I'm going to start this by saying that David is fine. Things are still status quo with him.
I don't even know how to say this so I'm just going to blurt it out. My little brother, Jesse, passed away last night. He's 7 years old, 1 month before his 8th birthday. He had a brain tumor (of all things) that started bleeding and overwhelmed his brain. There were no signs, nothing that said "get a CT scan!" Tuesday he was sick so he stayed home from school and complained of being dizzy and was nauseated. Holly(my stepmom) called to let me know because Owen spent the better part of the weekend with them (see my last post) and she wanted me to make sure Owen didn't end up sick around Dave. That afternoon she was unable to wake him up and... long story short... They found the tumor, operated then air lifted him to a Portland hospital where he remained in the pediatrics ICU until last night. At bedtime they turned off the respirator and let him go to sleep. He was surrounded by love and family and was really in no pain and didn't suffer. Small blessings...
The Dr said it happened so fast he probably didn't know what was going on so, to him, he just fell asleep. They believe that even if they had him on the operating table when it happened they couldn't have saved him. It really was immediate. That part is such a blessing if there's anything in this impossible situation to be thankful for.
There are simultaneously so many things to say and so few things to say. He was a really amazing kid. It feels wrong right now to say "was" so I'm going to speak in the present tense. He's my little brother. One of his best party tricks is that he goes around the room during family gatherings and says who everyone is to him. Sister, brother, brother, sister, nephew, niece. Not half brother and half sister, not brother in law and brother's fiance. We are family and no one cares about technicalities, least of all Jesse. He thinks it's so cool to have Owen, a nephew, who is older than he is and now Gabriella, a niece, who he holds and doesn't want to give back. Last year I helped in his 1st grade class at Irving and he introduced me as "This is my sister, Marla". I overheard one of the kids telling him, "That is NOT your sister". He just said "yes, it is" very matter of factly, no argument just a "this is true" tone to his voice. Ah, my little brother, telling it like it is. Recently Sara (Jaeger's fiance) and I took Jesse to a birthday party when Dad was building our ramp and Holly was sick. I love the look on people's faces when we say we're Jesse's sisters!
I remember when Holly was pregnant and a friend of mine asked me how it feels to have a child and to be pushing 30 and about to have a new little brother. Honestly it took me a little bit to wrap my brain around too but it really is the most amazing thing. I imagine it's like being an aunt, or a grandparent, only more awesome because I'm the big sister! It's all of the fun things and none of the difficult parent stuff! I've always been the big sister and it gives Jaeger an appreciation for what it's like to be the older sibling. I made a comment last night when talking to my parents about the way Owen and Jesse interact. The 13 year old and the 7 year old, it's sibling-like where sometimes they get along and sometimes not as well but they love each other and that's the important part. I made an off hand remark that they're two only children. I didn't mean it the way it came out. Jesse is only an only child in that Jaeger and I didn't grow up in the same house with him, but he's our brother and always will be.
When David was in the hospital we didn't tell him right away what was going on with David and we didn't let Jesse see him until he could sit up in bed. They dropped Owen off at the hospital one afternoon and Jesse wanted to come up and see David. When he was told no he got really upset and wanted to know, "Why can't I go up to see my brother!" He was indignant. He offered to walk up the 6 flights of stairs just to see him. Bless his heart.
A couple years ago, when Jesse was 6 I think, Owen and Jesse went trick or treating together. Jesse was a knight and Owen was zombie Icarus. Door after door people would ask them "and what are you supposed to be?". Jesse's costume was fairly obvious but Owen's was a little obscure. Finally Jesse started waiting for people to open the door and they'd say "trick or treat" but Jesse's went more like, "Trick or treat, I'm a knight and he's zombie icarus *holds up candy bag*" He wanted to get down to business. hahahaha cracked us up. He got how that game works.
The last time he hung out at our house Owen asked if he and Jesse could play on the computer. I said, "Sure, if Jesse's down with that" Owen said, "Jesse, are you down with that?" He replied, "No, but I want to do it." hahahahahaha so we had to explain what that meant and then he used it in a sentence. "Owen I'm down with playing on the computer" SUCCESS! I commented that his parents were going to be so happy that we taught him that *snicker* but that's part of the sisterly fun.
Just before they left on friday with Owen to go to the coast I said, "Be sure to take a picture in the shark head" (a photo op fixture at the oregon aquarium) and Jesse turned around to his mom and said, "We're going to the aquarium?!" OOPS! I didn't know it was a secret! People have to tell me when things are secrets! I felt so bad but it was such a cute moment because he knew exactly what I was talking about when I said it. I'm glad I got to see his reaction.
They dropped Owen off on Sunday and that's the last time we saw him. He gave us hugs and kisses and Owen picked him up in a bear hug and held on to him until Jesse finally calmly asked him, "Can you please put me down now?" We got a chuckle out of it and I'm glad Owen had that moment with him.
I could tell stories for hours (it's what I do) but I'll try to wrap it up for now. He's such a cool kid. He has his dad's diverse taste in music (except barry manilow, that's what about?) and attention to detail and his mom's love of books, my ability to talk non-stop for hours and Jaeger's ability to remember everything about every sports team he's interested in. The three of us kids really look nothing alike except that I've noticed that our super cheesy grin is very similar.
It's devastating and heart breaking and tragic and every other word the thesaurus might have to offer. On it's own it's difficult but on top of everything else this family has been through (is going through) over the last couple of years it's almost unbearable. Together we'll bare our crosses and get through it one way or another but right now it doesn't feel real. Having friends and family around helps. In fact I've learned how important family is and I appreciate having a close family that would do anything for each other. Both sides. Even when we're not as close and don't see each other as often we come together when we need to.
Jesse Lyle Hernandez, he was named after his two grandfathers and is now back with them. Whole and safe. Saying we will miss him seems insufficient. I believe the best way to honor the memory of a loved one is to move forward with the things you've learned from them. The biggest thing we've learned, repeatedly this year, is not to take each other for granted and to always say I love you.
I love you.