It’s a perfect summer day, without a cloud in the sky, as my daughter skips down the sidewalk ahead of me. Her love for the outdoors is visible as we stroll down the street of our neighborhood. It’s a quiet afternoon; the only sound is our shoes hitting the pavement. As we approach the street corner, my daughter’s sweet voice startles me. “Mommy, where is Parker,” my surviving triplet asks.
It’s a name often talked about in our household, but the sudden question was enough to give me chills. I knew this day would eventually arrive. At four years old, my daughter was bound to ask about her brother and sister who are not strolling the neighborhood with us. She never met her identical sister outside of the womb. Abigail, our first triplet, passed away shortly after birth; brother Parker died in the Nicu, just shy of two months old.
As we continue to walk, I ponder my response. How do I explain to my daughter that she’s here, yet her brother and sister died more than four years ago? It’s a dilemma I have feared for years—showing our sweet girl how amazing and strong she is, all while making sure she never feels any survivor’s guilt. After a few moments, I turn to my daughter. “Parker and Abby are in heaven,” I respond. My daughter glances up and points as she asks, “Up there, in the sky?” As I look up above me at the vibrant blue sky, I smile and nod through my tear-stained eyes.
I stop walking and turn to my daughter, admiring the strong, young girl she has become. Her approach to life is full of smiles and happiness, a kind-hearted child unaware of the difficult journey she endured to be here today. She has no idea the tragedy that unfolded in the first year of her life. She’s unaware of the countless moments when we didn’t think she, one-pound miracle, would survive the night. If only we could all see life through the eyes of this child; her innocence a trait I never want to tarnish.
As we sit down on the curb, I’m at a loss for words. Trying to explain such a heavy topic seems taboo for a child. She can’t even tie her shoes or write her own name, there is no way she can comprehend the loss of her triplet siblings. My daughter repeats the question a few times, wondering where that familiar baby in the picture is today. I close my eyes as I think back to those early days, Parker reaching out for Peyton, knowing that his sister is nearby. It feels like just yesterday when I held them in my arms, a feeling of bliss rushing over me as I cradled them for the first time together. The tears begin to fall as I picture myself on that fateful day, holding them for the final time, and two days later being surrounded by family at my son’s funeral.
As I open my eyes and brush the tears off my face, I turn to my daughter ready to answer. With a smile I say, “Yes, sweetheart. Parker and Abby are up above in heaven, watching over us. They are making sure that we’re having the best day ever, every single day.”
For a few seconds, my daughter stares off in the distance. I can see the gears in her brain quickly churning. With a grin growing across her face, Peyton replies, “I’m already having the best day ever, every day.” After a few moments, she looks to the sky and continues, “It’s because of Parker and Abby.”
For years, I have dreaded this conversation, fearing I might say the wrong thing. But as I sit next to my daughter, all is right in this moment. My young child is teaching me a lesson on life and death, with a little help from her brother and sister above. As I look at my daughter, my heart is pounding with pride. My daughter is wise beyond her years.