There are literally hundreds of glow-in-the-dark stars of all shapes and sizes taped to my boys’ ceiling. When their light goes out for bedtime, their room still glows like the night sky at the request of both our boys.
But what I didn’t know until recently is that the boys have given certain stars to people they know are in heaven – their big brother, Great (Grandma) Hasamear, Great (Grandma) Mitchell and my dad, their Grandpa Mike. I walked in a few nights ago to hear my five-year-old singing while lying in his bed in the dark. I asked him what he was doing and his answer stopped me in my tracks.
“I’m singing a song to my big brother,” he said quietly as he looked to the ceiling. At this point, he told me that his big brother was in heaven and that he was sitting on one of those stars, along with Great (Mitchell). He said he liked to sing songs to them to show them what he was learning in school. He was singing his ABCs to Timothy when I walked in that night. We sang a few more songs for his brother before he fell asleep. With tears in my eyes, I listened to Sweet Pea tell me how much he wished his brother was still here because maybe Timothy would play baseball with him, play daddy’s video games with him and take him fun places. Sweet Pea said Timothy came to see him in his dreams “sometimes, but not all the times” and this made him happy.
It wasn’t until a day or so later that he and his little brother told us that those other people were also up in the stars on their ceiling too watching down on them, making sure they were safe and helping however they could.
Leave it to our children to help us really see what’s important in life, slow us down and move the irrelevant stuff out of the way to make way for those moments that may never happen again.
That same night before I heard Sweet Pea singing, my three-year-old had patted the little armchair next to his toddler bed after moving the stuffed animals out of the away and said, “Mommy, will you sit down here please?” And in my haste, I told him I would as soon as I got my cup of tea. But after finishing five or six other little tasks before coming back into the room, I found my little boy fast asleep with his little hand still on the chair. My heart immediately sank because I knew I had lost my chance. We all think that we will keep getting more moments to hold our kids, to keep our kids close and to hope they will always remain little and in the mood to cuddle. As parents, we have to understand the sad, but true thing is our babies do grow up, they eventually stop wanting to cuddle with their mamas and they may even stop wanting their mamas to hang out next to their beds until they fall asleep.
The silver lining of all this may be that from the mouths of babes, our tears are given meaning and purpose. My children – both small and grown – teach me every day that the lessons and examples they learn from us are who they may choose to become later. Sweet Pea is constantly telling amazing stories, pushing his imagination to the outer limits at only five years old. Pooh Bear is the biggest future gearhead I’ve ever seen, constantly “working on his cars” and wants every toy fast car he sees. And of course, my stepdaughter, now as she will soon become a parent of her own, my husband and I can only hope we have taught her a thing or two about how to foster a loving family environment for her own children to help them grow and prosper.
So often we get wrapped up in our own grief and solitude, and forget how it may affect the youngest people in the room. While they may have been too young to remember or even may not have ever had the chance to meet those we have lost at all, they grow to know these loved ones through us – our stories, our pictures, our tears and those actual possessions we still hold onto for years to come. And to my boys, those stars on their ceiling hold those people who they lost in their own imaginative way. The people they have created in their own heads – their big brother riding a star, holding on for dear life, stirring up trouble; Great Mitchell sitting on a different star, reading a book; Great Hasamear playing her organ, filling heaven with angelic music; and Grandpa Mike perched on the star, smiling, glasses down low on his nose and falling asleep while watching his family live their lives happily here on Earth.