When I’m upset I find that writing helps. My family and I have recently suffered a tremendous loss. My ex-husband’s nephew, a man I had known since he was a very little boy, suddenly passed away just a few nights ago. My heart is broken. My children have lost one of their favorite cousins. We were all very close. I am still very close with my ex-husband’s family, and I make it an effort to be sure my boys spend a good amount of time with their dad and his big, wonderful, loving family.
I’m so lucky. I am lucky that my ex and I are on good terms, and we still raise our boys together despite living apart. I’m lucky my current husband is secure and strong enough to love my boys, to understand my need to remain close with my ex’s family, and to give my boys the space and time they need to have a relationship with their father.
Most of all, I am lucky to have known this boy I once knew as “Shane the Bird”, grow into a loving young man, who, despite his many struggles, has taught me the meaning of unconditional love, acceptance, and what it means to be a family.
This is for you, Shane.
I am walking around my house all morning with a roll of toilet paper in my hand. I can’t find any tissues. I’m pretty sure you would have thought that was funny.
Something happened to you last night. We don’t know yet what occurred, but we now know you are no longer here on earth. Our hearts are broken.
I met you for the first time when you were probably only three or four years old. Cute as can be, with dark brown eyes and hair, and an attitude that matched no other.
You weren’t like any other child I’d ever met. There was a sensitive vulnerability you possessed that wasn’t typical. You cared deeply for so many, for so much, from such a very young age.
You were smart, smarter than a lot of kids your own age. But you could be hurt so easily by words or by actions of others who didn’t seem to understand you.
I remember a day at Uncle Bob’s house. I had just recently begun dating your Uncle Mike, and I was outside with you and your cousins playing. I was pushing you on the swing. I pushed too hard, and you fell and hit your head on a large piece of wood under the swing set. You cried and I felt awful. Somehow you knew I felt horrible and embarrassed that I’d just hurt this little kid I hardly knew, so you made yourself stop crying and you told me repeatedly that you were okay. I know it hurt you, but you didn’t want me to feel bad, so you pretended the big lump on the back of your head was nothing.
You would sometimes spend the night with us, back when Mike and I were first married, before we had Grant and Luc. You were always “Christopher” to Uncle Mike. The two of you shared a special bond. You liked watching cartoons and playing games. As you got a bit older, Pokémon was your game of choice.
You were gentle to animals and babies. When I had Grant, you always had a way of making him laugh. You got down on the floor and played with him. When Grant was a toddler, you babysat for him while I worked from home. You pulled him around the neighborhood in a wagon and you did everything he wanted you to do. You barely flinched when he threw a toy at you when he got angry because you didn’t allow him to do something (dangerous, I’m sure).
When you became a teenager, and your troubles began, I didn’t know. I thought that of course you’d pull away a bit as a teen, as most teens do. When your Uncle Mike and I divorced, you still called me “Aunt Tammi”.
You still visited us. You still loved us. You still watched over Grant and Luc the best you could. The boys loved all your visits.
When times were very bad for you, you still loved us- you loved all your family. We all knew you weren’t perfect. None of us are. Despite your mistakes, we all loved you. Despite our mistakes, you still loved all of us.
When you fought your demons on a daily basis, we were in awe of you. None of us could imagine how hard it must have been for you to have to fight every single day. We were proud of you, Shane. We are STILL proud of you.
I don’t know what happened last night, and whatever it was, it really doesn’t matter. You are gone, and the world is a much sadder place without you in it. We’ll miss your smile, your jokes, your gentle hugs, and your sensitive soul.
I pray you are now never alone, always smiling, and at peace.
I will love you always.