I've been asked (often) lately how I'm doing... "like how are you REALLY doing?" It makes me giggle because I wonder if I'm really doing that well or if I'm getting really good at convincing people that I'm holding it together. I think the answer is both. There are days that I'm truly shocked at how "normal" life is. I'm surprised by how often I've laughed and enjoyed the day I've had. I forget how many times I feel my insides wince... at the sight of his closed bedroom door (which I pass 100 times a day), at the picture of a friend's sweet little baby that is right around the age Noah should be, when my daughter asks why baby Noah's in heaven, when I look at the kitchen counter where his daily medications used to sit. I could go on and on.
The sad fact is that I'm just getting really used to missing him. It's not that I miss him any less; in fact, sometimes I think I miss him more. I know I love him more. I feel like I live in two different realities. Noah was only physically present (outside of my belly) in my home for about 2.5 months. My days before Noah arrived were spent much the same as they are now - revolving around his big sister. We bounce back and forth between her bedroom, playroom, the living room, the bathroom, the backyard, the car, etc. over and over each day. Nothing has changed about that. So sometimes it feels like he wasn't even here. That sentence is physically painful for me to type but I would be lying if I didn't admit that. Thank God feelings are not truth.
The fight or flight portion of my brain wants to make it seem like I am fine because really nothing's changed. Life is just as it was before when it was just me, my husband, and our daughter, right? WRONG. I don't blame my brain for trying to protect me... for trying to make this whole nightmare in some way okay. The problem is it is anything but helpful and that the rest of me remembers a vastly different story.
I look at the pictures in my house and I see a little girl holding her baby brother. There is a door down the hall where all of his things are just as they were the day he died. I close my eyes and I see his beautiful little face looking up at me, telling me the sweetest stories I've ever heard. I have stretch marks on my hips and a dark line down my belly that still serve as proof that I carried him. I have memories of a cold, rainy Christmas day in Boston praising God that he made it through open heart surgery.
I can feel his absence as tangibly as I can feel his sister's presence. I swear when I close my eyes he is right in front of me. I can feel my hands under his head, my kisses on his chest, the weight of his body against mine. I remember it all. It all screams "he is real!!!" And while I fully believe he is still very real, that his spirit is very much alive, and that he is enjoying all of heaven's splendor, I still wish he were here with me. I wish "normal" didn't feel so wrong. I wish there wasn't a constant awareness of the little boy who should be here with us. But at the same time, it is that awareness of his physical absence that causes me to search for him in everything I see and to turn to God for my next breath because breathing is really hard when half of your heart is gone.
If you ask me how I'm doing I will tell you that I'm okay. I'm sad and I miss my baby literally every moment of the day, but I am okay. I'm okay because hope flutters through my heart (and sometimes through my yard) and reminds me that this is not the end. I repeat the words "I will see him again" over and over again when the days without him are long and hard. Those words fill the empty places where he should be. Those words will carry me through until they don't need to anymore.
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