I was trying to pick out some Holiday cards for this year, and I came across a design that said simply, “Life is Beautiful.” What a perfect sentiment. Life is beautiful. Not just the actual birth of new life into the world, but also the whole enchilada… the ups and downs and everything. The whole package of life is beautiful. The birthing, the grieving, the everything is all worthwhile.
I know we will never be done thinking about Alex. I know that he will always be a part of our family, permanently embedded in our hearts and in our minds. As more time as passed since his death though, I have stopped fixating on a few questions that used to plague me day and night.
I don’t ask “Why” anymore. Not because I know the answer, but because it really doesn’t matter. God has chosen to call Alex home and that is all. It doesn’t matter “Why” because there is still a lot of other stuff going on here in our lives. We have Alex’s brother and sisters to raise. Their presence has become bigger than his absence. We still miss him, but we accept that we don’t need to understand “Why” he’s gone.
I don’t ask “What If” anymore. I don’t ask “What If” Alex were still here. I don’t do the mental math to calculate how old he would be, or fixate on what life would be like if he were still at the dinner table. The family that we have been blessed with is the family that we were meant to have and that is enough for me.
A year is a long time. It doesn’t seem like it when you are caught up in the details, but a lot can change in those 12 short months. For us, I think back to the miscarriage we had around Thanksgiving 2013. The sadness, the frustration, the feeling of utter defeat… I wanted this baby so badly, and it wasn’t going to happen. While I was thankful for all of our blessings, I guess I was still greedy as I mourned for the blessing we had lost. Flash forward one year, and we had one more flesh and blood blessing at the table. At only 3 months, Emily didn’t eat much turkey, but she was a visual reminder of how much we had to be thankful for.
When I look at our beautiful family, I am instantly humbled by how fortunate we are to have these crazy kids in our lives. From our smart, strong Benjamin, to our spirited and strong-willed Molly. They have brought so much love and hope into our lives. Benjamin was our rock as we mourned Alex. Molly was our light as we laid his memory to rest. Emily is our final blessing. Our icing on the cake, our bonus, our gift with purchase! She was so delightfully unexpected, yet so wanted. So urgently and fervently prayed for… she was everything I thought that I wanted. When she got here, I realized that she was even more than that.
Last night, I gathered all the kids up in my arms to watch a movie. I don’t normally find the time to sit and watch a show with them, and I never have time for a whole movie. But as a special birthday treat for Benjamin, I fluffed up all the pillows and watched a movie with him as I fed the baby. Molly woke up from her nap and bounded into bed too. I had all three of my perfect children simultaneously sitting on my lap. It was awkward and overwhelming, yes. But I what I remember most was the indescribable feeling of completeness. The feeling like that moment was always pre-destined for me as a mother. That as we went through loss and disappointment, this moment was always going to be in our future. We had to trust God. We had to have faith. We had to keep going.
I still think about the future, but not in that foreboding/ anxious way I used to. I think about those moments that are pre-destined for us as a family. I think about the first Thanksgiving when all three of my kids willingly come home from wherever they normally live. I think about all of the times I have to be completely overwhelmed with their presence. They don’t have to do anything special, because they are the absolute pinnacle of everything I had ever dared to dream of as a parent.
I was so lonely for Benjamin when Alex died. I was worried Benjamin would have to grow up as an only child and I was sad that he would miss out on the fun and love a sibling can bring. As I hear the loud laughter of him wrestling with Molly, my heart starts to hurt because it is such a beautiful sound. It takes my breath away. While I scold Molly for waking up the baby, I secretly cherish the fact that Molly is so excited to see her baby sister Emily that she Just. Can’t. Wait.
Life is full of good and bad and surprises and all of those things in between. What I believe now more than ever though, is that Life is Beautiful.