I don’t think there is a bereaved parent who has not asked that question.
“What if he would have lived?”
Then the “What if?” questions turn into:
What would he look like?
What would be his favorite things to do?
What would be his best subject in school?
My husband and I created whole personalities of what David and Ethan would be like. David would be more calm and reserved. Ethan would have been louder and feisty. We knew David had dark hair like my husband and we decided that Ethan had blonde hair like me.
I think creating personas for each of our boys has been healing for us. And while we don’t talk about it as much 14 and 15 years later, we take comfort in what we have created.
In October, David would have been 15 years old. We had determined that David would be a quarterback on a football team while Ethan would have been a linebacker. My husband coaches high school football and this year, David would have been a freshman on the team. It was surreal to think about for my husband.
In this 15th year, I feel like we have moved from the “What if?” to the “What IS” stage.
The following are the realities of “What IS” in our life today.
Our Rainbow “baby” RJ, who is now 10, includes his big brothers in important parts of his life. For instance, when he competed at his first NCA All Star Nationals as a competitive cheerleader, we learned we had to meet between halls D & E, and he immediately said – “David and Ethan”. We refer to them as D & E all the time so this was special for us as a family.
We only sit in the row that includes D & E when we fly on a plane. When I fly alone, I will only sit in the D seat and when we fly as a family of three, I sit in the middle in seat E.
Every October 25, every June 18 (David and Ethan’s angelversaries) and the Saturday after Thanksgiving, you will find us at what we call their “special place” – the cemetery where they were buried to decorate their graves.
Every year when RJ starts school, we tell his teacher about his big brothers, so the teacher knows what he is referring to when he talks about them.
Every year our Christmas tree becomes more full as we add to it with NILMDTS ornaments with David and Ethan’s name. We also add a family ornament with all of our names on it.
When I am asked how many children I have, I still have to make that quick decision “Do I give them the ‘easy’ answer or do I tell them the REAL answer?”
I am not a person who does crafts AT ALL, but I can always expect an awkward conversation with the nice person at Hobby Lobby commenting on the great items I selected. Inside I always think, “little does she know these are for the graves for my boys.”
The realities of “What IS” becomes a part of our lives. Sometimes I get very emotional when I really think about it. But, for the most part, I have gotten to a place where I have realized it is my reality. It just IS. There is nothing I can do about it. There is nothing I can do to change my What IS. So, I accept it and even embrace that the What IS is part of my life story and the What IS, keeps the memory of my boys alive and continues their legacy.
What are your “What if’s?”
What have become your “What IS?”