One of our family friends from Wisconsin does a special trip when each kid turns 10.
Alex would have been 10 today.
Our beautiful boy was born April 11, 2011 and died June 9, 2011. He was here for 2 short months and he was taken from us before we even got to hear him say his first words.
Our life has gone on. Molly was born in 2012, and Emily was born in 2014. Our children are happy, healthy and safe. We are surrounded by friends and family. Our lives have more laughter than tears, and we have more blessings than we can count.
The more time that passes, the more time I have to reflect on how much we miss him. I will never hold my baby boy again. I will never see Benjamin hug his brother. I will never see what brothers act like when they go on vacation, or take the same school bus home.
And it feels like I have to just set it aside. Everyone understands when you lose you child and cry unexpectedly, or can’t concentrate on your daily life. Ten years later, it is harder to explain or even comprehend. People who don’t even know about Alex can’t possibly know how hard this time of year is.
My chest is heavy. My heart hurts. My eyes are glassy with tears that threaten to spill over, and I can’t predict when they will spring.
I keep busy. I make plans and keep going through the motions, hoping that the day will pass and life will go back to normal.
What I want more than anything is silence. And time to remember my sweet boy. And memories of him alive. I want dreams and reminders of when he was here, and not empty sadness from when he left. I want to see new pictures of him. I want to see him in family videos. I want to remind him to pick up his socks, and wash his hands before dinner. I want his name to bring smiles and joy, and I want to celebrate his life on his very special tenth birthday.
I can’t do any of that. There is no trip to plan. His absence weighs on my heart and makes me feel like I’m walking through concrete. Everything is a struggle and I’m just trying to get through the day.
Ten years is so long. Longer than a lifetime. Ten years without him. Ten years missing him. Ten years pretending that our family is exactly as it is supposed to be.
The more happiness I have in my life, the more room I have to fully acknowledge the gap that he’s left. When things were so fresh I couldn’t even wrap my arms around how crushing his death was. As more time passes, the sadness gets bigger… the grief collecting like compound interest.
A hard day. A hard month. A hard year.
It all comes together in the end.
I mark his life with ten years of sadness and feel like I have ten years of tears inside me.
Hug your kids extra tight. Try to take a deep breath and give yourself a break. Parenthood is hard, and also the deepest blessing God can give us.
If only we were planning a trip.