His pictures are dusty, like everything else in the house. Some nights I forget to turn the memory lamps on until I find myself stumbling in the dark. His garden needs weeding, mulching, tending, though I’ve purposefully put that off until his birthday next week.
He feels far away. Distant. Separate. Sometimes he feels unreal.
When Henry was born and diagnosed and taken away and sent home with oxygen and sheets of follow up appointments, all I wanted was normal, a normal baby, a normal life. My life is normal now, ordinary, full of figuring out what to have for dinner and running errands and defusing or waiting out tantrums. It’s filled with snuggles and reading stories and early morning (and middle of the night) wake ups. It’s normal, but he’s gone. I laugh. I watch my girls grow and change and amaze me. I notice the beauty around me and the abundance and the fullness of my life. And he is gone.
In this month of May, as his birthday looms close, I am wound tightly. The missing bubbles more to the surface, needing more attention. May is still tender; December still a month of apprehension.
On Tuesday, he will (would) turn five. He should start kindergarten this fall. Friends announce kindergarten screenings and open house on Facebook, and I remember watching with him as our neighbor started kindergarten, remember telling him how she would help him on the bus his first day. It seems so long ago that I was doing that. It seems so strange he will never get on that bus.
I’m still working on letting go of baby stuff he used (or never got to use). I'm still working on letting go of jealousy and resentment. I’m realizing how much his death affected my ability to talk to other moms when my oldest daughter was born, how that still affects me today.
Where am I right now? I’m here in this blossoming spring, here with my garden filling up, here with two little girls who get out in the dirt and should have tubbies every day. I’m here trying to figure out what it is I want to do with my life. I’m here trying to find balance between being with my girls and making space for me. I’m here still sorting out with my husband who we are now as individuals and how we work as a couple. I’m here, uncertain how much some of this has to do with losing a baby and how much it has to do with having a baby at all or having two little ones running around.
I am here, where from the outside it may look like I "got through it", and maybe this is what getting through it is, getting to this point where the missing is part of the ordinary, where the missing becomes almost like breathing, something your body does with out thought or excess energy. There are moments and days that still sear and sting and wipe me out, but they become rarer. And I bounce back more quickly, either because I’ve had practice or because my well has refilled some and I have reserves again.
I am here, 4 years, 5 months, 7 days since I held him for the last time. That he is not here can never be normal, but that he is not here is part of my normal. I feel this, though it still confounds my brain sometimes.