How to Be Brave When You've Lost a Big Part of Your Heart
Updated: Aug 25
A couple of weeks ago, my daughter BB was at a schoolmate's birthday party.
It was a gorgeous, 80-degree day, and the party had a giant inflatable bounce house with two slides that landed into a little pool.
The hosts had adult beverages for the parents and plenty of good food for all.
It was going to be a good day.
My daughter loves anything in the water, so she didn't hesitate to jump right in, splashing around and playing with her friends (and making some new ones).
I sat in my chair drinking an IPA, chit-chatting with surrounding parents, and aimlessly scrolling away on my phone.
At one point, she ran up to me and gave me a hug.
"I miss Uncle Beau Beau." she said.
"I know, baby." I replied. "I do, too. Every day."
She ran back to the pool, but just sat on the wall on the outside.
At first, I didn't think too much of it. This happens from time to time and as anyone who's lost someone can attest, sometimes that sad feeling just hits you seemingly out of nowhere.
I thought it might have just been swimming in the pool and playing with floaties — some of her and her uncle's favorite activities to do together.
But then I heard her explaining to the birthday girl (who I assume asked her what was wrong) why she was sad. All I caught was her saying "His brain was bleeding!" while she gestured with both of her arms for emphasis.
And I just thought how unfair it is that a 4-year-old even has to experience this and know that brains bleeding is a thing, much less explain it to someone.
Eventually, she snapped back out of it and the rest of the party was a blast.
But later that night when putting her to bed, she brought it up again.
When I asked what made her think of him, what she said completely broke me.
"Because he was all the time telling me to be brave when I was scared and I was scared about going down the slide today. And if he's not here, I won't know how to be brave..."
I collapsed into her arms and we held each other sobbing.
This isn't the first time. And it won't be the last.
I had read somewhere recently that when you love someone, you get a piece of their soul and they get a piece of yours. And when they die, that's why it hurts so bad—because that piece of you that they had dies, too. And you lose that piece of yourself. But that part of them that you have continues to live on with you. So they get to experience the world through your eyes.
So I explained to her, as we adults try our best to do, that the part of Beau that inspired her to be brave still exists inside of her.
And she will be able to use it forever when she needs it.
But for that night, she needed to feel him a little bit closer.
So she slept with her favorite picture of him.