When my daughter Alyssa died, I had no other kids. She was my first and my only. When she died, I was a Mother without a child. I always knew I wanted more kids, so a year after Alyssa died ,we took a leap of faith. We had another beautiful baby girl and two years after that we had a boy.
I knew I wanted my kids to know about Alyssa. It was very important for me that she never be forgotten. When they were old enough I showed them pictures of Alyssa and told them her name over and over again. I told them that Alyssa was their sister, but she died. When they were really little I asked them if they could see her. I had heard that children before they can talk can see things on the “other side.” Unfortunately I never got a definite sign about that.
When they got a little older they started asking me more questions about Alyssa. Why did she die? Who was taking care of her? If she wasn’t here, how was she part of our family? I told them that there was a problem with the inside of her body and it didn’t work the way it was supposed to. I explained that your heart has to beat for anyone to live. She had a problem with her heart and it stopped working…so she died.
I believe in afterlife, so I tried to tell my kids that there is a part of us that will always live and be with God, but the body dies if it doesn’t work right.
Both my kids at different times still ask me questions about Alyssa. I always tell them the truth to the best of my ability and I try to make my responses simple. Sometimes my daughter Gabby gets sad because she thinks it is not fair that she never got to know Alyssa.
I tell her I am sad too and maybe they knew each other before she was born. She tells me she doesn’t remember. I guess a lot of questions will always be unanswered for all of us.
I wear a necklace with all three of my kid’s pictures on it from when they were eighteen months old. People comment on my necklace almost daily. If my kids are with me they like to proudly tell people which picture is of them. My son likes to show them the picture of Alyssa and explain that this is his sister, but now she is dead. It usually shocks people but I love that both my kids want to include her in our family.
It has been 14 years since my daughter Alyssa died. She is and always will be a part of our family. We have a foundation in her memory called the Alyssa Parker Memorial Fund. Our hope is to do projects in our area and sometimes further that help children and families. I want my kids to understand not only do I want everyone to know about all my kids, but also it is so important to give back. By giving back it will eventually give meaning to a painful, yet meaningful time in our lives.