I haven’t talked much about Aaron’s sister, Taylor much in these posts, so I figured now was a good time to introduce you to her. I sometimes feel like Taylor has become the forgotten mourner. I know that, unfortunately, her mourning has been on the back burner for me. I know that sounds selfish, but during this whole time, I’ve been focused on my own grief and not what she has experienced. Think what you may of me, but that’s where I’ve been. But as time has passed, I’ve begun to see strength in my daughter that she didn’t even see herself. She was willing to put her grief aside to help me through mine. The problem with this strength was that she didn’t have time to grieve herself for the shock of the sudden loss of her brother. So now, she is just beginning her grieving process.
So, how has she become a forgotten mourner? When a child passes away in a family, the other sibling(s) becomes almost 2nd place in the mourning and grieving process. They become protectors of their parents and their feelings. They become obsessed with doing everything well and perfectly so that they don’t disappoint their parents. In essence, they lose themselves in the process of protecting everyone else. Most of the time, people don’t think to ask about the siblings when one of their brothers or sisters dies…the focus is on how are the parents doing. While the parents are an important place to focus, the siblings also deserve the same focus. They have lost the first person in this world that they developed a relationship with outside of their parents. They have lost their first confidant…their first enemy…their first protector….the first person they loved outside of mom and dad. They have suffered a tremendous loss that is often overlooked and misunderstood.
Despite their, sometimes, unsettled relationship, Taylor and Aaron always loved each other. It was just like any other brother/sister relationship…sometimes their love was strained…but it was ALWAYS there. They knew they loved each other despite their differences. These differences were often caused by their opposing personalities. Taylor was a pleaser and worked hard to comply with rules. She also had and continues to practice a no-nonsense view to life. She and Aaron were very different when it came to that, and often times they clashed. Aaron was very much of a free spirit and a non-complier. He was always asking why…where Taylor just did what was asked with little to no questions (not always, but most of the time). Different personalities for different children…all families experience this and the strife it sometimes causes.
One thing that has become evident to me, however, is how strong my daughter really is. I know that she doesn’t feel strong and that she’s had moments where she questions her ability to deal with this loss. But what I have seen over the last 5 months has been a fascinating display of strength even in her weakness. As I think back to the day that Aaron’s remains were laid to rest, I remember being approached by the funeral director with the box that contained his remains….in the parking lot outside the chapel. I thought that my knees were going to buckle…I thought that I was surely going to hit the ground, but there were two people there right beside me….my husband, Tom and Taylor. Tom was holding on to the left side of me…and Taylor came rushing over to hold me by the right side. Strength…even though she was grieving as well. I remember the day that Aaron’s belongings were shipped to the house…who was there? Taylor. I recall the boxes being brought in and the wave of emotion that swept over my heart as I watched his things enter my home without him. She took over and signed the appropriate documents accepting the belongings. A few months later, I was informed that Aaron’s death certificate would be delivered. Taylor was there with me along with her husband to be and my husband. I don’t know where I would have been these last 5 months without the strength of my daughter. She has been strength to me in my weakness, and I believe that God has worked through her to be my strength in my weakness.
In my last blog, I approached the subject of perspective and how our perspective is often molded by our experiences. Well, the other day, my daughter said something so profound to me that really made me think about things a little differently. Her perspective has come from her grief and mourning experience, but she shed such a different light on this process that it has made me think about my own perspective. So, the other day, Taylor texted me to let me know that she was going to get a tattoo of a sun. I was reluctant at first, but when she explained her reasoning and the meaning behind it, I just had to say…ok. This was her explanation, ” I’m getting another tattoo and it has a very special meaning to me. It’s a sun…which may not seem that special, but to me it’s a symbol that gives strength and life. It also means a new beginning every day. When the sun rises, it’s a new day and I have new choices. It’s something that I’ve had to really rely on in the last little bit.” I can’t say that I have been able to see that perspective. All that I’ve been able to see when the sun comes up is that it’s a new day without my son…without her brother. But, after some thought, she’s right….each day is a new day….it may be harder than the previous day….it may be better than the previous day…but regardless, it’s a new day. I thought to myself…my 20 year old daughter has displayed more strength than I have…and I am grateful for her perspective.
So, I try to look at the sun in a new light now…not only the sun, but the Son. He also gives strength and life….He also gives us a chance for a new beginning every single day. We always have a new day with new choices ahead of us. Sometimes those choices aren’t the best ones we can make, but we always have a new day around the corner. Sometimes those days are just tough days, but there is new day just around the bend. Our Savior is merciful and provides grace…always. Taylor, I am thankful for your perspective of the sun and it’s connection to the Son who also gives life, strength, grace, and mercy. Thank you for helping your mom to see things in a new light. Thank you for helping me remember that Aaron found this grace and mercy also…
Thank you for loving me and for loving your brother. Thank you for your strength…even when you felt you were weak.