Charlie and James keep amazing me by their love, empathy, and openness about baby Tinsley, and how they continue to process the death of their sister. They surprised me with these drawings one morning, which were totally unsolicited. They just wanted to color some pictures for her.
Part of me worries as they age, their blind acceptance of the spiritual guidance I’ve given them about death and the afterlife will change… and the innocence and peace they have about her will start to disappear. Of course on the flip side, they may also grow in their conviction that baby Tinsley is, in fact, present in our lives — just not in ways that we can see with our eyes…
Some sweet pieces of their journey below…
Recently James and I were watching the Lion King, and we got to the part when Rafiki tells Simba that Mufasa lives in him. James asked what that meant because he thought Mufasa lived in heaven, since he had died. I said yes, but part of his spirit lives on through Simba, in Simba’s heart. James paused and then asked, “so does baby Tinsley live in me?” And I said yes, she does. And then he asked if she also lived in me and daddy and I said yes, she does. And then James burst into a huge grin and turned to baby Henry and exclaimed, “Baby Henry, baby Tinsley lives in you, too! Isn’t that wonderful?!” And of course, my heart burst in joy and sadness.
Now that it’s turning into spring, flowers are starting to bloom. I have a complicated relationship with winter/spring/change of seasons, as most loss parents do. But the other day after I picked James up from daycare he told me he had BIG NEWS to share! Baby Tinsley’s tree has started to grow flowers!! (our daycare planted a tree in her honor). James keeps such close tabs on her tree… protecting it out of what I would call a natural big brother’s tendency to take care of his little sister.
All of that said, James is still just a sweet little four year old. I was having a “big feelings” one weekend and James came to pat me on the back and console me. Charlie and James at this point both assume if I’m crying it’s because I’m sad about baby Tinsley — and they’re right, my tears almost always do go back to her. But James asked me, “Why are you still sad about baby Tinsley since we have a new baby?” He tried to convince me, “It’s okay, we have baby Henry now.” And it opened up a conversation about the fact that I will always miss Tinsley — I could have a million babies and I would still always miss her. The message that he ultimately ended up with was that I love all my children the same… no matter where they are or what they do.
It’s also time for the Star Legacy Foundation’s annual 5K. When I was working on our Team Tinsley’s fundraising page one evening, James kept interrupting me (can I have more milk, where’s my coloring book, can you put on Blaze on Amazon, etc, the usual!). So little Charlie finally told James he needed to leave me alone because I was working on something for baby Tinsley. Little Charlie’s respect for the time I need to give Tinsley — writing poems, visiting her grave, my volunteer work for SLF — is just as profound as his understanding that I need to feed or change Henry when he cries. He treats her as an equal sibling, who needs mommy’s time, too.
My older boys mend my heart, all the time, in how much they love and honor her.