And then there was one. This guy. He’s the baby I prayed for. He’s the baby that I endured painful procedures for but was still told I probably wouldn’t conceive. He’s the baby that wasn’t supposed to happen. But God....God! He’s the baby I did conceive who tried to come into the world 2 months early and that put me on bed rest. He’s the baby that made his appearance 3 weeks early instead via an emergency C-section.
He’s the baby that grew and grew until I have to look up to look him in the eyes. He’s no longer a baby, but he’s still my baby. For 16 years this child has been my joy. He’s been my ride or die on road trips and my source of never ending laughter and silliness. He’s taught me how to embrace who I am and go with the flow. He’s taught me how to laugh at myself and make others laugh. He’s taught me so much while being a bystander to some pretty savage times. He’s the baby that grew up under the cloud of his big brother’s mental illness and later, addiction.
He was the one person in Hagen’s life that kept him even remotely grounded. He was who Hagen wanted to make proud. He was the one Hagen wanted to protect from his downward spirals and the one he wanted to be with when he was ready to conquer the world. He was the one that Hagen wanted to do far better and go much further than he ever did. Hagen told me many times how proud he was of his brother and how deep his love for him was.
His brother was his best friend. They had grown apart for a season, but were coming back to that place. When I lost my son, he lost his brother. The time I have had with Weston since Hagen went home has been the sweetest treasure. The talks have been long and honest, emotional and joyful. The laughter has been side splitting. Oh, the laughter! Neither one of us knew how we were going to navigate this new course we’d found ourselves on, but we knew we would do it together.
My sweet, unassuming teacher is still teaching me. He has no idea that wisdom comes from his mouth or that comfort comes from his sense of humor. He has no idea that he’s setting an example for me. He has no idea that when the doctor said he wasn’t to be, God was waiting until the perfect time to form him to be the perfect son and brother to walk out a life like his.
Even though we lost the same person, his loss is so very different from mine. He’s doing so well and I’m in awe of how the Lord is guiding him on the path that only he can walk. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find support groups or forums specifically for siblings of this destruction. I know there is a need because with 130 overdose deaths a day, Weston isn’t the only little brother processing the life and death of his big brother. I’m positive there are others out there who, like Weston, have gone back to their lives as teenagers, doing what teenagers do, still not sure how they feel. I’m thankful he has the support of his friends and family, and for the distractions of school and activities, but “it” is still there.
The list of things that have to change about the stigmas associated with mental illness and addiction is long. Just. So. Long. It won’t change overnight, but the kids like Weston, the brothers and the sisters, deserve to be recognized for the sacrifices they have had to make, the battles they have had to fight and the pain they have had to endure. They didn’t choose any of it. They were born into it. When you pray for the ones left behind, pray for THEM! With their first hand knowledge they have an opportunity to educate, to support, to persuade and to spread hope and healing. They have a voice to go where we cannot go and they deserve to be heard. With the proper support, they can be on the front lines to destroy the stigmas. We can’t let them be the forgotten victims of addiction.