Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Like my Sister

I often joke that Heavenly Father knew what he was doing when he sent me Adam.  My traditional punchline states that between me and Adam both, we make a pretty decent mother for the other two kids.

When Adam was born at a whopping 9 lbs 5 oz, he already looked like a 3 month old.  The doctor and hospital staff were understandably surprised when he lifted his own head off the mattress at one day old.  And the pattern continued as I have watched my son grow up, always ready to shoulder more responsibility than would seem appropriate for his age.

At the Dickens Festival cast party, I gave a special award to each member of the cast who had been involved in the production for 5 consecutive years.  Adam was one of those individuals, and I got the opportunity to present him with a gear, symbolic of the fact that my world literally would not turn without him.  He is the stage manager and sound guy for my after school show choir.  He reminds me to give the younger kids their medicine when they are on a prescription.  He is my right hand.

I often joke that Heavenly Father knew what he was doing when he sent me Adam.  Heavenly Father knows each of his children, and I believe he carefully considered when to send each of us to earth and to which earthly family we should belong.  And I am grateful every day that I am the one who gets to pretend to raise this special child of God who, short of not being able to drive a car, has rarely ever seemed to even need a mother.

When I first approached Adam about Skye and Michelle's request that he speak at Tyler's funeral, I came knowing I was asking a lot.  In fact, my first request was met with a swift and solid, "No."  However, when I explained Skye and Michelle's reasoning that Adam had been one of Tyler's very favorite people, he changed his tune.  "Under two minutes, though," he explained.  "I don't think I could handle any more than that without crying."

As I have done with Adam's talks over the last few years, I sat down and helped him brainstorm an outline.  Then I left it up to him to share in his own words.  Among Adam's gifts of the spirit is his confidence and poise in public speaking, and as he had recently spoken eloquently at a cousin's baptism and delivered a nearly 10 minute talk in Sacrament meeting (expounding on the outline we had planned), I knew I could trust him to deliver the message he wanted to share.

I had planned to try to write this out from memory, because I thought someday Adam might like to have it.  But then I found out that the funeral home had a recording, and I decided to wait until I could transcribe it word for word.  These are Adam's memories of Tyler as he shared them at the funeral.

Even though Tyler was my cousin, she felt like my sister.  I also lived kitty-corner to her, and I almost got to see her every day on the way home from school and at church.  One story of me and Tyler was at Halloween when Tyler was walking early and we were a little behind, so I picked her up and put her on my shoulders.  And we went around trick-or-treating.  We almost made it through the whole neighborhood.  I had a great time.

Another story was when we would go home from school, we would go past 7-11 where they have a sign with fruit in it.  And there was one fruit that me and Michelle and nobody knew what it was.  We thought it was a mango.  And Tyler would point to it and yell, "Nana," because she loved bananas.  And we would all laugh.

And also sometimes on the way home if I would give her a hug when she had learned to say "ouch," she would say "ouch" a lot.  And we would play games with her in the car and she would laugh.  

And I know that I will be able to see her again.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Not only did Adam have the honor of speaking, but Skye and Michelle also chose him to participate as a pall bearer.  As I watched my son, two days shy of his tenth birthday, carry the casket of his cousin/sister, I couldn't help but consider the word "bear."  In the gospel, we often talk of "bearing one another's burdens."  Several definitions exist, among which my favorites include:

  • to move while holding up and supporting (something)
  • to support the weight of 
  • to hold in the mind or emotions

Looking back, I recall how Adam chose to fill this role from the first moment we told him of Tyler's passing.  He made it his personal mission to make me smile at least once per day during the ensuing week.  On my first day at work, he gave up his afternoon recess to come to my classroom to check on me.  That is an awfully big burden for a ten-year-old to choose to bear.

I used to joke that Adam used to do resistance training inside my stomach, pushing against his surroundings repeatedly in an effort to build his muscles.  I remember exactly what it felt like to push gently with my fingers on the heel he frequently smashed in under the right side of my rib cage.  I would carefully knead the area, coaxing him to retract the limb, only to then feel a palm push out the other side.  He was pushing against me already, just begging for a chance to be on the outside where instead of being nurtured, he could be the rock.

I often joke that Heavenly Father knew what he was doing when he sent me Adam.

But it is really no joke.