Worthy of joy

Dear Brody,

I’m happy. I don’t think I’ve been this happy since the day you were born – when I thought you were well. I still had moments of joy after you were diagnosed and even after you died. But there has been a cloud over my head for some time and it has been a lot of work to find the sun.

Having Jayce here, watching him grow so quickly and thrive, it lights me up. I am so relieved.

I asked your dad if he felt guilty at all for being happy. Of course he said no because he’s rational like that. I protested because, I reminded him, you are worthy of our sadness. You are still gone, and that should always make us sad.

“But that’s false logic,” he told me. “Brody doesn’t need us to be sad for him. That doesn’t do anything for him. He wants us to be happy.”

And I think he’s right. Right? Is it okay for us to be happy again? We miss you – we miss you a lot – but we don’t want that to define the rest of our lives.

I don’t want to go through everyday seeing you as the missing piece because you have actually given me many gifts. Having you and losing you taught me lessons no one and nothing else could have. You will always be a sacred part of my story and my heart and I won’t ever let go of you. I don’t have it all figured out, but I think it honours you most to remember you with joy and gratitude.

Still, when I think of the fact that you should be three this December, it’s quite tempting to drown in grief. And that might never change. But I want to tell myself in those moments that you’re still mine and I will see you again. And until then, I’m going to thank God that I got to hold you for as long as I did.

The skies are much clearer now and the sun is warmer than it has been in a while, and I don’t want to close my eyes and remember all the darkness.

Let’s be happy together, baby boy. Okay? You and your brothers are all worthy of my joy.

Dear Bryson,

I can’t feel sorry for you anymore. I have to let that go. Wishing for what can’t be just holds us back from joy. And I spend far too much time wishing that Brody was here to play with you. It hurts my heart sometimes to see you play alone.

Maybe it seems absurd. I don’t know. But it was always my intention to have kids fairly close in age so you could grow up playing and scheming together. The three-year difference between you and Brody was already more of a gap than I’d hoped there would be, but you were in love with him right from the start. I knew it wouldn’t be long before you were running around the back yard together.

You never got to do that though, and it still makes me angry. It’s a great injustice what’s been taken from you – isn’t it? Who could argue that? You lost your playmate and your confidant; you lost your brother.

But I don’t think I can look at it like that anymore – as though your childhood is less than it was meant to be.

Bryson, you have had to tackle impossible questions just as I have. You have grieved and mourned and suffered in your own young way. No mother would wish this for her child. The logical conclusion might be that we can never regain what was lost, but I want to challenge us to see beyond that logic. What if we chose to recognize all that we gained from having Brody, even though it was for a short time?

Brody is a gift to us – even still. The experience of loving him and losing him is not an easy one, but it can make us all better if we let it. And I think we are letting it. It’s been painfully beautiful to see your love for Brody endure even after he’s left, and even after your new brother has arrived.

I thought after Jayce was born it would be easy to let go of my anger that you lost your Brody, but better circumstances don’t replace the need for active choice. I have to intentionally let that anger go and replace it with gratitude.

Even as I write this, I am reminded of how incredibly fortunate of a child you are. You have everything you need to enjoy life and thrive – losing Brody should not hold you back. If I don’t remember that, it will make it that much harder for you to believe it. So, no more feeling sorry for you. We are grateful for what we have in this family, and we are united in love, even if it doesn’t look like what we had planned.