This February 2, my oldest son should be turning 19. It boggles my mind to think that I should be the mother of a 19 year old, a young adult! Right now I am up to my neck in rubber bands (rainbow looms), crayons, Disney toys, and games, it is hard to imagine what that life would look like. What would it feel like to have Gabe away from home at university?
When we first lost Gabe I would torture myself wondering what he would be doing if he were still alive. I would weep with the cruelty, the unfairness of it all. I would never see him hit those milestones that his friends would hit. Each grade he should be going into I would wonder, what would be doing? Would he have a girlfriend yet? Would his voice have changed? Would he be sporting a peach fuzz mustache thinking he was a man? When he should have been beginning high school I broke my heart. This was an important milestone I would not get to see him hit, one of the many. It was also at that point that I learned to let it go. It didn't matter "what he would have been doing", because he wasn't. I let it go. I would never know "what he would have been doing", because he was forever 9, a month away from 10. My love for him did not change, but my raw heartache lessened.
My heart still aches with his loss, but it is no longer an open, weeping, sore. I have to give my love and attention to his living brother and sisters. I have to allow my open sore to scab over, not just for my living children, but for my own mental well being and in turn my own physical health. I no longer fret over what he would be doing, but instead find myself wondering how do I introduce him to his living siblings. To them he is just a person that we tell stories about. Gracie was just 3 when Gabe was taken from us, Riley and Rowan just 5 months old, and Elly was 4 years away from ever being born. Grace's memories are more memories that she has formed with the aid of photographs and our stories. The other children have none at all of their own. How do we allow his siblings to know him?
We talk about Gabe, and recount funny stories about things that he did. We speak of him the way we speak of them, with great love, affection and truth. We try not to make him into a saint. By making him something that he was not, I feel like that would cause the other kids to resent him, and say that who he truly was, wasn't good enough. He was a funny little boy. He had a great big heart, and a contagious laugh, but he wasn't perfect. I don't want them to see him as a tragic figure, but rather a real boy who's time was cut too short. I want them to love him, even though they did not get the privilege to know him in life. I want them to remember him to their children, so that my grandchildren know that they have an uncle they will never meet.
In the end I have to let it go. I have no control over their perception, only of my own intent. I want my children to know their brother, but I have no control over what they think, what opinions that they will form. I hold Gabriel in my heart with great love, the way that I hold all of my children, there is no child who outshines the others in my love. I just hope that they will always know that. I hope that I can be the bridge for them to "know" who their brother is/ was.