Growing up too fast

Matthew seems so much tougher than his older brothers. In his quest to keep up, he never played with baby toys or embraced his “youngest child” status. I’ve never heard anyone describe him as “babyish.” In fact, he’s so determined to be cool and macho that I sometimes lose sight of the fact that he’s just a little boy.

Yesterday I had to break the news that a good family friend died after a battle with cancer. I expected my sons to be sad, but I did not anticipate Matt’s broken-heartedness. He wept like the baby he really is and wondered aloud why God needed his friend Mark. We talked about Heaven and angels, but he was left shaken. Me too.

It hit me that this is the third funeral he will attend this year. How can that be? Seven seems awfully young to understand the losses he’s faced and the sadness he’s seen on the faces of those left behind. My mom-job is to tell him that everything is going to be OK, but he sees right through me. My words are not enough to erase his hurt or confusion or fear.

Yesterday he clung to me everywhere we went, keeping an eye on me at all times. Normally he would have been off and running with the older kids instead of insisting on my presence; but I wasn’t complaining. I held him close, hoping my touch would be more reassuring than my words.

Next week I will once again dress him in black pants and I tie. No matter that he will look like a young man; I will remind myself that he is still my baby.

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