this picture may simply appear to be two cute little humans loving each other. let’s be honest, they ARE pretty adorable. especially when they aren’t playing tug of war to the death over the same wind-up robot toy. this is a picture of two wee ones, cousins, in fact, walking hand in hand headed to the beach. and it makes me cry.
i know what you’re thinking. yes, i started injecting myself with hormones today. and yes, i probably am already experiencing the unfortunate mutiny of said hormones on my unaware body. so cut me a little slack here. but the tears are warranted. i look at this picture, i see my son holding the hand of his cousin, and all i can hear is my son asking “dada… where is MY sister?”
cue gut punch. i had been waiting for him to start asking these questions, but i was a fool to think i was ready to respond. and thankfully he asked amazing husband. but it got me thinking…what do you do? what do you say?
“mommy and daddy have been trying for years to give you a brother or sister?” too confusing.
“mommy’s body is broken and we don’t know if you will ever have a brother or sister?” too depressing.
“we don’t know sweetie.” sad, but true.
maybe you say nothing, choke back tears and mutter something unintelligible about how babies are miracles and suddenly change topics while you struggle to breathe. “look! i see thomas the train!” and just like THAT the wind is completely knocked out of you by one, small, harmless question.
breathe. just breathe. that’s what i tell myself. move the air in and out… but i find myself holding onto it. i’m scared. scared to let it out. exhale entirely. release. sounds so easy, no? i promise you it’s not. because inevitably when i do, it’s gone. and i am left searching for the next one, frantic, desperately needing that air. suffocating.
that’s part of dealing with loss and the grief that comes with it. a glimpse of how it feels, really. to me. when one minute you are fine and the next a messy heap of tears because that truly harmless comment just peeled back the scab to expose your never-healing wound. you suddenly can’t breathe. the air is there, right in front of you, you KNOW this… and yet no matter how much gasping you do it is thick and viscous, refusing to move. you stand there, frozen in time, suffocating.
so here i am looking at these two little people, and i see my son and his cousin, who he loves like the sister he wishes he had. and i start to tear up. because i feel like i’m letting him down. i wish he could understand the great lengths i am going to, the extreme measures i am taking, the countless times i’ve suffered heartbreak, all to try to give him someone to adore just as he adores his cousin. hopefully someday he will. in the meantime i can only tell myself to breathe. inhale. exhale. rinse and repeat. someone please tell me this gets easier.