Living With Loss

Happy birthday, buddy.

Today would have been my stepson’s 17th birthday. I can imagine the type of man he would be becoming, provided peer pressure and teenage angst bullshit didn’t interfere – a caring, giving, loving young man, who always put others first.

This isn’t a grand fantasy…Brody was all of those things as a boy. I once told him, out of frustration with his paternally-inherited lack of tidiness, that everything touching his floor was going into a garbage bag and would be taken to the Goodwill for children who would appreciate it, and I left the garbage bag on his dresser for effect.

He emerged an hour later and asked me proudly to come see his room. There wasn’t a thing on the floor but a full garbage bag. I asked him what the deal was, and he told me that he put his things away and went through all the toys he didn’t play with anymore so we could take them to the kids with no toys.

When he was being bullied at school, we told him that he had to do what he had to do to defend himself if it became physical, but he always walked away, if he couldn’t reason with them. It sometimes meant he won, sometimes he didn’t; but he never ever wanted to hit anyone.

When we moved out of our little basement apartment in July of 2006 into our first purchased house, he was excited (because he had helped us pick it, and thus his new room) and sad all at the same time. We knew he would be – he had pretty well grown up with the kids in that neighbourhood, and the boy next door was his best friend. When I was packing his room, I noticed that the gold cross his grandmother had given him was missing.; he told me had given it to the boy next door. I blew a gasket, and went next door and got it back. I asked him what had possessed him to give away such a gift that had been given to him, and he said “I wanted him to have it because I am never going to see him again.” I comforted him and told him that of course he would, that we would come to visit, and that his friend could come for sleepovers. He seemed appeased and I thought nothing more of it.

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We moved, life got busy. Trips were taken, weekends were filled with cottage visits, then school started. Brody passed away in September, without having seen his friend again. I don’t know if he knew….I hate to think he knew.

I have a locket on a chain that contains some of his ashes, a gift from his mother; who knew we would actually support each other through it more than anyone. This locket comes with me on all my travels, and to all family gatherings; last year he came with me to Vancouver, and he was with me, around my neck and close to my heart, at the hospital when my daughter was born.

We miss him every day, and we thank him every day for sending the angel that inhabits my daughter’s tiny, perfect, 6-month-old body. She will know who he is; her big smiles at his pictures make me believe she already does.

1 thought on “Happy birthday, buddy.

  1. Jenn,

    I did not know this. I honestly have tears streaming down my face since I read this. My stomach is in knots. Now I’m lucky that I have not had this happen to me but not sure if you you remember that my ex brother in law passed when he was 16 and we were 18. Not a day goes by that I I don’t think of it. Any words I say can’t help or change but just wanted to know that I think you all are incredible! If you ever want to just talk I’m here. We may not have seen each other for a long time but doesn’t change that you are my friend. I can say that you are a extremely strong woman & your daughter is lucky to have the both of you. Having her brother as her own Angel is a lovely thing. Sorry for rambling! Lot’s of hugs….T

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