Phoenix witnessed Mike come downstairs Wed morning and being unable to walk straight. She witnessed the paramedics treat him at our house and she saw them take her dad away.
These are pretty traumatic scenes for most people to experience, let alone a 5 year old with an unknown understanding of sickness, hospitals and major health crisis's.
The most important thing that Phoenix keeps wanting to know, is "Dad happy?"
On the surface, this looks like Phoenix has only a basic understanding of health, wellness, doctors, hospitals etc. She only wants to know if her Dad is happy, right?
Part of Phoenix's personality is to be extremely empathetic. She HATES it when other people are sad around her. It makes her very upset and she cries herself. She just wants everyone to be happy.
So I could look at Phoenix's statement, and think that she doesn't really understand.
But what if she does? What if she understands that when we break very complex ideas like quality of life down, that these ideas can be summed up with one question: Are you happy?
We are lying to Phoenix right now when we tell her that Dad is happy. He is not happy. In fact, he has probably never in his live been this unhappy before. But this is the ultimate goal of his rehab, isn't it? To regain the function that he has lost. To relearn the skills. To retrain his muscles and his brain. To regrow damaged neural pathways. To regain his happiness. To be able to eventually answer Phoenix truthfully that he is happy.
I know lying isn't the best policy, but I think it is best for Phoenix and it is the best for Mike. It reminds Mike what he is working towards. It reminds him who is depending on him. It reminds him not to wallow in the unfairness and to get stuck in the regret.
Fake it till you make it. That's what he is going to have to do, because we are all depending on him to come home to us, however that looks like.