Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Goodbye, A. Peevie

Aidan Kenneth Bradshaw: A Remembrance
November 23, 1997 - November 11, 2012

We have lost a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a friend, a little buddy, a student, a classmate, a neighbor. Aidan was all of these things to us, but these words do not even come close to encompassing what Aidan meant to us. I know that each of you has his own memories of Aidan, and I will share with you a few of mine.
Aidan would come into our room every night to say goodnight, hug us, sit in my lap, and tell us he loved us with words and by touching his nose—our “secret” symbol for “I love you.” He would also sniff us.  Then he’d go into his room down the hall. In five minutes he’d be back to hug us again, sniff us, and tell us he loved us, touch his nose, and say goodnight. I would be lying if I said I was not starting to get annoyed when he’d show up a third time for the same ritual: hug, sniff, say I love you, touch his nose, say goodnight—but he had always been comforted by routines of love and connection since he was a young child.

On Thanksgiving Day I will be giving thanks for Aidan’s beautiful life, but I anticipate that at the same time I will be a little, or maybe a lot, angry at God for taking him; and also I think I might be walking in a fog of disbelief and not really being able to imagine a world that does not have Aidan in it.
The next day will be Aidan’s birthday. I found his birthday wish list on his laptop. He titled it 2012 Birthday Wishlist for Aidan Kenneth Charles Lief Dirk Jaffar Vector Stephan Bradshaw. That boy loved middle names, and kept adding them as he came across new names that captured his fancy.

Anyway, his wish list included: Pizza, bass, amp, The Clash CDs,The Ramones CDs, pizza, old horror films (Frankenstein, Dracula,The Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc.), a sword, a dagger/stiletto, Black Ops or Black Ops 2—and then he included this annotation: “The reason these games appear on the list is because of the zombie game. Not the main game, because I know you hate shooting real, living people.” The list continued with, again, pizza (for the third time), Super Street Fighter IV (PS3) and Castlevania Circle of the Moon for Gameboy, Rated T.
He really loved pizza. Every day I’d come home from work and he’d say, “Hi mom. What’s for dinner? Can we order pizza?” The only food he knew how to cook was frozen pizza, which he had almost every day for lunch. I’d ask him, have you had your five servings of fruits and vegetables today? And he’d say, “Well, I had pizza—that has tomatoes on it.”

When Aidan was very young, Mr. Peevie and I were concerned that his empathic development was delayed. We knew he was bright in a very non-traditionally-academic way—and we joked that he would one day grow up to either cure cancer or be the next Una-Bomber.
As he got older, though, his empathy, sensitivity, and compassion caught up to and even surpassed his chronological age. He was super-sensitive to the feelings of the people around him, and literally wept when he saw kids suffering from teasing or bullying or any type of meanness or thoughtlessness at the hands of another person, kid or adult. One of the most heart-warming things I ever heard was when Aidan’s friend GQ told his mom that he really liked hanging out with Aidan because Aidan was kind to everyone. Thank you for that, GQ.

Aidan was not just preternaturally compassionate, but he had an originality quotient that made it seem like he not only marched to the beat of a different drummer, but he marched as though there was no drummer at all. Maybe he marched to the beat of a marimba and waxed-paper-and-comb band. His intelligence had a creativity component that enabled him to think differently about things than most people think. For example, one Halloween, he was contemplating his costume choices, looking over the traditional super-hero options. He picked up a box, cut some narrow slits in it to see through, and put it over his head. Then he searched the basement for accessories, and he settled on being Box-Head with Knife.
Aidan did not want the scary responsibilities of growing up. But at the same time, he had big dreams for what he was going to do as an adult. His list of career paths included being a pastor, a poet, a song-writer, a musician, a novelist, and a game designer. He loved God and prayed for all of us regularly to deepen our relationships with God and love him better. His tender heart caused him to live in a state of spiritual humility and repentance. One time in the middle of the night—of course it was the middle of the night—he was crying and upset because, he said, he did not love God enough, and God expected more of him.

“What’s this coming from?” I asked him, and he said, “I fell asleep reading Romans.” I think it’s entirely possible that the Apostle Paul fell asleep when he was writing the book of Romans, but instead of going down that road, I opened the Bible to passages that remind us that our weakness is exactly why we depend on the saving grace of Jesus.
I have one more little story about Aidan from my blog, called “Warmness, Happiness, and Love”:

A. Peevie, like Peter Pan, doesn’t want to grow up. He likes the safety and protection and relative ease of being a child, and he is hyper-aware that growing up means that things get harder and scarier.
The middle Peevie has already had to deal with many hard and scary things in his short life: open-heart surgeries, other heart-related surgical procedures, and multiple hospital stays for various problems. The boy has seen more "ologists" in nine years than most people see in their entire lifetime.

As a result of all of these scary things, A.P. has more anxiety than Woody Allen and more phobias than Adrian Monk. He knows better than most nine-year-olds that the world is a scary place. A couple of years ago, he went through a phase when he talked about death and dying all the time. “If I die, will you still think about me?” he’d ask. Or he’d lay awake for hours at night because he was afraid if he went to sleep, he wouldn’t wake up in the morning.
He's doing better now. A. Peevie is comforted by rituals, such as the hug, kiss smile ritual. Every separation—and I mean EVERY separation, whether it’s going to bed at night, getting dropped off at school, or watching me leave for a 20-minute grocery store run—must be preceded by a hug, a kiss, and a smile. I’m not complaining.

Another comfort ritual is the morning cuddle. A. Peevie made me a Mother’s Day card, in which he noted that his mom was good at “cuttling,” he likes it when he and his mom “cuttle,” and his favorite thing to do with his mom is “cuttle.” What more could a mom want in a Mother’s Day card?
“Why do you like to cuddle?” I asked him this morning. “What do you get out of it?”

He was thoughtful for a moment, and then he snuggled in closer to me. “Warmness, happiness, and love,” he said.
I’d like to mention by name just a few of the people who made Aidan feel safe and loved:

Our friend Lynnie, who practically raised him as one of her own;

Our friend and Aidan’s “talking doctor” Dr. Gary, who helped Aidan face and conquer his fears;
Our lovely friend and former manny, Jon, who made dozens of homemade waffles and modeled Jesus for all of us;

Aidan’s closest buddies from St. Andrews: Ben, Alex, Nicholas, Gabriel, Brandon, and Raymond; and his science buddy Lorenzo; and our family friends Sam and Eli;
Aidan’s buddies from our neighborhood: Matt, Alex, and Kevin; plus Colin’s friends who sometimes seem to live in our basement and who treated Aidan with gentleness and kindness: Nate, David, Sean, and Matthew;

Aidan’s cardiologist, Steve, who not only treated Aidan’s heart, but also cared for his spirit and helped him live a full, happy life that was not defined by the scars on his chest; and finally,
Colin and Megan, who as Aidan’s brother and sister grounded him with normal sibling laughter and bickering, annoyed him and were annoyed by him, listened to music with him, and played “kapik-kapok” with him (that’s what Aidan called ping-pong).

We have all been touched by Aidan’s beautiful life. I think that now that we are sharing the experience of his loss, we should honor Aidan’s memory by being more like him: more tender-hearted toward people who are hurting; more gentle; more kind; more silly; and more creative. And we should definitely eat more pizza.

Someday, Maybe, I Will Be

SURPRISED by joy--impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport--Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind--
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss?--That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

--William Wordsworth