My husband died by suicide in 2015.
After he died our 4-year old daughter asked me, "Mama? Are we still a family without Dad? All the kids I know have a Dad."
It has now been two years since he died and she asked me that question with big tears in her little blue eyes.
So, are we still a family?
We are a family.
Just the 3 of us.
What makes a family?
Love. Support. Compassion. Kindness. Understanding. And people who hug you and sit with you at your worst.
My children and I have been through the worst together. We have buried a member of our family. We have sat at a grave and cried together. We have experienced grief and anger and we have loved each other through it.
There have been nights that I was too exhausted as a newly grieving widow and solo parent to cook dinner right at 6:00pm like I did when their Dad was alive. And those nights we ate cold cereal, or leftovers, or fruit and veggie smoothies with cheese and crackers. And you know what? We survived. Those nights that we didn't have a family dinner at the table made us no less a family. Maybe it made us more of a family because we knew that it didn't matter where or when or what we ate. It only mattered that we were together.
What makes a family? People who feel like home to you. People who have seen you at your worst and they show up every day with a hug for you in the morning. People who know your stories, and your hurts, and what makes you laugh out loud.
We are no less a family only because I have no husband and my children don't have their Dad.
Are we a different family? Sure. Sure we are. There are no daddy-daughter dances. No father-son fishing trips. No Mom and Dad picking you up from your playdate or kissing in the kitchen making dinner while the kids squeal and giggle. If we go to a theme park we are one rider short since most rides fit 2 per seat. But, we are still a family and in so may ways we are closer now than we were or ever would have been before our tragedy.
We cherish each other more.
We forgive each other more.
We hug each other........more.
We are still a family.
A family of 3.