On our way home from Healing Hearts Jaden told me that Owen was at our house. I told him “No, Owen is dead, he is not at our house. He is in heaven.” He argued back that he really was at our house. I was wondering if he might be referring to his ashes as we still haven’t spread them and they still sit on a shelf in the living room. Out of no where, through the sobs, Jaden says “You don’t know anything!” I had really upset him.
I apologized and suggested we listen to the radio for a little bit. After a song or two I asked him if he’d like to talk about it again. He agreed.
Jaden: Owen is at our house all the time. He still reads stories with us at night.
Me: Like can you see him?
Me: Well what does he look like now?
Jaden: He looks like an angel.
I didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t want to upset him again and make him feel like he couldn’t talk about these things with me. I want him to tell me these stories. So instead, I thanked him for sharing with me and said I had no idea he still saw Owen. I also told him that I thought it was pretty special.
Then the painful questions came … as if that wasn’t painful enough.
Jaden: Mom, why was I locked in my bedroom the night Owen got sick? All the police were there and I couldn’t leave my room. I just wanted to see my brother.
This came up during the last session of Healing Hearts. His memory of that night is being locked in his room. It was really scary for him. But in reality, he was never alone. Abby or Sarah was always with him. Nor was he acutally locked in his room. I believe (since I wasn’t there the whole time) he was to stay in his room while the police sorted through what had happened. Rachael, Sarah and Abby weren’t allowed to speak to one another until their formal statements had been given. His memory sounds more like he was locked in his room like a dog is locked in his cage.
I tried to explain to him that he was in his room to keep him safe and it was the best way to help Owen. There were so many doctors and police officers in the nursery, that there wasn’t any where for him to go. I had even been backed into a corner and I couldn’t even move in the nursery. I asked him if he remembered the next day when Doug and I had come home to shower. Jaden asked to see his brother again and we said of course. Later that afternoon we made sure someone brought him up to the hospital for a visit. We just had to wait until things had calmed down before he could see Owen.
It kills me that this is hurting Jaden. In the moment I did everything I could to protect him. I remember calling out to see who had Jaden in between CPR compressions. I remember texting Rachael all night asking her how he was doing. I spoke with the family counselors before Jaden came to visit – to make sure I did things the best way for Jaden’s healing and understanding. I didn’t want him to have any anger about the situation. I wanted to handle it in the “right” way. In a healthy way.
You hear about kids who are angry later on in life because they felt left out of a family tragedy. In the moment, parents think they are protecting their kids, but in the end, the kids feel abandoned. I tried to stay open and let Jaden be where he wanted to be. I opened myself up to include him, thinking that it would heal him. Like it was the magic answer to making sure Jaden didn’t feel pain from this. I had myself convinced that he was really too young to remember this in great detail. It would eventually become a vague memory for him. Who was I kidding? What kind of powers did I really think I had to protect Jaden from this kind of pain? Maybe someday it will be a vague memory, but not today.
He asked me about all the tubes. He remembers what Owen looked like quite vividly. The details … what was the tube in his mouth for? What was the tube in his nose for?
There is just no protecting your children from the world. It’s sort of like the first heart-break. You know they are going to have their heart broken by a boyfriend or girlfriend at some point in their life … there is no stopping it. As long as there is love, there will be pain. As parent’s it matters what we say and do before and after the life changing events. I wish I could just protect him from all this. I would carry the grief for all my kids if I could. I would rather die a million deaths than Jaden, Weston or Logan feeling the pain of loosing Owen. But I can’t. It doesn’t work that way. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if my mom had been able to protect me from all my pain. In some ways I know it’s good for them … I just wish they had “normal” pain – like a first breakup, not making the basketball team, getting into a fight with your best friend. I never imagined that my boys would feel the pain of loosing their baby brother.
The thought of an angel reading bedtime stories with us is oddly comforting. What does an angel named Owen look like? Does he have the halo and the white feathered wings? Or perhaps there are no words we can use to describe the beauty of God’s angels …