The sorrow can exist without the joy. But the joy? It's always laced with sorrow now. Because even in our happy moments, our lives should look different than they do. Even when I'm smiling or laughing, the grief is sitting on my chest, threatening my ability to breathe. Every moment, I'm missing Lydia and the way our lives should be.
On Saturday, Benjamin turned two.
A year ago on his birthday, I felt all sentimental and sappy. All day long, I thought about being in labor with him, and what was going on at that moment in time a year ago. I felt sad that my baby was turning into a toddler and it was all happening so fast. What I didn't know yet is that I was pregnant with Lydie.
This year on Ben's birthday, I felt mostly tired. It's been a long year. Of course, I felt a bit sentimental too. For so long when I was pregnant with Lydie and envisioned my life with a baby and a toddler, I wanted him to be independent. But now that he refuses to let me help him put on his boots or even his pants ("No Mama, my do it"), it hurts my heart a bit.
When were tucking him in the night before his birthday, Justin and I stood over his crib, saying, "Good night, one-year-old!" We probably lingered there an extra minute, because Ben looked at us like we were crazy and said, "Bye-bye!" while waving. We laughed.
But those laughs? They're not pure the way they used to be. They're full of aching. Every funny moment we share with Ben is a reminder that we won't have those moments with his sister.
We kept Ben's birthday low-key. I don't have a party in me these days. But I did want my boy to have a good day. His Oma Jo and Pop-Pop came to celebrate with us, and there was singing and cake and ice cream and presents.
And there was the missing of his sister.
It's constant, it's ever-present, and it's even stronger during these happy moments.
Like taking this "family picture."
What you probably wouldn't notice is Ben is holding Lydie's stone. Justin should guest-post one day here, but long story short: Justin bought Lydie a red heart-shaped stone that says "love" on it for Christmas. It was under the tree, marked with her name. On Christmas, Justin unwrapped it and it has stayed in his pocket ever since. (Except Benji tries to steal it whenever he can).
So we're representing Lydie here, because that's important to us. Because although we're smiling, we are so aware that this picture is incomplete. And our hearts hurt constantly.
I posted a photo of Ben on Facebook and on Instagram. It got 118 likes and 29 comments on Facebook, but not one person mentioned his sister. On Instagram, where I've connected with many of my fellow BLMs, one friend wished Benjamin a happy birthday and wished his sister was here to steal some of his thunder. Another friend commented that all boys must have a construction-themed birthday, and don't we wish we got to cross our girl themes off our list too?
That may sum up why I need these women in my life. I didn't have to tell them what hides behind the smiles. I didn't have to explain to them that the sorrow is intertwined with the joy.
And Ben's sister did steal a bit of his thunder, in a way. We spent the afternoon preparing her garden. More on that to come, but I'm looking forward to having a spot in our yard dedicated to our girl. It seems like the perfect backdrop for family photos.
It's been five months today. And Lydie, we love and miss you more than ever.