Letter to Max at three and a half (more like three and three quarters by now)

Dear Max,

Just now at bedtime, you made me and Daddy laugh so hard we cried. We couldn’t stop. I almost wet myself. I was singing “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)” by the Dixie Chicks to you. You have definitely entered a silly stage and you often sing nonsense based on whatever I’m singing. Well, “Godspeed” became “Godjam” and then it became “Goddamn”. I have to believe it was an accident, because I doubt I have ever said that word in front of you. In fact, I hardly say that one at all. You obviously had no clue why we were laughing so hard. You seemed pleased at first, but started to get a little miffed that I couldn’t calm down enough to sing very well.

You are so smart. You are sweet and sensitive. You have been testing your limits, but most of the time you are so darn lovable. I can tell you want so much to please us, which makes me happy and worries me at the same time. If you realize we are displeased with you, you do everything you can to make us happy again. In fact, one time, when I was irritated with you after you had an accident, you kept asking, “How are you feeling? Are you happy now?” I felt so guilty for getting angry at you, but it is kind of hard to NOT be angry when you have to wash poop out of someone’s underwear.

After almost a year, you have finally started telling us occasionally when you need to go potty. I don’t really blame you for that. I think we started seriously training you too late and picked a really bad time for it.

Tonight, as we were reading, you looked at the book and said, “It was published by Penguin, wasn’t it?” You saw a book with a penguin on it at Half-Price Books one day and still remember my explanation. Now you point it out every time you see a penguin on a book.

You are such a good big brother. I can tell you love Lucy so much. You have already had to sacrifice a lot for a three-year-old. You were unexpectedly separated from us for most of a three week period recently when Lucy was hospitalized and her condition took a sudden turn for the worse.

I know that this situation will, and already has, given our family some blessings. But I know it is going to be hard on you to have a chronically ill sibling. We don’t know what the future holds for Lucy. I am hoping she will have a long life, but it seems almost certain that she will have a rockier path than some. And that will make yours rockier.

I worry about you losing your only sibling. I don’t want you to be alone. I don’t want you to go through that heartbreak at all. I know that having another sibling would not ease the pain. But it would lessen the chance you would be alone. I still don’t know what will happen with that. But we will do our very best to make the best decisions we can for everyone.

I am so grateful you are healthy. We had your heart checked. I was so afraid you would have DCM, too. But, thank goodness, your heart looked perfect. I guess you aren’t completely out of the woods, since the doctors now suspect Lucy’s condition might be genetic. But I think you will be fine.

We spent the last two days mostly just the two of us. You have been sick with a nasty virus and Daddy took Lucy to her appointment with the transplant team, so I could stay with you. It has been so lovely to just be with you. It seemed so easy, despite the fact that you were sick. It seems strange to think it used to just be you and me most of the time. I am so glad we got this time and our date night last week.

I really did start this letter to you last January when you turned three and a half. It looks like it might end up being my letter to you at four instead. 🙂 Oh, little man. So much has happened since I last worked on it. Your baby sister died on Mother’s Day. She didn’t wake up from her nap.

This was one of my worst fears for you and her. I am so afraid you won’t remember her. I am going to do my best to help you hang on to some memories, but you don’t always want to talk about her right now or see pictures. That is understandable.

You are doing much better now. The first week was so hard. You threw lots of tantrums and cried. I’m not sure if this is a memory we really want to preserve, but one night, a few days after Lucy died, you flipped out in the bathtub. You were screaming and crying. I have hardly ever seen you like that. I suddenly knew it wasn’t about the bath. You were in pain. Your were screaming and crying in confusion and pain over your sister being gone. Your little heart was broken. And it broke my heart to see you like that.

I know it doesn’t seem like it, but it’s a blessing that you felt so much pain when your sister died. The more pain you feel, the more you loved. I know that sucks, but the love is worth it. The bond you and your sister had was worth it. I hope you realize it one day and can still remember her, with happiness.

I am so glad I still have you, my cherished boy. I hope you will not be an only child for too very long. Really, you are not one. You will always be Lucy’s big brother and she will be your little sister. No matter what happens in the future, you and Daddy and I have each other. And we will always have our love for Lucy in our hearts.

This experience will make you stronger and more compassionate. I know you would rather have your sister, but we have to embrace what we have and believe that everything happens for a reason. At least, that is what works for me.

I love you very, very, very, very much. To the moon and back. A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck. You are the most amazing boy in the world. I am so grateful and honored to have you as my firstborn.

These have been the most wonderful four years of my life, even with all the pain we have gone through. Onward, little man. We can face and do anything together.

Love, Mom (As you insist on calling me these days.)

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