I saw a pregnant woman in the airport this morning and we started chatting. She said that she was pregnant with her fourth child. I found myself saying, “we have four kids too!” Oops. Sometimes that slips out, and then I have to explain that there are only three kids still with us. Not exactly the type of story a pregnant mommy wants to hear. Sorry about that…
I don’t know why or when it happens, but there are times when I say I have four kids. I don’t forget that Alex was here, it is just that it is complicated. And sometimes you don’t need to burden a stranger with the complicated explanations of your life.
Fast forward almost five years from when Alex died. We are still here. The family is intact. It is all okay. Benjamin is 7 years old and he remains the best brother ever in the history of time. He is patient and kind. Indulgent even, as if he has the wisdom of someone so much older. He is tolerant of his sister Molly, who three and a half, and he is genuinely enamored with Emily, who is almost 18 months. He is the consummate big brother who will always protect and care for his sisters.
Molly is a spirited, crazy, noisy, personable, fun-loving bundle of energy. She is so animated and loud. A classic middle child, she finds ways to get your attention and she will not be ignored! Molly brings color and texture into an otherwise orderly life. She loves you unabashedly with an intensity that takes your breath away. She is confident and dynamic in a way that you can’t help but stand back and appreciate her for all of her dimensions.
Emily is our final baby. She is about 16 months old and weighs in at a hefty 17#. Such a tiny girl. She is sweet and kind. She loves to explore the house and climbing is her favorite hobby. The clutter or our daily life provides her with hours of amusement- no toys even necessary!
I think about the unique combination of these kids and I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if Alex had never left us. Would we even have had either of the girls? I remember being so entranced with the idea of “two boys,” that I don’t know we would have had more kids.
While I recognize that I don’t get to choose what happens to us in life, I can’t help but wonder if life is better or worse without Alex. If I could go back in time and undo losing him, would I do it? In all honesty, I don’t think I would change anything.
Yes, there was unbelievable sorrow and pain and days and nights of tears and sadness. But after that, there was the indescribable joy when we learned about baby Molly. And even later, there was the devastation of a miscarriage. Which was followed by the arrival of our #bonusjonas baby Emily.
Life is manic. You need the sadness to fully appreciate the beauty and joy of everything else. I know that I have had two blessings to help cushion the blow of losing Alex, but I think that is just proof of God’s grace.
We are blessed every single day. There are moments of messy chaos, interspersed with glimpses that are heart-achingly sweet, followed by a lot more dirty diapers and puke. And I have never felt so fortunate in my entire life.
There is never a moment when I will take my kids for granted. Never a moment when I will resent having to go check on them. Never a time when I will wish I didn’t have to do all the tasks related to mommyhood.
Because I remember.
I remember the silence of the house after Alex died. I remember the quiet of the house without a baby crying and cooing. I remember the empty moments without diapers to change and bottles to wash. I remember the pain of not having a baby to nurse and for all those reasons I cherish the chaos. I lean into the busy and I rejoice in the hectic. I am grateful for all the tasks of parenthood because every trip to the potty, every sippy cup that is filled, every book that is read is truly a blessing.