How is it that 4 years have now passed? One thousand, four hundred and sixty-one sunrises... Fifty-two cycles of the moon... Thirty five thousand, sixty-four hours... Two million, one hundred and three thousand, eight hundred and forty minutes... one hundred and twenty six million, two hundred and thirty thousand, four hundred seconds that have ticked off the clock, one by one. You live for thirty-three hundred of those seconds... For fifty-five of those minutes... For nearly one of those thirty five thousand, sixty-four hours. And, for the rest of those 35,063 hours we have missed you... been without your sweet laughs and smiles... arms empty of your snuggles... noses void of your smells... fingers dry from your tears... faces lacking your wet kisses.
And it hurts... In the deepest places... In the hardest of ways... It hurts. And we miss you. Every.Single.Day.
I daily read from a book of quotes from Mother Theresa. Recently, the same quote kept coming back, every day as I turned to a random page.
"True love is love that causes us pain, that hurts, and yet brings us to joy."
It's so true, my dear boy... my sweet son. And love you I do.
A year ago, I was angry. I wrote your birthday letter, but that just wasnt enough. I was just so angry. I remember running and running... But I couldn't run from it. I couldn't run hard enough. I ran so hard that I couldn't breathe. A penance perhaps? For knowing that your early delivery brought your every breath as a struggle? That you fought so hard against those tiny lungs that were collapsing against your strong yet frail body because my body couldnt fight hard enough to hold you inside? I ran and ran and ran... anger pulsing... breaths shallow... to the point that I had to get off the treadmill for fear that I would never catch my breath... And the tears that came as I exited the gym into the cold, dark night... Spatters of rain- of your kisses- melding with my hot tears. Driving back home, to our fairly new home, a home you had never physically been inside but somehow had it radiating with your presence.
So much anger. So much.
I wrote that, last year, Nicholas, you gave me the birthday present. That you told me it was alright to let go of the hurt and the anger... That it wasn't letting you go. That I'd never be able to let you go. That letting go of the pain didnt mean erasing the memories, too. And now, as I look back at your birth, there is still the hurt of knowing you couldnt stay, but the deep rooted pain- that pain that was mixed with the anger and the unfairness of it all- I cant find it. It as though you opened a window, blew on it with your Divine breath, and suddenly it dissipated. The smothering, gone.
I wondered if it would come back on your twin sister's bithday, but it didn't... And, nine months later on your little brother's birthday, it was still missing. And today, a year later, still... Gone.
The effects of your peace still linger... In fact, my first MHB client's EDD is today- your birthday. I wouldn't have imagined being in a hospital on your birthday without the PTSD coming out and I honestly cant imagine taking a client with an EDD of one of your birthdays, but... Instead, I felt you say "Go for it!". I felt you tell me that you were watching over this little winter peanut. So, my scrubs are ready and the doula bag is packed and ready to go, and we're on waiting mode.
I wouldnt have imagined wanting to spend a day surrounded by children, and yet today, we took birthday cupcakes to playgroup, where Bobby and Maya played to their hearts contents while we chatted up other parents. How would I ever have imagined spending the day my sweet boy was born in the company of other children? But this is how you would have wanted to spend this too, I think. Playing with friends... Eating homemade fudge cupcakes topped with buttercream frosting and red sprinkles, for Mama's patron, St. Brighid, for whom you share this special day with.
I wouldnt have imagined smiling at your Mass... Laughing over your lunch... Running your birthday miles this afternoon and reflecting with peace... Joking as we took a walk in this lovely (and unseasonably warm!) weather. But your memories are full of joy for me. They always were but now I can see them clearly, without the haze of new grief, without the sickening anger at the unfairness of your death.
We put four flowers on our home altar today and added 6 more- one from each of us and your siblings- to the Blessed Mother outside. (And Maya added a pinecone after the playground this afternoon).
My sweet Nicholas... My son... I've always said that I wouldn't change a moment of my life because it brought me you and your twin sister and your younger siblings. And I wouldnt. Even in the darkest days, I still wouldnt. But now, now there is a peace... And easier way to breathe. An understanding that you chose me to be your mother... That you showed my what love is. I thought I knew, but the last few years really brought it home.
Your baby blanket hangs over my comfy "nursing" chair that sits in our bedroom. Sometimes, I sit there while Bobby and Maya nap, and I cradle it in my arms. I can still smell you in those moments. And, while there are still tears in my eyes, there is so much joy in my heart. Because you are my son. And I am your mother.
One day, I know I'll see your smile again, and I'll feel your arms around me, just like I felt your fingers wrap around mine the night you were born. Until then, I'll welcome the sunlight on my face and hear in it your laughter... I'll catch the rain in my hair and know it is your kisses, raining down on me from heaven... I'll hear the windchimes knock together in the breeze and know they are echoing your "I love you".
Happy Birthday, sweet Nicholas. I can't believe that four years have passed since that night so long ago that you were born, but I'm so thankful every single day that you are my son. I love you.