Time is a thief that never gets caught. — Tyler Knott Gregson
Yesterday was 4 months that Heath has been gone. I don’t know how I’ve lived without him this long already. I’m not even sure how I lived one minute. Time seems to pass so quickly and so slowly. There are things that bring the grief out full force and I never know when it’s going to happen. It’s as much a surprise to me as anyone else.
I had a complete meltdown at the stoplight. I was driving, not really thinking about anything in particular and something occurred to me. It was a reality that I never stopped to think about before.
I will never again hold my own newborn baby.
That was like getting hit by a freight train. Twice. Followed by being trampled by a herd of elephants.
The first of my babies was born in 2007. Noah is my beautiful, perfect boy that made me a mother. He was an amazing baby, an even better toddler and, if you can believe it, he has only gotten better. We never knew what the “terrible two’s” were with him. I’m not even sure he ever threw a tantrum.
Our last newborn was Heath. He left me to plan his funeral and figure out how to continue to live without him. It has been a constant surprise that my heart has continued to beat after his stopped. I literally thought it would kill me… and almost hoped it would.
We had already planned that Heath would be our last child. We knew that after all of the complications over the years, this was not something we wanted to go through again. We also knew that after his traumatic birth 5 weeks early through his emergency c-section, flying him to another hospital with a NICU, watching them try to intubate him only a minute after he entered this world, watching him fight for every breath, and then making the decision to turn off all the machines, none of this was something we could do again.
Then he was gone. And we still knew that he would be our last. It was never a question.
Of course I would want things to be different. But we knew that we couldn’t put ourselves, Noah and Avery, all our family through that again. It wouldn’t be fair to any of us. I knew all of this through and through.
But it didn’t hit me until I was sitting at the stoplight, waiting for it to turn green, with Avery screaming in the back seat (she’s always hated the car) and Noah sitting quietly next to her, rolling his eyes at her tantrum (he’s such a great kid).
It was a lot. It was so heavy. I couldn’t breathe. I could, but I couldn’t. I would never inhale the new baby smell, sit up nursing a fussy baby, try to juggle holding little hands and a car seat. The kids were with me and I didn’t want to upset them, especially Noah (I’m pretty sure Avery ignores me most of the time). He understands so much more than I would like. He’s had to endure so much more than any child should have to in 9 short years and he feels it all so deeply.
I have tried my hardest not to drag anyone else into the despair that falls on me like a
plane falling out the sky. It’s heavy, it’s solid, it’s dense and it’s breath-taking. It takes everything out of me and fills me up.
Because of all this, I try to focus on individual moments that are so quickly slipping away. When the dark starts to swallow me up, I try to remind myself that Noah will never be this exact age again. I will never have this exact moment again. I have to be here now, because in a split second, that moment has passed and has been replaced with another. He is going to be in high school in about 5 minutes and he won’t always want to text me when I’m at work before he goes to bed. He won’t want me to lay with him and read Harry Potter. Avery is going to stop wanting me to pick her up. She’s going to not want to be held or snuggle with the owl blanket that she has had her entire life. Her naps have already stopped and time is just creeping away.
You never know when the last time is going to be. You never expect it to go so quickly. You always think that there will be more time. You think that it couldn’t happen to you, then that it could never happen again.
And then it does.
Sometimes I look at my life and think “did this seriously happen to me? Is this really my life?” And it is. This is where I’ve been and where I’m at. It has been beautiful and terrible and amazing and terrifying. This is it.