I was blessed with easy children. I was also blessed to be given three children that have huge hearts and compassion beyond measure. I’m not sure that is something you can teach very well. More so, it’s what we are born with, or sadly, without. Fortunately, all of mine were born with the necessary raw materials to become good people.

More than once I have shared the story about the time my daughter not only made me proud but also showed me what kind of soul she housed in her little elementary school body. Without my urging, she made the right decision, even though it cost her friends.

The little girl, slightly older than Becca, who lived in the other side of our duplex had been born with challenges. Both mental and physical, she was loud, awkward, and teased by the other neighborhood children. On one sunny summer afternoon my daughter and handful of girls were playing with dolls outside in the driveway. Kari, the girl next door, was watching from her upstairs window. Becca saw her and wanted her to come out to play. The group of girls told Becca no, that Kari was weird and they didn’t like her. I proudly watched as my daughter gathered up her dolls and went to Kari’s back door and knocked. Kari’s mom opened the door and let Becca in. My daughter, still in her single digit years, was more compassionate than most people I knew.

After Becca died we received dozens of cards and letters and emails and posts about how amazing she was. People started to share stories with me about “the time Becca . . . “ and they all had the thread of caring woven through them. She always fought for the underdog. Was the first to jump into action when “something just had to be done”. In college, her major changed from Criminal Justice to Social Work to Elementary Education. Her dream, she told me, was to move to Chicago and teach inner city children. Bilingual intercity children.

“I want to get to them before they end up in the legal system,” she explained after telling me she’d shifted majors yet again, “I want to teach them when they are still teachable. When they aren’t hardened by the world. Before the ugly can change who they are.”

Again, I was so proud.

“I want to set them on a path that leads to a happy future.”

That was my daughter. Righter of wrongs. Perpetually optimistic. Full of laughter and goodness. Open heart and sensitive soul. Becca was forgiving and loved fiercely. She would be your biggest supporter . . . even if she’d just met you. But if you wronged someone she would be the loudest one screaming for justice and carrying the flag of the cause at the front of the crowd.

Now, where she is, I know she understands the bigger picture of existence. She’s told me so when she visits me in my dreams. It’s been a while since she’s come to me, though. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to hold her in my arms. Smell her sunshine hair as she squeezed me tight. Heard her call . . . momma.

There are aspects of meeting Joseph that have stirred up turmoil. Like a pond in which the sediment has settled to the bottom, silky and dark green unseen, but then disturbed when a stick is shoved into the depths. It floats up and swirls just under the surface. Moving in lazy circles as its exposed to the sunlight.

I must honor my children in everything I do. I’ve not always done so. I’ve been selfish. Not made them a priority when they should have been. Simply put . . . I’ve failed them. But all parents fail their children at times.

Which brings me to my latest struggle with all that has been happening the past week. Am I somehow failing Becca by continuing conversation with Joseph? In doing so, have I said her death is acceptable? I know this isn’t the case, yet, my mind still pokes at it like I’m stirring up the bottom of pond. I have to investigate it. See what’s down there. Is anything solid? Must it be brought to the surface for closer inspection?

I can feel my daughter, standing next to me, gently taking the stick from my hand and slipping her’s into mine. She is guiding me away from the dark bottom and telling me it’s time to be happy. It’s an odd thing, you see, to realize my daughter has surpassed me in “knowing”.

Where she is . . . she is complete love.

If she wanted to help children find the right path I imagine she wants the same for me. For her brothers, For Joseph. From her view she can see from one edge to the other and all that’s happening in the space between. The space in which the living reside.

The last conversation I had with her was profound, in hindsight. She told me how proud of me she was. That, though I’d had a difficult life she was proud of the woman I was. I inspired her because I was shedding the clothing woven from pain. I was “becoming”.

I’ve had mixed reactions from people when I say Joseph and I have continued talking. The majority of people have said that I should do what makes me happy. That which helps me heal. My cousin said: it makes perfect sense . . . you are both huge parts of her life. Those who can not understand, all I can say is, I am happy you don’t have to decide either way.

There are multiple reasons I’ve chosen to form a friendship with Joseph.

He was the only person with her when she passed. Is some of her essense with him? If so, I need to be near that sometimes. The world can be ugly . . . if I can make it more kind, isn’t that my duty? To ease another’s suffering? Am I trying to do what she intended to do by helping others? Or, am I fighting to keep another life from being ruined?

I don’t know the answer. I’ll probably keep searching within myself for my motivation. But for now, knowing Joseph and being in contact with him is a comfort to me. A peace I know Becca would want for me.

I love you little girl. Momma is trying to “become”.


Author: Diane Neas

I'm a mother, artist, and writer. A decade ago I lost my daughter. I find writing, and painting, heal me. Sharing my story of loss and healing lightens what I carry. And, hopefully, my words help another along the way.

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