My mom gave Kate a picture frame when Jack was still alive that says "My Big Brother Loves Me" on the top. We have it on display with a picture of Jack and Kate together in Kate's room. Every once in awhile I will point to the picture and say "That is Jack, That is Kate." I also have pictures in my wallet of Dan and Jack (Kate too!). Yesterday Kate was playing with my wallet and flipping through the pictures. I pointed to Dan's picture and said "Who is this?" Kate said "Dadda!" I then pointed to the pictures of Jack and said "Who is this?" My heart melted when she said "Ack!"
I couldn't believe that she knew his name and even said it with an emphasis (she is growing up too!), almost like she knew we say JACK! with an exclamation mark at the end. My eyes welled up and I don't know if it made me sad or happy, probably both.
Sad that she will never remember Jack. Sad that she was cheated out of the opportunity to have a big brother protecting her and making sure her boyfriends treat her right in high school. She is cheated out of an older brother who will push her down and skin her knees, who will teach her to build forts and to pick her boogers and wipe them on eachother. She will never have teachers that say "Oh, you're Jack's little sister" or have the pleasure of personally knowing what an awesome, fun and energetic person Jack was.
I was happy that she recognized him, even if just in a picture. Happy that Jack will be a part of her life, just in a very different way then we expected. Happy that Dan and I have the responsibility from early on to teach her about the value of life and that death is not to be feared. What a great responsibility for us and one that will take some figuring out when the time comes. If there is a heaven, there are many wonderful people waiting to greet us again, including JACK! It made me happy that I am confident in Dan and my raising of Kate that she will not grow up thinking she needs to "compare" to Jack or "be like" Jack or worry that she was never "good enough." Without effort, we have grown to love Kate even more for all the things that make Kate Kate, which are quite different than the things that made Jack Jack.
I wonder if she will ask us questions about him when she is older, will she want to see pictures or watch video of them together? Will she grieve in her own way and when we talk about family, will she include him as a part of hers? I guess we will see as we go but for now, I will continue to delight myself in what we had, not what we lost and celebrate our "girls" that make our family what it presently is today.