I remember the first couple of weeks and months after saying goodbye to my precious Jonah at 30 weeks gestation due to a heart condition as extremely difficult and filled with so many ups and downs, I felt like a marionette doll living someone else’s life, because there’s no way that much sadness could be…
Thursday, August 21, 2014 was the day we all said our final goodbyes. Many came to pay their respects to a little baby they had never seen; they came to support us and cover us with love. That church wasn’t filled with your traditional family, though. It wasn’t even filled with tons of church members. The faces that filled those pews were friends. Many of those friends we consider family which, in fact, is why they were there.
Those were his aunts and uncles, not by blood, but by heart.
They waited patiently that Monday morning to see pictures of the newest member of our circus. They prayed for him and all loved him. On that morning when the social media post came out, courtesy of one of my dearest friends, they wept for him and for us. Those “friends” went into action doing whatever they could to make anything easier on us. Their hearts were broken as well, but that didn’t matter to them. It did and still does. We asked two of our closest friends to carry our little boy, and without hesitation, they agreed. They are the kind that would have thrown him on their shoulders and ran around with him. Those two men cause utter chaos in my home with my other boys by simply walking in the house. Although my husband and I knew it was going to be hard for them, we couldn’t imagine any other hands carrying him.
I remember thanking them that morning, and they replied with “We wouldn’t be anywhere else.”
Through this grieving process, Wyatt’s aunts and uncles have typically kept their emotions under wraps around us. I know that they feel that we need their strength. We do. It’s their strength that helps keep our circus somewhat afloat. I also know that his death weighs on them so very different than it has my husband and I or the grandparents. I believe it is because they are in that “outside looking in” box. Although we are all so close, siblings see things at a different angle, and we would classify those friends as siblings. They take on different roles in the grieving process; and therefore, have a unique grieving path of their own. My sister-in-law, which I have known since she was 8 and was 24 when Wyatt passed, took on a lot that day.
At one point she came over to me and whispered, “I love you and am here when you need me.”
That wasn’t necessary, but I knew why she did. She was busy with my husband’s parents. She was consoling them and being Aunt Sam to my oldest. My childhood friend, Wyatt’s Godmother, was basically my bouncer. She’s always been a little spicy and has no problem telling it like it is. I love her deeply for that, and we needed that. She took care of more housekeeping things that day than I probably even know about. She will probably never say anything either; that isn’t her style. In a moment of helplessness, that was her way of helping.
My other dear friend took my oldest for a little while to give everyone a break, including him. It wasn’t necessary. Another helpless moment was then filled with a little help.
Even though they spoke few words and still speak very little about their hurt and their process, their actions say it all.
I asked these aunts and uncles to share with me their experience and emotions regarding Wyatt. I wanted to represent them correctly, not just based off of my assumptions. Most of what was shared, I expected. I discovered a surprisingly common emotion though. The word “anger” came up more than I would have thought. The emotion was expressed through a different context with each person, but it was a common thread in all of their discussions. After I thought about this surprising revelation for a while, it began to make sense.
“You can do anything to hurt me; but don’t you dare hurt my brother.”
One of Wyatt’s uncles gave me clarity as we spoke about it. I just didn’t catch it the first time around. It goes back to that idea of your brother or sister can pick on you, but ONLY they can pick on you. It was and is the protector in them that keeps that guard up.
Each one of them has had a very different journey on this path. No one knew just how real their lives would be forever changed when they got that call.
I know that my family is fortunate. I know that we have quite the passionate army around us ready at a moments notice. Just know that whether you let people in or not, they’re hurting right there with you. Regardless if they are blood relatives or not, a family is what you make of it, and they lost a baby too. Use this to help you grieve and find some peace. No one will fight for you and your heart like a brother or sister.
photo credit- Heather Welch
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