blogging a – z challenge – “a”

A2Z-BADGE [2016]

I learned about the Blogging From A to Z Challenge from A.J., a girl in my writer’s group. Today, April first, the project of blogging each day in the month of April (except Sundays), for each letter of the alphabet, begins!

The letter A. Well, the first “A” word that comes to mind is the name of my youngest son, Asher. He is five years old and at kindergarten this morning. Today’s post will be about my little Asher…and will touch on how his big brother’s death has…or hasn’t…affected him.

Asher was only 22 months old when Kade died. When I wrote about the day that Kade died, I noted that Toddler Asher was…quiet…during all of the chaotic goings-on. I won’t write about that day at length here, but he was calm, as if he knew something grave and life-changing was happening. He didn’t make a fuss, as if the Older Wiser Asher within was telling Toddler Asher that this was bigger than a tantrum. This was bigger than fear. This was bigger than chaos and hyperventilating and oxygen masks and strangers taking care of him at the pool because mama couldn’t right then.

I am a big proponent of being open about grief. Of letting the bygone days of shame and secrecy associated with loss, be way bygone. The societal tides are changing, and I’ve had great mentors to learn from. I agree with the thinking that “being strong” for the children is a bunch of bunk, and if my kid sees me cry because I miss my other kid who died, it’s not going to harm him. He’s going to witness true human emotions (not all of them all of the time of course), and furthermore learn that tears give way to laughter, laughter gives way to frustration, frustration gives way to sadness, and on and on and on. Emotions ebb and flow and what favor am I paying Asher if I paste on a cheery smile 24 hours a day? Let’s just say my toddler/preschooler and I have spent some afternoons on the couch with Cheetos, tissues, and TV. And conversely, we’ve spent some afternoons at the museum learning about dinosaurs. Life, and mood, is rich and varied.

I’ve learned that as Asher grows and changes developmentally, his dealing with his brother’s death…a large impactful loss in his immediate family…will affect him differently. Today, my very verbal five-and-a-half-year-old is hot and cold on the topic of “Big brother Kade.” Some days he mentions his big brother with affection. Other times he simply wants to leave him out of what we are doing. A succinct “No” was the answer to my question, “Shall we include Kade when we make up nicknames for our family for Dr. Seuss week at school?” OK, then.

But a couple weeks later when I started drawing on the sand on our Mexico vacation, Asher said, “Let’s write Kade’s name.” Then he nestled the smooth rock and brain coral he had collected inside the heart.