Nine and twelve.
“Please sit on the couch. We have to talk.”
I had to say them.
Words I knew would change their lives forever.
Words most children never hear.
Words no child should hear.
Telling Jack and Charlie their dad died was the most difficult and will forever be the most painful and torturous thing I will ever have to do in my life.
They were living a great life.
A life with a dad who loved them.
A life with no fear, terror, pain, hurt, guilt, shame, or longing.
A life that was so good.
Waited to tell them.
I was terrified to tell them.
I let them finish their day at school.
I had to give them every last second in that life before they had to walk through the door of darkness, grief, and the unknown into their new life.
They would grow up in a heartbeat.
They would experience pain no human should feel.
They were just little boys.
Two little boys who I had to tell how their dad died.
Two little boys who sat on the couch and cried.
Who had no words.
From that moment I was terrified for them.
What will this do to them?
How will this change them?
Will they survive this?
Days were dark.
School was missed.
Life was so different.
Change every day.
Days are still tough.
School is still missed.
Tears still fall.
Not as frequent.
I’m not going to lie, those days still come.
They probably always will.
But just as I crawled out of darkness, those two little boys have too.
Two boys who have crawled out of darkness with grace and dignity and beauty.
They have had to change and embrace a new life.
They have had to find their way every day.
They are two boys who have gone through more than most can bear and have grown into strong, amazing young men.
They have grown into two young men who understand life more than most adults.
They show empathy and compassion to those who struggle or who may not fit in.
They are funny, loving, talkative, and kind.
They are survivors with soft edges.
They are both on the honor roll.
They play sports and are involved.
They play in the school band (and hate me for it).
They are on their phones too much and play too much Xbox.
They don’t always make their beds or brush their teeth without me yelling at them.
They talk back and can be mouthy.
They are two normal kids living a good life.
I can’t keep count of how many people come up to me and tell me what nice, kind boys I have.
“Thank you. I agree,” I say with a smile and try not to tear up.
They don’t know our story.
They meet Jack and Charlie and witness the genuine and kind human beings they are.
When their dad died I was terrified for them.
The terror is gone.
Will they be able to survive this?
They have and are thriving every day.
Who will they become?
They have become two beautiful souls I am proud to call my sons.
I wanted to read this four years ago.
I wanted somebody to tell me my boys would be so good again.
I write this for you if you are afraid for your children.
Afraid like I was of what the future would hold for them.
This is for you.
Know the road may be long and scary but I promise they will be okay.
More than okay.
They will be amazing.
P.S. Jack and Charlie …
I am proud of you every damn day and honored to be your mom.
I love you.