It happened slowly. One night here... another night there. A night when I heard new requests of extra playtime instead of stories - hearing, "Please, Mama, just 'five more minutes' of playing before bed!" And even requests in bed for my made up (and very dramatic) adventures of Angry Birds vs Piggies.
Before I knew it... there were no more bedtime stories about Gavin.
Every night - from the night we got home from the hospital after Gavin died - he has requested that I tell him the story about what happened. He was there for the first day - in the emergency room. The day that shocked us all. He was there in the hospital - to say goodbye. I discovered over those months that he took in MANY more details than I ever would have imagined. He noticed tubes and equipment. He remembered the sign on the door and what was out the window.
And I discovered something else every single night over those months when he would say: "Tell me the story about how Gavin died." I discovered that, in telling the story at his request, I respected his way of grieving. Because that's exactly what it was. His way of grieving. His way of processing the unthinkable. I never pushed my own agenda. I never said no, even when I couldn't bear to tell him one more time about how the helicopter raced his brother to the hospital. And why should I have said no? His request wasn't coming from an adult perspective. It wasn't morbid to him. He just knew he needed it. And I understood that I had to provide it for him.
Brian's emotional well being has always been my top priority since April. I checked in with grief counselors and had Brian attend some "child life" therapy sessions. They all agreed that he was managing his grief appropriately for his age. I felt validated since, really - what did we know about what's right or wrong when it comes to childhood grief?
But that's just it. Unless behavior is destructive or harmful - there is no right or wrong when it comes to grief.
So now, we have different routines. Sometimes there's a book in the playroom before bed. Sometimes there's a "lay with me and tell me a story about when you were a baby" requests. Sometimes we just giggle and I listen to him yammer on about Darth Vader. But every night he still says goodnight to Gavin by pulling that "invisible string."
I have had a few people ask me why I "let" Brian continue to sleep in Gavin's bed. Or tell me that I should move him out... that it's not healthy. My question back is - "Why?" What harm does it do that this little boy wants to sleep in his big brother's bed? Maybe he feels closer to him that way! I can't imagine (in a million years) telling Brian, "Hey - no more sleeping in Gavin's bed from now on. Back to your own room." What would be my reason when he asked me "But, why?" I wouldn't have an answer - because there is none. To me it would be like someone saying to me, "Hey - no more wearing those lockets around your neck with your children's ashes. It doesn't seem healthy."
There's no road map for getting through the minefield that is left after you lose someone you love.
I just hope - many, many years from now - that Brian looks back on this time and feels that he was always "heard." That his way of grieving and all of his feelings and every one of his needs were respected.
I believe we've reached the end of the story about that day back in April of 2013. And I feel proud of Brian that he had the confidence and courage to express to us what he knew he needed.
I hope, too, that Brian looks back on all that was accomplished after Gavin died with pride. The random acts of kindness... the charities... the volunteerism as a family... and, this upcoming event. I hope he realizes that instead of giving up - pulling the shades - giving in to our grief... we gave BECAUSE of our grief. And many, many others gave as well.
In 24 hours, according to my survey, close to 400 people are hoping to attend our Fundraiser/Party/Trivia Night. (I'm still working on a name!) I am close to securing a venue that can accommodate 500 people, which means that, once I am ready to start selling tickets, I would need to cut off ticket sales when it reaches that number. I am working on getting catering. And hoping for corporate sponsors to help us so we can say that all of the ticket sales and donations went directly to this playground project. (More on that below!) And I'm even working to get blocks of hotel rooms at a discounted rate for those coming in from out of town. This is really happening - and it's happening fast.
Definitely keep watching this blog for updated information. It's possible I will open ticket sales as early as next week. They will be first come - first serve and may sell out, so be prepared! I will give advance notice about a day and time before the ticket sales go "live." Please take note that you need to purchase a ticket in advance to get in to the event. There will be NO tickets sold at the door that night.
It makes me so happy that so many of you are excited about this night. It will be a wonderful day for our family.
Please spread the word about these sponsorship opportunities to corporations, small businesses or anyone who would like to help this very worthy cause!
$500 Event Sponsor: Recognition as a major partner/sponsor of the event with the largest signage in the venue and announced by the emcee with your personalized commercial at the beginning and end of the night. Opportunity to offer giveaway or literature to each participant table.
**Update: the event sponsors that would get the personalized commercials and signage are all spoken for! BUT!!! You can still be an event sponsor! I will advertise all sponsors on my blog and facebook page, which reaches thousands of people!**
$250 Stage Sponsor: This general sponsorship is a great way to support the playground project and see your name or company name displayed at the event.
$175 Bar or Buffet Sponsor: No one will miss your support of Gavin and this playground project with your name or company name proudly displayed at the bar or buffet!
$150 "Round Sponsor": Recognition as a partner/sponsor of the playground project with your personalized mini-commercial at the beginning of one round.
There will also be an opportunity for $50 Table Sponsors once I know how many tables we will have filled: For a nominal donation, you can have your name or company name advertised on one of the tables.
Contact me through this blog or on the Chasing Rainbows Facebook Page if you are interested in any of these opportunities!