What hurts the most

I sit on the couch holding the baby. John’s searching hulu.

“What do you feel like?” he asks.

Something mindless,” I think. “Whatever,” I answer.

My son cries out from his bedroom.

“Mommy, my tummy hurts!”

I glance at the clock. It’s after eleven. I think about the last few weeks: the stress, the travel, the diet, the lack of schedule. Hoping he isn’t coming down with something, I hand the baby to my husband and go check on him.

One look at his contorted face and I know why his tummy hurts. It’s the same look he had when I sent him out of the basement the night of the accident. I check his temperature anyway, but am not surprised to find it normal. I lie down beside him on his narrow bed and pull the covers over him as he burrows into them.

“You miss Tiggy, don’t you.”

The tears start flowing.

“I can’t stop thinking about him.”

During the day, Bear seems to like to talk about his little brother. He likes being reminded of the things Mattias used to do and say. Nothing can bring a smile to his face faster than a sentence starting with, “Remember how Tiggy used to. . .”

I hold him, let him cry and summon the courage for the next question.

“What are you thinking, sweetheart.”

“All the blood, mommy. I can’t stop thinking about all the blood.”

I start crying. My whole body heaves with tears for what my children witnessed. Dear Lord, give me the words he needs to hear, I pray silently. But no words come. I’m not sure I could speak them if they did. So I just hold him until our tears begin to subside.

“You know, all that blood just came from a cut above his nose.”

I don’t know what made me say that, but Bear pokes his head out from under the covers and looks hopeful.

“Really?”

“Yes. He just needed a couple of stitches for that. That’s not why he died.”

“Do you feel things when you are knocked unconscious?”

“No, sweetie. You don’t. He didn’t feel anything. No pain. No fear. The last thing he knew was playing with you and watching a movie.”

For a moment, he seems relieved.

“Would you like me to bring in the picture of him?”

“No.”

The answer is immediate.

“His little dragon? I could bring in his little dragon for you to snuggle.”

“The only thing I want to snuggle is Tiggy.”

Anger takes over his face and he throws himself back into his pillow with renewed sobs.

“Why couldn’t it have been me? Why?!” he demands.

Though I’ve thought the same myself many times, it shocks me to hear it coming from my seven year old son.  I don’t know what to say or do other than hold him closer.

“I know it would have hurt, mommy. I know it. But I’m bigger than he was. I probably would have lived and just needed stitches. I probably would have lived, but he was just too little. Oh why couldn’t it have been me?”

“It wasn’t your fault, sweetheart.”

“I was holding him, mommy. We were sitting in my sleeping bag and I was holding him. Why couldn’t he have stayed? Why couldn’t I just keep holding him?”

“It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It just happened.”

“I know. It’s because Adam and Eve sinned.”

I take a deep breath. I don’t really know where to go from here. I just want to take all his hurt away.

“It was a horrible thing that happened. It was a horrible thing to see. We’re going to remember it for a long time. Mommy keeps thinking about that, too, and sometimes it is hard to make those thoughts go away. They scare me and make me sad and angry all over. It’s going to hurt for a long time. But some day, the hurt will start to go away. You’ll think about him and all your good memories and they will make you smile.”

His tears stop, I think from exhaustion. For a moment, I think he might have fallen asleep but then he rubs his nose on the sleeve of his pajamas.

“Can you think of any happy memories?” I ask him.

“I can only think of the last time I held him.”

“And I’m glad you have that memory. Tiggy loved you so much. It is so special that one of your last memories of him is of just snuggling and loving each other.”

He turns his head and looks at me as if this were a new thought. He has spoken often of holding Tiggy that night, always with a hint of sadness. This is the first I realize that the memory is tied so closely to the accident.  He smiles just a little.

“What were some of his words, mommy?”

I think for a moment.

“Nanny. Num num. Chickie chickie. Puppy. Hereyougo. Mo. And on his last day with us, he said his name for the first time. ‘I Tiggy,’ he said.”

“Did he say ‘doggie?”

“Yes, sometimes. He pronounced it ‘goggie.’ But mostly he said ‘puppy.'”

He laughed as he added to the memory.

“Everything was a puppy, mommy, except the chickens. He called cows puppies. And goats. And pigs. You could tell him and tell him but he would still call everything else a puppy.”

I laughed.

“Yes. Except horses. He had just started calling horses ‘whoa whoa puppies.”

He laughed and laid back down.

“Tell me more things I remember about him, mommy.”

“Remember how he used to sit on Scrambler and you guys would push him across the floor? His eyes would get so big and he just grinned.”

“Yeah, he loved that. And I would push him on the hill sometimes. But when he got to the bottom, he would sometimes just sit there and I would sometimes pull the car back up for him so he could go down again.”

I don’t say anything for a moment, hoping he can enjoy the memory.

“He had a short little life, but he was so lucky to have you for a big brother.”

“Now the baby gets to be lucky.”

“Yes, the baby is lucky to have you for a big brother, too.”

“I’m going to teach him to say ‘chickie chickie.’ And ‘vroom vroom.’ I miss that.”

I see the sadness coming over him again. He is so afraid he is going to forget his brother.  I’ve tried over and over to reassure him that he is old enough to remember. That some memories will fade, but that he will always remember the important things. He will always remember Tiggy.

“You know, when the phone rang, it was a very nice lady in Washington who wants to make a memory quilt for our family. She can put pictures on it or make it out of his clothes. Maybe something to wrap around you when you miss him and want to hug him, or something to hang on the wall to look at.  She can even put pockets in it to keep some of his favorite things.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.”

He smiles. I don’t know where his thoughts are taking him, but it’s a nice smile, a hopeful smile. His night ends on the floor amongst all his siblings who haven’t wanted to sleep apart since it happened, but he is peaceful.

My night ends staring out the kitchen window crying not for my own grief but for that of my children. And once again, I hope and pray that love truly is enough.


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Wanda
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Oh Dana what a wonderful momy you are!! I thank God for the love and words he gave you to talk to your precious son and I cried reading each line you wrote. Iam praying so hard for this path your family is walking together !!! What a beautiful big brother tiggy has ! I love you dear sister , my heart just wont stop aching with you !!!!

Annemarie
Guest

I hardly know what to write. I thank God that He is giving you wisdom in the midst of all this. I thank Him for the memories that you all have. I will pray for Bear. I have a son that is about his age and one that is Tiggy’s. I have thought many times about how difficult it must be for his siblings. I am going to pray that God take those awful memories away and that He use this in a marvelous way in Bear’s life.

Alison
Guest

Thank you for all the sharing you’re doing. I know its hard to write… its hard to read. But I want to know how best to continue praying. I’ve been praying for your children, but I will pray more specifically for Bear. The memory quilt is such a great idea. I’m so glad someone is doing that for you. Keep breathing. Sending an e-hug. :’-)

Jen R. (emeraldsunshine.org)
Guest

I am so glad that through this tragedy, your children have you on which to hug and hold on. So many families have tragedies and it turns so sour with no support from the parental units for the children. Your children are lucky to have you, Dana. Every one of your children. I’m glad that Bear was able to share with you what was bothering him and that you were able to help him start to heal.

Lorraine
Guest

I really don’t know what to say. This brought tears to my eyes. Praying for ya’ll…

Wendy
Guest
Dana, I never knew I could feel so much for a family I don’t know. I am a first time mom to a little boy just a bit younger than your little Tiggy. They seem so similar, and my heart just breaks for your loss. Reading your posts makes me think a lot about how the hard parts of motherhood do not include sleepless nights, giving up alone time and the other things you think about before a child enters your life. Motherhood goes so, so much deeper, and helping your children through a loss like your family has suffered… Read more »
Q
Guest

In His infinite grace and mercy, He will blur the images. Be sure to scrapbook his life and have all your children write their memories in it. That way you’ll never forget anything. It’s hard, but it’s so cathartic . . .

You did a great job with this conversation with your son. God is giving you the words, and I have no doubt He’ll continue to sustain you all.

Praying . . .

Mommyto5
Guest

I am so sorry that this happened to your family!! I will definitely say a prayer for you and your family. God bless you and help you to put one foot in front of the other. HUGS!!

Renae
Guest

Dana,
Bear is lucky to have you for a mom…Praying for you and your children. They are always on my mind, too. Their names are all scratched down on a piece of paper, and I see their little faces and pray for each one.

Michele
Guest

I know this sounds so strange, but that was so beautiful. You handled it so well & I know it’s the Lord giving you the strength to help your children with their grief while you are grieving as well.

Praying strength & good memories for you all.

Phyllis
Guest

I read and cry again for you all. I wondered how it has been for your little ones. I know that there is a grief process full of anquish and guilt and anger and fear and I supposed that they are each going through this in their own way. I am so glad you all have each other to hold on to, for the bonds of love are so strong in your family. You are so good and strong.

dusti
Guest

your words to your kids are full of love and giving them time to heal by letting them sleep together and talk when they need to…i’m really touched by how much love i hear in your words here.
praying for God’s love and comfort for you and your family.

Elena
Guest

A few years ago a friend of mine lost her son. She went to a grief counselor with her entier family and it really helped them. I think she found the counselor through her funeral home. Maybe something to consider?

In the meantime though I think what you said for your son was perfect. The Holy Spirit is truly at work. I am praying for comfort and peace for your family.

April
Guest

It seems so inadequate: I’m praying for you, I’m thinking of you. I know only God can sustain you and walk you through this. My heart breaks for little Bear. But thank God he has such a wonderful mommy.

DeputyHeadmistress
Guest

Oh, Dana, what agony for you and your sweet family. I am so, so sorry.

Patty
Guest

I really don’t know anything to say. But I am praying for your family! And I’m so sorry for y’all. You are a wonderful Mom! It really does show!
Hugs and Blessings,

Amber @ Classic Housewife
Guest

Praying for you again, still. My heart breaks and re-breaks when I think of you and your family. I haven’t had to experience this pain, but I have had pain and I know God has been faithful then, and He is always faithful, and so He must be faithful to carry you and your family through this now. Perhaps time does help heal, perhaps it’s time and God, time in God, time in God’s arms? I will continue to pray for you all. God bless.

judy
Guest
My dad, who died just a little over a year ago at age 83, witnessed the death of his brother. My dad was three years old, his brother was seven. Although he was only three at the time, my dad never forgot his brother. It shaped the man he became right up until his death. I’m only writing this to assure your Bear that he will not forget his brother. His were the last arms to hug him. Life became more scary to your kids, but also more precious. The precious memories will be what linger. I hope that even… Read more »
Matt
Guest

Dana…Remember what we talked about, regarding the stages of grief? Let them come. Each of you will experience them slightly differently. Start the journals with the kids that they wanted. There will be a special place for them.

I will be finishing the design this weekend on what you and I discussed, and hopefully start on it next week. There are lots of special things about the design that have been given to me. (*trust me* … I couldn’t have come up with it on my own)

Annemarie
Guest

As I was just vacuuming and praying for Bear, I reflected on the fact that I said I would pray that God would use this in a marvelous way in his life. Sigh. That was a dumb thing to say. I don’t think that marvelous is something that can be used here. But I am praying that God uses this awful experience to draw Bear to Him.

I am sorry for my hasty words.