The other day I was quietly sitting on the couch having my lunch when, once again, I suddenly heard the silence in the house. It was jarring, but not deafening or oppressive like it often is. It was just there, like another person sitting in the room with me whiling away the time.
As the silence wrapped itself around me I started wondering what the house would sound like with Thomas here to fill it with his baby sounds. I could almost hear them. Little coos and laughs, burps, cries and maybe, just maybe, a few words. He'd be almost 11 months old - surely it's possible that a word or two might have been escaping those two perfect little rosebud lips by now.
The thought didn't make me nearly as sad as I would have expected. Grief is such a fascinating animal. You never know when it's going to curl up beside you and purr or tear through your flesh with its merciless claws.
I was lulled into a false sense of security and, for the 9 millionth time, I started trying to picture what my life would be like if Thomas hadn't left us that beautiful sunny day last March. I formed a vague image of a sandy-haired little muffin toddling through the family room in tiny overalls, and I smiled at the thought.
But then it dawned on me that I have absolutely no idea what my life would be like if he was still here. Despite having dozens of friends who have babies and children of all ages, and despite having two little nephews and an almost 6-year old niece, I don't have a clue what it would be like to have a child. Not a clue.
I know what it's like to be pregnant and I know what it's like to bury your baby, but I couldn't tell you the first thing about caring for one. I've forgotten everything I read in the countless books I perused, and the words the earnest public health nurse preached week after week at our childbirth classes have long since faded from memory.
I don't know a thing. Not one single thing.
And I can't figure out how that can be. I carried a child for nine months. I prepared for his birth and our life together. I bought all the gadgets. I had upwards of a dozen receiving blankets, countless sleepers and a rainbow of baby washcloths. I had a snugglie, a boppy pillow, two sleep sacks and onesies coming out the ying yang. I even ordered a DVD that showed us step-by-step how to do every single scary thing you have to do with a newborn - like bathe it and feed it.
I was ready, and I don't know a thing.
I'm feeling less and less like a mother as time passes, even though I know by all rights I am a mother. I'm feeling more like the old me - the one who longed for children but never had them.
I'll never forget Thomas, but I'm forgetting what it felt like to be his mother.
And that makes me sadder than anyone will ever know.