There is a main road about 10-15 min from our house that we don't use frequently, but use often enough.
There is a cemetery on this road. Kayla can see it quite clearly from her side of the van. We've passed by this cemetery numerous times in the 2 years since we've moved here. But the first time we drove past this cemetery, a week after returning from FL, Kayla really saw it. And identified with it.
In an animated, almost excited voice, Kayla said, "Oooh Mommy! This! Right here! We're going to see Pepere?"
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
I held back tears as I told her that no, we weren't going to see Pepere, he wasn't buried at that cemetery.
Then Lucas said, "Kayla, remember Pepere lives in FL?" I had to hold back more tears at the present tense of "lives" ... although I guess he'll always be in FL now.
Almost every time we've driven that road since then, Kayla still notices that cemetery. And without fail she'll say something about Pepere. She'll talk about his leg hurt and he couldn't walk (the blood clots). She'll mention his lungs were sick (the reason I told them that it was hard for him to breathe). She'll talk about the flowers (that we each put on his casket). Sometimes she'll say mommy's sad and cry. Other times she'll say Pepere doesn't hurt anymore, he's all better.
The first time we passed that cemetery and Kayla made the connection to my dad's funeral it hurt. It still does hurt.
But I now find myself almost looking forward to her noticing it when we drive by there. I find myself waiting for that moment she sees it come in to view and will say something. It almost feels like it has become a tradition of some sorts.
And I know that when we drive by there, and she says something, it puts my dad at the forefront of our thoughts. And she's remembering him. Not that I want that to be her most prominent and often-thought about memory, but for now it is. It's her association with him. She's processing his death and what happened and what she was a part of at the funeral. And I've started to smile when we approach that cemetery, so I can smile when she's talking about him, and smile as we remember him together.