Last night while taking a walk with my middle daughter and watching her speeding along the path ahead of me on her scooter my mind wandered to a different time and place. One very similar to the path I was walking except for the inclusion of our stroller and a four and a half month old baby boy. It was a moment of clarity when I realized that I knew exactly where I would be but for one little thing - his death.
It is not often in life that we can clearly visualize the path not taken. What would have happened if we had made a different choice. Even though I had no choice in Eli's death I know where I would have been last night. I would have been walking with our daughter and little Eli either in his stroller or the baby sling as I did with all of our children as babies. I felt this with every bone in my body. Had I not married my husband there are a million different paths I could be on today - ones that involve a man in my life, children, no children, different careers even a different place to call home. None of those results could I predict or even begin to imagine. But this one I can. I've come so close to living it before. When we lost Wyatt I could only conjure these images with a sense of fantasy. But now I know the reality of babies. I know their feel, their smell, their development, the daily changes and struggles in caring for them and the little joys experienced all along the way. I can recall the feel of a sling over my shoulder and the curve of a little body within. I can feel the curl of a tiny finger around my hand as we walk together inhaling the early evening air. Those are some of the more wonderful moments in my memory. But this time they are not real. Last night we were alone.