Past years in this project, I was on the verge of Henry's birthday, which meant that no matter how good I had been doing, I was wound tight, waiting. This year, though, his birthday is just behind us. He would have been six. I'm almost five and a half months away from last holding him.
Like last year, he feels far away. Even when my girls talk about him, about how we love him, how they wish he could be here, and they do talk about him often, he feels far away. That he was here, sometimes feels like a dream. Immediately after he died, it all felt unreal, that he had died, but also that he had lived, and the latter part of that bothered me to no end. If he was not real to me, what about the rest of the world who had not felt him kicking inside, had not rested feeling their body calming with his as he slept on their chest, had not felt the flash of his smile. Now, it is a gentler distance mostly.
It is still surreal to me if I let myself think about it. I had a baby boy and he is not here.
But day by day, I get my big girl off to school and hug her when we both get home for lunch. I snuggle in the morning with my little girl until I can convince her to come make coffee with me. I tell stories and sing songs at bedtime. I notice how big they are getting, and only rarely do I compare to where Henry might be.
Right now, I notice the tree we bought as a gift for his first birthday is heavily laden with peaches. Right now, the red-flowered hawthorne we planted on his first birthday, a gift from my husband's cousins, is starting to fade, but was absolutely brilliant this year. Right now the garden that I tend for him is full of color, early, purple phlox that is almost luminescent at dusk, tiny blue starry flowers that I can't name, brilliant red verbena and the red gerbera daisy I planted this year on his birthday, a hint of pink covered in ants that makes me think of Mary Oliver where my peonies are about to bloom for the first time.
Right now, I'm exhausted but feeling strong. Finally. I am tired, but not worn out. There is something left in me to give. I think in possibility again. I start projects like overhauling parts of my garden that haven't been touched in years, like writing something more than blog posts, and in that writing starting to delve back into memories and sometimes finding that things are closer to the surface than I realized, and sometimes realizing there are still little pockets I have not really explored since he died (though sometimes it seems I have explored every inch from every angle).
Right now I am grateful for the neighbor who knew me when Henry was born and knew Henry for sitting with me on Henry's birthday with a bottle of wine and the dinner I threw together. Right now I'm grateful for the neighbor who didn't know me when Henry was born and never knew him for asking how I was doing in the days before his birthday (not the first time she has given me that space to talk about him).
Right now I'm listening to the summer night sounds coming through the window and the silence from upstairs where my girls finally fell asleep. Right now I'm relieved that I can once again enjoy the quiet.
Right now, I'm grateful to Angie for hosting Right Where I Am again. Because five years and some plus, I still need to pause and reflect.
Right where I was 2012
Right where I was 2011