Three years ago, my oldest daughter Lauren and I were in Kohl’s at Christmas time, when we came across an Elf on A Shelf in the box, complete with book and story for $39.95. We looked at each other and laughed, “Aren’t we lucky we don’t have to deal with that!”
We thought Ever would never understand this toy.
We then proceeded to make jokes about how all the other parents were losing sleep over what to do with their little Elf.
We commented on some of the cute and creative pictures friends had posted on Facebook of their Elf doing funny things and we laughed.
I picked up the box and said to her, “Should I buy it, just in case?”
“No, Mom. Don’t waste your money. She will never understand it.”
Ever, my oldest granddaughter, is 5 years old. She was diagnosed with autism at the age of 16 months. At the time we shared a laugh in Kohl’s, Ever was not even speaking, and the professionals were not sure she ever would.
I still remember holding the box and walking around the store with it. Lauren came back to me and said, “Mom, put that back. Don’t waste your money.”
I placed the box back on the shelf and sadly convinced myself that it was for the best. She will never understand it. Don’t waste the money. My heart was broken as we walked out of the store that night.
This morning, I got a call from Ever. “Grams, look what I got! It’s an Elf!” As Lauren and Ever—mostly Lauren—began retelling the story of Ever getting her Elf, the tears started to flow.
Lauren asked me why I was crying. Because we thought she would never talk. We thought she would never understand the Elf thing, I thought to myself.
I am Ever’s grandmother. I will protect her until the day I die. But if I am telling my truth, there will be so many things we will miss out on or that will be too different to be considered normal.
Truthfully, that is ok. Because she brings us so much joy and love.
I am the best grandmother Ever will have to continue my grief work on her as we get along. This means I will continue to grieve all the things I wish were different, for better or for worse.
We know that, as grievers, we not only grieve death. Grief can affect us in so many ways.
I love Ever Jane and we are so blessed to have her as our special gift.