The past few days have passed in a blur, it's been very hard on all of us but mostly the boy. On Thursday we awoke to another 18 inches outside and as all the neighbors crawled out of their homes to clear out driveways and mailboxes I couldn't help but notice that the next door neighbor kids were again there. One of our neighbors made his way over to inform us that Jim had sadly lost his fight for life.
Jim is the sweetest neighbor you could ever want. He literally bought his house when it was the only house on the street! He was the kind of neighbor that watched out for your house when you were here and when you were away, he knew all the in's and out's of every neighbor, knew everyone by name and always offered a helping hand....even if you didn't need it or want it. He offered his tools, his truck, probably would have offered you the shirt off his back if he thought you needed it....and every year from the day my son was born he bought him a Christmas and birthday present. He treated Orion just like any of his grandkids, he held a special place in our hearts. From as far back as I can remember Orion called Jim and Ellen his other grandparents. Jim had a special jar of cookies that he kept only for the grandkids....and Orion. He didn't buy the boy video games or electronics, he bought him flashlights because he knew Orion loved flashlights and kept losing them because of his ADHD. He was a great man and it was so sad to see him leave this world.
So Thursday I explained to Orion about Jim, he wanted to go to the wake and say good-bye. I wasn't sure but the boy insisted so I allowed it. He walked in there, signed that guest book and was ever so brave as he walked the line of family members, shaking their hands and telling them how sorry he was to see Jim go. He got to Ellen and gave her a hug, he tried not to cry because everyone was telling him how brave he was to be there, then he walked to the casket and just stared. He's never seen this sort of thing and it's way different than seeing a dead pet, this was tough. He stood there clearly in a state of shock, I had to physically steer him away. All he could ask later was "What did they do with his wrinkles?" He didn't sleep well that night, none of us did.
Then yesterday, after the family got back from the funeral Orion took Ellen a card. He walked into that house as brave as can be and hugged her. He sat with the family and they all talked of Jim, how nice he was and how he used to give Orion his special cookies. I spoke with Ellen in the kitchen and she told me how special Orion was to Jim and how it would have meant so much to him if he knew that Orion was there. I decided I needed to take him home as he sat and just stared at the picture of Jim on the wall, I could tell he was going to fall apart soon. As we were leaving he ran back in and hugged Ellen so tightly she started to cry then he looks up at her and says "If you ever need anything, shoveling, yard work, whatever. I'm around most weekends so you call and I'll be right over." The he goes on to say "Jim was like a grandfather to me and I loved him!" he turned and walked away leaving all of us in tears and his mom exceptionally proud of the wonderful child I have raised.
Jim will be dearly missed, but the healing for the boy is going to take some time. He can't sleep at night because he says he keeps seeing the dead Jim....I'm sure it'll be awhile before he gets that image out of his mind. It's been hard watching him deal with this and try to be so brave, at night his bravery is no longer hidden and it comes out in his sleep as he cries weeps over his first real big loss.