Everyone told me this would happen - life would move forward. It was impossible to imagine at the time after your birth/death. In fact, the very thought of life continuing on without you was offensive to me. But here I am , nearly 9 months later and for the most part I feel that I have been able to press forward without you. That's not to say that we don't think of you each and everyday. In fact, there is not one prayer uttered by Dad, me, or Halle and Sam that does not include you in it. We are constantly thanking God for you and asking Him to send our love to you. You are all around us, we feel it, and so we are able to wake up and continue on each day.
But even now there are days that I am overcome by loneliness and heartache. I miss you.
Memorial Day was a very surreal time for us. This holiday for me used to hold memories of visiting the graves of grandparents and great-grandparents - people who had lived long fulfilling lives. And then it was topped off by a BBQ and a celebration of the end of the school year and the official start of summer. This year I spent each and every day of our weekend and holiday sitting on your grave. Who knew that this holiday would turn into a time that I would dedicate to my baby boy, gone before his life ever began?
One day I went over without the kids in tow. I sat on your grave, thinking of you and feeling the cool breeze blow all around me. Other mothers were visiting the graves of their little ones. One mother and I began sharing our experiences. Isn't it funny how connected and close I feel to complete strangers like this. After this mother left, another approached me. Her little one had passed away 21 years before. I was touched by her words of encouragement and even more by her willingness to just let the pain and sorrow be present. Before she left she gave me an enormous hug and we cried together. I left shortly after that. I sat in my car and cried. Not for sorrow, but for the blessing of these sweet women. I know God knew what my heart needed at that moment - another mother to share my joy and grief - someone to fully empathize.
It turned out to be a lovely weekend. One where our little family took a break from "normal life" and choose to dedicate our time and thoughts to your memory. A few of our extended family members and friends came to visit your grave. It means the world to mean when others beside Dad and the kids and me come to see you. It's very validating to know that others acknowledge you as a true member of our family and feel a small sense of loss over your death (though I have come to accept that no one mourns your loss like Dad and I do and that is okay).
But now today my heart is aching for you. It all began Tuesday night when I did a very dumb thing...
I have started volunteering at the NICU again after many, many months away. I wanted to be around the other NICU volunteers who have become such dear friends. I wanted to ease myself back into volunteering because I loved doing it before I got pregnant with you. So I started going to simply get presents ready for the babies and then I would leave while everyone else delivered them to the bedsides of those little miracles. This was the part I knew I couldn't do. So I skipped out on this for a few weeks. But this Tuesday I decided to give it a try. As Dad always says "the first time doing anything without Luke will be hard, but if you take one little step at a time it will eventually get easier." So I took a small step forward and into the actually NICU to hand out gifts. (Turns out it was a huge step backward in my healing process.)
I was okay at first. I simply kept my mind busy by talking to the other volunteers as I passed them the presents to place by the babies' beds. I used to love to "oo and ah" over the babies, but that was long ago. Now I stayed away from actually looking at them. But then we stopped to talk to a mother and one of the nurses and my mind began to wonder. There was the bed that Halle slept in during her stay. Right next to it was Sammy's. I started feeling sentimental and missing those times when Halle and Sam were tiny and wondering how on earth they grew up so quickly. And then I decided to take a gift to the bedside of one of the "micro-preemies" (that is a baby born under 2 pounds like you). I made the mistake of looking at the baby. Oh, his toes where so tiny. He looked so peaceful snuggled in his incubator with the sound of the ventilator rhythmically pulsing. And that's when I lost it. I left the NICU, presents still waiting to be delivered, and drove home crying so hard I couldn't see the road and unable to catch my breath between my sobs.
I miss you!!
When I look at my friends' babies, all around the age you should be, I don't miss you. They are big and fat and they bare no resemblance to you. But that baby at the NICU, so tiny and sweet and miraculous, made my heart yearn for you. After first seeing that baby I felt a tiny bit of jealousy and longing to have you be that sick little one in the hospital. My next reaction was to yell at God and utter how unfair it was that these 24-weekers were still alive and were going to go on to live relatively normal lives. Angry because He took my 24-weeker. But in the end I knew that my real heartache was stemming from the fact that I miss you. I miss you more than words could ever express!
I don't think I'm baby hungry. It isn't any ol' baby that I want. It's you. I've finally been able to hold other babies without falling apart. In fact, at times I even feel a sense of comfort with them where at one point I felt absolutely disconnected when holding another baby as if I was holding nothing more than I sack of flour. But the truth is, they aren't you! I can't believe it has been nearly 9 months since I lost held you. My arms literally ache to hold you, snuggle you, sing to you, smell you. No amount of baby holding will quench that thirst for there is a piece of me that can never be whole again until I hold you in my arms again.
I feel I cannot say it enough; I miss you my Lukie. And while I know that this aching depression I am feeling this week will give way to peace and happiness when I think of you, like it always does, I know that this desire to be with you will never ever leave me. It is a constant part of me. There is a piece of my heart that belongs to you and no amount of time will erase my longing for you. Oh, how I miss you!!