I find myself sitting in probably the same place most likely doing the same thing as last year when I wrote this post for Still Life With Circles. On a quiet spring afternoon in front of my laptop taking a "break" from work. It is Wednesdays when I find myself most alone with my thoughts. Our daughters spend Wednesdays at Grandma's house while I spend Wednesdays with my laptop and a time clock. This year there is one important difference -- there is six week old little girl sleeping peacefully in the bassinet which just one year ago her two and a half month old big brother would have been. Today my eyes are slightly puffed from sleep deprivation rather than from shedding tears while all alone with my memories and my wants.
I have lost two sons to Potter's Syndrome, Wyatt in June 2003 and Eli in March 2011. Even though Eli's loss is much more recent I find my thoughts centered on Wyatt more and more as the days pass. I know why. His birthday is next week, his ninth birthday in heaven. Despite his absence there are still preparations for that sacred day. I planned our weekly menu and a special meal which we will take graveside to enjoy along with homemade chocolate cupcakes lovingly decorated by myself and his sisters. We still need to buy a small birthday toy which vexes me every year. I have no idea what a nine year old boy would like. Each year he grows older I miss knowing him even more. Babies are easy. They don't have much gender specific toy preference. But as the years go by I realize that his likes and dislikes would be more refined and pronounced. He would have his own style, catchphrases and mannerisms. I will never know what those would have been. I will never know what gift he would have really coveted for his ninth birthday, or for that matter, his third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth. So today, this week, my heart is especially heavy and if it's possible, I miss him even more.
It is hard to grieve two children. Especially when what I know of my children consists of hours and minutes rather than days, weeks, months or years. Our living room wall is literally covered with framed pictures of our children - our sons and daughters. We have framed pictures of Eli sitting out on tabletops which have not been moved for more than a year. My grief for him today is somehow lesser. Less not in the sense that I miss or love him any less than Wyatt, but that there is just more distraction. We now have four living daughters, the most recent born just six weeks ago today. Life is busy, it's messy, frustrating, overwhelming, exhausting, hilarious, exhilarating, joyful and crazy. There is so much need that my need to grieve is often compartmentalized into a small dusty corner that doesn't get visited often enough. I almost have to remind myself to go there. Those framed photos are like a string tied around my finger. Having his sister here is a bittersweet reminder that he is not. We would not have her if Eli had lived. I don't like to dwell on this too much. Eli would have been our last child and I would not trade him for her or her for him but the reality is that we were never meant to have both.
Today I find myself at peace with our losses, with the huge absences that our sons' brief lives left in our hearts. That has not changed in the last year. Somehow between the loss of our first and last sons I found how live without and yet still live. That small but important lesson got me through to today and will take me past tomorrow.