I am well-aquainted with the stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I've been through them all, at times getting stuck in the anger phase, but I feel I've landed solidly onto the grounds of acceptance.
But what no one tells you is what to expect after acceptance. Where does a person go from here?
I love the movie Tangled. There is the line where Rapunzel is telling Eugene that she is scared to see her life-long dream turn into reality, because she doesn't know what she'll do next. He tells her that's the best part - she can make new dreams.
I suppose that's a little how I feel. I've had the same dream all my life - to be a mom. I've now fulfilled that dream, just shy of one baby that I thought I'd be raising, and I'm not quite sure what my next dream should be. The dream I want most of all - my dream of holding you - can't be mine right now. So now what?
I fill my days up with countless activities. I love our new house and conjure up thousands of projects I'd like to do to make it our own. I love to listen to Halle's kindergarten antics and watch her learn to read. I focus a lot of my energy on fun activities Sam and I can do to not only keep us entertained without Halle around, but also to help him learn all the things a kid his age should know. (Sometimes I think he might still be behind developmentally. After he "graduated" from early intervention they suggested I might still want to have him tested for an early intervention preschool, but the thought of having him gone several times a week and leaving me home alone frightens me. After all, I'm a professional teacher, I should be able to help him myself, so I'm trying to spend more time helping Sam catch up to others his age.)
My life is good and I am happy. But sometimes the memories of past dreams will come back and haunt me.
Thanksgiving was one of those times. We spent it with Dad's side of the family this year. We spent all afternoon out at Aunt Carolyn's house and had a fabulous traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but after a while the warm house and the conversation of pregnancy began to suffocate me and I needed to get out in the fresh air. So I went for a little walk.
Dad and I would clock that "little" walk later on and discovered I walked over two miles. I love the scenery out there - all the farm land. I walked passed a few new houses - gorgeous ones with wrap around porches. I always dreamed of having a house with wrap around porches on the outside and a stunning staircase and catwalk on the inside. I got my dream staircase and catwalk, but our front porch is non-existant. And I felt a small pang of sorrow over my lost dream house.
I thought of other dreams too as I walked along. I thought of how there was a day when I thought my dream of being loved by some amazing man was never going to be fulfilled. I was almost 25, and in the culture in which I live, that is considered an old maid. All of my friends were married and had at least 2 kids by this point. And I was still looking for Mr. Right, and failing miserably. And then I met your dad...
I remember sitting in a tractor with him one day over seven years ago. We were ripping one of Uncle Dennis's fields and listening to Kenny Chesney on the radio. I was madly in love with your dad. And it was clear the feeling was mutual. We nonchalantly talked about the future, trying to act like we weren't as thrilled and terrified about the topic of conversation as we really were. Somehow we began to talk about how many kids we wanted. Our hopes were the same - no less then three but no more than five.
It all seemed so easy then. We thought all you had to do was proclaim how many kids you wanted and they were suddenly yours. We stare at pictures of us back then, particularly our engagement and wedding pictures, and marvel at how innocent (and naive) we were. Little did we know that there would be times when our dreams would become nightmares.
I would be lying if I said that I didn't sometimes feel guilty that Dad got "stuck" with me. Our pregnancy problems and sick babies are wholly my fault. He could have married someone else and fulfilled his dream of 3 to 5 kids. Living kids, that is - for he does have three. But the thought of not being with him is the worst thing I can possibly imagine. And the best part is that I don't think your dad has ever even let this thought enter his mind. He lets me know in countless ways that he would rather be with me and only get to raise two kids in this life, then be married to someone else and have half a dozen big, strong, healthy boys. Our family, no matter how undesirable it may seem to others, is his greatest joy and he wouldn't trade it for anything.
Dreams are funny things. Some never become reality, but we don't mind, for we look back and see how childish they were in the first place. Others are fulfilled and replaced by new ones. And others still are compromised. And then there are those that will remain forever in our hearts though we know they are not reachable in this life.
God has granted me some of my most precious dreams - my Mr. Right and two children to raise here. But you, Luke, are the one dream that I will never stop yearning for, or striving for. I miss you tonight. My arms feel empty without you. But I cling to that hope, that dream, that I will someday be holding you again and smelling your sweet little head and kissing your adorable button nose.
Perhaps that's the step after acceptance - hope. Hope in our dreams. I sincerely believe that there will come a day when, if we live the life God intended for us - if we reach our potential - that every dream we've ever dreamed will come true.
Sweet dreams my little one,