Telling My Children

Lily and Emmy knew their grandpa, Ed’s dad, was very sick. During the summer, they went with me to take him to his infusion. He was trying a new treatment that was supposed to use his immune system to help fight lung cancer. The grandpa that shuffled slowly down the hallway using a walker was not the grandpa they had known just a few months ago; the grandpa that played with them and made them laugh.

One day at the end of September, I had to wait until both of them came home. I had gotten the call while I was on the treadmill at the gym. Ed told me to go ahead and talk to them. He would see them later that day. My children come home from school at different times. Emmy goes to the elementary school and Lily goes to middle school, and with their school day and extracurricular activities, they never walk in the door at the same time. I waited until they were both home, sat with them, and told them something extremely difficult. Their beloved grandfather had died that afternoon. The tears flowed as I tightly hugged both of them before we headed to the hospital to meet Ed and his sister.

Telling your children that someone they love has died is never easy. Years ago, when Ed’s mom and then my mom passed away, they were so young. Lily was five, and she asked me so many questions about death. She was so curious about what it all meant. It was hard for me to talk about it without crying, but I did. I wanted to be open about death and about grief. Emmy was practically a baby and doesn’t remember her grandmas, so Ed and I fill in the details by telling stories about both of them.

Lily and Emmy are both old enough now that they will remember their grandpa. They understand death a little bit better now. But that didn’t keep my heart from aching when there was an empty chair at Lily birthday party last week.


Three Weddings and a Funeral

Some of you will remember that fun movie with Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell, Four Weddings and a Funeral. What I meant to say is that the weddings were fun, but throughout the whole movie, I kept wondering–who was going to die?

The first family wedding we were invited to this year actually took place inside Busch Stadium in St. Louis, where the Cardinals play baseball. The bride and groom are both (obviously) big Cardinal fans. Ed went to the wedding to represent our family, and he made sure to wear a Cubs tie! I was looking forward to seeing the photos he took on his phone, but the best one was a picture of dinner–a bacon-wrapped hot dog! Fortunately, I’m friends with the bride on Facebook and was able to see some better wedding photos, including the one of the Cardinals’ mascot, Fredbird, dancing with the bride!

The second family wedding was in downtown Chicago at the Drake Hotel, and all four of us were able to attend. Lily and Emmy were so excited to see their cousins and to be included in such a formal occasion! The girls loved the white roses on their plates and the mints in the bathroom. I loved the matchboxes (which sounds weird until you read this post) and the live band. I think this photo sums up the excitement so well:

family wedding


And then, at the beginning of October, we had a funeral.

My father-in-law had always been such a healthy, energetic man, and after Ed’s mom died, he really pitched in to help with Lily and Emmy. They adored him. When he was diagnosed with lung cancer last year, he started to slow down. The last couple months of his life were such a struggle–and I am blessed that I was able to help him just a little bit through his cancer treatments. It is never easy to see someone you love die, especially when you are also relieved that all the suffering that cancer brings is over. Grandpa Bill is now at peace with Jesus, and that brings us comfort.

We held a memorial service for Ed’s dad on the first Saturday in October, and then that Sunday, I got a phone call. My 57 year old cousin had suddenly had a massive heart attack and died. I was unable to travel to Arizona for his funeral, although I really wanted to be there.

Grief for my father-in-law and my cousin wore me down, and so the third wedding in the middle of October came as a relief. I was so looking forward to celebrating with the happy couple. And I was also looking forward to spending time with Ed! We headed downtown a little earlier for the reception than we needed to and wandered along the lakefront.

Ed and Ginny

As we were walking to the reception, we stumbled on the Caldwell Lily Pool near the Lincoln Park Zoo. I had never even heard of it before! It was a beautiful place to wander around, especially in the fall. We were soon on our way to the wedding reception, which was also a beautiful event.

Caldwell Lily Pool

So there you have it. Three weddings and a funeral.