Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The fantasy of what should be

"Let's pretend Marcellus is alive."
As these words came out of my 4 year old's mouth the other night I felt my heart sink and the tears well up. Ethan, Marcellus's little brother, had taken Marcellus's picture off the nightstand and brought it out into the living room. There it sat throughout the evening without mention until after dinner when he wanted to play pretend.

And he did. For probably close to an hour he pretended to play with Marcellus. And it was heartbreaking, it was beautiful, it was heartbreakingly beautiful. I didn't know what to do. I sat in this place between being frozen and wanting to ask Ethan a million questions about what he was imagining Marcellus like.

First there was some song singing. Ethan said Marcellus just sat off to the side. At one point when Ethan was standing and singing/dancing I asked where Marcellus was he said, "Right here. Sitting down next to me."

"Come on Marcellus. Come with me. Come over to Mom with me. Mom, I'm bringing Marcellus to you. He's going to give you a hug." Tears. Trying to hold back the tears, but I failed. How could I have managed to not let a few sneak out? I mean, really. I couldn't believe what Ethan was saying. How I was trying to will myself to see what Ethan could imagine. To see Marcellus coming toward me with outstretched arms ready for a momma hug. And I tried to savor it. To feel a hug from my first born son. To be in the moment with Ethan as he pretended.

After that the play moved into the bedroom. They were jumping on the bed. Weston was playing on the bed too. How rambunctious would it have been to actually have had 3 children jumping on that bed? That's when I started trying to ask Ethan more about Marcellus. I asked him how big he was, "The same size as me." I asked him what his hair was like, "The same color has mine, but it's short. He used to have long hair, but he cut it." So I sat there and listened to Ethan laugh. To hear him repetitively call out to Marcellus. Then Ethan says, "Mom! Marcellus is sitting on your lap." Oh oh oh, I sat and closed my eyes. I imagined a long legged five year old with short hair on my lap, nestling in to me. Maybe a bit overwhelmed by the energy and intensity of his little brother. Because I do believe my Marcellus would be my quieter, more introverted child.

After Ethan was done jumping on the bed he said Marcellus was tired. So he pretended Marcellus went to bed and we had to be a little quiet the rest of the evening. He would shush me and said, "Be quiet. Marcellus is sleeping." When it was time for Ethan to go to bed he announced, "I'm done pretending now." And that was that. He hasn't pretended to play with Marcellus since.

That same evening Ethan had a bath while he was pretending Marcellus was asleep. He called to me and said, "Mom, look! I made a picture of Marcellus."
Ethan's picture of Marcellus.
My heart is so full and so broken all at the same time. So full with the love Marcellus's little brother has for him. A little brother that only knows his big brother through pictures and stories and the love his daddy and I have for him. So broken by the reality that pretend play is the closest these brothers will ever be to playing. Broken that I can't freely imagine Marcellus as his little brother can. Broken because it was only a fantasy of what should be.

Marcellus, your little brother loves you so much. He must have been feeling that love the other night to get out your picture, pretend that you were alive, and make a picture of you. I've really always thought the two of you would be a bit opposite in your personalities. Just from knowing what you were like when born and in the NICU. But I bet you would have loved each other something fierce. In fact, I think you both do love each other something fierce. Brothers, a bond that even death cannot break. I hope Ethan always speaks of you so freely, imagines you so freely. I hope one day Weston is the same. I love you all so very much! xoxox.

Ethan's March for Babies page  -- visit Ethan's March for Babies page to help him show his brotherly love for Marcellus.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The days that take your breath away

Today was one of them. One of those days that just took my breath away. Where the weight of this grief knocked me over. Where the tears came and I couldn't stop them. They came and they came and they came. The ache in my chest was pounding. As if my hurt was trying to escape my heart. And it hurt. It hurt so bad.

As I sat there at the kitchen table unable to catch my breath from crying I thought to myself "How does it still hurt this bad?!? How are there days where it still hurts just as bad as it did 5 years ago?" But then I also thought to myself how it will always hurt this bad. There will always be days that take my breath away. There will always be days of uncontrollable tears. Because my son is not here. Because my son died.

This is grief. This is my grief. It will be my grief for the rest of my life. Because I will love him and miss him and ache for him for the rest of my life.

Five years and four months later I may go longer in between these days, I may recover quicker from these days, but it can still hurt just as bad. It can still hurt so damn much.

So today grief knocked me down. It took my breath away. But now I get back up and continue on just like I always do. Now I incorporate my grief back to the daily management of it...until the next day that comes around and takes my breath away.

Dear Marcellus, wow today was hard. One of the hardest I've had in quite awhile. I just needed to cry for you baby boy. To let that hurt out. To express how much my heart aches for you. It hurts so bad to not have you here. It hurts so damn bad. It can hurt just as bad as it did in those early days. Those foggy, intensely grief filled early days. But baby, I was able to get back up and proceed with daily living. To find joy. To snuggle your brothers and tell them how much I love and am lucky to have each and every one of you. That each of you are a special part of our family. Ethan and I talked about how it's okay to cry because we miss you. I think he's starting to have a harder time understanding why and how you died. He said you were born too early, but that so was he and he didn't die. How he has gotten sick and is still alive. How do I explain it to him? Trying to fully figure that one out as he understand more, but yet not enough. I love you my squirmy wormy. I love you so very much. xoxox.

It's March for Babies season. If you'd like to donate please visit my Marcellus's Marchers March for Babies team page here. March for Babies is the charity walk put on by the March of Dimes.