Should and shouldn’t

You should be here.
You should be starting preschool today with your twin brother.
You should be dressed up, in a shirt I’d never get you to wear normally, for your first day pictures.
You and Cole should be sticking your tongues out at me in those pictures out front.
I should be sandwiched in between my two babies, smiling with excitement over their first day.
You should be in the raccoon’s class too.
You should be 4 years old and 18 days old today.

I should be happy to watch Cole run into his first day of preschool, giddy with excitement.
I shouldn’t be a weepy, emotional disaster.
I shouldn’t make the other Mom’s and teachers cry on their first days because I’m missing you so terribly and cannot control my agony today.
I should be able to enjoy every moment of my kid’s lives without it being measured (internally most day, external on some) by the searing pain of your death. (Buddy, we do enjoy them because you taught us to appreciate them … but it still hurts so deeply that you’re not there with us to enjoy it too.)

You should be playing soccer tomorrow running around in your tiny little cleats and shin guards.
You should be out there picking your nose or ignoring your coach and playing in the dirt or looking at the dragonfly fly overhead … instead of me thinking that dragonfly is you coming for a visit from Heaven to watch your brother play.
You should be standing next to Cole driving me nuts to go play on the playground instead of watching your big brother play flag football.

I shouldn’t have to agonize over which family picture to send in every year when your brothers are asked to send in a picture of their family.
I shouldn’t have to worry that my boys will never truly know how amazing you were.
I shouldn’t have to worry that Cole might actually think you are a dragonfly or the moon or childhood cancer gold ribbon instead of what you were, his twin brother.
We shouldn’t have to do this. No one should.

We shouldn’t regret stuffing your coffin with all your Sesame Street guys, your beloved Sophie, your blue “bear”, your angel blankie and countless other things to make your final resting place comfy because we want more tangible something’s of you with us now.
We shouldn’t have to come up with weather proof birthday gifts to lay on your grave.
We shouldn’t have had to lose you.

You should know we try really hard to fight for all the other kids in your memory.
You should also know how much it hurts to feel like so many have forgotten that they said they would do anything to help.
You should know those who continually show up hold a very special place in our hearts.
You should also know watching other families go through what we did with you is incredibly painful, indescribably painful but we do it anyway because so few people are willing to stand beside us and fight for what is right.
You should know our family will never stop fighting to raise awareness and funding. Never. No matter what the emotional cost to us.

You should know you reside in our hearts.
You should know you made us better people, even though the annoyances of life and screaming boys and temper tantrums and, well, life makes it hard some days.
You should know we draw on the strength you showed us during the 162 days of your cancer treatment (a little less than half of your 357 days with us).
You should know life without you will never seem complete.
You should know we try to live each day as completely as we can because of you.

You should know nothing will ever make this ok.
You should be here.
You should be here, with us.