Poor Gavin got so sick last night. We went out to dinner, I was wearing a new dress (which is a big deal, it has been a long time since I made an effort like that to have a nice night out with family). I don’t know if it was something he ate, or just a parasite of some sort since he can’t stop himself from sitting on the floor everywhere and touching everything, but Gavin ended up with a terrible stomach ache by the end of the night. While he was on the potty, he also vomited all over me and the new dress. Sigh. Story of my life. Wish I was exaggerating.
As I laid down in bed with him, face to face, I became overwhelmed by the sickness in his breath and I couldn’t stop the tears. It is a smell that I miss from those same nights with Ty, which were obviously much more frequent for so many reasons. Of course I used to love it more when my Ty went to bed smelling like milk and honey, but I swear I didn’t mind the smell of his breath after he got sick, either. As we lay there, falling asleep snuggled so close, I instead used to focus on the warmth of his breath in my face, and the rhythmic in-and-out that told me all night he was okay.
I blatantly stared at a women applying sunblock to her teenage daughter’s shoulders today and I watched with such envy. It was such a simple and loving act. I wished Ty would grow bigger so I could lovingly take my hands and smooth it over his warm, broad shoulders like that. Kiss the little radiation tattoo on the back of his neck as I do it. I have been trying so hard to see Ty everywhere. So when I was putting lotion on Gavin after his tubby tonight, all I could imagine was Ty’s arm instead. His big boy arms were so different than Gavin’s are now. Sadly, they grew to be so much whiter, so much softer, long, skinny and with such low muscle tone. There was a scar right in the crease of his elbow where his PICC line was once placed (before he ripped it out) and I thought about his hands. I don’t ever, ever want to forget the slightest details of his hands.
Then Lou put him to bed to say prayers, and I decided to lay down with them for a change. I listened as they did a very similar routine to the one he used to have with Ty, although Ty was much softer spoken, he was also more attentive and cooperative. Still, Gavin made me so proud during his prayers. He always remembers to pray for Ty first, and for Mely. He knows who his family is. He was a little disruptive during the basics (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be) but he did do it. I remember listening to Ty say those same prayers and I promise you I heard his little voice saying those prayers right alongside us tonight. I love having Gavin take Ty’s place in our bed. It is so special to me now. He can be so restless, whereas Ty was too disabled to disrupt our sleep by moving around much, but I welcome the kicks and the upside-down maneuvers from his brother. Just knowing he is there helps me sleep better each night and keeps me from crying in the darkness.
I thank God every day for Gavin. He is the reason why I can stop myself from crying in the darkness. Because I remember how much I love him, too, and I am able to be strong for him. The pain is there, it doesn’t go anywhere, but Gavin gives me the strength to accept the pain a little better and he puts genuine, happy smiles on my face.
He’s been talking about his brother quite a bit lately. Today, he was making pretend he had a pile of imaginary candy. He told me he wanted to give it to Ty, but if Ty takes it up to heaven it will disappear in the stars and then there will be no more candy. He thought that would be funny; but I’m still very unsure about how he imagines heaven to be like. Then later today, out of nowhere, he told me, “me and Ty are kids and we can do kids stuff!” I agreed with him and I told him I wish Ty was here to do all that fun kids stuff with him. He whined a little, “yeah, I need TY to BE HERE so we can play together! He needs to come down from heaven!” That always makes me so sad. All I can do is agree with him. So when I looked up, I saw a few really nice bright stars in the sky. “Gavin, look, there’s Ty telling us that he IS always here with us. Which star do you think he is sending us tonight? Huh? Which star do you think Ty is sitting on?”
“None of them…” he answered sadly.
“How come none of them?”
“Because none of them are sparkley enough for Ty. None of them are bright enough.”
What a good boy and what a perfect answer. He is the strongest one out of all of us. The other night he was crying and a stranger approached him to try and cheer him up. I was so impressed when he said in his adorable baby voice, “I have a brother, Ty, but he went to heaven.” The man responded with an apologetic nod and an “ohhhh.” I guess Gavin wasn’t sure if he understood so he said it even louder “My brother is in heaven!” The man seemed to understand very well if you ask me. He told Gavin it was okay. He gave Gavin a small gift and one for Ty in heaven.
Clearly, I’ve been emotional lately. We are just heading home from a few days away in celebration of my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary – can you believe that!? They are my role models. We had some wonderful family time together, and Gavin had so much fun with his cousins. It was hard not having Ty with us, but I imagined him to be jumping about on the rocks and looking for seashells with the boys. Every night I looked for him in the stars, and he was always there.