When Boys Become Men

I've been really busy lately. Working on lots of things for "the store", and even though I've been busy, I've been distracted. My heart has been heavy. About two years ago, my son Bryce's bestfriend, Matt, lost his little baby girl right after her first birthday. Hannah was born with muscular dystrophy. Hannah had just celebrated her first birthday. And then sadly, two days before Christmas, she was gone. It was one of the hardest things I've ever tried to grasp. Two childhood friends grow up together, they have little girls about the same age and one lives and one dies. A tough one to say the least.

Hannah has been gone almost two years now. This past week would have been her birthday, and she would have been three years old. Matt told Katie the other day at "the store" he hated Christmas. I can only imagine how he must feel. In the same month as Christmas, it is also his Hannah's birthday and the time she lost her fight with MS.  Sometimes when my heart is heavy, and I don't understand things, I write. I'm not sure how to explain it, but it makes me feel better. Below is an article I wrote after little Hannah lost her fight with MS. I'm not posting this to make all of us feel bummed and sad. I'm posting it as a reminder that in a season that is filled with rushing around to buy the perfect present, or decorate the holiday tree, just to take some time to be grateful for those you have in your life. Maybe just love 'em a little more. Life can be so fragile at times.

When Boys Become Men

I only had a sister growing up, no brothers. And when I began my family, I had two daughters and then my son, Bryce. Or as I call him these days, “My Boy Bryce”.  My first introduction to “boys” was when I put Bryce down on my mom’s bed at ten days old. I mean, come on, ten days old, where is a newborn going to go? About ten minutes passed, and we heard a thud!  I rushed into my mom’s room, and somehow, some way, Bryce had managed to fall off the bed! My mom was totally terrified. And my mom, being an only child growing up, had a hard enough time dealing with me and my sister.  Now, she had three grandchildren and a boy for the first time!  Bryce survived the fall well, and there were no injuries involved.

Growing up, Bryce did typical boy things to his sisters.  A favorite being hiding rubber snakes and lizards under their pillows at night, or hiding in their closets and jumping out in the dark to scare them.  He also found pleasure in torturing his sister’s friends as well. He was in his glory. Growing up, he also tortured me and made me just as crazy as his sisters. I remember one time taking him and his friend, Matt, to the beach. I settled in on the sand in my chair, headphones on, sunglasses and eyes closed. I was totally relaxed, but I kept feeling a “breeze” over me.  When I opened my eyes, I discovered what felt like a hundred seagulls around me. Why? As I was relaxing, Bryce and Matt thought it would be funny to spread Fritos all around me.  They put Fritos in the sand, on my towel, in front of me, behind me, everywhere! I don’t think I’ve been up close and personal with that many seagulls since that day!

As the boys began to grow-up they still did typical boy stuff.  As they got older, they had their share of trouble they got into. Bryce always looked out for Matt.  There was a time that Matt picked a fight with three guys, all bigger than him.  And once again, Bryce went to his rescue. Those two boys put me through hell and back.  But they finally grew-up, got married, and they each had baby girls. Matt’s daughter, Hannah, was three months older than Bryce’s daughter, Morgan. When Matt’s daughter was born, she had muscular dystrophy and the doctors didn’t think Hannah would live past two years old. I can only imagine how devastating that would be for anyone, especially for Matt, his wife, and Bryce knowing that he had a healthy baby girl only three months younger.

This past year, little Hannah passed away only a few days before Christmas. I remember when I received a text on my cell phone from Bryce telling me what happened. I remember the tears streaming down my cheeks, as I desperately tried to find the right words to say to my son.  The funeral was held the day after Christmas.  It was a beautiful and emotional service. There were pink balloons everywhere, large blown up photos of baby Hannah all over the stage.  It began with a slide show of Hannah while the song by Roberta Flack played, “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face”. As my son sat next to me holding a pink rose, and I sadly watched Matt as he sat across from me, I knew these boys’ lives had been forever changed. As the service ended, the Pastor told us “God reached out his hand, and Hannah took it, and is no longer in pain”. He then gave us directions to exit the service and if we chose to pay our respects to little Hannah we could.  Me, being “me”, didn’t realize that during the entire ceremony little Hannah was there in an open casket.  As I passed little Hannah, I don’t think I will ever forget what I saw . . . a tiny Christmas Angel lying there so peacefully.

That evening, I was sitting in the kitchen, talking to Justine, Bryce’s wife.  I was holding Morgan in my lap and being very thankful for her. I looked up and saw the two “boys” walking up to the front door. I wasn’t sure how Matt would feel after losing his baby girl. He walked over to me, looking at Morgan with arms extended and said, “come to Uncle Matt”. And with that, he had Morgan in his arms, giving her hugs and kisses. As he left, he put Morgan back in my lap and told her that he promised she would be seeing more of her Uncle Matt. And with that, my boys walked out my front door all dressed in black. And I knew that those two boys had become men on that day and I couldn’t have been more proud. Sometimes life deals us some very difficult situations we must go through. But it gives us strength to survive and we all learn from it.  My boys are now young men after going through one of the worse heartbreak anyone could go through at that age. But life’s lessons teach us to be better people because of that and to value each and every day! I know my son has grown up to be a great young man, but in my heart he will always be, “My Boy Bryce”!

During this holiday season, take the time to smile at strangers, or extend a helping hand to those in need. We never know what burden others are carrying around on the inside that may not be visable to the rest of us. And to my other son that always calls me Mom, I  pray that Matt finds the comfort he needs during this month. I know how difficult it is for my boy!

I'm linking up with Lynn today on "take good care of this moment"!


Kate said...

Dear Sue,
What a beautiful post. I'm sitting here having received such a gift to read this. Your boy Bryce & Matt are true souls, you can see it through the beautiful hearts that they have. I have been at the store almost two years now and they both have been full of kindness and care to all of us. Tear filled I am grateful for this reminder, We all need to remember that every person carries a cross and to extend love to those we encounter. They are two men I am blessed to know!


Unknown said...

This is amazing. Thank you for sharing this story with us. I so, so appreciate it. I am going to a funeral today for a friend of my daughter's. NO one should have to go through the loss of their child, especially in December...but it still happens and I again, thank you for the reminder to take good care of that moment and others as well. Matt is one blessed man to have you in his life.

Unknown said...

Sue, that was truly touching. I am so glad to have read this powerful post. Thanks to Lynn's link I was lucky enough to have seen this.
Take Care, FranT

Pent-Up Photos said...

I can't believe that it has been two years since that precious baby died! Holidays must be horrific for Matt! Does he still work for you? Thanks for making us remember the importance of holding those we love and cherishing each holiday we spend with them!