Wait for Mommy, Declan!

Ugh. It’s happened twice over the last 2 weeks and it’s, well, awful.

2 weeks ago as we were hustling the kids to the soccer field, I heard a Mom shout out ‘Wait for Mommy, Declan!’ It sounded so natural in my head because I was a bit frazzled and then, dagger … not your Declan. It will never be your Declan.

Then yesterday Cole and I were playing in the park next to Brady’s soccer practice, as we walked up for the first time I heard the Mom say, ‘Look here, Declan! Smile for the camera, Declan!’ Dagger, dagger. I overheard her telling another Mom he was 18 months old. He was darling and toddled around the playground the whole time we were there…while she cheered on his every move. We never got that chance. He never toddled for us…he had only just learned to sit when cancer came knocking.

My broken heart tried to stay present with Cole even though he had no clue the torment this trip to the playground was causing me. God love him and his imagination, he did his best to keep my mind off of little Declan playing next to us. Someone else’s Declan.

Cole has a fantastic imagination for play and he conjured up a myriad of scenarios for us … we were spacemen, looking for the rocket ship store; we were pirates who had to watch out for the ‘spikey spikes’ of the crabs in the water at the end of the plank (slide); we were extreme climbers (my words … we had to climb to the top of these kinda tall bars) to the top of the mountain; we were circus stars balancing on the beam; we were store clerks who needed to know the secret code to open the store; you get the picture. It was great fun. I love playing with him this way and am enjoying the one on one time Brady’s soccer practice affords us; but I’d be lying if it didn’t make me sad. Most days it’s just a little shadow of sadness for what he and Declan (well, all my boys) are missing. But yesterday, I was repeatedly called back to the present from my spaceship or while evading the spikey crabs by the sound of ‘Declan!’ ‘Smile, Declan!’ Called back to what should, but never will, be.

My heart was in my throat then filled with laughter, over and over again. The crazy tightrope we parents of children who have died walk, every day.

I guess I was just surprised to hear his name, spoken out loud, in public. It doesn’t happen much, well never really unless it’s a conversation I am engaged in, so I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t get to steel my resolve before I walked into the playground or to take a deep breath before I gathered our sideline gear, like a Sherpa, headed to our designated field. I know this won’t be the last time and I know I cannot adequately be prepared for when it does …
just another landmine to navigate in this journey we now travel, without our Declan.

It’s the thing that’s the hardest, there is a fiber missing from the cloth that is our family. We can make it look nice, dress it up and take it out on the town but we know the fiber is missing. It will always be less than it could be. Still good and perfect and fun and loving, even deliriously happy … just missing one key ingredient, forever.