In the midst of saying goodbye to Christian’s father, I sought out a fine balance for how much I wanted Cole to know about death and dying. How much did I want him to see? In the few days that my father-in-law was in hospice care and in the hospital, he changed rapidly. He went from being the man I love to a man I didn’t recognize. He was dying. Cole is a very aware eight year old. He feels things deeply, yet his brain is so scientific. He wants answers for everything. X plus Y must equal Z. If they don’t, he will dissect it until it does make sense. We discussed his grandpa’s health. I asked him what he wanted to know. I allowed him to hide behind his book during one of several short visits I made with him. We never took him to the hospital.
After the first visit, Christian was saying good night to Cole. He told him he loved him. He told him he was happy to be his dad even if he was his stepdad. He was proud to have him as his son. Cole responded:
The step doesn’t matter. It’s all the same.
As you can imagine, this brought tears to Christian’s eyes. It made me proud as a mother. It doesn’t matter. It has never mattered in our house. Step dad and step mom don’t exist. Half brothers and sisters are just brothers and sisters. Cole has moms and dads. He has two brothers and a sister. Cole’s Grandpa John has loved him since the moment he met him. Cole has always been his grandson. It’s no different from his love for his other grandchildren. It’s all the same.
The night that Grandpa John passed away, Cole curled up in my lap. He cried. Christian curled up on the other side. He cried. We all sat in a puddle of tears together. My tears couldn’t be distinguished from Cole’s or Christian’s tears. We cried as a family. While Christian went to the hospital and later to his mom’s house, Cole and I laid in his bed. I was reading John’s caringbridge site. Cole asked if he could sign the journal. As I prepared to type his words, he asked to do it himself. He requested that I look away until he posted it:
Written Jan 27, 2013 9:54pm
He past away on a full moon and high tide.I loved him very much,and i’m happy I got to meet him and he got to meet me and every one else.
But im very sad he past away but he’ll all ways be in our heart
Sweet words from a grandson to his grandfather. It touched my heart deeply to know he wanted to say goodbye. I read it again and again. On my third reading, I noticed his name. Cole’s last name isn’t Maute. My last name is Maute. John’s last name is Maute. Cole shares a last name with his father. It really is all the same. We don’t share a last name with our son, but he is a Maute in his heart. He is loved by our entire family. He loves our entire family. Because love is such an amazing thing, he shares that same love with his dad’s side of the family too.
He may not share a last name with his grandpa, but he was his grandson. He may not share a last name with Christian, but he is his son. I don’t even share a last name with him, but there isn’t a love that compares to my love for Cole.
The labels and identifiers we put on things in life do not matter. Last names. Mom. Dad. Stepdad. Half brother. Runner. Yogi. Writer. Brother. Sister. Doctor. Teacher. President. Boss. Employee. Student. None of these labels matter. They mean nothing if they aren’t rooted in love. It’s the love in our hearts that defines who we are and the relationships we have with those around us. It’s the love that we have for what we do that matters most.
Find love, share love, spread love, and embrace love in everything you do and with everyone you meet.
It’s love that really matters.