Our Story Begins:
I was completely set to write a post completely different from what I’m about to say here. But I checked Facebook this morning and could not help but be touched by what I saw and it sparked different inspiration.
You’ve all seen them, right? Those silly “Memories on Facebook” posts? Sometimes, of course, you roll your eyes and wonder what in the hell even possessed you or the person on your feed to post in the first place. It has been quite rare that I’ve seen one on my own feed that I thought deserved re-posting.
But this morning . . . there was a short and succinct post from April 7th, 2011, that I had totally forgotten was even there.
“Boys Asked me to do a party at home just family for their birthday. They said they didn’t want it to cost too much. They are such sweethearts!”
With no context it sounds like yet another sweet, yet thrown away sentiment on social media. Perhaps a bit too much to share for people around the world.
But let me give you some context:
Just twelve days before April 7th, 2011, my wife, Andrea, passed away. The “boys” I refer to in the post are my twin sons, who were just seven and poised to turn eight. Our lives were a mess. Without a second income we lost our home; my job was cutting my salary drastically; and we didn’t even know how to get up each morning.
So in the midst of all this I had to first deal with Easter Sunday, which I hadn’t even thought about yet. Then came their birthday.
So when these two little boys – seen up there with their older sister in 2009 – came to me a week before their birthday and said they didn’t want a big party, just to be with their family, it wasn’t just because of the money. It was one of the sweetest and most poignant things I have ever faced. Two boys about to turn eight deciding they didn’t want anything big or fancy and just wanted to be with their family was immediately something that made us all want to cry.
I had forgotten this little spark of memory from five years ago. I remembered the party at the house, the cake, ice cream, and the fact that we had presents. We did do a party with just family that year and being just a couple weeks after losing their mom this normal, regular, everyday activity of celebrating the day of their birth was a little bit like having a normal life again. We certainly felt the pall of what was missing around us. That’s hard to ignore. But when we celebrated, at least for the briefest of moments, our lives didn’t feel as broken and screwed up as they really were.
Five years on now we have come such a very long way.
My boys are poised to be teenagers now. We are having an actual party, cousins and a friend coming along, and things are different.
But the sentiments and insight and instinct to know just what to do at just the right time has not changed. Five years on I’m dating and it could easily be thoroughly awkward to understand and embrace. Instead, my boys asked me to invite her to the birthday party. It was their idea, and they sincerely want her there.
We often complain and worry and stress about our kids but there’s a saying my father always tells me about them: “kids are smarter than anyone gives them credit for.” He’s always been right with that line, by the way. When none of us was sure what we needed to do they simply, at the age of seven, said what we needed. No qualms, no thought whatsoever. Now, five years on, they are doing the same. The kids aren’t stupid, they just don’t want you to know they recognize when you aren’t sure where you’re going.
Sometimes they just say the right thing at the right time . . . and you take the right path.
What about you? Have you noticed things your kids have done for you?