Over the Labor Day weekend, Peanut was distracting herself. She asked if we could go to the local pond, and could she invite a friend.

At the last minute, my mother, who had been visiting since earlier in the week, asked where I had gone fishing with BK earlier in the summer. I decided to take her for a drive, and invited Peanut in case we could go down in the river.

During the drive, I could tell Peanut was antsy. The fishing access was packed, so we didn’t go explore. On the drive home, she kept texting and calling her friend to give her minute to minute updates in when we’d be home to go to the pond.

At the pond, she asked if her friend could spend the night. I said as long as her parents okayed it.

We made plans to go to a lake, and she asked if her friend could come. Again, as long as her parents okayed.

While at the lake, she was a bit clingy with her friend, being unintentionally bossy. Later, she asked if her friend could spend the night again. I said as long as her parents okayed it.

Yesterday, after her friend went home, she was restless. We went grocery shopping, and she admitted to having “that empty feeling” again. She didn’t know where it was coming from.

Now, the kids’ grief counselor had called earlier that yesterday. I told her I felt like Peanut was struggling with something, and had been distracting herself all weekend. There had been a few other things that had happened earlier in the Labor Day weekend that had caused some emotional triggering.

At Peanut’s session, we talked about a few things. Paintings she had brought for LC to look at. I had her show LC a Sharpies picture she had drawn, and from there we talked about how overwhelming the first three days of school had been, about a friend being told her parents were getting a divorce, about said friend getting into a fight with the girl who had called Peanut ugly (damn Mean Girl crap), and at one point, LC commented about how Peanut was sitting.

She was protecting herself and holding something back.

As LC and Peanut talked, it occurred to me that all the changes – transition to Middle School and all the stuff that had been thrown at the kids in the first few days, a friend’s sudden change in family dynamic, and the struggle of feeling as deeply as she does – she was missing something…or rather someone.

I spoke up, recalling a drive into town where her brother said he wished Dad was here. When I asked him why, he replied, “I’m turning thirteen. He won’t be here for that. He won’t be here for a lot of important things.”

And from the backseat, Peanut replied, quite passionately, “Yeah. I know. Me, too. It sucks!”

She didn’t remember that conversation, and the tears on her eyes only confirmed what had been bothering her.

The kids miss their dad. That isn’t going to stop. Ever. There will be moments where the missing gets stronger, and even overwhelming. And sometimes, they won’t know it or even know how to express it.

So, we kindly ask if we are missing Dad or kindly remind each other it’s okay to miss Dad. We sit and hug and tall about it. We support each other in it, even when it’s super uncomfortable.

It’s heartbreaking to see them like that. Only, I also feel proud when they are able to speak out loud of it.

They’re scared. They are scared to feel what they feel. They are scared to express how they feel. And one big reason is because no one they know has experienced what they have. Who can relate to their anger, guilt, frustration, and sadness?

Even I get scared to express how I’m feeling, even beyond our shared suicide experience.

A came back from his camping trip with a friend and his family. He felt off, and eventually, he said he was missing dad. It started during the first week of school, and kept going through the camping trip (there’s a lot more I’m not divulging right now that contributed to this).

They miss him. Rightfully so. He’s not here to see them grow, to see them succeed, to help them up when they fall, to love them when they need it more than other days. He’s not here when he should be.

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