Sunday, August 28, 2011

I haven't raised a 14 year old boy before

My youngest son Jake will be 14 years old this year.  As I was looking at him I realized that I don't know anything about raising a 14 year old boy.  I know this may sound odd to some of  you but not to my bereaved parent's brain.

DJ was 13 years old when he passed away- from him I felt I had a pretty good handle on the "ins and outs"of a 13 year old boy.  Without even realizing it I didn't worry too much about raising Jake along the way.  But this week I became aware of the fact that I haven't had the experiences of a 14 year old boy, DJ passed away too soon. 

This simple little thought has made my heart ache this week because it silently shouts out to me that I have been robbed of raising DJ past 13 years of age and Jake too has been robbed of having a 14,15,16,17,18 year old brother.  Life has a way of reminding me of the many losses that come with the passing of a child.

I am now in new territory with Jake, I am in an unknown area.  I am sure it will be full of good things, great memories and challenges. It will also be full of missing memories as well--no graduation memory of DJ, no chance for DJ to help Jake learn how to drive.  No prom or homecoming for DJ and no chance for Jake to tease DJ about a girl friend.  The list goes on and on.

Life is full of memories but it is also full of missing memories and of those I have many.  Who knew the passage of age for Jake would take on such meaning to me?  The answer is all of you that have lost a child--so many missing memories, so many ways to further miss our children.  I am sure there will be so many more things coming up in life until the day I reunite with DJ in heaven--we all will have them. 

2 Sidenotes---I do not know how to comment back to all of you that comment on my post. I would love to-so if you leave a comment to me directly on facebook I will be able to respond.

Also, I will be having a book signing at The Bookworm bookstore in Omaha on October 8 -the 5th anniversary of DJ's death. If you can't make it you can order my book Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? at

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Buying a suit

I had to go shopping for a suit for my 13 year old son last month.  His Grandpa, my father-in-law passed away and Jake was asked to be a paul bearer. 

The last time I bought a suit for Jake was when DJ passed away, almost 5 years ago.  This time I didn't take Jake with me shopping, I made the best guesses I could on his size and went from there.  I didn't want Jake to have that connection with this suit. 

5 years ago while buying the suit for DJ's funeral at the department store Jake broke down. He said all he wanted for his birthday (only 11 days after DJ's funeral) was "DJ to come back".  He didn't want any toys, only his brother.  Needless to say it was a very hard day at the mall.  I didn't want Jake to even think about that day 5 years ago if I could help it. 

It's funny though because as much as you think you are shielding your kids from remembrances, associations, and pain they are already a few steps ahead of you in the thought process---  Jake had already thought about the funeral, but especially the viewing.

I asked Jake if he wanted to go to the viewing, I had already decided that I didn't want him to go since DJ's had been at the same exact funeral home and even the same room but I did want him to have the chance to discuss it.  He immediately said he didn't want to go, his words were "I have had enough sorrys" I asked him if he was talking about sorrys for Grandpa or DJ and he said DJ.  Wow, what an exact statement from a 13 year old, I was impressed.  It was very precise and very true.  I learned a little bit about Jake that day--

He knew about death in a way that most 13 years olds don't (and I wish he didn't)
He knew about all the things people say over and over again.
He knew that he was tired of hearing "I'm sorry"
He knew that he didn't want to hear "I'm sorry" if he could help it.
I learned he is stronger and smarter about grief than most adults.
I learned that he is able to make his own decisions based on experience about death.
He has grown up with grief as a part of his life and has learned how to manage it.
He is going to be an amazing adult-he will be able to relate to people with tragedy and grief-

I wish Jake had been isolated from all of that wisdom and knowledge (so wise for being so young) but he hasn't.  He is a product of a life that was shaken up and tossed about but he will be fine.  He is often stronger than I think and obviously much smarter.  I bought him a suit for a funeral but I think he will be happy to wear it anytime.  He has changed and gotten stronger in five years and I am amazed at who he is and who he is becoming.