My husband and I knew from the beginning that if we had more kids, we would tell them about their older brother, the brother they never got to meet.
The loss of our first born is complicated so we would discuss our loss on a level that they would understand and each and every year or several years down the road, when the topic came up again, we would explain more and more until our children understood exactly what happened.
Related: Brotherly Love; How Sibling Loss Shadows the Surviving Child
We were lucky to have two more boys after our loss, a now 6-year-old and 18-month-old. Our youngest is too young to know anything at this time but our 6-year-old, Aden, on the other hand; he knows he has an older brother, he knows that Drake is no longer here, he knows that Drake died, he knows a small bit of what happened to Drake.
There are many times, Aden will approach us with tears in his eyes for the brother he misses, the brother he never gets to play with. He understands we miss him.
He freely includes Drake when doing family projects for school.
Aden is at the age where he still believes in magic. Recently we had a moment that I had to crush his dreams, let him know that not all wishes can come true.
As a family recently, we went to the mall. A time to get away. A time to spend as family. Toward the end of our journey, my husband gave Aden 3 pennies to throw into a nearby fountain, Aden was told that one penny was for him, one penny for our little one and one penny for Drake.
We approached the fountain and Aden laid out each penny on the side, he indicated which penny belonged to which person. I reminded him that he could make a wish and throw his penny in, he did not have to tell us his wish if he did not want to. He then proceeded to throw his penny into the fountain.
He gave the little one his and with our help he was able to throw it close to the fountain and I nudged it in.
Aden picked up the one penny that was left. Drake’s penny. He placed it in his hand. I bent down and asked him if he was ok. He asked me who would make Drake’s wish, I placed my arm around him and told him that he could make a wish for Drake.
He thought for a minute, turned to me and said…
“Mommy, my wish is that Drake would be alive again.”
My heart stopped, a lump grew in my throat, tears welled in the corner of my eyes, sadness enveloped me like a cold damp blanket.
I knew I was going to have to break his little heart, dampen the magic; but I could not allow him to constantly wonder if/ when his wish might come true. We had been truthful with him from the beginning, so I was truthful then.
Related: Sibling Grief; The Sister Who Lives In The Clouds
I told him I loved him and it was a fantastic wish, but it was not going to come true. He could tell Drake he loved him or missed him and throw in the penny, make another wish. I have no idea what he ended up deciding to do before he threw it in.
I hated ruining the magic of that moment for him, but I could not lie to him. I had to tell him the truth. Because no matter how many times we all wish it, this is one wish that can’t come true.
Photo: Matt Jones/Unsplash