Five years ago, my now eight year old son was just three years old when he lost his mom. When I broke the news to my five children that their mom had died, the three older girls cried and cried. My three year old son just ran around the room as I was talking, I didn’t seem to think he understood, but in fact he was deeply affected.
I tried to make life as normal as possible, but with a nanny instead of a mom in the house. I continued to go to work and each morning he would cry and cry as I walked out the door. The nanny would have to hold him back as I left. It broke my heart each morning. We eventually developed a routine of about 100 kisses each morning at the door.
At first, my son told me that mom didn’t love him anymore because she left. We had several heart to heart conversations about how his mom still loved him and was watching over us. He finally seemed to understand this and would say things like “mom’s heart is watching over us.”
Here is my son 7 months after my wife died helping me with a project. He was always by my side.
Deep down he was worried about losing me too and even though I didn’t know for sure what would happen to me, I would often reassure my children that I wasn’t going anywhere and I would always be there for them.
Fast forward two years. Lisa and I had just gotten married. Brendan was happy to have a new mom and was bonding with her. One day, Lisa had taken the kids to the public swimming pool. My now five year old son was standing on one side of the crowded pool. Lisa was on the other side of the pool and could see my son but he couldn’t find her. He began to panick and screamed uncontrollably because he couldn’t find her. She just couldn’t get to him fast enough to let him know that she was there and hadn’t left him. We realized then that this son was still traumatized from the sudden separation from his mother when he was young.
Just recently, when all the kids had been asleep for a few hours, I heard a panicky crying sound coming from one of the children’s rooms. I ran to the room where the crying was coming from and saw that it was this same son who was just waking from a bad dream.
After he woke from his dream I comforted him and we talked about his dream. He told me (in his dream) “I came home and you and mom (Lisa) had left forever and you were never coming back.”.
Even the next day, he teared up as we talked about his dream. We often wonder why such innocent children have to go through such traumatic experiences. Many people may look at our big blended family and think everything is great because “Lisa and I have found each other and everything is fixed”. They feel everything is great now.
In a lot of ways, we ARE doing great. I am so grateful for Lisa (and my new children) for coming into my life. What people don’t see is that we all have scars.
The wounds are repairing but will never perfectly heal. I have to trust the Lord that there is purpose in all that we go through and some day everything will be made right. But for my kids’s sake now, I hope I live a long, long, long time so that I can make good on my promise to them that I will always be here for them and I’m not going anywhere.