My nine year old niece, Morgan was the only one of my nieces and nephew that really ever spent time with Joey. We always went to the circus together and was with him at family functions. One year my family went camping and I'll never forget waking up at 6:00 a.m. to Morgan and her friend Lauren talking. Morgan says to Lauren, "well Joey should be here today." And, I just laughed to myself. I thought it was so cute that she would even think to mention his name. We had never told her that he was coming camping with us and he wasn't. He was actually in the hospital at the time we went camping. There have been a couple times since he passed away almost a year ago that she has mentioned his name to me. She went through my contact list once on my phone and saw his name and asked if I was going to delete his entry, and I said, "no, I'm going to keep him in my phone."
Today, however, was a different story. We were at my Dad's for an early Easter celebration, and we were sitting outside and she took my arm and was looking at my tattoo. She said, "what does this mean?" I said, "well it's his dates." I didn't want to elaborate that it was his dob and dod on my arm. So, she reads the dates and then says, "so, he was 26 years old?" And, I was super shocked and said, "yep, that's right!" She said she was surprised she remembered that. So, it's not like she calculated him being 26 from his dob and dod (which, btw, I wouldn't put it past her to be able to calculate that in her head at only being nine years old). After that she dropped it. Later on into the day, she asked me if I missed him? I said yes, of course. Then later on again, she started talking about religion class at school and that her teacher told her something to the effect of that if you believe in God, you'll go to heaven and if not, you'll go to the devil. I told her that even though our family didn't go to church or have a religion of our own, that we always believed in God. She said she knew that. I told her she should also pray before she goes to bed and that she should have her Mom teach her the Lord's prayer. I have no doubt that she won't forget to have Jennifer teach her that. Then she proceeded to ask why Joey was so sick all the time and I told her that he had Cystic Fibrosis and it made his lungs sick. She said so that's why we do the Cystic Fibrosis walk? I told her yes and that it helped raise money to find a cure for CF. Then somehow I proceeded to tell her that Joey was in heaven, at peace and he was happy now.
I love that she asks questions and that she cares so much to think to ask. It's definitely hard for me to explain things to her because I want to make it as simple for her to understand and also not break out into a sob in front of her.
I think kids although I don't have any, can make anyone go crazy, they also keep us grounded. I just hope she continues to ask questions and keeps him in her heart forever.
In Loving Memory of Jose Joey Gabriel Garcia
7.23.81 ~ 4.30.08