Caleb was 4 when Joshua was born and died. At the time, he was in preschool for half the day and at daycare with Hannah for the other half. Shane was working full time and when he got off work, would pick them up from daycare and care for them in the evenings. During the weekends, Shane and the kids came down to Indianapolis to visit Joshua and Mama.
However, due to their age, they weren't allowed in the NICU to see him. Caleb could, but he could only come for 15 minutes at a time with preapproval from the neonatologists. It was a constant juggling act and Shane and I did our best to provide as much normalcy and routine for the kids as we could. We tried to keep their schedules and routines the same. We tried to make their weekends fun by going to the Children's museum, the park, or the zoo.
Thankfully, Hannah was spared the memories. She was only 2. She doesn't really remember much from those days. She knows who Joshua is through pictures and our stories about him, but she doesn't remember the chaos that was his life.
Unfortunately and fortunately, Caleb does remember. He remembers seeing his brother for short periods of time. He remembers us telling him that Joshua was very sick. He remembers plopping down in the waiting room lobby after Joshua's first surgery and saying, "I'm not going anywhere until I see my baby brother."
He remembers the child life specialist explaining to him that Joshua was going to have a big "ouchie" on his chest when he saw him. He remembers seeing Joshua with the tubes and lines and chest open.
I'm so thankful he has those memories, but he's having a hard time with it again.
He's 7 now. 3 years have gone by. At the time, Joshua was a very concrete and tangible person. He was his brother.
But now, he's reprocessing what happened. He's beginning to understand the consequences and results of Joshua's life. And it's hard for him to understand.
After school today, he asked me, "Mom, if Joshua didn't die, would we still have Lukey? If he was still alive, would Lukey still be our brother?"
Punch. To. The. Gut.
I answered honestly. I told him that if Joshua had died, we would not have Lukey. We most likely would not have had another baby.
That is so hard for him to reconcile. He loved Joshua so much. He still does. But here is Lukey, who he also loves very much. How does a 7 year old understand that he can't have one and not the other? How does he make sense of his love for one brother that wouldn't have happened without the other?
He's been having a hard time lately. He's been struggling with what life would be like if Joshua were still here. It's a concept that is hard for me to understand at almost 30 years old. How in the world will a 7 year old understand it?
I know he's reprocessing what happened, and I'm glad that he is, but it breaks my heart all over again to see him struggle. Please pray for us as we help him to reconcile the past with the present and for him to be at peace with it.