the counselor at school and we keep reminding her that we would be able to get her into someone now to have her speak with. She keeps just saying she is ok.
She has been having a tough time sleeping, at first we chalked it up to a pre teen just trying to stay up all night playing video games, but I started to get concerned. This last week one night where I had to stay up to get ready for an over night shift (I always try to stay up as late as possible the night before), I asked her to come out of her room and sit next to me on the couch. When she sits next to me she always instinctively finds the spot where she fits perfectly into the crook of my arm and I can kiss the top of her head.
I asked if she was having trouble sleeping for any reason, she burst into tears and said “I just miss him so much.” My heart shattered into a million pieces again. She talked openly about closing her eyes and only being able to see him without life left in him. She said she doesn’t want to sleep until she is so tired she has no choice but to sleep.
There is something so wrong in having to hold your child while she sobs and wonders what she could have done differently to let Justin know he was loved. I said to her people love people in there own way. I asked her if she remembered when Justin said he was happy she was coming to his school so that he could look after her and make sure that no one ever bullied her. I asked if she remembered when we told her that Justin was transgender and wanted to be called Justin and it was something she took without questioning and was so accepting. She said she did. I said that was him showing you how much he loved you, and you showing him how much you loved him without strings attached.
I so much don’t want this pain for her. I don’t want it for anyone. Somehow though it has stolen some of her innocence and I know there is nothing I can do to change that. She writes about him in her summer journal and she has drawings of him she has done hanging all over her room.
I feel like she lost so much more than any of us did, in all of this.
There will be professional counseling in our future. In the mean time, I will check in with her in every quiet moment, remind her that her dad and I are here for her. I lost my courageous brave nephew to these bullies, I won’t lose my sweet daughter to them.
She won’t ever be the same without him, and there is nothing I can change about that.