I've done a lot of anticipating for today. Since your first birthday your milestones haven't seemed as significant as they did that first year. But today has been different. It seemed meaningful in the way the others did. 18 months. A year and a half. We'd definitely be looking at toddler-hood. You'd definitely be walking (running?!) around. We would surely have our hands full.
Unlike some of the more recent milestone letters to you, I have been carefully planning what I wanted to say today. The last few have been very in the moment -- when I could steal a moment. But today, I had a plan And you know what they say about the best laid plans.
So I'm not writing this from the cemetery like I planned. I, of course, didn't make it there today. And the sun isn't shining as I'd hoped. Instead, it's dark and rainy. Sort of fitting though, for what I have to say.
The plan was to tell you how happy I've been. That here I am, a year and a half removed from the day that changed everything and I am happier than I've been in a long time. That I've been incredibly struck lately with how happy I've been. I catch myself in moments and think, "Wow. I never expected to be here ever again." And yet, here I am.
And although that's true in a general sense -- I have been really happy lately -- the last few days I've felt the opposite. That bitch called grief reared its ugly head and has taken a bit of the spring out of my step. I've been bombarded with a flood of same-age babies getting first haircuts, climbing all over their parents' couches, loving on new baby siblings, and every time my heart clenches and I feel so much hurt. So much missing you.
In times like these, it's hard to remember how far I've come. To remember that this wave will pass and I'll feel that lightness again. A fellow loss-mama, Lexi Behrndt, writes about her son, and put it beautifully: "I don't have to stay in the darkness to be near to you (you're in the light, you always have been)."
Despite the sadness I feel today, I hold on to the fact that I've felt so much joy recently. And I don't have to feel guilty about it. Because in every joyful moment, I know you're there. Sometimes I see your presence -- the butterflies on onesies at mom groups, the flicker of a light, or a song on the radio -- and sometimes I just have to know in my heart that you're here with us.
So here we are, a year and a half later, and though I'm sad in this moment, and I've cried more in the last couple of days than I have in the past few weeks, I'm so grateful to have found a place where the happy outweighs the sad. This place where I can accept that life can be and should be and will be full of joy again. Though your brief life will always be the source of my greatest sadness, you will always be a light that fills me with love.
Happy 18 months, my boy.
I miss you.
The little one is fast asleep, the house is quiet, I'm on my own tonight, and I'm left to think about the day. A good one, parenting-wise. A happy one. Lots of smiles. Baby giggles. I'm sitting here a very happy lady.
We tackled bedtime tonight, just the two of us. And I cherish that quiet bedtime feeding. The way he stares up at me, with those glossy, sleepy eyes... He's so delirious with tiredness that he stops drinking to smile with his whole face. A tear slides down my cheek. I wonder if I'll ever stop crying every time I feel this content.
Two nights ago I missed this moment. Monday nights are me-nights. I attend a yoga class and leave bedtime for the boys. I know it's good for me. I need it actually. Crave it by the time Monday rolls around. But I miss this moment. That sleepy baby moment when the world actually seems to stop moving. When I get in the car to pull out of the driveway, I have to convince myself to do it. Every single week. There's a pause before I put the key in the ignition when I think, "Maybe tonight, I'll stay. Maybe tonight he needs me more than I need this hour away." But I always go. I know it's important to go.
But it's never easy. Even on the days when we've been grinding it out at home. Bad naps. Bad feedings. Grumpy baby. The nights I seem to throw Brayden into his dad's arms when he walks in the door. Even those days when I should want to run for an hour of quiet... Even then it's hard.
Weeks ago we were in the thick of sleep training. As Brayden fussed and cried upstairs. I, too, let a few silent tears slide down my cheeks. And then I'd go to him. What was the point in being apart? So I could get a few more hours sleep at night?
And now, now that he is sleeping so soundly, I watch him in the monitor and smile. And sometimes I miss him! I'm ridiculous, I know. But I miss him all the same.
When we get an invitation to go out, or start to make a plan for some visit or trip, the first thing that always pops in my head is how will Brayden fit into this? Can he come too?
When I have an errand to run or an appointment to attend, I always plan on him tagging along. I want him there. I love to push him around in his stroller and watch him watch the world. The fact of the matter is, I'd rather deal with a crying fit in the grocery store than rush in and out alone so I can get back to him.
Despite not wanting to be apart from him, I am sometimes. There are always appointments he can't attend. Evenings out that his dad and I need to spend alone. And we both do just fine without the other present. But I miss him fiercely. Even if it's just an hour or two.
I'm not sure if you'd call that separation anxiety. I'm never overly stressed out about being away. But in the back of my mind is this simple fact:
You never know how much time you're going to get with someone. You think you have a lifetime together, and before you know it, you're giving a nurse permission to take your baby away. This is the scene that plays out in my mind too often lately. That moment of real separation. That moment the baby who one went with me everywhere was suddenly gone. And now a lifetime separates us.
As long as I have Brayden here, I want to experience everything we can together. The incredible moments and the mundane. Because I know, too truly, how painful separation can be. So, if something comes up -- a trip to the grocery store or a trip across the country -- and I can have him with me, that's where he'll be. Right where he belongs.