Thomas - the very idea of Thomas - is now almost an abstract thing. He was a child, yes, but in his death he has become somehow so much more. Bigger. Complicated. Intangible. Undefinable.
It's hard to explain and even harder to articulate, but I think this strange feeling of abstraction is unavoidable because he represents so many things. He's so much more than just the tiny bundle I held in the hospital wrapped up tight in his going home blankie.
He is the embodiment of our love and has been the bearer of exquisite gifts. But he's also the source of our grief and the reason we trudge so slowly some days.
He is our love, our sorrow, our lost hope, our joy. He is somehow everything.
As the years pass, I'm able to see more clearly what exactly it was that we lost when he died. What we will spend the rest of our lives losing every single day. Because make no mistake, when your child dies, you lose them every second of every day for as long as you live. Over and over and over again.
He's a contradiction in terms. A being whose very existence elicited so much exquisite bliss and so much dark despair.
He's not just my lost child. He's a million emotions. He's my son. My pride. My angel. My sorrow. Sometimes, my secret. He's the thing some people are afraid of. He's the name some people won't speak. He's the moment that my life changed. He's the saddest I've been and the happiest I've been. He's friends who have walked away and friends who steadfastly refuse to leave.
His 20 hours has given me new eyes. Changed my heart. Made me weak. Made me strong.
I live with the weight of his life and death each and every day. Happy. Sad. It colours everything. Everything I do, everything I see. How I speak. How I feel. How I think. How I breathe.
But sometimes, when I see a child his age, he becomes real again. He becomes a 3 1/2 year old boy. I see his smile. His eyes. I feel his hand in mine. I see My Beloved. I see me. I see what we were too many hospital delays away from having.
And then, in an instant, it's gone and he is once again that mysterious collection of contradictory emotions, fractured memories, and the dull, quiet ache in my heart. All tied up with the most unimaginable love I've ever felt.
Baby loss is a mystery. An unending, ever-changing, unsolvable mystery.