Judson's Legacy

Play Therapy


It’s becoming clear to me why “play therapy” can be such a powerful tool for understanding the mind and emotions of a young child.

Many times I have sheepishly noticed how the manner in which Jessie “parents” her dolls gives pretty rich insight into our parenting methods; sometimes I look on with great pride, while other times, quite frankly, there is a twinge of horror as I see her mirroring my behavior.  Certainly there are occasions when her version is skewed, but oftentimes she seems to be accurately expressing much of her own experience.

The other day I was especially interested when Jessie was playing with her Fancy Nancy doll, describing with detail, Nancy’s siblings.  Then she stopped abruptly, noting matter-of-factly to me, “Fancy Nancy’s brothers and sisters died.”

“Oh, really.  That must be…”

“They died of Krabbe disease,” she interrupted.

Recognizing a potential opportunity for Jessie to express some of her own feelings over the death of her brother I responded, “How does that make Nancy feel?”

“She feels lonely,” Jessie solemnly replied.

With the word lonely I felt like my heart was torn in two.

It is devastating to know that at just 3 ½ years old my daughter is already experiencing one of the most grievous human emotions over the lost companionship of her brother.

Yesterday we were sitting at the breakfast table together when, without warning, Jessie divulged, “I want Judson to come back.  I’ve been waiting for Jud to come back!”

It is one thing to deal with my own grief, but it is quite another to experience the harsh reality of watching Jessie gain greater understanding of all she has lost too.

Jessie grieves.

It hurts me to see her grieve.

11 Responses to "Play Therapy"

  1. Rebekah says:

    It must hurt so much to see her missing Judson… especially as she grows in her ability to express what she is feeling.

    How sweet that she remembers and loves him so much. I love the photo you shared. She is a beautiful little lady!

  2. hh says:

    Oh Christina! This hurts my heart so much to read Jessie’s words, to hear her heart, and to know that she is feeling lonely and that she’s been waiting for Jud to come back. My heart is so heavy for her and for you and Drake. I just don’t know what else to say. Know that I will be praying for Jessie (and you) over this next week.
    Love you much,

  3. Ken says:

    Jessie is beautiful, funny

  4. Marissa says:

    Sweet Jessie Girl, I love you. Christina, I know that must be hard for you (and any parent) to see. Sending you lots of love too!

  5. Diane says:

    It is good that you two wonderful ladies have each other. One amazing momma and one sweet little girl. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Freya Remmer says:

    I’ve had that same experience about being embarassed, chagrined, and then even horrified at watching the "play" that is mimicing my parenting… teaches me to watch my tone of voice, huh? Sometimes my daughter’s tone is NOT NICE! Where’d she get that from???

    It’s poignantly sweet that Jessie’s been "waiting" for Judson to come back. It is so hard to think of her understanding of what she has lost growing, but you’ll be able to teach her and model for her, Christina. She will gain, also, a deeper understanding of what it will mean to have a VERY sweet reunion in Heaven… She’s going to be a person who will live this life with the right perspective on eternity from very early on…

    This is all a very difficult and COMPLETELY unfair job for you to have to do, but I believe you’ll gain great wisdom as you continue to do this…

    Hang on…


  7. Christina,
    A wise woman told me that it is harder for the grandparents who lost their grandchild, because they grieve for two people: they are sad to see their own children sad and sad for the lost grandchild. I didn’t put it into perspective until I read your blog, and yes we are grieving our own children who lost their sibling as well as our lost child. My teenage son is very stoic…I don’t really know how he feels. You and Jessie have reminded me to look past my own pain and to reach out to my family, who also hurt.

  8. Samanta says:

    Jessie is growing up, now she knows how to put into words what she feels… it makes me sad to know that a little girl is suffering the loss of her brother, her companion, her friend…
    You are in my heart and prayers!

  9. Amy Moore says:

    I cant even to begin to feel the heartache your whole Family feels.This story has certainly touched me so.Its amazing Jessie remembers the closeness and loving botherly and sisterly bond they had.But they will always have the bond.I just hope time only heals you and your Family’s pain.Jessie looks so much like Jud,it has to be so so hard.She is such a beautiful intelligent lil girl.My prayers continue for you all..

  10. Michal says:

    Your readers share such sweet and wise encouragement as you face the most searing of trials. Jesus weeps with you and the Spirit prays for you, Drake and Jessie with groanings too deep for words. It’s so clear that eternal fruit is growing from the deep roots of your faith. Thank you for sharing the journey to edify and encourage others. Well done, good and faithful mommy and wife!

    Colossians 3:23-24

    Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

  11. Kristy says:

    Oh sweet Jessi girl…my heart breaks for her pain and the pain as her mama that you feel Christina! What a blessing that though she is so young she has been able to find a way to communicate her sorrow to you. I pray for God’s comfort to her and you and that God will continue to fill those lonely places she has with amazing young friends and family, and most of all with his amazing presence. He brings hope to those places. He is the Father to the fatherless – here He can be the companion to the brotherless (or rather one without a brother here on earth)…Love to you.

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