Today’s episode of Always Andy’s Mom is, for me, one of the most emotional episodes I have had to date. Connor’s mom, Nan, describes him in a way that reminds me of Andy. He was the middle child of three, all born two years apart with extremely close relationships with his siblings. The bond between Connor and his mother was also very similar to my relationship with Andy. My husband and I always laughed that Andy was ‘my’ kid in a way that the others were not. I understood Andy, his emotionality, and his energy. The other two kids are much more like my husband in their personalities. They don’t wear their emotions on their sleeves like Andy did, and I still do.
Eleven years ago at the age of 12, Connor died. He had a headache one day, which then progressed to pneumonia, and then to overwhelming sepsis. Overall, the time from his first symptoms to his death was only 10 days, short in many ways, but long in so many others. Nan talks about this time and what has followed over the years, giving insights as to when certain milestones have come along her journey, how others have helped her and how she has been able to help herself.
In addition to me getting emotional at the beginning while hearing her stories and descriptions, what ‘got me’ even more was just her presence and way of talking now. She has a sense of peace about her that is hard for me to even imagine having myself. Eleven years out after Connor’s sudden death, she shows an amazing wisdom. As I listened to her, I could get a little bit of a glimpse as to what my life could be like in the future, and what I hope and pray my life will be like ten years down the road.
It was interesting hearing you both talk about losing your middle child. Adam was my oldest child out of three. Seeing his brother, my second child, have to take on that oldest child role was heartbreaking. He is now my daughter’s only big brother, and I have seen how he has had to step up to that role. Adam was LARGE and IN CHARGE (and very very loud) and the oldest of all of the kids of our college friends. When everyone was here after the funeral, all of the kids were hanging out together and looking towards my middle child to lead and guide them in conversation as his brother had. It was a really surreal experience.
Thank you for sharing your incredible son, Connor with us. You have honored him by sharing your journey and celebrating his life.
Whenever I am asked how many children I have, I say I gave birth to 5 but only have 4 to raise here on earth. Early on I wanted to spare others awkwardness and I would not mention Derrick. I would then feel shame for many days, that I dismissed his life so harshly. So I learned the hard way to always acknowledge his place in our family. Our email address is De7inHim because our family unit is 7 in the Lord, not 6. My husband told me early on our grief journey, that we have made our first deposit in Heaven’s bank. Part of our family is with the Lord and I am so ready to join him any time. That is my new norm, that I long for heaven, and to have the Lord show me to Derrick. How can a mother forget the child she birthed? No more apologizing for inconveniencing others at Derrick’s expense and my mental health. You both will find your journey is unique, just as your family is unique.
I have hated family pictures since Derrick’s death. My husband’s family had a professional portrait done a few years after his death and I insisted that I hold his picture or I could not participate. His Grandmother has never mentioned Derrick since his funeral and that has been an extra hurtful situation. My sister in law had twin sons born 4 months before my son and I have had to watch them grow up, each stage of their lives a painful challenge to me. But Grandma’s way of handling her grandson’s death is so believe he never existed or matters to her family. She is a very cold person and she treats all of our children like this. I choose to focus on those things and people that honor my son’s life, and leave others to answer for their decisions.