I have been missing Jay a ton lately. At first it just seemed like the grief pendulum was simply swinging back and hitting me particularly hard. I started bringing him up in conversation more with my husband and friends. I would nurse Floyd in the glider and stare at the crib mattress, thinking about how Jay’s little head used to lie there dreaming at night. Or I’d stare at the changing table, or the dresser, or any of the other things in the room that I purchased when he was alive.
I slowly realized why things felt worse. It was getting a little too real with Floyd. Floyd is now at the age where I clearly remember what life was like with Jay. They look very similar. They have the same sleep patterns. They have the same disposition. They both favor their left hands. They both turn their heads to the left to go to sleep, and they both have a flat shape on their head where they lie. I mean had a flat shape. You know what I mean. Floyd has, Jay had.
I stare at Floyd while he nurses. I see his beautiful little head and I think about his flawless brain inside. Everything is working perfectly. I try to reassure myself that he will be OK, but Jay was OK at this age. Jay was flawless, and look what happened. I hold Floyd close to me and I stroke the back of his head, somehow trying to protect it from harm, as if those strokes will help him stay safe. “I love you so much,” I whisper. “Don’t die.”
It’s not all fear and loss, though, even during this pendulum swing. Losing a child involves unending grief–it’s like perpetually ripping apart a piece of fabric down the middle, except instead of fabric it’s your heart that never stops ripping. But Floyd keeps sewing my heart back together. With every new tear, he adds a new thread.
Today I headed into the store to pick up some diapers and I was so pleased to see he was big enough to fit into the baby carrier without the infant insert. So much easier. We meandered the aisles together while he snuggled up against my chest. I angled my head down and whispered to him about what things we needed to buy. I looked at “natural” weight loss supplements and realized I could take none of them while nursing. Oh well. I picked up his diapers, grabbed some shampoo and ambled over to the checkout. The clerk commented on how happy he was. “Yes, he’s Mr. Cheer,” I replied. He really is. Just walking through the store with him is an absolute joy. I walked out of the store and kissed his head until we got to the car.
I love those moments, and there are so many of them. Simple, everyday occurrences that I am so grateful to have. A life ended, and then another life happened. I am so wrecked over who was lost, and so in love over who then arrived. I don’t know who we would be if he hadn’t come. I’m sure we would have carved out a new life, just the three of us. But I’m so glad we took a chance at a time when we really didn’t know what the hell we were doing. It could have been just a horrible decision, but it wasn’t for us.
Two nights ago my husband and I were watching old videos on our home computer. We clicked on one of the hundreds of videos of our daughter at a sing-a-long at her school. It was taken when she was in the youngest class. She and her classmates sat on the ground, stone-faced and silent while the older kids recited the songs. My camera phone stayed on her for a good while. Instantly, the camera dropped down to Jay, sitting in his carseat and not really enjoying the show. He looked right at the camera lens so that both of us now were looking right into his eyes. My husband and I both gasped a little. I can’t explain how intense it is to look into his eyes like that, even though it’s on video. It always feels so real.
“That was a surprise,” my husband said quietly.
“Yes, it was.”
I really miss that little boy.