A sweet baby and a flood of memories…and lack of memories

We were surprised today by my brother-in-law, niece and youngest nephew. I got to spend some one on one time with my nephew and it was glorious. He was giggly, smelled yummy and full of wonder at all the silly little things we were doing. As we played, of course I saw Declan and remembered how he was just embarking on some of the accomplishments my sweet nephew is mastering when he was diagnosed. I waffled between the moment with Liam and remembering the moments with Declan and I was doing a decent job of holding it together and then I thought of Cole, and my heart broke all over again. It broke for a different reason, for how much I missed with him…the little moments, the moments I missed because I was with Declan, stolen by cancer. Of course by Declan’s side was where I needed to be but Cole needed me too. I tried not to think about what the separation was doing to Cole while I was in the hospital, it was too hard on top of everything else we were dealing with. It all came rushing back today and my heart broke for Cole…and Declan and everything we missed, and are missing.

Everyday houses a litany of mental landmines. I’d say I’ve (I speak in terms of I because these are my thoughts but if you could see the mental landmines we as a family navigate on a daily basis, my house would look like those old WWII movies with the bricks toppled) become decent at compartmentalizing them…probably too good…but the holidays just peels back the compartment like the twist key on the top of a sardine can, making it near impossible to keep the lid on my emotions.

Today has been a stuggle against the love I lost, the experiences I lost and the heartbreak over not being able to change either. I know there is nothing I can do and I feel I’ve done a decent job of being more present with the kids but I’m angry. I’m angry that once again as we shop for presents for the kids that I find myself shopping for the perfect all-weather toy for Declan’s grave…I’m angry that I have to search for holiday pictures that include Declan to put up with the holiday pictures we put up with our holiday decorations (God, take as many pictures as you want…take 10 more than you ever think you’ll need, just do it. Even if it’s just for you…you’ll never regret it.)…I’m angry and heartbroken, again. I just don’t understand how it can be real. I know it is…my broken heart tells me so all day but maybe just maybe this is the worst nightmare of all time. Maybe.

But it’s not. It’s our new life. The one where every joyous moment is almost perfect. Almost because just at that point where the joy erupts, thoughts of how much more perfect it would be if we were all together again. The whole family…and I’m reminded again, this is the new life we lead. There’s a lot of wonder, joy, giggles and love…but the shadow of what it could be lingers over it all. Our new life.

I did enjoy the time with my nephew though; these smiles will always be enjoyed in the moments of our lives. Declan did teach us that…just wish he could still be here to smile along with us.