What I found was picture after picture of a younger set of Glow boys. And Joey when he was sick. There were only about ten pictures of Joey, but I cherished every one.
Joey as a cat for Halloween with Stripey Kitten as a devil.
. . . with one of his doctors being silly at chemo.
. . . painting pottery (and eating cookies apparently).
. . . kicking ass at air hockey.
. . .and still with a smile shortly before his death.
Today is the fourth crapiversary of the day we said good-bye to him. It's fitting that I am up all night writing this, as I was up all night with him that night to help guide him on his journey from this life to the next. I gave a piece of me to take with him, and some days - a lot of days - I feel broken inside.
I'm walking on the edge a lot. One bad day can push me over. One person telling me to "enjoy it while it lasts because it goes so fast" is enough to make me want to claw that person's face off. Some days I feel like I can't do it anymore, no one understands, and I want to hide away. Broken.
But as I looked at the rest of the pictures, I realized that I'm not really broken. I'm just bent.
After Joey left the picture, life went on with three little boys instead of four. There were still smiles on our faces, though I know how the mom in those pictures was feeling. How she forced herself for fourteen months to imagine life without one of her precious sons because when the time got there, that was the only thing that was going to help her survive.
To keep her from being broken.
It helped me on that day I took only one twin to first grade.
It helped me take pictures of three sons when I kept thinking there should be four.
And it helped me welcome a new son.
So many every day things could break me.
Like dentist appointments . . .
. . . and first lost teeth . . .
. . . and brotherly love.
They bend me to the breaking point. And I never know when it will happen.
I saw someone collapse over the weekend and heard the word "seizure", and even though it wasn't about me, I lost it crying in the bathroom.
I hear a song at church that was played at Joey's funeral and I have to fight back tears.
The boys are fighting and I think about how Joey would have made everyone laugh.
I'm cleaning out the house for the move and I know I should get rid of something that was Joey's, but no one ever uses anymore.
As hard as it is to walk around bent all the time, I know it's better than being broken. I think of the words of one of my favorite singers, and how they fit how I'm coping:
Just give me a reason
Just a little bit's enough
Just a second we're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It's in the stars
It's been written in the scars of our hearts
We're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again.
~Just Give Me a Reason
words by: Jeff Bhasker, Alecia Moore, and Nate Ruess
This . . .
. . . and this
. . . and this
and especially these.
The times we're all sitting at the dinner table and someone says something so adorably cute, or the times when our eight year old says he will help the two year old. Or when all the boys are laughing together over something dumb. Or we're at a movie together or watching someone's baseball game.
So many reasons to go on and not completely break. It's hard. Every day it's so hard, and some days more than others I have to really look for the reasons.
But they're there.
And the little bits are enough.