Alex died 11 years ago.
Tomorrow is the last day of school for the kids. Benjamin finishes 7th grade. Molly finishes 4th, and Emily finishes 2nd. The kids are light and happy about the end of the school year, and the start of summer break.
We have a jam-packed calendar of stuff tomorrow. A neighborhood party in the park, and a BBQ with friends.
Despite all the fun, there will be a fog that dulls all the happiness. Alex died 11 years ago and this looms over the house, and engulfs my heart.
We have so many events in our lives that we look forward to each year: birthdays, anniversaries, other fun milestones that we anticipate with fun and excitement.
How do you count down to the worst day of your life?
I don’t have a simple way to explain how it feels… it is empty and hollow. Like going into the batter’s box knowing you’re going to strike out. It is getting dressed up for a fancy dinner, knowing that you’re going to spill your food in your lap. Packing for a trip when you know you’re going to miss your flight.
You go through the motions, fruitlessly. You do all the right things, and complete all the steps, knowing the outcome will still be bad.
Alex was only two months old when he died. A lifetime of love, bound up in two short months. Two months that have changed our lives forever.
When he died, I took all the love that I had for Alex and I funneled it into Benjamin. My first-born child bears all the weight of a mother’s love… for two. I doubled down on how much he means to me. Even now, he bears the burden of hopes and dreams for two children, not one.
Molly, is my rainbow baby. I took all my sadness and washed it away with her smiles and tears. She was the unexpected gift that brought me from the brink of inconsolable sadness. Her strong personality and feisty wit are the product of a mother who chose to sweep away sadness into her beautiful rainbow blessing.
Emily is my fresh start. My cherished final child who taught me the simple joys of caring for a baby. My mind could never forget the tragedy of losing Alex, but her infancy gave me an opportunity to remember the carefree bliss of snuggling a baby, without bring crippled with the fear of loss.
My children aren’t just kids. They are a physical representation of this healing process I’ve been on for eleven long years. They are love, hope and peace.
When I think about what they mean to me, my eyes well with tears, and I am #allthethings. I am scared to lose them. I am worried about being the right parent for them. I am humbled that God trusted me to care for their beautiful little souls.
They are more than kids. They are a reflection of Alex. Before he died, and after the loss. They’re too young to understand, but in their hearts, I pray they still feel his presence in our family.
Eleven years isn’t a special milestone. It is just a highway marker that helps me measure the length of the grief. There may be a time when I don’t stop at each of the signs on the road… for now, I’m still on the journey.