Matthew and Aiden Henderson were as close as two brothers could be. Maybe their love for each other ran a little bit deeper than it should, but they had their reasons for that. Losing both your parents in an accident is a dramatic event at any age, but at the age of only thirteen and ten, as these two boys were, it can have life altering effects.
Not only were lives taken that Godawful night; Aiden, the younger brother, had such severe injuries, he ended up in a coma for three whole weeks. These were the worst weeks of Matthew’s life; Matthew, who never left his baby brother’s side.
It didn’t matter how many times someone tried to take him away from Aiden, may it be for food, a shower, or some time to sleep, Matthew would kick and scream until his lungs hurts. Then he would kick andscream some more. He wouldn’t stop until whoever person gave up, and he was back by his brother’s side. Holding the sleeping boy’s hand and never letting go.
This was a lot to handle for such a young boy, but Matthew didn’t care. In fact, he didn’t know anything else. All he knew was that he had lost his parents on that devastating day. He wasn’t going to lose his baby brother as well.
“You’re gonna get through this,” Matthew whispered with trembling lips to the comatose boy. He reached out a hand and tenderly swiped away some dirty strands from Aiden’s face. “You hear me? You’re gonna get through this. And I’m gonna be right here.” He stood up and pressed his lips on the young boy’s forehead. “I’ll never leave you, Aidy. Never.”
It felt like a miracle the day after, when Aiden finally woke up. Matthew had never cried so much in his life. And he never would. Well, maybe expect for a few more occasions. Together, they cried for the loss of their mother. They cried for the loss of their father. But most of all, they cried with relief that they still had each other.
Extensive examinations had been performed on Aiden from the moment he’d been ushered into the emergency room and throughout his stay. From MRI’s to only God knew what those machines were called.
God and maybe the doctors, Matthew added thoughtfully.
Thankfully, the doctors could find no terminal head injury and no other broken parts except for the right leg, which’d been broken at two different locations, and a sprained wrist.
Aiden had been very lucky. Very lucky, indeed.
Either way, the broken leg forced Aiden to stay in bed for another two weeks after he’d woken up, but he didn’t need to worry, Matthew was with him every day. And when it was time for physiotherapy, to rebuild the muscles not only in his leg but throughout his body, Matthew was with him every step of the way. Always with encouraging words around the corner. Ever the supporter.
Aiden was old enough to know that Matthew should be in school. That his older brother had probably missed months of it. But he rather had his brother with him, and so he spoke nothing of it. Neither did Matthew. Even though Matthew had a hunch this would mean he’d have to repeat a grade, there was no place else he’d rather be than by his brother’s side.
During those endless days spent at the hospital, days working with physiotherapy and nights holding onto each other, talking, crying, and on some few occasions even laughing, neither had spoken of what would happen to them once Aiden would be released from the hospital. Why was simple, because neither knew. There we’re no longer any parents that could come and pick them up. Their grandparents on their mother’s side, who’d been an only child, were long gone, and their father had grown up in foster care.
There really were no relatives left.
One evening when Aiden had fallen asleep extra early after a particularly hard meeting with his physiotherapist, Matthew had received a visit from Mr. Harold Sanders.
Mr. Sanders had visited the boys at the hospital many times since the accident, at least three times a week. He’d been a very good friend of Mr. Henderson, the boys’ father. The two of them had owned a firm together and Mr. Sanders had personally trained Mr. Henderson.
Since Mr. and Mrs. Sanders didn’t have any childrenof their own, Mr. Henderson had grown to be as close to a child to Mr. Sanders as a person with no blood relations could be. He didn’t have the heart to see their two lovely children grow up in foster care. So even though he was reaching his senior years and far more likely to pass as the childrens’ grandfather rather than a parental role, Harold and his wife, Florence, had decided to seek custody over Matthew and Aiden. That was the least he could do for his late, beloved son. That was actually also the reason for his visit that evening.
“Matthew, you know that Aiden will be released from the hospital within a week or two?”
Matthew nodded his head. “Thirteen days.”
“Do you know what will happen after that?”
Matthew looked over at his sleeping brother, his brows furrowing in concern. This was in fact a subject he’d spent many sleepless nights worrying about. But he never showed it during daytime. He didn’t want to burden Aiden with that stuff. All he knew was that he wouldn’t leave his brother, no matter what.
Matthew shook his head. “I don’t know.”
“Yes, well, Florence and I have been talking, and, well...” Mr. Sanders drew in a deep breath and gently took the young boy’s hand in his. “We would very much like it if you and Aiden came to live with us.”
The young boy’s eyes snapped over to the old mans wrinkled face, feeling like his heart stopped beating. He opened his mouth, then closed it again. He could hardly believe what he was hearing.
“What do you say?”
A lone tear fell down Matthew’s face and stopped at his trembling lips. Breathing suddenly seemed difficult. “You serious? We both could stay with you?”
A gentle smile grasped at Mr. Sanders’s chapped lips. “Yes, both you and Aiden.”
Without hardly realizing it himself, Matthew broke into a gut-wrenching sob and crashed his small frame into the older man, who almost stumbled back from the force. Mr. Sanders was quick to wrap his arms around the young boy, only now realizing the heavy weight this boy must have carried since the day of the accident. He was mad at himself for not realizing this sooner and reassuring the boy and his worries. The poor boy must have needed to grow several years in just a few days.
“There, there,” he whispered into the sobbing boy’s hair. “Everything will be alright.” He pulled the boy closer to him, not caring of all the tears and snot that smeared over his thousand-dollar suit. All he cared about were the young child snoring softly in the bed next to them and the older one clinging onto him like his life depended on it.
Who knew, maybe it did.
After Aiden was released from the hospital, they moved into Mr. and Mrs. Sanders house.
With the help of the older couple, the two boys got to decide what they wanted to keep from their old home and what could eventually be sold off. Once finally emptied, the house was sold.
Mr. Sanders had long pondered over whether that had been the right decision or not, but neither boy had dared stepping a foot into the house they’d grown up in, nowadays only connecting it with painful memories. The future they’d been promised wiped clean and replaced by something else, somewhat patched up, but still quite broken.