I always wondered how I would handle Maxwell reaching preschool age, this is the age still most vivid to me from little Patryk’s life. When dropping Maxwell for his first day of school I can remember being excited, but overly consumed with how I would even get him to exit the car. Maxwell is a very needy child; it allowed me not to fixate on the past, but have no other choice then to be fully present for his current needs. All while in the back of my mind fully aware I was doing a task that for myself seemed like an impossible one. Dropping him off at school on that first day was not with out a fight. Eventually he went from being pulled from the car kicking screaming and petrified to the little boy who now was upset over Spring Break, because he would have to stay home with his Mommy all day. Funny how with time things seem to work themselves out. I’ve learned during the last year to be less anxious about all my issues with grief and raising my children through it, allowing it to happen naturally.
These really incredible moments have been happening lately where Maxwell talks of his brother Patryk. I can tell through conversations that his young mind is trying very hard to understand such a complex situation. His brother was in Heaven with God, but Maxwell doesn’t understand why Patryk couldn’t just come to his house to play. It’s hard to find the right words in the moment, sometimes I just explain as truthfully as possible because I think being honest is important when speaking of death. With out using scary words like death of course, instead I say his brother passed away because his body became very sick and didn’t work anymore. I also tell him that brother is with God in heaven, we can talk to brother anytime we want and to just look up through the clouds, to the heavens, where his brother plays. We send balloons to heaven on Patryk’s birthday or upon Maxwell’s request. This year at Christmas time the entire family wrote special messages and placed them in Patryks stocking. Then Christmas morning we read all the messages together before opening presents and Maxwell placed the ornament he bought in honor of Patryk upon the tree. I think the moments where our family speaks of Patryk have become some of the best moments of my life.
Just recently, the parents were invited to preschool for Family Day. Most wouldn’t think of this as being a difficult task, but for the Mom who lost a child of preschool age, it was terribly painful all while being an exciting moment. I never try to show the moments of weakness and when they arise I try to find something to be thankful for, during that very moment…there is always something to be thankful for! It’s a choice, to not let the grief consume me and focus on the good, choosing to process my grief at a more appropriate time. I say with full respect that sometimes you have to let grief just happen and not hold back, but here at my son’s school that is the last place I would ever let that happen. It’s not about me or my grief, that day was about Max. So, standing next to the teacher having a feeling of deja vu from my past with little Patryk I could have fallen apart, but instead I spoke of his brother Patryk openly. Focusing on how I wanted to cry happy tears being able to observe Maxwell from afar running, playing, laughing with his friends at school. Geeze I want to cry typing this, seeing Maxwell so free, his anxiety so low, this is a blessing I didn’t know was possible. He has been improving so much neurologically during the past few months and instead of being consumed with my personal grief I choose to be unbelievably grateful in that moment. Then later that evening after the kids were in bed, I grabbed a glass of wine and sat down on the couch with my husband. Before we watched t.v. together I broke down. I cried, expressing how messed up it feels not having Patryk here to hold, to watch grow. I showed my husband a picture I saw on Facebook of children that were born days within Patryk, saying he would of been this old! It shocks me how much time has gone by, it breaks my heart he will never be older then five. He was one of those souls that could have changed the world with his huge heart and infectious spirit.
It was the nicest day here in the Midwest since forever ago and after Family Day at school we ate donuts in the car(with the windows down), watched sissy throw every food item on the floor from our cart at Whole Foods(carried her out screaming and when reaching the car Maxwell cracked me up calling her a little Stinker Pot!), shared a slice of pizza, went to the park, on a stroller walk and then hung out in the backyard for a bit. While in the back yard before I took my pasty white babies in so no one burned there was this one moment, one I’ll never forget. It stopped my entire world, bringing me to my knees… Maxwell said, “Look at me, I love my new kick ball!” Me, “Kick it really really high to the sky(trying to divert him from kicking it at the dogs or sissy!)” Maxwell, “I’ll kick it really high to brother in heaven so he can play with it.”…..I stopped everything, buckled to my knees, and hugged my son very tight. I held onto that moment with all my heart for as long as I could. It meant so much to me to hear him talk of about brother so freely on a day I was missing him so very much. I then looked up at Maxwell told him how much I loved him, kissing and hugging him over and over till he said, “STOP, STOP, STOP!” (while uncontrollably giggling). Then we kicked and threw the ball a few times as high as we could trying to reach Heaven!
I think my words are starting to impact Maxwell’s heart and mind, which has me feeling very pleased with how I’m handling this delicate situation. I hope and pray for more moments like this, where my children remind me of how lucky I am to be here on earth. To live on for their brother and teach them all about how to live like Patryk, with a kind heart and forgiving soul. This journey sure is not easy, but I’m choosing to live on, I will not let my soul be spoiled, I will fall apart again, but I will conquer my fears in grief and have moments to make my life worth every difficult moment I endure.