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Building Their Love

The black and white photos have hung on her wall for over two years now. Often, she’ll look at them and point out herself as a baby with mommy and dada. A few nights ago, we sat on the floor of her room as we do every night ready to read our bedtime books.

“That’s dada” she said as she pointed to his picture on the wall. “It is. I love him” I replied. “Me, too” her little voice whispered. It was a moment I had thought about, waited for in the last 2 and ½ years.

In the early months of my grief, I really couldn’t think much beyond the fog and myself. I honestly didn’t give a lot of the thought to Vienna’s relationship with Joe at first. My mind couldn’t get there. But as that haze wore off and my world started to spin again, I thought about what their relationship will be.

Recently, it plays on a loop and I’m consumed with how to bring him into her world as more than just a picture on the wall. When will she ask me where he is and why? How to I bring him to life for her. What does she think when she sees other kids with their father’s? Is she still too young to know? What will their relationship be?

Because they don’t have the choice or chance to make their relationship really. I have to make it. To fill it with memories she didn’t have on her own, with the sound of his laugh and his love without him being here physically with her. And if you knew Joe, those are big shoes to fill.

Last night, Vienna took her “Daddy Doll” to bed. It's a tiny little stuffed doll that really is Joe (there is a story behind it that I hope to share sometime!) For over a year, it has sat among her stuffed animals but last night as we entered night 4 without her binky, she chose to take it to bed with her. I smiled. That being second best to the binky made me laugh.

As I turned off the light I said goodnight. “Goodnight mommy and dada” she said. I stopped at the door. “Did you just say goodnight mommy and dada?” I asked her. “Yes” she whispered. In that moment, she’ll never know what she gave me.

And truthfully, I don’t think I could ever put it into words. It’s a simple moment I expected to have 1,000 times before she was born. It’s a monumental moment I wasn’t sure I’d ever get after Joe died. It’s now a moment I’ll keep forever locked in my memory bank, right up front. She said it so simply, as though Joe were standing in the door next to me. And for a split second, he was.

There is no guide to helping your child bond with a parent they barely got to meet but in those two moments, she let me know, I’m not completely off base. And so, it got me thinking: what are things I can do to build their connection and their love?

And that's for tomorrow's blog post . . .

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Jul 28, 2023

You are doing a good job, Momma. And your girl is so very loved by you AND her Daddy.


Tears flowing! But thats just how BIG Joe Abate truly was...Sending love as always...xoxo

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