In a couple of weeks my eldest son will fly to Florida to help my youngest son move back home. I love my boys with all my heart as mothers are known to do, so there is nothing extraordinary about that. But, if you knew their stories…of how they became mine, then you would know that these otherwise ordinary boys are in fact extraordinary.
My eldest son is by far one of the most honorable men of character I’ve ever known. He has a story that runs deep and is wide with experiences that no boy should have had to experience. I did not give birth to my eldest son in the traditional sense instead I gave birth to him in my heart. He started out as my nephew and because of tragedy became my son.
Both of his parents and both of his grandparents (my mother and father in law) all died within the span of a year and a half.
Because it was laid out in the will for a certain uncle and aunt to get them, that is where they had to go. I understand their reasoning behind having them as the guardians since these people were very wealthy. But, that is all they were thinking about. They did not stop and think about the culture shock it would be for them to go from living in a small run down home out in the country to living in a million dollar home in an upper class community in the big city.
Let me pause here to say that we as parents need to think of the whole picture when we are deciding the fate of our children should both parents pass away. There is more to raising a child then mere money and love goes a long way when it comes to bringing up a child. Thinking about the family structure of the home they would move into, needs to be considered.
Their Grandma died of cancer first. She was the dearest mother in law and someone that I have never ever stopped missing.She was the glue of this family. Their father died next, exactly one month after they discovered he had throat cancer. It wasn’t many months later when the 3 of them came home from school one afternoon to find their Mom dead on the floor. I will never ever forget the phone call from the eldest boy saying, “My Mom is dead. Can you come?” One month later, their Grandpa died.
The 3 of them stayed with us for the first few weeks after their Mom died. I did not want them to leave. Ever. We wanted to keep them so badly but it was insisted that they would be better off with the wealthy aunt and uncle. Moving in with this aunt and uncle meant they lost literally most of their belongings because none of them were good enough to move into their home. As if they hadn’t lost enough, they lost their dog, most of their toys and clothes. They made the move with very few things so it was as if they were not only stripped of all the significant caregivers in their lives but anything personal to them as well.
I still remember the day they left to go live there. It made me literally sick to watch them leave because I knew deep down this was not right.
They were wise in sending them for grief counseling. Except for the fact that the counselors told them that these boys would never live normal lives because of these losses and because of the dysfunction they discovered upon digging deeper into their lives before the deaths.
We got a call a couple months into them being with them and were told they were not adjusting and that they were behaving badly. Then a family meeting was called and they informed all of us of what the grief counselors said. When they announced that they would never be normal, I started crying. My brother in law went on to say that they had sat the boys down and told them that since they were so unhappy living with them, that come the end of the school year, they would be free to go search for a home that would want them. AND that they doubted they would find anyone that would want them!
What the hell? Who say’s things like this to children? I was furious to say the least. I wanted to punch him. What kind of people give this kind of life sentence to children?
Come the beginning of June, my eldest son called and asked if he could come visit. He came the middle of June and he never left again until he was out of high school. Within a couple of weeks he was so tied into our home that I could not possibly send him away. I quite literally fell in love with this boy.
He went away to camp for one week and after having a family meeting, we contacted the family and told them we did not want to give him back. We expected a fight but they were elated to be free of him. His 2 brothers had each went to different family members that also wished to keep them. The day we picked him up from camp we asked him if he wanted to live with us permanently. He literally flew up from the table and screamed. Tears streamed down our faces as he hugged us in excitement.
When we got home that day I told him, this is your home now. What is ours is yours. The other kids were instrumental in making him feel a part of our family and home. Not once, in anger or otherwise did any one of them say a negative thing in regards to him joining our family.
I told him that he could call us Mom and Dad when and if he wanted or whatever he felt comfortable doing…that no matter what he would always have his Mom and Dad in heaven. I explained to him that if something happened to me that I would want my kids to have a Mom…that they would always have me, their Mom in heaven but that it would make me happy if they had a Mom on earth.
I did not take him as a son because I felt sorry for him. I took him as my son because I felt God calling me to do this. I lost two children to stillbirths and I told him when I first got him that his mom was up in heaven rocking my babies for me and that I was here to love and care for him here on earth for her. I truly felt Gods hand on us. Taking him felt so right... so perfect...he seemed like the child I had been waiting for.
It was not easy though. He had not been allowed to properly grieve the losses that had come one after the other, in his life. The grandparents that had died, had been very active in his life, spending a lot of time in their home and were probably the closest to him. For many months, I was up with him every single night, hugging him as he cried. Night after night he woke me up, much like a new born baby, except he just needed someone to hold him and make him feel safe. We cried many tears together those dark nights but I knew he needed to do this in order to heal.
Ever so slowly he began to heal and with the love of those around him he became such a part of our family that not one of us look at him as if he wasn't born into our family. I did not do this alone. It was a family thing...his three sisters and brother had a very big hand in this...we couldn't have done this without them.
The ironic thing is, he looks like he was born into my family. He and my middle daughter who are fairly close in age and were in the same grade together, could almost pass for twins.
I am not sure when the grieving ended. All I know is that he began to smile more then he cried. He was happy more than sad. He started sleeping through the night. He started acting like my son and a brother to my other children and before long his being with us with just normal.
It was during all of this that he came to be my son. I quite literally gave birth to him in my heart. It feels like he has always been here. He has another mother that lives in heaven and I vowed to her and to God that I would love him like a son and treat him as such. It has been easy to keep that vow. I don't look at him any differently then the children I gave birth to, so it is easy for me to forget that he did not come from my body.
I have been blessed over and over by this precious son of mine...my special gift sent to me from heaven. He is an extraordinary man of character. He is everything I could hope for in a son. He is an example for his younger brother and his 3 sisters. He is such a great uncle to his two nieces and 2 nephews that they adore him. I’m pretty sure little lady has him wrapped around her fingers.
This is him(in the red shirt)with little lady on his lap.
He is known for his smile and good nature. He is kind, gentle, hard working, thoughtful, responsible, honest and very well liked. He is not bitter nor has ever used these things as excuses to feel sorry for himself or to not try at things. Actually, it’s been quite the opposite. He has a allowed these things to make him a better person.
I would love to take him back to these counselors whom gave him this life sentence of never being normal. He is not only normal he is extraordinary.
My son is living proof that good can come out of tragedy and that life can continue after the storm. He is living proof that God can work miracles of healing in those that have suffered great loss. He is my proof that gifts and children come in all different ways. He has taught me many lessons along this journey that I will never lose sight of. He is my reminder that life is precious and that we need to hold on tightly to those we love, because each day is a gift with them.
What is really nice is that he lives in a nearby town and actually likes living in Minnesota so I don’t think he will be flying far away from me. He has a wonderful girlfriend that has a son that is 8 years old. I have a feeling that there might be a wedding in our future which would make me pretty happy to have them be a part of our family as well but we will have to see.
He is still close with his 2 brothers from birth and the 2 of them actually own a house together and live a few blocks from me.
Soon, I will tell you the story about my other extraordinary son.
Just writing this, makes my heart overwhelmed with gratefulness. What are you grateful for today?
Until next time, love & hugs, Lori