This is a posting for those of you who have suffered the loss of a loved one. It is mostly just sharing my strange dilemmas with you. These questions have been on my mind and heart for weeks now and I have to express them or they will not leave my mind. Maybe some of you can even offer some advice or ideas on how to work through these questions.
First, what do I do with the question, “How many children do you have?” I start off by answering, “Four.” Then, almost always, follows the question, “Oh, what are their ages?” Well, this stumps me. I stand there awkwardly thinking in my mind the following: Brandon died at age 11, but if he hadn’t he would have been 12. So do I answer, “12, 10, 9 and 7?” Or do I answer, “11, 10, 9 and 7?” Maybe I might better answer “Three children and 10, 9 and 7” to the first question asked because I really don’t feel like getting into a pity party with a stranger about our recent loss. Perhaps the most accurate answer is “Five” to include both Brandon and the boy waiting for us in Ukraine. Somehow answering that I have 5 children makes me feel foolishly like a 6-year-old child with an imaginary friend, pretending and longing to have people that I do not in fact physically have right at the moment. Most of the time, I answer, “Three” to avoid any further questions, but then I feel guilty like I’ve written off my 2 sons (one living in Heaven and one living in Ukraine).
Second, what do I do with all these photos of Brandon on my walls? I find myself, taking them down, then putting them back up, taking them down, then putting them back up. I can’t decide if the reason I don’t like them up is seeing them all the time is a constant reminder that he is not here. How will I ever heal if his picture greets me every single morning along with the emptiness of knowing he’s not going to be thumping down the stairs that morning? However, when I take them down, I forget what he looks like, what he sounds like and what he smells like and that scares me. It makes me incredibly sad if I think about how much I miss him. I resolved to take most of his pictures down at work a few weeks ago. They were becoming a distraction. I was unable to stop crying or thinking about him any time I looked in the direction of his pictures. I wish I could brush off my hands and say, “There. The pictures are down, and have stayed down for 3 weeks now. Problem Solved,” but taking the pictures down, somehow makes me feel guilty. Another reason I like them down is because I do not want our newest son to see them all over the place. I like my locket of Brandon. I like his photos tucked in my wallet for a weak moment when I need to look at his little face, but I do not like them all over the place. I’m not sure if it’s a part of my stages of grief or what. It’s just how I feel.
Third, what do I do with his things in his room? In a little over a month, a new boy will be coming, and it will be his bedroom until he graduates or gets married. He is not going to want all kinds of things with “Brandon” written all over it. What about the clothing? The clothing was barely worn. Usually Brandon wore the same things all the time, which was his favorite navy warm up pants and a matching grey shirt. Any time he wore the other clothing, it was either because I made him because I wanted to take pictures of the kids that day or I peeled the clothes off from him to wash them. So I would say, the new boy could just wear that clothing, but all our pictures have Brandon with those particular clothes in it. I go back and forth with the clothing decision. Our girls all wear each other’s clothing if they can’t find something of their own that fits. The two oldest girls are just slightly different in size. So, should I give away Brandon’s perfectly good, quality clothing and spend money on new clothing? (My accountant mind says this is wasteful.) Or should I just make new memories with our newest son in the clothing? One thing in his room that I was adamant about changing was the matching quilts on the twin beds in the room. One of them was stained from what happened in Brandon’s final hours and the other one might as well be destroyed as well because the memory of what that stain looked like is forever burned in my mind. I will likely get some different pictures to hang on the walls as well once I get a feel about the interests of our newest child.
I guess in my mind these strange dilemmas are just a part of finding a new “normal” in my life. Change is always difficult. I’m determined (and by God’s grace and help) not to let what happened with Brandon ruin the incredible joy we will feel with our newest child. All our 5 of our children are such special gifts and always will be regardless of whether they live with me in this home or even on this earth. I have and will have precious memories with each of them. And I sure enough love them all 5 equally and so very deeply.