A big concern of mine is that I do not project my emotions on to my (living) children any more than I normally would, had we not lost Cale. What I mean is that I don't want Finn (and Mary, though I'm starting to see it more with Finn since he's older) to mistake my feelings for their feeling, but at the same time I do think it's important for children to learn empathy and I think part of the way you do that is you have to teach kids how you feel and hope it helps them better understand how they feel.
Our kids will always grow up knowing who Cale is, and helping us celebrate and remember him. When Finn asks to see his pictures, I show him. I don't want Cale to be forbidden or off limits for Finn, but at the same time I don't want to push him to talk about Cale or love Cale in any way that isn't his own.
We have a book, Someone Came Before You, which is a short children's book about a couple losing their baby and going on to have another baby. Finn occasionally will pick it out to read and is becoming more aware at the emotions and the story - "Oh, are they sad?" "Did they miss their baby like you did?" things like that. He will ask me if we were sad when baby Cale died and I will tell him yes, we were very sad and once when my friend Amy asked him how he was he said he was "sad because we lost baby Cale." Which, don't get me wrong, I think is very sweet, but I honestly think that was more a reflection of a recent conversation and not really him being sad or feeling like he was missing Cale.
About a week ago Finn was flipping through a book we used to read a lot when he was just a new toddler called, What's Up, Duck? A Book of Opposites, and he came in the room to ask me "is that duck sad?"
I said, "yes, he's sad."
"Why is he sad?"
"I don't know. Maybe he's sad because he was naughty or maybe he's sad because he was in time out."
"I think he's sad because he lost his baby duck."
When that occurred we had not been talking about Cale recently so I found it interesting that he associated the duck's sadness with losing a baby. Again, I think it's sweet, but I also want to ensure that he understands that being sad can be associated with lots of things. And I do I think he grasps that - he will tell me he's sad when he misses mommy or daddy or when he's in time out or that he's sad for other logical (and illogical) reasons.
I recently hung up the sketch of Cale and Finn came over and said, "ohhh, is that baby Cale?"
"It sure is, buddy."
"Is Cale my broder? Did he died"
"He is you brother, honey and yes, he died."
"He's so little."
"He was. He was just a little baby."
"He will grow bigger so he can't die"
"No, sweetie. I wish, but when you die you go bye bye and you do not come back."
"Sometimes you do"
"No, honey, you can't"
"Do you want to go downstairs with me?"
And so we went downstairs and left it at that.
I want to talk about Cale, but don't want to force a conversation on him. I wish so badly Cale could grow bigger so he won't die and I love that Finn asked that question, as heartbreaking as it was.
I just hope that Finn (and Mary) never, ever feel like an inadequate replacement for Cale. But I also don't want them to feel like an adequate replacement either. I want them to know how special Cale was and is and how special each one of them are simply for who they are.