Dear Michael and Sophie,
You know how you love watching those videos of your first steps, Michael turning in circles and then finally taking step after step, and Sophie wobbling on one foot and then the next to Daddy with his hands out to catch her? Me too. Daddy and I had our cameras ready to roll for days knowing you were both about to do it, knowing you were about to reach a first, and we were excited about it.
Sadly, on Memorial Day 2013, you experienced a first that Daddy and I feared was coming. You lost your first person. On that day your Gigi died.
Do you remember when we took you to visit Gigi in the hospital? I hope you do and that it helps you to understand this loss a little bit. You saw Gigi in her bed with tubes to help her breathe, and you seemed to understand that she was very, very sick, that she couldn't talk or hug you, and that we were all very sad because she probably wasn't going to get better.
We talked that morning about how when people live a long, long time like Gigi did, sometimes their bodies can't get better when they get very sick. You gave Gigi pictures you drew for her, told her you loved her, and we made sure you said very clear good-bye's before we left. Like those first steps, we knew that visit would probably be the last time to say those things, so we tried to prepare as best we could.
Like showing you Gigi in the hospital, Daddy and I thought it was important for you to experience Gigi's funeral, to sit with family as we cried and hugged and cried some more. We told you that Gigi had died, and that it meant her body stopped working and we wouldn't see her again. We told you what happens at a funeral, who would be there, and that many people would cry. Gigi was Daddy and Uncle Nick's grandma, Papa's wife, and Grammie's mom, so lots of people were going to be sad. You were ready to give and get lots of hugs because that helps everyone when we're sad.
Because Daddy and I loved Gigi so much and were so sad that she died, we wanted to be sure we didn't miss any of the funeral. You sat right behind us with Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) in case you needed to leave. We made sure that they brought you into the church in a way that you wouldn't see Gigi's body. We just didn't feel it was time for you to see that. It turned out that you did just fine. Michael did announce that he had raisins and that he wanted more raisins a couple of times, but even in those moments your innocence and cuteness seemed to help a lot of sad people that day. I believe Gigi would have been happy that you were there with all of us.
Do you remember hearing this song at Gigi's funeral?
One of her friends made us all cry even more by playing this and inviting us to think of Gigi dancing...with Uncle Ryan in heaven. As time goes on we'll talk more about what people believe about heaven and certainly more about Gigi and Uncle Ryan. There's so much more to share with you when you're ready.
What I'll tell you for now is that Daddy and I both keep thinking of Gigi's voice latley, proudly saying, "Where are my babies?" She always called out for you when she arrived for Christmas and Easter and all other family get-togethers if she knew you were there. Whenever Gigi called us on the phone, often worried about how we were doing during bad weather or having heard about one of us being sick, one of her first questions was always "How are my babies?" Many of Gigi's church friends told us how she always had a new picture and a story of you two to share. In all of these ways Gigi showed us that you brought a special kind of joy to her life. She loved you very much.
Having lost all of my grandparents over the years, I can tell you that when people love you with joy in their hearts for your whole life, that love sticks with you after they're gone. It stays with you in your memories of them. Daddy and I, with the help Grammie and Grandpa and Papa and Uncle Nick and Aunt Molly, we're going to do our best to tell you what we know about Gigi's life. That way all of our knowledge and memories of her will stay with you, and her love for you can lift you up in that special I've-loved-you-forever kind of way. In that way she'll live on.
With (lots more of that kind of) love,
P.S. When Gigi was young, she loved to dance...