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.

No comments:

Post a Comment