In the week that Isla went back to school, they had a visit from a health and wellbeing troupe who worked with her class on emotional literacy. This had been planned well ahead of time but obviously it was ideal for Isla. Friends and fellow teachers had all pointed us in the direction of various bereavement charities for children. Some of them I’d worked with for children I’d taught who’d lost a parent so I already knew about all the good work they did. We kept it in mind as we watched for any signs that she was struggling with the enormity of what had happened. She has always been a secure and happy girl and we encouraged her to talk about Jude and how she felt about him. We shared that he was a very sick boy and that we were all so lucky to have had such a lovely and happy life together. She started to talk of him as being a little miracle and she told us that he would be in heaven watching over us all (did they have toy shops in heaven?) She was coping well and although she couldn’t grasp the size of the tragedy or the finality of it all, she seemed to understand and assimilate it into her world pretty quickly.
The people who came to the school did lots of exercises and workshops with the class. One them was to ask the children to move around according to how they felt. If they were really happy they should run, quite happy they should jog, walk if they were feeling okay and crawl if they were sad. Isla told me that she walked that day but she felt that soon she would be running again. I asked her how she felt the rest of us were doing and she told me that daddy was walking with her and they could sometimes run but that I was crawling. That was only 3 weeks after my life fell apart, I felt okay with the diagnosis. We’re now 3 months on and she says that I’m walking now and she can see that I’m feeling better.
Of course I know that I’m still crawling. I’m just getting better at hiding it.