9 months on Ashton’s grief still shows its face, sometimes in unexpected ways. One day after school he had a full meltdown that came out of nowhere and escalated to him yelling with anger and tears “I hate my baby brother! I don’t want a baby brother!”. I was driving and couldn’t do anything but let him cry and yell until he ran out of steam, while trying not to cry at the same time hearing such painful words. He calmed down when we got home and I asked him gently why he said what he did. He told me “I don’t know. I’m sorry I didn’t mean it. I love my brother.” He cuddled me tight and cried “I just want him to be alive. I want him to be alive like Lily (his cousin) is. Why did he have to be stardust and be dead”. I told him “I want him to be alive too, and I don’t know why he had to die”. I couldn’t stop some of the tears and my sweet boy wiped them from my cheek.
It’s so difficult to have your children ask the same questions you ask, painful questions with no real answers. Sometimes I don’t know what’s harder, dealing with my own grief or watching our two earthside children hurting while feeling mostly helpless to stop it.
After he calmed down I retreated to the garden out of their view unable to stop the sobbing. In moments like these the lyrics “no one said it was easy, but no one said it would be this hard” always pop into my head.
The next day was a good day for Ashton, a huge relief from the day before. He woke up happy and stayed that way all day. The thing with 5 year olds is their emotions and behaviours come out of nowhere and dissipate just as quick. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to wake up and leave the heartbreak of yesterday behind me. I glued on my mask so no one would know I was carrying my heavy heart around and wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. By the afternoon I knew I desperately needed something. I wasn’t sure what but I always turn to the beach for comfort. It’s a place I find peace and feel most connected with our baby. Turns out it’s a place that’s special to our children too.
When I asked if they wanted to go to the beach Ashton asked with excitement “are we going to Elliott’s beach?”. While I was getting ready he went into my room and came out with one of Elliott’s toys and asked if he could take it to the beach. He cuddled the little fox toy the whole way there and sat it down next to him while eating dinner there.
I was so good to see he had burnt through the anger he was holding and was now just left with the love again. That he was back to finding his own ways to connect with a brother he wants but is not here. When I see the way he loves him and how connected he is with him I am filled with so much pride. Other times that pride comes with a layer of sadness and even anger that this little boy can only love his brother through gestures and tributes when he should be loving him through kisses and cuddles, tickles and play. But it’s still something, and that something is beautiful and pure. I’m not sure how long he’ll be this connected as he gets older, but I know he’ll always have keep a fixed and safe place in his heart for his baby brother.
While we were there we saw the most beautiful sunset and cloud formations. At first it looked like a heart but as I walked closer for a better photo it looked like (at least to me) angel wings. Just like that, what I needed was in front of me, in the sky. I felt like it was a sign that maybe things will be ok. Maybe my husband and I will be ok. Maybe the kids will be ok. I’m not sure when or how but just maybe, one day.