How does a one year old respond to the loss of her older brother?
This is a question that has been posed to me several times, and one I have often wondered myself.
I have no idea how Jessie is processing through the fact that one day her brother was present with her, and the next day, he became only visible in pictures and videos (which we look at and watch regularly together-Jessie actually prefers watching videos of Jud more than she likes the videos of herself). There are times it has been evident that she is aware of Jud’s absence, but she really only seems to be affected when she perceives that we are emotionally affected.
We have, however, encountered some touching, and at the same time, heartbreaking incidents with her…
I was given a necklace with Judson’s picture, soon after he died. I remember the first time I wore it, Jessie immediately took note and started to wave at his smiling face that was framed in silver and hanging on my neck. Then she clearly said, “Jud.” For about a week, it was not uncommon to see her lovingly gesture at my necklace in this manner.
Just as children do in so many areas, we have also noted that Jessie imitates our behavior as it relates to Judson. Both Drake and I regularly walk by different pictures of Jud and kiss the glass that covers his beloved smile. Recently Jessie has been doing the sign for “please” when we pass by Jud’s photos, so we pause, and she leans in and gives his picture a kiss too. In fact, I took Jessie to Judson’s grave site the other day, and she immediately went and kissed all the pictures that adorn his plot (something I had actually never done).
Obviously, Jessie does not know the magnitude of the relationship she has lost, which is both good, and deeply sad all at once, but she will be raised in a manner by which she will know she has an older brother, and that he loved/loves her very much.
Our consistent prayer for Jessie is that she will reap in friendship and mentors a hundred fold, what she has lost in a brother.