Friday, June 26, 2015

The Push and Pull of Summer...

Summer was always fun with Gavin - for so many reasons.
This is our third summer without him. It seems impossible, but it's true. I loved spending time outside with him in the summer - on the swingset, in our baby pool, going for walks... Gavin loved it all. Especially the pool!! 
Summer days can be hard when there is more downtime to stop and think about the gaping hole he left in our lives. But I love finding him in the sounds of laughter as Brian yells "higher! push me higher" or exclaims "I DID IT!" when he challenges himself to try something new.
 I love seeing him in Hope as she fearlessly explores and lovingly follows her brother - two things Gavin did as well.
Hope trusts Brian - just as Gavin trusted his little brother. Brian helped Gavin do a lot of things...and continues that role with his little sister. It's beautiful to see it come full circle...
I always looked forward to summer - ever since our first trip to the beach with Gavin. Every year of Gavin's life we have gone to Ocean City at least once - sometimes twice. There we created some of our fondest memories as a family. We loved having a week without worrying about therapy or doctor visits or answering the door to helpers. It was just us.
Gavin loved the beach. And as each year passed, he got more and more adventurous and daring.
He even went into the ocean with Ed and laughed and laughed as the waves crashed around them.
I always felt that the beach, the ocean... everything about that town... had magical properties. I swore the salt air alone was working to heal Gavin. 
Perhaps it was healing all of us... preparing us for a beach vacation without him. For a life without him. I find myself simultaneously dreading and anticipating summer now. Going to Ocean City can be painful without him. Everywhere I look there are memories.
But... everywhere I look, there are memories.
He is in the sand... in the salty air at night... in the sunrise over the sea... at the edge of the pier where his Daddy and I lovingly scattered some of his remains. I will hear him in every giggle from the amusements. I will feel him as my salty tears fall.
Life goes on - as it should. Summer turns into Fall turns into Winter and then Spring. There's always a reason to miss him each minute of each day of each season. He's missed holidays and birthdays and the birth of his sister. But the push and pull of summer in my heart is one of the hardest.

This week we will be spending time as a family in Gavin's favorite place. We will be surrounded by his Aunts and Uncles and cousins and my new great nephew! We will laugh and smile and remember. We will be by the ocean trying to care about little else but being together as a family. We will be on the boardwalk, riding Gavin's favorite rides - visiting his firetruck - and eating lots of junk. And I will remember, each and every morning, to choose joy. It's the only life that Gavin would want for all of us - but especially for his brother and sister. And they make it quite impossible to choose anything BUT joy every day.
As I stand by the water this week, feeling the push and pull of the sea under my feet, he will be there. 

My son will be right there beside me.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Breathe in, Breathe out...

Today was Brian's long awaited visit with a Pulmonologist. This past February, he started to complain of shortness of breath and "chest pain" on days that he had gym class. Of course my mind went straight to panic mode and we immediately took him to see a cardiologist. Not just any cardiologist, but the expert that treated Gavin over the last four days of his life. He checked out fine - just a slight murmur that he's had his whole life. She suggested that we take him to see a Pulmonologist. The sad news is that our health insurance no longer covers Nemours A.I. duPont Hospital for Children... "Gavin's hospital." We made an appointment, but they weren't able to fit Brian in for several months later at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I felt like a big traitor. We are so loyal to duPont. After one reschedule due to illness, the day finally arrived for us to head to CHOP.

The best news about going to CHOP? They have a brand new satellite office just ten minutes from our home! Brian and I were very excited to go inside this new building. We watched as they built it from the ground up! Every time we went to the grocery store or the mall we would check out the progress and would imagine what it was like inside. Today we found out.

Our first order of business was looking through the colored panes in the windows - something we loved to look at from the road all these months!
Brian and Hope had a great time checking out the toys in the waiting room!
When it was time for Brian to be seen, I had a bit of deja vu. Brian was often the tag along when Gavin would have doctor visits. It was quite a trip to watch Hope watch Brian. Quite a trip, indeed.
After a Spirometry test... was time to see the doctor. She told me something I already knew - only because 75% of my readers had already told me based on their own experiences! Exercise induced asthma!
She said it was on the mild side and gave us a prescription for a puff inhaler to use just in case. Brian hasn't had any symptoms since the winter. We had a lot of respiratory illnesses over those cold months, which likely exacerbated the asthma symptoms for him. I am signing Brian up for soccer at the end of the summer into the fall. It will be interesting to see if it pops up again. If it does, we're ready!

The last order of business before we left was a chest X-ray - just to make sure there was nothing to be worried about. There was. At least for Hope! She was very concerned when her big brother disappeared behind the frosted door!
It didn't take long for her to come up with a plan to get to him!
Sounds strange to say, but it was a fun outing. As I tell Brian all the time... "We're Leongs. We can make anything fun - anytime, anywhere!"

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Halfway to Seven!!...

Brian turned 6 1/2 on June 16th!
As you can see... he's very excited to be halfway to seven. I am not. At least twice a week I sternly tell him that he is breaking the rules.

"Brian, don't you remember the contract you signed with me when you were born? You promised me that you'd never grow up! You're supposed to stay little forever."
"No I'm not!" he giggles every time. "Everyone grows up! You grew up, Mommy!"
Ok, well that's debatable...
To celebrate his special day, we went to the Aquarium. Ed was able to take the afternoon off which made the day even more special!
We had the best time. Well, sort of.
Brian may have gotten a little too close to the sharks.
Hope was mesmerized by everything. Especially the hippopotamus tank! 
One of the hippos came right up to her and practically kissed her through the glass - it was unbelievable.
Brian loved helping Hope explore and play. Last time we were there, Hope wasn't walking. It was fun to let her loose to follow Brian around!
We were grateful that it wasn't crowded. We were able to take our time and the kids were able to walk right up to every tank...
...or be strolled at times.
Brian, Ed and I loved remembering the last time we were there with Gavin. He, too, was mesmerized by all the fish and on that final visit he insisted on walking the whole way through. It's a day we will never forget.
Brian always finds a way to include Gavin (and often Darcy, too!) in everything we do. On the way out of the Aquarium, he had to stop at the fountain outside so he could make a wish for his big brother. Gavin LOVED fountains. Brian made a special wish into a penny and tossed it into the water with a message...
It was a wonderful day celebrating a wonderful boy. Happy half birthday, Brian!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mourning What I Wish I Knew...

He's just the best brother. He knows her favorite things. He predicts her every move. He can find her tickle spots. He brings out the best laughs. He is tender and protective and so, so in love with her.
Every time I catch him doing something sweet for his little sister...helping her or playing with her or making her smile...
...I remind him,

"Brian, you know the way you're treating Hope right now? That reminds me of how Gavin used to treat you."
He loves to hear this. Every single time. He loves to be compared to Gavin - to think that he's living up to the high standards that Gavin set as his big brother.

I'm so grateful to see Brian and Hope's relationship grow and deepen. 
They chase each other around the house - he plays "peek a boo" with her until she collapses in a fit of giggles - they sit in the tee pee together and play pretend games - and he loves to hug and kiss her before bedtime. Now that he's home for the summer, he likes to come in to her room when I'm nursing her before her nap. Each morning he'll make up a new lullaby to sing to her. Take a listen to this morning's song...
But there are days when I watch them together and my heart hurts. I can't help but wonder what Gavin and Brian's relationship would be like now.

I would love to see them chasing each other around the house or playing in the yard. I long to see Gavin's face light up, as it always did, the second Brian would walk into the room. I wish I knew what I should be mourning, exactly.
I suppose that's it.

I'm mourning what I wish I knew. 

Oh, how I wish I knew...

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