I used to watch him as he slept. I would think of all the things– the things we’ve been through, where we’ve been, where are we going? I would fight the urge to scoop him up in my arms, and scream I’m so sorry! I am sorry I didn’t protect you. I am sorry I was naïve. I am sorry I didn’t know what I know now. I am sorry I wasn’t a better mother. I wouldn’t scoop him up, but I would gently lay my head on his chest to feel the beat of his heart. I would cry softly, and make promises to learn more, to try to understand better, to be the mother he needed. I would promise him I would do everything I could to make it better.
It took me a long time to change that late night ritual– to change the dialogue in my head. It’s not easy. It takes time. I would like to say those thoughts are completely gone, that I don’t have moments I still feel like a failure. I wish I could say, I don’t still, every now and then, feel sad and responsible. I can’t. What I can say is those times are fewer and farther between. I recognized destroying myself with grief would not help my son. I realized I had to make good on the promises.
I try. It’s not easy making life decisions for another person– the decisions I make for him now could effect his quality of life for the rest of his life. It’s serious stuff. And, it seems like those decisions are around every turn. It really makes me appreciate the simple moments, the sweet moments. But, the pondering, wondering, researching, worrying, talking, hoping is always there, in the backdrop, reminding me there are big responsibilities ahead of me.
There’s something that comes over me, I can’t put it into words. It happens at the strangest times. This swirl of unbridled emotions, and there’s nowhere for them to go– but out. I will be folding his laundry– a favorite shirt, a stuffed animal that needed a wash– and before I know it my face is buried in the shirt or the rabbit, and I’m crying. I cry because I need too– because in that moment, there’s nothing else I can do. I cry because I am grateful for our time together, for the path we have walked, for the journey we are on. There’s something so intimate in watching another person become who they’re going to be– there aren’t words to do it justice. I cry because he’s getting bigger! He’s not my baby anymore:-) I cry because the summer is almost over, and we won’t ever have this time again.
Then I dry it all up, and realize I’m being ridiculous. Kids grow up– that’s the idea. I have a good laugh at myself for being so sentimental– then put the kid’s dinosaur shirt away.