It has been a year since our loss. Quite a feat, considering what we have experienced. My T is a warrior. He appears so sensitive, and he actually is. During our “hibernation” this past week, T had some tough questions/ comments for us. Discussions ensued, and, of course, we think “What do we say?” I remember the hospital chaplain giving me advice, stating “Always speak the truth. Do not lie, do not sugar coat. He is not coming back. Do not put ideas in his head that will confuse him more. Everyone will die at some point.” I really was in awe by what I was told. Yet, later, I knew he was correct. We cannot say, “Well, B was sick.” This will make T be afraid to get sick or tell us he is sick, thinking he will die too. We cannot say, “He was old or he was sleeping or it was his time.” Again, he won’t want to sleep, or he will fear his grandparents will die…And what does “our time” really mean anyway? Adults are afraid to discuss death; imagine children.
That horrible morning, we simply sat him on the front porch, with a houseful of people inside, and told him his brother had died. It was something along the lines of, “We can’t see him anymore, B is not breathing like us, and we don’t know why he is gone, but we are sad too.” No reaction…confused look and wanted to play. A natural reaction for a child. So, throughout the year, the questions came out, as expected. He speaks to us, and others actually, quite openly about his dead brother. Uncomfortable for some? Probably. Yet, not for us. I am proud of him. We never deny or ignore a discussion or question. We embrace those moments.
So, the photo shows T’s journal. He writes and sketches about his brother. He writes down pictures, questions, or statements. My husband and I also each have a journal; journals have saved us. Writing is very therapeutic. I have come to rely on mine often.
As we approach B’s Angel Day, the nerves seem to be getting the best of us. T is loving summer, but he is anxious. It is almost like he feels something is “off.” We decided to “hibernate” elsewhere for some time, just to relax during the difficult week ahead. Although, we have created something special in our yard to help us reflect and relax…
One of B’s favorite toys was an old rocking horse. It was simply made of plastic, but he loved to climb on it like a cowboy! After drilling four holes into the bottom of it and a circular cut-out on top, we turned the rocking horse into a beautiful planter box to keep in our garden. As we play outside or come and go from the garage, we can stop and reflect about B.
Night or day, it always brings smiles to our faces.
Days after B passed, my family and friends would continuously see dragonflies in our front yard. These small, winged creatures would constantly fly over the lawn nearest our porch, where the children would usually play. Similarly, each time we would visit B at the cemetery, a dragonfly would suddenly appear. We have come to believe that the dragonflies are B’s way of visiting us. Thus, we have come to adorn many things with dragonflies, to remind us of B. T would look for dragonflies everywhere, just to get a feel for his brother. To honor B on holidays, the three of us now each paint a wooden dragonfly. My husband thought the craft would be a nice activity to do as a family, usually each holiday morning or night. The wooden dragonflies are being placed along our basement wall, making beautiful, authentic decor.
It really doesn’t matter what type of day I am experiencing or how many minutes I sat in traffic. I can walk through my door, glance at T and simply melt to pieces. He is my sunshine; the love I feel for him can be overwhelming. In recent months, I continue to melt to pieces, watching my oldest son T smile. Yet, my heart now has an ache for him that no parent should ever feel. Sadness can be just as overwhelming as joy.
I will never understand what he thinks in his mind about the sudden loss of his best friend and brother B. Being so young, I can imagine he has confusion and heartache. I could read books ten times over and listen to countless speeches about loss and grief, but I am the one putting him to bed each night, trying to have him create sweet dreams. I knew I had to create my own methods of helping him grieve; we needed to grieve as a family.