Pain is all around us, all the time. Often it goes unseen in the form of physical ailments unmentioned by the suffering individual. Sometimes it goes even deeper, into the farthest reaches of a heart which aches for someone who is no longer there. My pain has not given me an insight into others' but it has opened my eyes to the possibilities, the likelihoods and the realities.
We celebrated Eli's first birthday this weekend, one full year without him in our lives and it is upon that one brief day he was here, for less than 2 hours, that I now reflect. I am thankful for every minute I was given with my sons while their hearts were beating, every second that life resided in their small bodies. I saw Eli's eyes slightly open once and that one time has to be enough. That tiny glimpse into my son. The son that I had just given birth to and the son who I had hoped to hold in my arms, not just my heart, for a lifetime. In that tiny glimpse I was able to see the baby I would have taken home, the toddler I would have encouraged to crawl and then walk, the preschooler I would have taught, the gradeschooler I would have nurtured, the young man I would cherish knowing how quickly he would become my adult son whom I would release into the world. In the blink of an eye my glimpse was gone and I would release my son into a world where I could not yet follow.
My heart is full of sadness and gratitude. In those moments I was given more than many families will ever get and much was taken from me that many many families will never realize or appreciate. Everything began with one, the first minute, hour, day, month and now year without him. It is easy to get overwhelmed by what I don't have and to forget what I did have. Eli may have died one year ago but my loving memories live on.