She is just three weeks younger than our Vaeh, the squirming, wriggling bundle in my arms. Waves lap the shore and I walk, bounce, and her movements settle into stillness as her eyelids droop shut.
“Moooommmmy!” I hear him shout from the distance, where he plays with his friends and their mommies. I watch him drop his yellow shovel and start running. “Mommy?” I hear the question in his voice.
He has been possessive of me and his Daddy since Vaeh left. Everyday he asks me where I am, a multitude of times and often frantically, the minute I am out of his sight.
Keeping tabs on Mom, again. I think as his little legs sprint towards me. “Mommy, you got Vae back!” He shouts with such a big smile.
I choke on my own breath. Shake my head no and watch his smile disappear. “Mommy, you got Vae?” He tips his head to the side, a hopeful glint in his brown eyes.
“No, Cub, no.” It’s all I can say.
He makes no more comment…just turns and runs back to play.
Every couple of days, at random times and random places, he talks about her. He announces to his new friend that he has a baby sister. He asks me when she’s coming back. One day he sits on the couch and says that he wants to “huggle” Vae. “Re-mem-ber, Mom?” He says, “I huggle Vae. I hold her.”
And every time, I feel this jolt in my heart.
The family that was will always be and will be no more.
If that makes any sense.
I am pouring myself into work, painting nine hour days and staying up till midnight to clean my dirty house and working seven hours in the sun to mulch my flowerbeds and hedges, because I have to do something or I’ll go insane.
The people that say time heals don’t know what they are talking about. The depth of loss that rends my heart grows more, every new day the sun sets. Somewhere, out there, she is growing, learning, experiencing, living – without me. Without us.
And I cannot tell you in words how deep a chasm that cuts through my heart.
Everyone else is moving forward in their lives and I am hanging on for dear life trying to function. I meet new people who ask me how many kids I have and I tell them one, because it’s just too complicated otherwise, but that feels like such a betrayal.
My friends talk about their babies and I am left to listen and wish that I could share about all the ways my baby girl is growing.
I look into my son’s charming, kind eyes and feel sad for him that he does not have his sister he loved so much.
I feel lost in my own skin, like I don’t know what to do, how to be, or even who I am. If I were really honest, I would tell you that I feel like someone cut my heart out and sent it away.
This is the very real truth about where I am.
And if I could tell you one thing, from this place I find myself today? I would tell you to color the walls with love.
Say yes to serving your neighbor when it’s inconvenient for you. Pick up the phone and call that friend it’s been so long since you chatted. Give more, keep less. Love the least of these. Let your heart bond with that little baby, whether you have him for one month or eighteen years. Brush your daughter’s hair extra long and sing with your little boy extra loud. Bring brownies to the old man down the road and smile at every single person that you meet. Be a friend to everyone. Meet no strangers and have no enemies. Look at no man with condemnation, but extend a hand of grace to serve,
Pick up your paintbrush – whatever yours looks like – and paint. Make a picture, tell a story, and leave a legacy.
Everywhere you go.
And we will not be the perfect or the put-togethers, but we will persevere.
Stop waiting for enough time, enough money, and enough resources and go embrace the sufficient grace to be brave enough to color the walls with love.