12 months and 5 days... That’s all the time between them; my first boy and his surprise brother.
Through the years they’ve been mortal enemies and best friends and sometimes both within a matter of seconds. They played cars together and sword-fought across the whole house and back and they used to splash in the rain on the tiny condo porch and squeal in delight.
And one morning, while he lay in his bed, Aidan watched us surround his brother and carry him out. He lay in the dark of the room as emergency lights reflected through the closed blinds – flashing red on the walls and ceiling – and he looked out into the dim hall and saw shadowy figures in navy and heard the click of a metal gurney carried across the threshold. He watched his mother cradle his best friend brother with eyes closed and a mask over his face and he heard the words:“You need to stay in your bed, Grammie is here, I love you so much and we will see you soon, okay?” ..and with that, the life of my first-born boy changed forever.
The sword-fighting and cars never stopped, but now it was only occasionally around the times his brother was out of the hospital. And while he could go outside and run or swim with his sister; his brother, whose head was now ugly and puckered with stitches couldn’t be out in the sun or water with him. And their play had to gentle around IV bags, careful as his ever energetic brother tired in minutes, and metered around blood draws and medicines…for which he’d stand by the couch and hold out his hand and say words like “Chase, it’s okay. I’m here if you need me. Here’s my hand… you can hold it if it makes you feel better.”
And when he had his own tonsil surgery the week after they opened his brother’s brain, he sat contentedly in recovery and made no sound at the needles or cords because “…Now I am a little like Chase.”
This boy has grown up on the sound of his brother’s screams and the sight of his brother’s scars and blood. And in some ways he’s 6 and in other ways he’s 60 because he knows more of the world and suffering than you should know when you’re little.
So, this week he told me that he’s growing out his hair to shave it for his brother. He wants to be bald for a minute with his brother. And when he had to write on the St. Baldrick’s website and say why he was going to shave his head, these were his words: “I’m shaving my head for my brother Chase because he’s my brother and I like him and because he’s my best friend and because he’s a very kind boy.” And if I know my Aidan, he’ll sit in the chair, totally bald and calm because “…now I am a little like Chase.”
12 months and 5 days and sometimes there are no other words.
Moment by moment.
To go to Aidan’s St. Baldrick’s page, click here.