“I just have to hug my kid. And I tell him that I love him every chance I get.” That’s what I have heard over and over for two weeks, as parents continue to process Julia Siegler’s death. They are circling the wagons, appreciating every day with their kids, drinking up as much as they can. There is certainly nothing wrong with that.
Is that enough? As I have read the countless stories about Julia, and as I recall the eulogies for this child who died too young, I am struck by how glorified people become in death. Julia was an incredible gem of a young woman, adored and appreciated by all whose lives she touched. When someone dies we especially miss all her glory and goodness. But why do we wait until death to talk about it, to tell her, to shout it to the world?
Is it enough to hug your child and tell her you love her? Every day we are given opportunities to tell the people in our lives what they mean to us, what we appreciate about them, what we admire.
You are such an empathetic person, Emily. I heard the way you spoke to your friend just now, and I so admire how you supported her as she struggled with that problem she is having with her mom.
I am blown away by your ball handling, Micah. I watched you out on the court and I can’t get over how skilled you are and how far you have come. All the practicing you ‘ve done is so obvious.
Have I ever told you, Hannah, that wherever I go, people stop me to tell me how much they enjoy your enthusiasm and sense of humor. You just bring a light to wherever you go. I so love that about you.
Our kids love to hear the good stuff. (Actually, all people do.) Yes, it might embarrass her, but I promise you she loves it and she’s taking it in. Today is the day, every day is the day, to say one of the things you would say in a eulogy. Be specific, tell your child what you love and admire about her, a quality, an attribute at a time. Not only does it feed the well of her sense of self, but it motivates more of the same good stuff. Not only does it counterbalance the reminders and nagging that often dominate a parent’s communication with her child, but it makes you the parent feel really good, too. Don’t wait. Tell her.