Aidan goes to Bowdoin
Let’s talk about the topic I’ve specifically been avoiding. Aidan, Liam, and the big departure. I know I will be both grieving AND excited when Liam goes to Bowdoin. This school is the right fit for him and he has so many grand adventures ahead. And yet, he’s a mini me and is the joy and laughter that fills this house. I’ll feel all the feelings and I’m good with that.
But what about Aidan? Oh my hell. I’m incredibly grateful for Aidan’s limited functional communication and I wouldn’t expect even a fully verbal neuro-typical teenager to be able to process his brother’s leaving. Add to that Aidan’s cognitive, developmental, and communication disabilities and well, I can’t even.
I’ve done what I do. I’m preparing. We’re fortunate to live relatively close to Bowdoin, so we visited campus to connect Liam to a physical place. This is the library where your brother will study. This is the student center where your brother will meet friends for a study snack. This is the quad where your brother will have a quick study break…before he gets back to studying.
We’ve added BOWDOIN to Aidan’s talker so we can talk about it. We’ve got school swag. We’ve laid out some expectations with Liam – respond to your brother’s texts, be willing to Facetime. We’ll eat the local gelato in solidarity.
there’s so much we won’t know, won’t be able to help Aidan process.
I recently asked a friend who has been through this and her honesty was exactly what I needed to hear.
Me: Let’s pretend I’m not freaking out.
What can I do to help Aidan prepare for Liam’s departure AKA the moment all of the oxygen will be gutted from the atmosphere?
I added BOWDOIN to his talker and we’re taking him there in a few weeks to drive around (and maybe secretly crash into a few things). And of course we’re spending a small fortune in school swag because I am stuffing my feelings with dollar bills.
Thanks in advance and maybe tell me how on earth I’ll survive this because I’m pretty sure all of you who have gone before me are fakers or have been abducted by aliens. (This would be a good time to refer to my first statement).
Friend: Well, it’s going to suck. That’s it. That’s the best I’ve got. You’re going to have all your mom emotions/fears/excitement/things you’ll feel that you didn’t even know you could for Liam, and then, as if that were not enough, you’ll also take on all of Aidan’s emotions involving Liam’s leaving and you will SOB like a baby when you see them say goodbye to each other for the first time knowing Liam’s not coming home at the end of the day and you’re not sure if Aidan truly gets it and gets why. It. Will. Gut. You.
And that’s okay. Because then you’ll put your big girl panties that we special needs mommas ALWAYS have right next to us, right back on, and you’ll text, and message, and facetime and find your new normal. And each leaving will get a little easier while always staying just a little bit hard. As G would say, it’s both/and. The good news is, the joy when the brothers are back together after an absence will help heal your heart enough to prep it for the next one. You’ve got this!
Siblings are our longest lasting relationships and are of utmost importance. We will do everything, making it up as we go, to continue to foster that between Aidan and Liam. It’ll be different. It always has been. I’m a little scared of this big change for Aidan, and I’m sad for him, but I also know these two love each other in their unique, powerful, and precious way.