I thought I would share with you something that Braden's Aunt Shala shared with me a few weeks ago. She was faced with how to tell her five-year-old about Braden's diagnosis, his condition, and what that might mean for his future. I'm sure there have been times when many of you as parents faced that same struggle, about how to teach your kids about life & death, and then when will the time be right. I wanted to share with you her story, as I think it might help others out there facing this difficult decision.
Once we had our diagnosis in late October, Shala decided to tell Paxton the truth about what was happening with Braden. With her permission, I am sharing their conversation. Here are her words as she sent them to me, when I inquired about what transpired between them: "Sigh… this is hard……this was a conversation that I was not wanting to have but… knew I had too.
We were laying in bed and she was laying there telling me about her favorite part of the weekend. I thought… there is no good time to talk to her about Braden but why we are here and have an unlimited amount of time, I’m going to take a deep breath and go for it.
I started talking about how sick Braden has been. I told her that he has new machines now and they are helping him breath. She asked if she could see the new machines and I told her yes and we went to look at the photos again on the blog. She then said…. “momma, is it time for Braden to go to heaven and be with Grannie Cack?” ( I didn’t even get a chance to talk about the outcome.. she figured it out) Of course I started crying at this point. I said, not yet honey. He is and has been really sick so we don’t know how much longer we will have with him. She cried and said she wants to hold him for a LONG LONG LONG LONG LONG LONG time. She also asked if she could go to the funeral and let Aunt Kodi cry with her…… tear………… She wanted to know if she could give her favorite bear toy to him. She offered to send all her toys actually. She thought they would make him better.
She wanted to know if Grannie Cack would take care of Braden and I told her that she would. She asked if God would take care of Braden and of course I said yes. She told me that Grannie Cack will rock him to sleep every night so I shouldn’t worry about him. Plus- Haley and Sammy (her cats) are in heaven so Braden will have her kitty’s to play with. She also said- she was informing me that when Braden went to heaven, we could not see him anymore but he will always be in our hearts, our pictures and our memories. This coming from a 5 year old…..
She is sad. She said, “ I love my best friend and cousin Braden though.” …… tear…… I didn’t really stop crying last night. She didn’t either. She was laying in my arms and we said a prayer for Braden and she was still crying and then fell asleep. I laid with her for a long time."
I was blown away by the profound AWARENESS children have of the true situation at hand. Don't discount their feelings and awareness of the situation and think it might be too big for them to grasp - they will surprise you. We are so blessed to have a wonderful and loving cousin for Braden to look out for him in every way!
We sometimes wonder why this is happening to such a sweet little boy, and this time of year we are reminded that God gave His only son so that WE might live. What a sacrifice. Not that we compare Braden to Jesus, but I wonder what my son will give others in his time on earth. In talking to other moms who are blessed with healthy children and friends with relatively "normal lives", here is what I HOPE Braden will give your families:
* An appreciation for each other while you are blessed to have one another. We are reminded many times we are not guaranteed a certain number of days on this earth. Hug your children every day, and tell those you care about you love them, EVERY DAY.
* Appreciation that your families can express your love for one another. We will never hear "momma" or "daddy" or those simple words "I love you". When your child won't quiet down, be thankful they have a voice to express themselves.
* Appreciation for every little accomplishment in your child's life, so many will never reach "normal" milestones. When you are tired of driving them from this practice to that rehearsal, be thankful they are able-bodied to be able to enjoy things they love to do. When you tire of playing with them, be thankful they are able to communicate and connect with you in play.
* Appreciation for your health, your children's health, your family's health - may you never take something so seemingly simple for granted.
* An appreciation for "diversity" and diversity awareness. We are lucky to practice perfect and unselfish love every day for a child the world may see as "less than perfect". But we have been chosen to care for one of "God's favorites", a responsibility we do not take lightly. I know what it's like to look at a family like ours and think, "Thank God that's not us"... but you never know what the future holds. We feel blessed every day, and know that if you are ever in our shoes, you would feel the same, eventually.
So friends, we hope you have a wonderful and blessed season with your families. Don't forget the REAL "reason for the season" John 3:16. Thanks for sharing our lives with us, we are abundantly blessed by all of you every day.
Kodi, Brad, & Braden