From the Mouths of Toddlers

I wasn’t ready for this one.

First, a little backstory. When Tera was pregnant with Simon, we did everything we could to make sure Nolan was ready to be a big brother. He helped build the baby’s furniture, helped me paint the dresser, and maybe most importantly, he got a doll to carry around. The hope was he’d learn to be gentle with a baby.

It worked, and he was about as ready as any two year old could be to have a sibling.

A little more backstory. When Simon died, one of the biggest pieces of advice we received was to tell Nolan the truth. Not that he was sleeping, not that he went on a trip, not that he went to be an angel. Simon died, and he isn’t coming home. The conversation was harder for us than for him, and lasted just a couple minutes until he was ready to start playing.

Another tip came from a book my coworkers gave us. To tell Nolan that the reason Simon died is that “his body stopped working.” It’s hard to tell how much of our conversations have stuck.

Until tonight.

Tonight, Nolan played doctor, as he has done pretty often since we got home from the hospital. He likes to tell us we’re sick and use phone chargers to fix us. He did that a couple times tonight, then, for the first time something else happened.

He told us his baby was sick.

Then it went a step further. He told us his baby had died because he “stopped working.”

We froze for a moment. He repeated what he had told us.

Then.

Then he used his charger and “fixed” his baby so that he wasn’t dead anymore. And that’s where it got difficult. We’ve done everything we can to tell Nolan that Simon won’t come home. That he’ll never come home. That we can’t…that no one can fix him.

And now Nolan fixes his baby.

We understand that there will be different, very difficult, conversations throughout Nolan’s childhood to teach him about what happened, and most importantly to teach him about his little brother. But we weren’t ready for one of those conversations. Not tonight.

But ready or not, here it comes.

2 Steps Forward, 2 Steps Back

Before you say anything, I know. The phrase is two steps forward, one step back. But that’s just not the case. Not my case.

In my case, I feel like I’m progressing, albeit in the smallest ways possible, but progressing. I have fewer anxiety attacks at work. I lock myself in a room to cry a little less often. I am running for myself, to take care of myself. I miss Simon every day, every moment, and I’m working on how I can cope. And I’m taking tiny steps at doing so.

Until the clouds roll back in.

(Not these literal clouds. I wish it was these clouds. I can deal with these clouds.)

The clouds I thought I had taken baby steps to cope with are the clouds that turn my brain into a ball of anxiety and make what used to be simple tasks feel daunting. They are the clouds that make me wonder how I can ever truly smile again. They are the clouds that make me doubt myself as Nolan’s and Simon’s dad. The clouds are terrifying.

And at least right now they are back.

The scary thing, or one of the scary things about these clouds returning is that I don’t know where they came from. It might be the grief hangover from a holiday that I didn’t expect would be so hard. It may be from the amazing changes in Nolan and the utter pride I take in seeing how our little boy is learning and growing and the knowledge that our other little boy will always be stuck in a moment in time. It might just be because it’s Thursday.

The other scary part is, I don’t know when I’ll take those two tiny steps forward again. When these clouds roll in, it feels like they’ll be here forever. There is no end in sight. No “light at the end of the tunnel.” Only more tunnel.

For now I feel like I’m back at square one.

Two steps back and just missing Simon, and missing what our life, our family of four should look like.

A Tale of Two Father’s Days

Nolan woke up early…I’m talking early…this morning. I brought him into the bed with me and we chatted for a few minutes, then I was (somehow) able to get him to rest and close his eyes. We both fell asleep for another hour or so. If you know Nolan, you know this is unheard of.

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We eventually got up and Nolan brought me the first of my Father’s Day presents. A super cute book called I Love Dad. Nolan had colored on it (and his belly) and is very proud of his artwork. We read it. One of us teared up. It was a wonderful start to Father’s Day.

After a nice morning hanging out at the cabin, playing outside and a walk up the road, we headed home.

When we got home, I got the next of my gifts. First, a really nice keychain with Nolan’s name and “Everyday. Everyday.” and Simon’s name with “Always & Always.” I cried a little more.

Then game the big gift.

My amazingly thoughtful wife had a picture drawn for me. The picture of me holding our little boy shortly after he came into the world. There is pain on my face, and an angelic, beautiful look on his. He looks so perfect. And it is a perfect drawing.

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But.

It is also a reminder on this first Father’s Day without Simon that I’ll never have the chance to cuddle with him in the morning, and I’ll never know if soothing him back to sleep would have been easier or harder than it is with his big brother. I’ll never get a beautifully scribbled work of art to cherish. I’ll never know anything about what he would have been.

It was two Father’s Days today.

A great one celebrating with a toddler who hugs my legs, and wanted me to come to him when he fell (to bring him milk, but that’s beside the point…). And one that hit me like a tidal wave, forcing me to paddle like hell to keep my head above water.

Saying goodbye to Simon is a loss I’ll never get over. It’s one I never want to get over. On a day like today, it’s a loss that hurts as much as the moments we heard those terrible words.