Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Life's Lessons

In the weeks and months following Brady's death, Mike and I had multiple conversations about what role Brady would play in the future of our family. That may sound odd, but as our firstborn, our life at that point was much different than we knew life would be down the road. We knew - even in the early moments following his death - that the right thing to do was to have him be part of our family.

Our biggest fear was that we would go on to have this family and that our future kids wouldn't know that Mike and I shared our heart with another child. One they never got to meet or play with. But the truth was, is, that we do share our heart. I love all three of my kids very much, even if Brady isn't with us. And for me to hide that from Reilly and Brooke would have been wrong. I wouldn't have been able to share all of myself with them, and they should know who I am, and why I do some things I do.

Fast forward....

Now that I'm living 7 years in the future, I can say we are exactly at that point where I'd imagine we would have been. We have two healthy and beautiful kids who are growing up more and more every day. They are inquisitive, they ask questions and they want answers. A couple years ago we started making Brady part of the regular conversation. Reilly doesn't remember a time when we didn't talk about Brady. He is her brother who died and she never got to meet. Thankfully, I think we have done a very good job. She happily asks about him, wants to see his picture, wants to understand what happened and thinks about him. As an example...the other day I was picking her up from school and we were riding along in the car talking about our family in California. She said to me, "Mom. I miss my family in California," and then she paused. "But Brady...he holds a special place in my heart."

Moments like that I am confident we made the right decision.


Other moments I cringe. You see...the flip side is that people who we know today don't all know about Brady. We feel very comfortable talking about him, and are happy to do so if asked. But socially, we find it's not a good conversation starter to talk about him. So unless the conversation comes up, many people we know today - don't know. So one fear is that Reilly will be somewhere, like school, talking about her brother, and people will think she is nutty.

So last week we were at Synagogue for the Rosh Hashanah Family Service. We were in the Chapel, sitting with about...oh, I'm guessing....100, 150 people? The Rabbi was doing a great job getting the kids involved. He kept asking questions to prompt the kids and then he would let them answer using the microphone. He was asking things like, is G-d at your school, is G-d in your home...you know, standard thought provoking questions to get kids to think about religion. I kept trying to get Reilly to answer his questions, but she couldn't quite get up the courage.

That is until the Rabbi asked this question. "Have any of you had somebody you love die?"

Bless her heart...Reilly got up the courage. She was sitting on my lap and it happened in slow motion. Her arm jolted into the air, like she had just been asked if she wanted to go to Disneyworld and eat candy all day long! And as if it was scripted, the Rabbi was looking right at her and smiled. Immediately he started walking towards her with that microphone. I couldn't stop it....

The Rabbi said, "who did you lose?"

Reilly answered without hesitation and with a proud voice into that microphone, "My brother."

I'm pretty sure the Rabbi was expecting, my Grandma, my dog - you know, the ones you would expect. He seemed a little caught off guard, as did the other 149 people in the room. He asked her a couple follow-on questions and she answered proudly.

So I guess the moral of my post is that we did good. While at times it may make people uncomfortable...she knows her brother, she loves her brother, and his death is natural to her. She will never be caught off guard to hear the story. He is in her heart and lives on because our family loves him and thinks of him every day.

And as later this week is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day...we remember our angel, Brady through this funny story. And his cousin, our other angel - Alexis.


Grandma Trudy said...

I'm sitting her with tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing such a heartwarming and beautiful story. I know Reilly keeps Brady in her heart. She shares him with me so much when we're alone together and he will always be with her... and me... and all of us. I only wish I had known my grandson Brady and my granddaughter Alexis. I think of what they would have been often... but I do believe they are our angels.

Jenn said...

You've done a wonderful job Catriona. I think of your little angel often. Love.

Alison said...

Oh Catriona, what a beautiful post and story. I'm in tears. I'm so glad that you WHOLE family honors Brady's memory. Its beautiful.