I can't believe Thomas' third birthday is coming up so fast. More than that, I can't believe he'd be three. Three already.
It was so easy to keep track of what exactly I was mourning when he'd just died because I knew what I was missing in a very tangible sense. I'd just seen him. Held him. Kissed him.
But now? Now I'm mourning for a three-year old I've never seen as well as my little baby. And I've already mourned for the one-year old and two-year old he would have been.
I didn't realize, in those dark, early days, how the mourning would change. I was so fixated on losing that beautiful little baby boy with his Daddy's chin that it didn't occur to me, at least right away, that I'd be mourning so much more than that, on and on and on for the rest of my life.
It's a fact I'm now acutely aware of, particularly as each birthday approaches.
I watch other children his age and see what I'm missing. I see the ghost of my child in them.
I sometimes wonder if it's healthy to think this way - to think so much about what Thomas would be like now and to feel the loss of that boy as well as the baby I did know.
But since this is the only way I know how to mourn a dead child (and as far as I know there's no manual for dealing with maternal grief), I'm just going to run with it. To do otherwise feels like I'd somehow be leaving him behind - and denying the mourning process that feels right and natural to me.
I don't dwell on it, the boy he'd be now, but it crosses my mind. How can it not? How can I see a child Thomas' age and not think about what he'd be like? How can it not make me miss him more? Or, at the very least, wonder about what might have been?
I can't help it. Maybe it's a mother thing. Maybe you are always this connected to your children, living or dead.
I find it interesting that no one blinks an eye when mothers of living children are consumed by thoughts of their children - of their daily doings, their accomplishments, their achievements, their triumphs and failures - but people furrow their brows and worry when the mother of a dead baby admits she thinks about her lost child.
I have yet to meet a mother - any mother - who can "let go" of her children.
We're not so different. We're not.