Today is Eli's second birthday. In my memory he was born just yesterday. Memories are like snapshots frozen in time. I remember getting to the hospital, just my husband and I wearing my "lucky birthing outfit" (I've been able to wear the same outfit to the hospital all six times I gave birth). I remember waiting for everyone else to arrive. I remember before going to the OR everyone waited to give me a hug one by one before they filed out and left us alone once again. I remember the excitement of knowing in just moments I would meet my little boy. I remember pure joy at hearing his cry and knowing he was alive. I remember my very next thought was of his impending death. I remember crying and smiling and smiling and crying as I stroked his cheeks and nose. I remember the soft little cries he emitted. I remember when those cries stopped and he became still. I remember my cries when that happened. I remember how Eli looked in my husband's arms. I remember the wonder of his naked little body as we bathed and dressed him. I remember every precious moment we spent as a family of five as I watched my daughters meet their brother and snuggle with him. I remember the anguished cries of my older two girls as they sobbed uncontrollably when they had to say goodbye. I remember how good it felt to take pictures because I knew how invaluable each one would become. I remember the anguished cries as I had to say goodbye. I remember the crushing loneliness after he left us that evening.
I've wondered how it's possible to miss someone I didn't even know so much. I have no real memories, no words to cling to, no stories to laugh or cry about, nothing but a few items of clothing, a clip of hair and many photographs and snippets of video. But I did know him. He was knit in my womb. I knew him from the moment of creation. My body recognized a tiny bundle of cells as a human being that needed special care and attention from that moment on. I grew to understand his waking and sleepy times, his movements and even what sounds he liked. I knew his spirit from within and I believe he steadied my spirit.
I miss you baby boy. Every minute of every hour of these last two years. Happy birthday.