Grief is a funny thing. It's easy to get tripped up on the little things and allow them to suck you into a pit that is hard to get out of. I work really hard to focus on (or consciously seek out) the little gifts in each day to protect myself from that trap.
Halloween was the perfect example. It was just coming onto my radar in mid-September and I felt a pang in my stomach remembering each year that Gavin and Brian dressed in coordinating outfits. It was so much fun for me to think of costumes for the two of them. One year they were little Honey Bears... another year I did a Rainforest theme (a nod to Puerto Rico - a special place to Ed and me) and Gavin was a tree frog, Brian was a monkey... one of my favorites was the year that Gavin was a lion and Brian was a zoo keeper... and last year the two of them were pirates. I really thought that themed and coordinating costumes were over once Gavin was gone.
I was wrong. (Spoiler alert: I usually am)
Brian had the perfect costumes in mind. He HAD to be Darth Vader.
And his sister? She HAD to be a Princess.
Princess Leia (from Star Wars) to be exact. It was perfect.
It was such a gift to me to be able to dress them in a theme. It seems silly - and it may never happen again - but it was one more little thing that kept me afloat.
Brian was the most excited he's ever been for Halloween this year. The four of us met up with neighbors and Brian's friends and "trick or treated" around the neighborhood together for about an hour. It was so much fun to watch the kids - they were all so excited!
Hope got a lot of attention in her little costume and was such a trooper staying out past her bedtime!
Many people asked me if I made her costume, which made me laugh. (I didn't.)
Hope's costume was really simple - a fleece dress with a cheap belt and the fleece hat with buns on the side.
Brian's costume was more elaborate with a cape and a computer chest plate and all.
What cracked me up is that Hope's costume was $20.00 MORE than Brian's!!
We have pretty strict rules when it comes to candy around here. There's no candy during the school week - he can only have candy on the weekends, if at all. I decided to do something crazy this Halloween and allow him to have whatever he wanted from his "stash" without having to ask over the weekend. It was interesting to see how much he took and how often (a lot the first day - not so much on the second!). On Sunday I told him that he could pick 5 pieces to keep - and the rest was going to be brought to a dentist who was doing a "buy back" program. She would ship all the candy to soldiers who were away from home fighting for our country... and she would give Brian money for the candy.
It took a while for that to process. Soon he was in front of me with serious concern in his eyes.
"Mom? I don't want the soldiers to take my candy!" he cried.
No amount of explaining helped him understand that one.
"Can I do anything I want with the money?" he asked.
"Yes - you can! Maybe we can pick out a toy together!" I suggested.
"I know! I'm going to buy some more candy!"
Pretty sure he missed the point.
But, by today he was on board. He said goodbye to his candy and that was that!
On Saturday, we went to the YMCA for Brian's Tee Ball award ceremony. His final game was rained out, so we met in the gym so "Coach Joe" could hand out the trophies. Brian's coach was awesome. He got the kids so excited to play, was super encouraging and made such an impact on Brian. He was much more confident on the field this year!
The coach personalized each and every trophy, which really impressed us. He announced, "For the player who I know is destined for the big leagues - Brian Leong!" On the trophy he had printed "Big League Brian."
Seeing Brian's pride and watching him happily participate in a team sport is another little gift that reminds me that we're doing all right by him.
But the little gift that just keeps on giving - and growing - is watching Brian and Hope's bond deepen.
This past Saturday was Brian's 48th week as her big brother.
I asked him, "Brian - what do you love about Hope?"
His answers blew me away...
"She giggles with me... she's really pretty... I love playing with her and her toys... and she loves playing with me and my toys... she follows me all over the house... she loves me... and I love her. I'm going to love her forever, Mommy. I love being a big brother."
It really is easy to let the little things get you down. But it's almost impossible to keep the little gifts from keeping you there. I thank God for my little gifts every day.