Wednesday, May 7, 2014

He Chose Well...

Tomorrow will be one year from the day I wrote this...  

This morning I took a tour of a potential new preschool for Brian this Fall.  I was led down the little hallway to peek into their four classrooms.  The first classroom... butterflies all over the walls.  The second... butterflies hanging from the ceiling.  The third... butterflies on sticks.  The fourth... a clothesline with hanging butterflies.  And then we turned around and walked back down the hall - giving me a view of their little "prayer garden" through a wall of windows.  What was out there?  Hydrangeas... just like the ones we chose for Gavin's funeral... the ones that we will hopefully be planting soon in a memorial garden in our yard.

Looks like Gavin is the new advocate in the house.  He was clearly sending me a sign that this was the right school for his little brother.

It was part of a post about how advocating for Gavin was the hardest - and the most rewarding job I've ever had.  I'd love for you to read that post.  But it was also a post about the day I toured Brian's current pre-school.  St. Isaac Jogues in Wayne, PA.
I walked into that little school just 24 days after Gavin died.  I was grieving and newly pregnant and so, so worried about having to make yet another giant change in Brian's life.  Maybe it seems silly, but seeing the butterflies (we had butterflies at Gavin's funeral) in the classrooms... and the blue hydrangeas (which were all over Gavin's funeral) in the prayer garden surrounding the statue of Mary... it felt like Gavin made the choice for me.  I came home that night and told Ed about both and, with tears in his eyes, he said "Done.  Sign him up."

And so began our journey at St. Isaac Jogues.

As it turned out, the prayer garden was filled with flowers because the children had held their "May Procession" just days before.  They all placed flowers at the feet of the statue of Mary, the mother of God, as a way to honor her.

This year's May Procession was held today - and I knew that I had to be there.  A full circle moment for our family.  I went there broken and newly pregnant.  Brian arrived nervous, grieving and shy.

And today, I was there stronger - with Hope.  And Brian?  He thrived in this nurturing and exceptional little preschool.
He made friends and developed socially.
He received the same type of Catholic education that Ed and I grew up with, which was important to us.
As I watched him walk with his friends today during the May procession, I couldn't help but get choked up that his pre-school experience is coming to an end.  This school has done so much for Brian.  He has a new love for music thanks to a great music class they have and expressed an interest in having me teach him piano at home (which makes me so happy!).  They also have gym class.  Brian has cracked me up at home spontaneously "exercising" - and even doing Yoga poses!!  They often have after school "enrichments" until 3pm and, after much begging from Brian, I started to let him stay here and there.  Their enrichment programs were awesome!!  He learned gardening... they did science projects... he had a book club... arts and crafts... fun and fitness... and a "thank God it's at school and not at home" - the "ooey gooey" messy enrichment (a kid favorite!).  They cleaned up the school on Earth Day.  They had a Halloween parade.  The Easter Bunny came for their Easter party.  And I brought a very newborn Hope to the Christmas pageant.  Brian has learned a ton and has grown up so much this year.

One by one this afternoon, the children placed their flowers at Mary's feet - a blue hydrangea from Brian, of course...
...while I watched with Hope from the grass in the prayer garden.
I remember the first day I met Brian's teacher, Miss Kristen.  I nervously pulled her aside to tell her about Gavin.  I was unsure how Brian would handle Gavin's death in school - if he'd bring it up a lot, if other kids would bring it up, if talking about Gavin would upset him - I wasn't sure what to expect.  Kristen was so kind and understanding and I felt like she kept a compassionate eye on Brian all year.
She's been at St. Isaac Jogues for a long time and has such a great curriculum.  Brian was challenged, had fun and was excited to go to school every day.  The children are respectful and disciplined and you can tell that they really blossom under the structure that all of the teachers provide.  We're going to miss this school - until it's Hope's turn!  Brian graduates on May 21st.  We're lucky that many of his classmates will be going to the same Kindergarten as him in the Fall!

And I feel lucky, too.  I feel like I've made some lifelong friends with the pre-school Moms.  I'll be with many of them until Brian graduates 8th grade!  The entire St. Isaac Jogues community has been very supportive towards our family.  I can't say enough about this little school.  If you're in my area and looking for a pre-school, I'm happy to answer any questions about St. Isaac's!

Thank you, Gavin.  You chose well.



2 comments:

  1. I'm so happy that Gavin's presence is everywhere! And how he is at the right place at the right time, staying involved with his family's decisions. Congratulations to sweet Brian on his upcoming pre-school graduation...he's becoming such a 'big boy' right before our eyes. Love to your dear family!

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  2. Aww, what a sweet post! I am so happy for your family that things are working out!

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