Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Memories Don't March...

There are no pictures.

There are no signs.

There are no first day stories.

This year, our third without him, Gavin would have started third grade. 

One of the hardest things for me as a Mom is watching time march on when my memories don't. Even though he'd be starting third grade, I have no idea what that would look like. I have no idea what HE would look like. Gavin still looks like five and a half years old. He's frozen.

In many ways, I am, too.

I don't know how tall he'd be. I don't know how different his hair would be. I don't know what he would look like with missing and grown up teeth. I don't know if he'd be talking...or running...or more. 

I don't know if we'd still have him in the school we chose before his death. Maybe we wouldn't have loved it? Maybe we would have. I will never know. I don't know what his favorite foods or toys or music would be. 

I always connected - bonded, even - with Gavin's teachers. Would that still be true? Would I be invited to be as involved in his third grade year? Would he have a one on one aide still? Would he even need one?

For the last two weeks - and likely into the next - my computer screen will be bombarded with back to school photos and stories. I love this time of year and I love all the photos and I love all the stories...

But there's only one photo I long to see.
And one story I wish I could continue to write.

But that story will remain unwritten... 

Time marches on.
Memories don't.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Back to School Confidence...

 Dear Brian,

Today you began your second grade year. 

Second Grade!! I can hardly believe it. 

I am so, so proud of you. Not for starting second grade - anyone can start a new grade. I'm proud of you because of how you've grown to get to this day.

I remember this time last year when you were entering first grade. It was not easy. You were so scared that it would be much harder and SO different. You didn't want to leave me and cried every day for a while!! Every time YOU left me in tears - you left ME in tears, too! Things settled down and you ended up having a great year.

We had a fun Summer at "Camp Leong," but in the back of my mind I worried that we would have another rough time with jitters and fears and separation anxiety. Yours, not mine... just to be clear. Ha!

But something happened to you over the Summer. I watched you as your confidence grew right in front of my eyes - and it was magical. There were small things - like taking bigger risks playing outside. Picking up frogs and bugs - climbing higher - riding your bike more. Then there were bigger things. Your confidence in social situations has drastically changed! You made new friends at church and participated in church activities. And one of the highlights of my Summer was when you and I went to the church's Kid's Camp. You made new friends there, too, and got into every aspect of camp over those three days with your whole heart. 

I also watched you with your sister. You can't imagine what it's like for me as a Mother to watch you, this little boy who had his world turned upside down the day his brother died, with this little sister that suddenly appeared. I wasn't sure how it would go - would it be too much to expect of your heart to accept a sibling so soon? Not that we had a choice, but I worried! Boy, did I underestimate you. You have been an exceptional big brother to Hope. She completely idolizes you. This Summer the two of you had so much fun together - playing outside, bouncing in the bounce house in the basement, playing tag, attempting to play hide and seek and laughing every time she gave herself away... you have the biggest heart for Hope. The other day I asked her, "Hope - Brian goes back to school tomorrow. How do you feel about that?" She dramatically sighed, hung her head and said, "I feel sad, Mommy. I need a hug."

I know she'll miss you so much when you're at school. And I will, too!!

Leading up to today, I watched you for any signs of worry or concern. Nothing. Just pure excitement to go back to school. And this morning, when our alarms went off just past six, there wasn't a single grumble or complaint. You couldn't wait to get out the door for the bus!! Daddy took you to the bus stop and was nice to take a picture of you getting on the bus for me. You looked so confident and sure of yourself!!

You only had a half day today so Hope and I kept busy picking up some special treats for your arrival home. We stopped at Target to get you new thermos for your lunch box... and then Wegmans for some celebratory balloons. After church on Sunday when we were in Wegmans, you tried a sample of their Apple Pie and couldn't stop talking about it. So there it was when you arrived home from school just in time for lunch. Which was, of course, Apple Pie. 

Hope was THRILLED to see you and your first priority was to hug and kiss her.

After giving you 24 lectures leading up to today to NOT FORGET DETAILS OF YOUR FIRST DAY... I was pleasantly surprised! I heard all about the bus ride... what the classroom looks like... how nice and happy your teacher, Mrs. Scelzo, is... where you're sitting - and where every other person is sitting - in the classroom AND the lunchroom... how you answered "What did you do this Summer?" with "I went to Ocean City, New Jersey" and so many other little gems. Your enthusiasm was contagious!!

Your first "homework" today was to fill out a sheet telling your teacher all about you. One question was "What is your least favorite subject in school? Why do you not like it as much as other subjects?" Your answer: "I don't like handwriting because it makes my hand tired." This was followed by the question: "What are you most looking forward to learning and doing this school year?" Your answer, ironically, was: "I'm excited to learn cursive writing." 

Another question I loved was "Describe the members of your family." You wrote:  "My Dad is Chinese. My Mom is fun. My sister Hope is sweet and funny." You sat for a moment before looking at me. "I think I'll stop there. Sometimes I don't tell people I have another brother and sister so I don't have to explain it and feel bad," you explained... with confidence... as you should. I told you, "Brian, that is totally okay. You know what? Sometimes I do the same thing."

Tomorrow will be the first full day - AND you have your first soccer practice of the season tomorrow night! It will be a long day. I hope that your level of confidence and enthusiasm stays where it was today throughout the whole year. As your wise Pop always told me growing up, attitude is everything.

I love you, Brian Leong! It is such a privilege to be your Mom. I know you're going to rock second grade!

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