Everyone has expectations for the family they want, or see themselves having. My dream was like many I’m sure, I wanted your typical all American tight knit family. I pictured my family laughing and sharing the day’s events at the dinner table as we ate. I grew up doing that, and if we hadn’t, my parents would have known little about my life. It’s where we shared most things. I pictured being the baseball mom. You know the one. The one who has mom on the back of her jersey and brings cookies to all the games. I pictured being the kind of parent my kids’ friends enjoyed. My whole world would be perfect if I was the mom my kids’ friends called mom too. It’s a simple life, but it’s all I have ever wanted. When Nash was born, I had pictured all these things. I was beyond excited to have one of our three extra bedrooms full. I would look in the other rooms excited to think one day his brother or sister would be there. When Nash died, it felt like a huge punch in the gut to the family I had pictured- one room filled and then empty. One growing baby boy to one Urn on a shelf. Todd has always been very fatherly, even with his nieces. He has taught them how to drive, taken them to dances and he would even coach their teams if he was asked. His dream was the same as mine. We struggle everyday with OUR new reality, but I don’t think we anticipated how upset we would one day be for Crue. Watching Crue crawl, point at things, wave and play with toys is heartbreaking. He doesn’t have his big brother. Some of My most heartbreaking moments are when I see a picture of a big brother snuggling with their younger brother. I always look at Crue sleeping alone or playing alone and it just about kills me. One day he will be picked on, it’s inevitable. He should have an older brother to protect him.
I had a woman write me one day and ask when I intended to tell Crue he had an older brother. I was taken back, I never pictured having a conversation. I always pictured him just knowing. This woman had lost a child and said we didn’t tell our children until we thought they were at an age they could handle it. I really took that in. I asked other moms I knew who had lost a child and they were split right down the middle on when or if your kids should know at all. One mother said, ” you don’t want your child to grow up already missing someone they have never met.” I didn’t like this; it’s not what I envisioned. Not only had these mothers said these things to me but I had talked to people my age who had lost siblings and I was shocked they were not told until they were older. What hurt even more was the way they explained them. My one friend said, ” my mom lost a baby before I was born.” No name, not his brother or sister….his mom’s baby. Another lady told me, ” my mom and dad lost a child to cancer before I was born, but we don’t talk about it.” I found this shocking. The more I looked into it, the more stories like this I heard. Was I asking too much from my children to have them remember a brother they never knew? Would this harm them in some way?
All these thoughts changed when I my friend Wendi met her husband Ryan. They were dating when I lost Nash and after some time had passed, she reached out to me and told me her husband’s story. She said Ryan told her on their first date about his older brother,Chad. His parents first child, the first grandchild on both sides. I cried instantly, knowing that Crue may not only share this with his future wife but that it would be first date conversation. She went on to tell me that there is a picture of Chad up at his parents house and that he is openly talked about and discussed – that even though her three children had never met him, they would cry when they visited his gravesite as a family. She continued to tell me she told them about Nash and my story. She gave me so much hope that day. It was a year before I saw Ryan, after Wendi told me about his brother. I asked him when his mother first told him about Chad. He said, ” I always knew; it was never a conversation. I grew up knowing my older bother.” He went on to say he thinks it would have been difficult to have some long drawn out conversation when he was older. I had to hold back my tears. He had no idea what his words meant to me. I not only completely agreed with him, but I loved How he referred to his brother as his older brother or he called him Chad. It wasn’t uncomfortable It wasn’t unnatural for him to say his name.
I met Chad’s brother Aaron that night as well. He knew who I was from Wendi’s stories about Nash. Aaron went on to talk about his brother, and again I had to hold back tears. Neither one of them knew how much they changed my life that night. To hear them talk about their brother Chad like you or I would talk about our brothers and sisters we’d known our whole life. To see their faces light up at the chance to talk about him. He was someone to them; he was important and they had alot of pride when discussing him with me. It was something I cannot put into words. He wasn’t their mother’s son before they were born. He wasn’t a child lost that they never knew. They talked about him with a huge smile and always referred to him as their brother or Chad.
When I attended Ryan’s and Wendi’s wedding, I was like a private eye. I’m surprised his family said nothing to me because I stared at them the whole time I was there. What I saw, was an amazingly tight knit family. I saw a happy family. I envisioned them being the type of family that sat at the dinner table and talked about their day. I envisioned their mom at baseball games with a container of cookies and a jersey that said mom on the back. I saw the all American family I had always dreamed of and thought I couldn’t have. It’s because of them that I realize I can still have that family. That my family doesn’t have to not include Nash. I have never had more hope that not only can I be happy again, but the dreams that I had in the past can still be my dreams now. That not only was it still possible to have the family I always wanted by including Nash, but that it may be impossible to have that family if he wasn’t included. That makes me the happiest I have been in forever! I don’t know why I thought I couldn’t have that family after Nash died, maybe it’s because no matter how we look on the outside, we know there’s a chunk missing from our family. What I’m learning is that that doesn’t have to define us. And if it does define us in someway, that’s an important part of our story.