On the morning of May 20, 2018 I sat in my bed with my two boys watching old videos, sharing laughter and stories from when they were younger. Varen aka Rainbow Baby (7) made a very hurtful and insensitive comment while watching a video that had a photo of Vayden in it when he said “I wish you would have just taken care of Vayden, and then he wouldn’t have died”. The child after loss enters into a family that has already been rattled and changed. Their position in understanding the loss is different because it never affected them like it did everyone else. Varen is also the last born of the family, a typical self centered child that thinks the sun rises and sets only for him. Not to mention his tender young age of having zero filter. I immediately stopped the video and took that rather rude comment as an opportunity to school Varen on the story of Vayden. If he was old enough to say something like that, he’s old enough to know the full story behind his brother’s life and death.
In a gentle, loving, and kid friendly way I explained to Varen what happened to Vayden, how we fought for him and why he died. I made it very clear to him that everyone who came into our lives around Vayden wanted only the best for him and that nothing we did caused him to die. Soon after Varen asked me “how did it feel to have him?” I said “it’s painful to push out a baby but I’m strong”, he said “No, were you happy, or sad, or excited?” and then the ball was in my court, with Vashon sitting next to him was I going to relive a painful memory that still brings people to tears, or was I going to briefly answer, change the subject and move on. The question came one video short of Vayden’s slide show and I made the choice to offer my boys the raw and honest answer to their question, even though I knew it would steal a small piece of their innocence.Why?............ I don’t know, perhaps it’s because the night before I binge watched 5 episodes of 13 Reasons Why and I went to bed worried about being a parent when the teenage years come around. I see these kids on the news going to their schools and shooting other kids. When things like that happen the first few thoughts are, were the parents aware, how much did they, or didn’t they know? If I want any openness and honesty with my children, I will also have to give them mine in return.
So as Vayden’s slide show ran I spoke through the journey to answer Varen’s question. I told him” it was a happy and a sad moment, he was born and so beautiful , you couldn’t tell he was in pain, the Dr.’s took him to check him and gave him back to us and told us he would be with us for about an hour, but he was so strong he stayed for much longer, then when he was ready to go, he just fell asleep in my arms” Varen and Vashon both began to cry, so I held them and we cried together as we remembered my son and their brother Vayden. I told them “we don’t always know why things like this happen but we know that it was for a reason, and then after all of the sad days and tears, sunshine came and a rainbow appeared, and then we had Varen” so I told them the meaning behind a rainbow baby, I told them all the wonderful things we have done in Vayden’s memory and I told them it’s ok to cry and to miss him and to sometimes be sad, because it is a sad set of circumstances and hiding feelings isn’t healthy.
The day went on without an issue, and then at bedtime Varen came into my room, Vashon & brother bear following behind, and Varen said “I’m still sad about Vayden” we talked more about their feelings and because Van is currently away I allowed them to sleep in my room. It was a sweet and emotional day for the 3 of us and the timing couldn’t have better, sometimes emotions and real memories catch us off guard. Every year my toughest day is not on his birthday, or the day I went into labor but on one of those last few days with my sweet angel, where I had no idea how much time we had left together.I hope that while breaking Varen’s heart I also put it back together, with a new found understanding of love, compassion, understanding, hope, and most of all the strength to think before he speaks.
Welcome Varen to the Vayden Stewart Fan Club you are one of hundreds of people that love him and know his story.
Happy 9th Birthday sweet baby Vayden and just before your birthday, our family suffered a great loss, while you received the gift of another family member to our Heaven family tree, your Uncle Joseph Gibbs grew his angel wings on Thursday, May 17, 2018. This was an unexpected loss and your daddy, NeNe, Uncle Jay, Aunt Vanessa, and all the family needs you to take special care of him and continue to look after us. We love you!
RIP Joseph “Uncle Dude” Gibbs, you are gone but never forgotten.