What Should’ve Been…

Today as I took Chase by the hand to his Kindergarten orientation, as I scrolled through my facebook newsfeed looking at hundreds of smiling faces in freshly pressed outfits with new haircuts and new backpacks… I couldn’t help but think about “what should’ve been”.

Today was bittersweet.  Chase is starting Kindergarten at his elementary school.  Although he has been going to Pre-k for 2 years now, going to “big boy school” has been much anticipated in our house by both Chase and Momma & Daddy.  This is all new to us.  New building, new teachers, new lessons… but it shouldn’t be new at all.  In a perfect world where pediatric cancer doesn’t exist, this would be old hat to us… we would be walking halls we already knew, greeting teachers we already knew.

Tanner should have started _3rd grade_ today.  Hard to believe it, but yes, 3rd.  He would be 7 turning 8 this November, and I can’t keep my mind from wandering to how today should’ve been…

I imagine Tanner would have been the protective older brother.  Even when he was only 3 1/2 he was a better listener than Chase ever was.  I’d like to think Tanner would walk Chase into the school and introduce him to his Kindergarten teacher and show him his desk… a desk that he should’ve once sat at but never got the chance to.  I wonder what kind of backpack Tanner would’ve picked out.  I’m sure by the age of 7 he would have outgrown his Thomas the Train obsession – maybe he too would be into Star Wars like Chase is, or maybe he would be such a big kid this year he would have gone for the cool big kid Nike backpack.  He probably would have worn a baseball hat, Yankees of course, and maybe he would have picked out a nice golf shirt, in his favorite shade of blue.  I wonder if he would make me smile by putting all the marker caps from his brand new school supplies on the tips of his fingers like he used to in preschool, or if he would want beefaroni and hot dogs for lunch much to my dismay.

The one thing I know for sure is that Tanner wouldn’t have “embarrassed” easily.  Chase likes to peek around to see who’s looking before giving Momma a kiss… Tanner, my loving little snuggle bug, would certainly kiss his Momma goodbye in front of his friends.  I might even get an “I love you…soooooo much”.  Oh how I wish I could hear those words just one more time… and how I wish I could say them back to him.

Back to school time, as I’ve mentioned before is probably one of the most painful times every year for a bereaved parent.  Missing out on milestones that your child should have accomplished is a sharp, brutal, stabbing reminder of “what should’ve been”.  So many of my friends have mentioned that they are remembering my Tanner during this time, and it means so much to me.  My little 3 1/2 year old would be 7, and after missing him with excruciating pain for 4 1/2 years every single day, knowing that other people think of him means everything.  It is our greatest fear, as a bereaved parent, that our child will be forgotten.  You don’t make us sad, for bringing up their name.  You didn’t “remind” me that he isn’t here… trust me, I am aware of that fact every second of every day.  By mentioning their name, you are telling me you care.  You think of him.  You remember.  That makes me smile, even if I do have tears in my eyes.

So while I will probably be full of tears tomorrow morning, getting my baby on the bus for Kindergarten… full of pride at how my 30 week, 3 pound preemie has taken his first step onto the bus to “big boy school”, I will also be full of tears for “what should’ve been”… and I will have Tanner on my mind and in my heart, as I always do.

Tanner, if there’s school up in heaven, I hope you have a great first day of 3rd grade.  I hope you have a wonderful teacher and I hope you have a great new pair of sneakers and a cool new backpack.  I hope you’re friends are in your class – please say hi to Jack, Jessica, Ty, Lexie, Nicky, Tati, Nicholas, Julianna, Colin & Peter from me, and give them high fives in the hallway.   I hope you have your favorite lunch and I hope that you know – if you miss me, even for a second, I am thinking of you and sending my love right at that very moment.  I love you to the moon and back my Tanner, forever and thereafter.                Love,  Momma

Please remember all the children who won’t be returning to school this September, and remember to Go GOLD for Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month.  Wishing every child a safe, happy, healthy and productive school year…

Love,
Tanner’s Momma

P.S. – Hey Tanner, by the way, I saw the white feather floating around the auditorium at orientation today.  Thanks for that one buddy…

Tanner school 2010

Tanner, going to The Morgan Center, a preschool for kids with cancer, fall 2010.

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