Thomas' birthday came and went. Mixed in with the annual busyness of trying to promote his Random Acts of Kindness Day (thanks to everyone who participated and made the world sweeter on my boy's birthday, by the way!), were the usual flood of memories.
It's interesting how the brain protects itself. The unthinkable happened eight years ago. We held that little boy--a tiny, motionless bundle of beauty that I still can't believe I had any part in making--as his fierce little heart fought to beat. We held that little boy after it finally stopped. We buried that little boy in a cold cemetery on a mercifully sunny day in March.
And for most of the year I just think about the ways I miss him and the ways my life is different than the one I'd come so close to having. For most of the year I am okay, triggered now and then by life and the joys others experience that I'll never know, but generally okay. Functional despite the tear in the fabric of my heart that will never mend.
But on and around his birthday, my mind sinks back to those early days of deep, dark confusion and grief. I hear the sounds, I smell the smells, I see the shocking and disturbing detail that my mind somehow locks carefully away for the rest of the year. It floods back during those first days of March. Every year.
I don't know how we're meant to survive this sort of thing. But yet somehow we do. Time pulls us forward, willing or not, and suddenly we're in the next minute, hour, day, week, month, year. Still breathing, still walking, still being.
My mind is quieter now. The birthday is past, the cake is eaten, and the acts of kindness have been recorded, so the memories have quietly started to pack themselves away for another year.
I'll bump into some of them again in the months to come--those sneaky stray bits and pieces that escape now and then--but they'll unpack themselves completely again next March.
And so it goes.
Thomas Joseph, March 9 - 10, 2005
I love you, sweet boy, and I'll miss you forever and ever.