Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lessons from Paxton (and Jesus) about life and death

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


Anonymous said...

I appreciate you sharing this with us. I admire you and Brady and most of all, Braden. Your family is an inspiration to many, including us! Send love and prayers your way.

Ashley said...

That last post was from The Bagwell's

Anonymous said...

Please tell Paxton she has the true love of Jesus as a child of God and we all can learn from her simple faith and trust. I appreciate her for telling us like it is. God bless Shayla and Paxton. We are excited about you all being home soon.

LOVE Nana Wilson

Doris Glass Heckert - Jackson's Mommy said...

WOW! what a post Kodi (and all that from a 5 year old) kids really do get it

Jaime said...


Shala is such a wonderful person and has raised an amazing daughter.
Paxton is a very smart girl who is aware of so much!

I am so proud of all of you and you have such a wonderful family!!

Anonymous said...

Paxton and Braden truly do have one of those connections reerved for chilren's innocience and love. Your post was moving beyond words again. I love you guys. Miss you so much!

Anonymous said...

People told me I was foolish to care for a special needs baby. I am, beyond words, honored to know Braden, and to have spent time with him. He will always be a memory to brighten my day. For as long as he has left in this world, no child could be more of a blessing, or more blessed than Braden. My God continue to give you miracles with this young life.

kathryn said...

Hello you guys!!! It's been a while since I've visited, but I think about you quite often. I tend to do that with all "my babies", lol. There are so many that I miss seeing, but am still so glad that they get to go home. :D I'm so glad to hear that everyone is doing well during the holidays and that Braden is displaying new "tricks", hehehe. Anyway, I was reading your blog and you recently posted this sentence... I know what it's like to look at a family like ours and think, "Thank God that's not us". I wanted to let you know that when I look at your family, I think, "Wow!!! This is one of the luckiest families I know. They truly love each other unconditionally. I would be lucky to be able to experience half of that love in my lifetime." Your family is an inspiration to me. It gives me hope that I may one day share that kind of love. ^o^ I hope and pray that things continue to go well for you. Take care and talk to you soon. Your favorite speech therapist - Kassie. By the way, I miss seeing Braden lick those suckers, lol. ~_^

Kristi said...

Hey guys! It has been a while since I visited, but I think of ya'll often. This post was wonderful...from the comments from the little girl to your words of wisdom. I was crying a lot! Hope to see ya'll soon.