Friday, January 11, 2013


Leo turned SIX on January 5, and boy, does 6 look good on him.  By and large, Leo has embraced his older, wiser year, with all the maturity that goes with it. As it has been for some time, Leo is the "perfect" middle child in that he transitions to being older brother/younger brother with seamless grace and skill.  Recently, we had one particularly rough morning where Aidan was being especially smart-mouthed, loud, and generally unpleasing to be around.  Pax was grumpy, angry, kicking and hitting, hurling Legos and insults at all of us in a one-two punch.  ("I hate this Lego head!  I hate you to help me!") Leo sat at the table, drinking his coffee, wide-eyed, taking in the scene with a look I'll never forget: what in the heck is wrong with you two?  I am going to stay out of it and enjoy my coffee... catching sight of him sitting so quietly, I was filled with gratitude for this gentle and sweet little soul, a counterweight serving to rein in my anger and frustration at the other two.

Driving home from church, Pax was hungry and cranky and tired.  He yelled and screamed and fussed, and any attempts at comforting him only made him angrier.  Leo is usually able to charm Pax out of his worst moods, but even his attempts were failing.  (The tactic I will never understand but which cracks me up every time is when Leo leans over toward Pax and says, "You want to pull my nose?  Here. Pull my nose.  You'll feel better.  Go on, pull my nose!")

 "Hobbit Hole!" Aidan said glee as we passed this funny little gated room on the side of a big hill, affectionately dubbed "Hobbit Hole," each of us delighting in calling it by name when we pass.  "I HATE THE HOBBIT HOLE!!!" Pax screamed at us in response.  In the stunned silence that followed,Leo quietly responded with sage perspective,"Pax, you will not hate the hobbit hole when you are not feeling so angry."  Love, perspective, and understanding: a counterweight to Pax's frustration and fury.

It seems, perhaps, that Leo is destined to be a counterweight.  His tiny, newborn self in 2007 was was a counterweight to so much sadness and grief: the baby we lost before Leo; the death of Jeff's paternal grandmother; the sudden and tragic death of a teenager from church; a family friends' devastating loss of their newborn daughter.

On Leo's 6th birthday, half of my heart celebrated and rejoiced Leo Gabe.  The other half of my heart was with those lost in grief:  the neighbor and friend in our community whose daughter and sister lost her battle against cancer; the parents in Sandy Hook who cling desperately to the memory of their very own six year old.  Counterweight.

Leo Gabriel, named after the "Fear Not" angel who brought Good News.  May he continue to grow, to be Good News, to Counter Weight.

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