Monday, August 06, 2007

And here I was all worried

There are so many times I worry about what the last two years has done to Sam. Have we scarred him emotionally for life? Will he need counseling? Will he become a hermit in the woods of Montana writing his manifesto?

And then we have these moments that I begin to think all my worrying is for nothing.

He doesn't remember Rolie Polie Olie. For almost an entire year, that is the only show he would watch on Playhouse Disney. I bought him a stuffed Olie...and bowed to DEMANDS to replace him after one of the dogs chewed his antenna off.

Yesterday we were going through the trash bags of stuffed animals and happened upon Rolie Polie Olie and sister Zoey. Sam looked at them...then at me...then at them...then at me...totally blank. He had ZERO recognition of these characters who were so dear to him just a few short years ago. He didn't even know their names.

So now I'm left to wonder...would it be better if we let Alex and Travis fade away into the fog of childhood memories? Should we make less of an effort to keep their memories alive in our home? Maybe I am creating the very issues I was seeking to avoid?

I have, as of late, had my own feeling of needing to replace the photos and momentos of Alex and Travis...to put the memories away for safekeeping. Not all of them...but some of them. I know part of this is wanting so badly for GB to fill up some of those dark places with the light of hope and happiness. I know I would much rather see smiling photos of happy living children on my walls. I know that no amount of looking at the past will make things 'right.' Maybe by looking so much at the past I am missing out on the joy and anticipation of what lies ahead. Maybe I need to find a more balanced place for all of us. And maybe I worry too much about the wrong things...

Tonight I will pack up Rolie Polie Olie and sister Zoey in the cedar chest of memories. And maybe I will put a couple other things in there too.

12 comments:

Jill said...

Wow. That's one hell of a mental leap. As usual your argument is logical and makes absolute sense.

If it feels right to make the sadness less prominent, then that is what you must do. Grief is so heavy, maybe you just can't carry all of it anymore. GB's heavy enough these days, that maybe some of your old load needs to give way to some of your new load. As long as that's what you are ready for though. Sam will be fine either way as long as you keep talking to him to find out what he's thinking.

As for Roly Poly Olie - girl, just thank god for small mercies! That family used to make me feel like we were the Bundys!

DD said...

Since X was just shy of turning 3 and he only had a couple of months to call himself the big brother, he has no memory of our first loss. Sometimes I wish he would ask why he doesn't have any brothers or sisters, but he hasn't yet. Maybe it's because my husband never talks about Vivienne and I know that if I tod my son now, he would constantly ask about her. I realize that my desire for him to ask about her is for selfish reasons.

Someday I'll tell him. Not now.

It is truly amazing what our children retain in their memory banks.

Ruby said...

I've often pondered this same question. Am I hurting him or helping him? If he forgets, do I want him to hear it from someone else first who assumes he knows? If he doesn't forget will it scar him?

I wish I had an answer. I guess we each just have to do what feels right for us.

Hope there's lots of laughter and beautiful memories ahead for you.

delphi said...

I don't know the answer, obviously, but I imagine that this changing face of grief that we all deal with does allow us to change with it. In that it may be the right time to put a few momentoes away. If it feels right, I say "do it".

I don't know how or what we will tell BB as he grows older. What a bloody difficult decision that will be to make. I don't want him to carry an adult burden of sorrow for a brother he never knew, but I also don't want his brother to disappear into the mists of his parents memories. Hard, hard, HARD questions.

The thought of smiling, happy, living brothers looking down from photos on your walls makes my heart warm.

Kendra's mom said...

With us it is a bit different because my son was older than Sam when his sister died and he did get a chance to know her first so he will have more memories. Personally I think keeping a few small photos or mementoes out will keep Sam's brothers alive in his heart. Talking about them now and again but not making a big deal about it. I don't think he will forget because you will never forget but it will become less painful over time (as for all of us I suppose). I think you will know what feels right for you and Sam and packing some of your other boys' things away means that you are moving on but never forgetting. You will find balance but at your own pace and I think the most important thing for Sam is that you can find peace in your own heart and he will follow.

kate said...

I think children are more resilient than we are, and i don't think that Sam will be 'scarred for life' in the way you are worrying about. But on the other hand i don't think it is right for Alex and Travis to 'fade away' for him. There is a middle path, probably, that is best...and i trust you will find it...

MB said...

It's funny that you posted this. I was just asking my SIL the other day (she's a teacher with a Master's in Early Childhood Development), if I had ruined Gracie by being so open about Audrey and her life/death. Gracie has begum talking and asking about death all the time. If we see an animal, she wants to know if it's sick and going to die. If we go by a cemetary, she wants to know if those people are in heaven with her sister. She does it all the time. It's like we have made death too much a part of her life and that scares me.

I am assured (at least for now) that confusion and curiosity about death is common at her age. I hope that's true...

Lori said...

This is really insightful. I would never presume to tell you what the right answer is for your family, but I think it is great to explore the questions. Just as in everything, there is a balance.

Aurelia said...

I'm with Kate on finding the middle ground here. I think it's good to talk about all the things that happen in your family, and as long as you balance the happy and the sad, it should be okay.

For my guys, we've been open and honest, but I only have a few pictures on the wall, and we go to the cemetary once in a while, but not a lot.

The problem with never talking about something is that the kids still know something is wrong, they just don't know for sure what, and blame themselves for making their parents cry. If they know what has happened, then they are less frightened and able to process the emotions they see in the house.

At least that's my theory. So far so good anyway.

niobe said...

No advice, but in my family, people have taken both paths. I don't think this necessarily has any larger meaning, but here's how different people coped with this issue.

Both of my parents had siblings who died. My mother had an older brother who died shortly after being born and my father's mother had a series of late miscarriages/stillbirths, so that my father was her only living child. Both of my parents were very aware of their "missing" sibling(s), but neither seemed to be in any way damaged or especially upset by the knowledge.

On the other hand, L's father had an older brother who died at the age of 2 months. This was considered a family secret, and L's father was shocked and extremely disturbed when he later found out about his older brother.

Kim said...

We have family friends who lost their firstborn child at 24 weeks gestation 25 years ago. The mother always includes her daughter in conversation, to this day, when talking about her kids. The pregnancy and birth and child need to be real to her. That said, it wasn't any kind of fog of sadness hanging over her house, and her two boys (about one and three years younger than their sister) know about her. The mom has baby boots for all three of her kids, and so on and so forth. There are small mementos around their house, but they are there.

I guess I say all this to say that I think that you should do what feels right for your family, and I think this is an amazing post. I think that you will ALWAYS carry Alex and Travis around with you, regardless of whether there are tons of photos and whatnot. But I think too that it's okay to have a balance.

I am probably not making any sense. So I'll stop jabbering.

pipsylou said...

Will he become a hermit in the woods of Montana writing his manifesto?

Oh, Catherine, you crack me up. I love the way you write.

I don't know the answer to your question. I wish no one had to even face it. But here it sits...

Thinking of you.