The other day we marked what would have been Gavin's 8th birthday.
This was the toughest birthday yet... proving that you really can't predict the tides of grief. Our third birthday without him... and definitely the hardest. For all of us! I couldn't even write on his birthday - the first time I've skipped a birthday post... ever. And you know what? That's okay. But we did celebrate him with a cake and balloons - and a present for his siblings, which we know he would have loved.
Yesterday we celebrated Hope as she turned 22 months. Proving that you really can't wallow for too long in this house. It's practically impossible.
Today, the balloons lay deflated on the floor and life returns to "normalish." We had planned to go to an amusement park - our yearly tradition on Gavin's birthday - but our plans got sidetracked. And then this weekend we have a huge storm heading our way. And the following weekend we have plans. It's possible that we may not carry on the tradition this year... but guess what. That's okay, too.
We have learned over these last few years to be nice to ourselves - to not put pressure on ourselves - to not worry about meeting anyone's expectations except ours when it comes to remembering and celebrating Gavin. And, most importantly, to let Brian lead us in how we manage his grief. Brian makes it clear when he needs to talk about his big brother. He likes to hear stories about the two of them when they were little... or see pictures of all of us together. When we moved, he still wanted to sleep in Gavin's bed and wouldn't entertain any other option. We would never dream - EVER - of taking any of these things away from him... even if it's painful for us. I remember right after Gavin died - Brian wanted to hear the story about how he died every single night. For a year. All through my emotional pregnancy with Hope I faithfully sat on his bed and honestly related the story to him as I tucked him in - making sure to remind him of what a great brother he was to Gavin... how Gavin learned so much from him... and how much his brother loved him.
But lately, Brian has been struggling. Suddenly the loss of his brother has hit him differently - and he is starting to forget details of their life together, which crushes him. Seeing your child suffer... because of the death of your other child... is a double whammy to a Mommy's heart. Ed and I are often up at night discussing Brian and how we can best support him. It has not been easy. It's also been hard to tell if his emotions are coming out because of other reasons. It's difficult for children to articulate what they're feeling sometimes. Heck, it's hard for a lot of adults!! For all we know, Gavin's death could be just a convenient reason to cry at the moment... masking what is really upsetting him. Maybe the transition to first grade has been harder than we thought. Or it could be that the move has been a challenge, despite how happy he says he is. With children, it can be such a guessing game. All we know is that our little boy is having a really hard time... and we are here to get him through it. Everyone is on board - including his teacher. Brian is a lucky little boy to have so many people in his corner.
I like to think it was not a coincidence that Hope was born on the 30th of the month - one day after Gavin who was born on the 29th. It's a little reminder for me that it really is okay to experience joy again... and that hope is around the corner no matter how dark it may seem. Hope is now 22 months. Hard to believe that two is right around the corner!! Here are some photos from her special day. They aren't perfectly posed - that ship has sailed. I take what I can get these days!!
I tried to get a picture of Hope with her heartbeat bunny, but I'm afraid that ship has sailed, too.
I did, however, manage to get Hope's new "BFF," Mia, posing beautifully. Ha!
These two just love each other - despite Hope's aggressive hugs and kisses.
Hope is so much fun. She's saying a lot of little sentences like "Sit down" and "Hi Daddy (Mommy, Brian)" and "No No!" She is very independent which I love. She uses utensils, puts her own shoes on (usually the right feet AND she fastens them - it's quite shocking) and helps clean up her toys when asked. She loves to hold hands, give kisses and hugs and sleeps so well from 7pm until close to 8am! She sings and dances, enjoys books and loves to get into mischief exactly when Brian and I sit down to do homework.
I'm thrilled that we are still nursing! I definitely didn't expect to be nursing this long, but I see no reason to stop!
A tough week was made a lot better by a visit from my sister, Meg, my niece, Emily and my little great nephew, William from New Hampshire! They stayed with us for a few days which was so special. I adore my sister, Meg and always feel so, so happy when I'm around her.
I will say - when Emily was born in 1988 and made me an Aunt... I never once imagined that we'd be having babies at the same time! Ha!!
William is such a sweet, easy baby. And gorgeous!!
It was so fun to watch our babies playing together - or at least side by side, as babies do.
And it was heartwarming for me to see William enjoying Gavin's old toys - like his favorite book.
There is no script for grief... just as there is no script for parenting, or marriage, or life! Every day in our home is a great balancing act.... and we're all doing the best we can.