Big Brother Kaden & Resiliency
There is no doubt that military kids are resilient. They experience the same emotional rollercoasters of military life as their adult counterparts, but unlike us, they have less of an ability to deal with it all. Military kids were given this life; they don’t choose it. But it doesn’t ever stop them. Like a dandelion, military kids are often able to bloom where they are planted no matter the conditions.
Just like any other Mil-Kid
Kaden is just like many other military kids. He was born into a life of deployments, trainings, and moving. At just five years old, he has already moved a handful of times. He has seen his Marine Corps dad go away on countless trainings and is currently experiencing watching him get ready for another deployment. Military life has helped to give Kaden the resiliency to deal whatever life throws at him even at a young age. And last year, Kaden and his family experienced a tragedy that no big brother ever should have to experience.
Last June, Kaden, his mom, his dad, and his little sister Millie began the same trip that thousands of other military families do each year- PCSing to a new duty station. Little sister Millie, only ten months old at the time, hadn’t been feeling well. As they made their trek from Virginia to California, Millie was getting sicker and sicker. After several stops to urgent care offices and finally to an ER in Arizona, Kaden and his family learned that Millie was much sicker than the ear infection they thought she had. Millie was diagnosed with Stage IV pediatric neuroblastoma. Only eight days after her diagnosis, the sweet smiley little sister passed away leaving Kaden, mom, and dad to finish the trip to their new home in California.
There is no doubt that Kaden is a strong kid. Being a military child is only one small part of the reason he is so strong. “He does know that we move every few years because dad’s job needs him to do other things to keep the bad guys away,” says Kaden’s mom Jayshree.
When talking about the resiliency of military kids and how Kaden has dealt with tough times like his dad being gone and losing Millie, Jayshree says she doesn’t know that he sees a connection between the strength he needed when they lost Millie and the strength he often needs as a military kid. “He has the biggest heart, and he really is so smart and resilient. He has seen me cry more than he should and he knows that having feelings is okay.”
A New Normal
Jayshree and her husband John know that being a military family brings its own difficulties. At five years old, Kaden is wise enough to notice change and verbalize it. But like any human being, he sometimes has a difficult time expressing himself when he is upset about something- whether it be about dad being away or about Millie.
“Whenever he brings Millie up, we talk about it as much as he wants and I go off of what he is saying to lead the conversations. We tell her good morning and goodnight every day. We add her to our dinner prayers. He asks me, and I’ll ask him what he thinks she would be like now. He sees butterflies and will say, ‘Hi Millie girl’ every single time.”
Paying It Forward
But Kaden has strong role models to look up to during this process. And maybe that’s something to be said about military families in general. Jayshree has been working tirelessly to raise money for the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation with fundraisers, all while trying to spread Millies’s story to raise awareness. John just completed his first Ironman in honor of Millie, again to help raise money for CNCF.
Kaden is a military kid that has experienced something that many other military kids have experienced- loss. The loss of Millie will forever be something that Kaden and his family remember. Being a military kid and losing his sister will continue to reinforce in Kaden some of the strongest traits- resiliency, respect, empathy, and compassion. Those are all things we could use a little more of in life.
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