I dreaded this Mother’s Day. It’d be the second one where I’m mourning the death of a son. I had originally looked forward to enjoying it with a new baby in my arms, but yesterday, I was working on another stage of packing away baby things. We can’t rush it. It hurts too much to pack it all away as quickly as we can. Rhys hasn’t disassembled the bassinet; and I’ve put the clothes and keepsakes in the last little cardboard box that Brandon slept in.
For those wondering what I’m talking about, Brandon did not like sleeping in a wide open cot. In the hopes of mimicking the plastic hospital bassinet he was used to, we put him in a shallow cardboard box padded firmly with folded blankets, and a couple of towels.
He liked this very much and it became something of a convenient co-sleeper as well. After all, you can’t risk rolling onto a baby if you bump into a cardboard box, and I could have my arm around him, and he could see me. It was easy to carry around and move about the house, and did not obstruct his sight of anyone, so he did not feel like he was alone or abandoned while lying in it. I showed it to my midwife and the visiting child healthcare nurse, and they thought it was a wonderful idea, plus the bedding was firm and flat, and we actively compared it to the cot mattress. Since he was getting more sleep and thus growing more, plus it allowed me to keep him close to me and Brandon felt more secure that way, when he outgrew his first box, we moved him up to a second one that came from Japan.
It just so happened that we were ordering some computer parts to repair a client’s computer, and Aff asked the company to send a tougher, sturdier box, explaining that the tiniest human in the household liked sleeping in them. The company complied, and that was the third and last ‘Brandon Box.’ In time Brandon would not have needed the close comfort of the box as he was growing enough that he would have had to move to the cot, and it would no longer feel so agoraphobia-inducing.
(I had also been told that it was likely that Brandon would need to wear a cranial band. There have been adorable ideas as to decorating them, as well as attaching a tiny, lightweight GoPro camera to the helmet. I’d thought about attaching a GoPro to our boy when he was old enough to crawl, but I hadn’t figured out how to put it on him so it would be from his point of view. GoPro is awesome for parents! Who knew?)
But other than moving around the house, sorting and putting away stuff and cleaning, it wasn’t too bad. I slept in, till afternoon (mucking up my sleep schedule for a while) My older children surprised me with this lovely statue, bought with their allowance.
Daddy helped pick it out.
It’s sitting with some other lovely figures I’ve got here in my workstation area.
And I remembered the other Mother’s Day I had here, the first one. Rhys had deployed to Afghanistan, and it was a weekend. I woke up to Vincent proudly presenting me with a very overspiced scrambled egg, which I ate, after thanking and praising my then six year old boy. Aff trailed in his wake, holding a mug of coffee for me and the news that Rune was doing the dishes. After Vincent had run off to play, proud of his mission’s success, Aff told me the story behind the scrambled egg.
The fire alarm had gone off, (which I did NOT wake to. Eek.) and Aff jumped out of bed to see why. When he reached the kitchen, he stopped and took in the scene.
Vincent was standing on a wooden child’s chair to give him the extra height to let him reach the top of the stove. The frying pan sat there, dribbling egg that was cooking on the convection stovetop, probably with more egg on the stovetop than the pan. Eggshells were piled in the bin, and Aff found himself following a trail of egg splattered on the countertops, the wall, and following that trail up to the ceiling fan, which was splattering more egg onto the wall and ceiling.
He then described my firstborn reaching the kitchen and her face falling into this expression of pure and utter disgust at the mess.
Vincent had tried to flip the egg, which explained the partially cooked mess that was burning on the stovetop, and had set the alarm off.
After turning off the alarm, Aff somehow managed to ask my little boy, very calmly, ‘Why?’
It was Mother’s Day, Vincent explained, and he’d learned in school that on Mother’s Day, Mummies get breakfast in bed. Mummy likes scrambled eggs. He had watched me cook scrambled eggs. It was easy enough, and I’d let him flip the egg with the spatula while it cooked.
Aff helped clean up the mess (I found no trace of egg anywhere later!) and helped Vincent cook another egg, but left the seasoning up to my boy so it would be ‘his’ creation.
To comfort me (I think my expression was rather horrified) Aff sat down at the foot of the bed and regaled me with the story of when he and his younger brother made a surprise Mother’s Day breakfast for his mother.
They were younger than Vincent, and well, child logic makes sense if you hear it reasoned out:
Mummy likes eggs. Mummy likes sandwiches. She also likes to use chicken boullion cubes in cooking, so that must be yummy. Therefore, an egg and chicken boullion sandwich would be a perfect dish to serve up to Mummy as a surprise!
They served up the sandwich to their mother, mashing as many chicken boullion cubes as they could into the egg till it was a paste that could spread on the bread.
Aff’s mother took a bite of the sandwich, then turned to her proudly beaming youngest sons, and said “The egg is still raw, isn’t it?”
The youngest of the four boys she had birthed chirped, “We’re not allowed to cook!”
Aff tells me that she popped the concoction into a sandwich maker and managed somehow to choke the whole thing down.
He then regaled me with more stories of his friends and his attempts to make Father’s Day special for their daddies, but I’ll save them for the appropriate day. However, he did this with the intent of making me laugh, and illustrating that compared to their attempts, Vincent was an unqualified success in his Make Mummy Breakfast for Mother’s Day quest.
In a way living with me and Rhys has opened Aff’s world into an intimate, if painful view of how we live as a family – and I think he may have been a little surprised at how easy it was for us to include him. He’s Uncle Aff to our children, and he was definitely very much Uncle Aff to Brandon. Every so often he says he ‘misses the little guy.’
Even though we are reeling from the pain from Brandon’s death, we have moments of being able to smile.
I remember as we pulled out of the parking spot from the crematorium, a huge LPG carrying truck came up to the crematory proper. Rhys saw it first, and huffed out a laugh, saying, ‘Good on ya, little dude!’ It amused us to think of our boy being so tough he’d need a whole truck of gas to turn him to ash.
Morbid, perhaps, but he was a tough little guy who was growing well. It would have been wonderful to see how our bundle of grumpy rage grew, I remember how we were able to sit together, as a family, to watch Big Hero 6. After Brandon was full of milk he did not drift off to sleep as usual, but tried to twist around to watch. I handed him to his Dad, so he could have some Daddy time and I could stretch my legs. Brandon watched the movie, eyes huge, and clearly enjoying it, because he would coo, reacting to the colors and explosions and sounds. He wriggled through the closing theme, Immortals, and did not seem to want to rest until after the stinger showed and we were obviously preparing for bed. We’ll always remember how expressive he was. I’ve never seen a more perfect WTF expression ever displayed, and certainly Rhys and I never expected to see it on the face of our infant son.
For us, Mother’s Day will always be about the memories we have made as parents to the children, even though for two of our children, it was a very short time.