In my opinion, there is nothing worse than losing a child, and I think most people would agree with me. I do, however, feel that there is something to be said for losing a grandchild, niece or nephew. The main reason being that they are the only people who come close to understanding the love you have for your child. Another reason being that it’s not the correct order of things for them, either. I have had people write me that read my blog, grandparents especially, asking me how our parents are doing, and I realize that they need the support as much as we do, and the understanding of others that this a huge loss for them too.
When I previously wrote about Nash’s great grandpa, papa Elmer, I had explained him as a man who had lost that twinkle in his eye after Nash passed. That can be said of everyone in our immediate families. Outsiders may not see it. We all are amazing fakers. We have mastered the art of fake smiles and casual conversations about the unimportant things in life. We can’t, however, fake these things to each other. There is not one of us that can’t see and relate to the grief of the other. There is a phrase in our family now that we call, “Having a bad Nash day”. When we feel like we have been hit by the semi truck of grief, that’s all we need to say to each other.
My father in law is the easiest to read. The reason being that he usually texts me early in the morning to ask how I’m doing. I know this really means, “I’m having a bad day, couldn’t sleep, up all night reliving the past, missing Nash so bad it hurts and I just want to know I’m not alone.” Instead, though, he sums it up to, “I’m having a bad Nash day.” My sister-in-laws, Becca, Caroline, and Tricia just come right out and say, “Today sucks.” Usually through tears. Soon after Nash died, Tricia said something to me I will never forget. She said, “I talk to Nash in my car, that’s where I feel him the most. I smiled and probably looked unmoved by the statement, but as soon as I got to my car I cried. Not the kind of crying you would think though, they were happy tears.
I imagine it’s how she feels when I’m proud of her children. How nice it is to have someone love your children that much. That’s how I felt. I felt a weight off my shoulders, knowing that when I’m not talking to him, someone else is. Someone is always loving and thinking of him. Becca has a Nash bear and I have seen him over at my in-laws’ house before. Becca told me that she talked to her dad on the phone and realized he needed him. Greg told me that for months after Nash died, he had a morning routine of getting up before Peggy and looking at all of Nash pictures and videos. He does this before Peggy gets up because it would make Peggy too sad.
Peggy and Greg love all their grandchildren equally. Nash had a special spot in their hearts; I think being the only boy. My mother-in-law had me promise when I was pregnant to keep having kids until I had a boy. She said, “I love my girls and they love me, but they have a special bond with their dad; he can do no wrong in their eyes and vice versa.” She said she always felt that connection with Todd. That moms and their boys have that same special bond. When I saw her play with Nash, I saw that same bond with them. My family lives a couple hours away from us and they loved Nash just as much but didn’t see him as often. I’m that way with their kids. I’m always going to catch their next game or see them next time I’m up. They thought they had more time with Nash and I think they wrestle with a lot of guilt for not seeing him more. How were they to know their time would run out so quickly?
In one way, I think our families have it worse than us…I know what you’re thinking, not possible. The reason I say this is because they are dealing with a double loss. The loss of their grandchild and nephew…but also, the loss of the people Todd and I once were. They have all said this to me on many occasions. My mother-in-law said, “I miss Nash so much, and then I see you and Todd so broken and my heart hurts. I try to put myself in their position…thinking of Crue’s future children and how much I know I will love them, and imagining that ever happening to him. Yes, I would miss my grandchild and I would be heartbroken from that loss, but seeing Crue so heartbroken may even be worse.
I think they deal with anger even more than Todd and I. To be blunt, they are pissed off that this happened not only to their grandchild, but also to their child…hell, the whole family for that matter. This has changed the whole dynamic of our family. In some ways, positively; we don’t take anything for granted and appreciate what we have even more….and of course negatively; Todd and I are sad and removed. Every holiday, get together, birthday party, there is a person missing. He will always be included and I’m thankful for that, but he will always be a conversation, a memory, a picture. Not a little boy running around making a mess and telling us all he loves us. I will never hear his Aunt Becca shout at him while laughing as she chases him to wash his dirty face. I will never see a picture of him and his grandpa and the first deer he gets when hunting. I will never see him playing with his cousins. His Aunt Caroline will never take him out on her boat. His Uncle Michael will never get the chance to have the bond with him that I do with his boys.
Sometimes I think about our future, and how it would be different if Nash was here. I know it changes everything, but I will never know how much. I know the kind of families Todd and I have, and I can imagine the life he had ahead of him. Not only does he not get that, but also we don’t get that. His parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles…we all lost that day. The extensions of love and grief run deep. It’s a domino effect that touches everything and everyone close to us. I heard a quote once that hit me like a ton of bricks. In just a few small words, it describes exactly what I’m trying to convey here………….”There is one thing that changed when you left, everything.”