Do you have a box of tissues handy? Grab it; you're going to need it. Because the latest photo to go viral on the Internet has one heckuva sad story behind it. A mother of two whose baby died in October has added a sandbox to his grave ... so his big brother can play with him when he visits.
Crying yet? Just wait.
The photo of little Tucker Jolley "playing" with his brother Ryan has created a firestorm on the Internet, and not everyone is being so nice to mom Ashlee Hammac.
But let's take a look at this photo, shall we?
Have you ever seen a moment so pure? A love so deep? How can anyone argue with a mom giving her two little boys that bond?
You'll notice Tucker Jolley's little brother's grave shows he lived for just five days. Their mom was 34 weeks pregnant when she went into the doctor complaining of a severe migraine that was blinding her. Doctors found she was in premature labor, and despite efforts to stop it, she ended up delivering Ryan early. Five days later, he died. Doctors diagnosed Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephlopathy, or HIE, a condition in which the brain doesn't receive enough oxygen.
The thing is, Tucker knew his mom was pregnant. He met his little brother in the hospital -- there are even photos of the two on Pages to Memories, a Facebook page Ashlee has created in her attempt to fund research for HIE. He knew he was a big brother.
This sandbox, as heartbreaking as it may look to outsiders, looks to me like a way for a mom and a little boy both to handle their grief. According to Ashlee, Tucker would often accompany her to his little brother's grave. As she told People,
He always goes out there with me, and sits out there, and sings lullabies, and talks to him just like he was there. So I wanted it to be special for him too. His favorite thing right now is trucks.
Hence the place to play trucks with his little brother.
What a lovely way for a mom to help her child grieve.
I've noticed there's a tendency among adults to think that the best way to deal with death and kids is to ignore it, to move on and not talk about the person who is gone. It's understandable enough; we all want to lessen our children's pain, and they do seem to move on pretty quickly.
But kids don't all forget as easily as you'd think. My daughter still brings up my grandmother who died six years ago (she's now 8 1/2), and although it can be painful for me to talk about it, I've also found it's cathartic. It makes me feel better to think of my daughter "knowing" her great-grandmother through memories.
I can only imagine how healing it is for this mom to see that her sons will always have a bond.
How do you talk about death with your kids?
Image via Sawyer's Heart