Learning Curve

Chase is almost 6 years old.  He started Kindergarten this year, and the things he has learned and can do never never cease to amaze me.  This is uncharted territory for me, all this “school” stuff… Tanner should be in 3rd grade, and I should be a pro by now… it’s really strange when your youngest outlives your oldest.  I’m learning just as much as Chase.  Common core math? Don’t even get me started.  And this is only Kindergarten!

But the important stuff isn’t always taught in school.  The hard stuff.  The life stuff.  The ‘stuff you tell your 5 year old when he asks questions about heaven’ stuff. There’s no right answer, and it is always difficult to find a solution.  (Kind of sounds like common core math, lol).

The night before Tanner’s 8th birthday, I told Chase we would get balloons to send up to Tanner.  He liked that idea, and also requested a birthday cake.  As difficult as that is for me, to sing happy birthday to Tanner when he isn’t here, I feel it is most important to follow Chase’s lead.  He needs to celebrate his brother the way he sees fit, the way he can understand it.  He knows that a birthday warrants a cake.  So, there was cake.  Then he caught me off guard when he asked “so what kind of present did we get Tanner”.  Busted.  I told him I hadn’t gotten him a gift.  He said “Tanner will be very sad if he doesn’t get a present on his birthday!”.  So, the next day, off to Target I went.  When Chase came home from school I showed him this big blue wubble ball that we ‘got for Tanner’.  He loved it and said “Ok! so how are we going to get it to him?”.  *reminder to self – breathe*

After explaining why we can’t send things to heaven, Chase was content with playing with the wubble for Tanner, and then putting it in Tanner’s room.  I survived another birthday that I wish I hadn’t.

5 year olds don’t always tell you what they are thinking.  Most of the time I have no idea what Chase is thinking, or how he comprehends difficult information.  He talks about Tanner, he talks about heaven.  I’ve heard him tell his friends that his brother lives in heaven, that he had cancer.  I’m starting to think he understands…

Last week I sliced my thumb on a mandolin while cutting carrots.  *note, not having use of my thumb for the past week is a real pain in the a**.  Anyway, the night it happened, I was telling Andrew about how much it hurt and how I probably could’ve used a stitch or two.  Chase heard this and jumped up and yelled “NO!! YOU CAN’T GET STITCHES! I LOVE MY MOMMY!! NO STITCHES!!” Andrew looked at me with the same confused look I had on my face.  I thought about it for a minute.  I had heard Chase telling his friends that his brother had stitches in his head (you can see them in many pictures of Tanner).  I asked Chase “Chase, do you think if Mommy gets stitches that means I will go to heaven too?”.  He shook his head yes.  My heart dropped.

It kills me that my 5 year old worries about losing his Momma or anyone else he loves.  These aren’t 5 year old worries.  I didn’t know from loss as a child, and didn’t lose anyone close to me until I was nearly an adult. Chase misses his brother every day and tells me all the time he wishes Tanner was here.  Knowing that he worries about losing one of his parents breaks my heart, and I wish I could know everything he thinks about so I could help him understand.  Understand that stitches do not equal death, understand that we can’t send presents up to heaven, understand that Tanner can’t come back, as much as we wish for him to…

This never gets easier, the pain never lessens, and every day without my beautiful son is as painful as the day he left us.  But watching Chase struggle with it absolutely brings me to my knees.  No one should have to teach their 5 year old about death…

It’s a learning curve for both of us.


Tanner’s Momma

tanner stitches

the stitches in Tanner’s perfect little head, October 2009.

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