I started out distracting myself and determined to honor him, his memory, and doing good in his name. We collected toys and books that were delivered to pediatric patients at three different hospitals. It was so great to focus on giving. I’m proud of what we did. We accomplished a lot and had an amazing birthday/Christmas party on the 18th that was part of our collection effort. Our friends, family, and even strangers have been so supportive! It was lovely.
Then, it was Christmas. Brig has been home for over a week from his new job three hours away. The kids have been home from school. It’s the longest we’ve all been together, just our family, since August. Bub’s physical absence has been palpable for all. We still had a lovely Christmas full of smiles and laughter. Well, mostly.
The kiddos each received a mini replica of Caleb’s blanket on Christmas Eve with their jammies. Everyone was in a great mood leading up to that. With the reveal, T sunk into himself and stayed there for the rest of the night. I watched his entire being change as the weight of Bub’s death and his absence fell on his shoulders. What was meant to be a meaningful, comforting gesture reminded him of the blanket wrapped brother who hadn’t plodded down the hallway toward him in over a year. He snuggles that little blanket now and sleeps with it. Yet, that night, I could feel all of T’s pain as his and my heaven holes seemed to be growing and causing the physical pain in my chest to increase. I snugged Caleb for the last time, on the day he should have turned three, wrapped in his blanket, just before we watched him wheeled through the OR doors to give life to others.
The evolution of a Caleb reminder.
That bittersweet feeling has lingered in my heart over these last two weeks. I love having all of this time with my lovies. It just hurts, too.
I still have the presents that were meant for his third birthday and Christmas 2014. We put his ornaments on the tree. The porcelain baby Jesus in the nativity still only has one arm from Caleb stashing him down the leg of his footie pajamas along with several matchbox cars. He’s not ‘nugging me, wrapped in his blankie. There was no wonder and amazement as he opening his presents under the tree. We’ve found ways to include and remember him, but his laughter, loudness, and rowdy nature are missing.
He’s everywhere, but not.
We spent 12 years, 2 months being the family who always had a baby or toddler in tow. We weren’t done. It’s odd to go to gatherings and not have a little one to watch like a hawk, to help get their food, to interpret for, to need a diaper change! We didn’t grow out of that.
It’s a new year. The year he would start preschool. The year he so looked forward to signing himself in at the school door instead of helping me sign L2 in, as he did for months before he died. His first year with the big kids. Oh, how he loved and looked up to them and they just doted on him. The year he’d play t-ball, soccer, play with the instruments of his older siblings. He’d love the big kid coloring book from grandma this Christmas and I’d watch him play at indoor park, making sure his defense of the smaller kids wasn’t aggressive. If I was having a rough day, he’d see it on my face and gently put a hand on my arm as I cook dinner and ask, “You okay, mom?”, before reminding me how much he loves me with an amazing leg hug.
So many things gone with him. Yet, I’d do it all again.
That’s the thing about life. It’s never going to be consistently easy. God is a just and loving God, but that doesn’t mean everything will always be just and loving in this life. It doesn’t mean horrible, awful things won’t fill our days and nights. I just need to hold onto the belief that everything will be made right. That eternity is just and loving. It is far better to feel this pain after holding him for three years than to have never held him at all. I love my Bub. I will remember him, talk of him, share him, honor him, love him for all eternity. I am his mother. He is entrusted to me. He is imprinted on my soul.