Today, you'd be 18 months old. A year and a half. Full into toddler mode. Walking and talking and singing and laughing.
(And tantruming too, I know.)
18 months feels so big to me.
The other day, one of my closest friends asked how I picture you. She knew I picture you.
You were born with dark, dark hair but I picture you as blond. Wavy hair, falling out of a ponytail. Running and giggling and glancing back at your mama.
I would recognize you anywhere.
You've taken this toddler form in my mind long before you were a toddler. I wonder if my daydream of you will change, if you'll grow to be a teenager and an adult in my mind, or whether you will always remain this toddler with your hair streaming behind you as you run.
Recently, your brother called out to me in the morning, as he usually does. He climbs into his crib at night but gratefully, hasn't realized that he can climb out. I walked into his room, and the first thing he said to me was, "I had a dream about Lydia."
"You did?" I asked. "Tell me about it."
He didn't respond.
"What did she look like? What was she doing?" I pressed.
"Was she happy?" I continued.
Finally, he told me he didn't remember. That's the way dreams often work, but I still couldn't help feeling disappointed. I desperately wanted a glimpse of you.
And even though I am a bit jealous, I am so glad he got that dream.
He calls you Lydia, not Lydie, these days. He fingers my necklace and says, "B for me, L for Lydia, and J for Josie!" And whenever he sees L's on billboards or in books, he shouts, "L for Lydia!"
It makes me so proud of both of you.
Oma Jo visited recently, and as I sat down to feed your sister, I grabbed her phone and scrolled through. Suddenly, I found myself unable to breathe: there was a photo of you I had never seen before. This happens all the time with Ben and Josie, in photos taken by Oma Jo or Dad or even daycare teachers. But this doesn't happen with you. The photos of you are finite. Until this discovery, there were are exactly 66 photos of you, all which I've studied hundreds of times.
I stared at this photo. I zoomed closer, studied your face. I zoomed back out. I zoomed closer again.
I tried to see if you look like your big brother or your little sister. I never can tell with my own kids. You all just look like yourselves to me, not like each other or like Dad or like me.
I cried some more.
Look at you. Look how perfect you were. Look how loved you are.
I could have a million photos of you, and it would never be enough, but I am still so grateful to have just one more. There will never be new photos of you, but I now have 67 photos.
Can you see the love, Lydie? I can see the love.
|Spreading your love, painting the bathroom.|
|your Easter egg. Next year, your brother wants one too.|
|with Oma Jo in Florida|
|Every time Pop-Pop goes to the cottage, he visits your tree and sends me a photo. It's budding!|
Recently, a coworker of mine was telling me how she and her daughter were out to lunch and how the waitress reminded her of me. Similar facial features, blond hair in a ponytail, friendly. She asked the waitress her name, thinking it would be funny if her name was Heather.
"Lydia," she responded.
You are everywhere.
But you're still not where I want you to be - at home, in my arms. I desperately wish to stroke your hair, kiss your cheek, and tuck you in at night with your yellow blanket. Instead, I curl up with that blanket that held you, night after night. Sometimes I press my face into it, as if that brings you just a little closer. Sometimes I search for the spots of your blood.
The other day was Bereaved Mother's Day. It was a holiday I did not know about eighteen months ago. It's a holiday I would have happily gone the rest of my life ignorant of. I sat down with the Ipad to watch a tribute made to us mamas, featuring not only you and me, but hundreds of other mamas and their beloved children. I pulled the tissue box close, set up Josephine to breastfeed, and pushed play. But then she was fussing and my phone was vibrating and I couldn't really pay the attention I wanted to to the video. And I didn't want to miss our moment, I didn't want to miss the quick second shot of you and me. So I blindly reached over and pushed pause. A minute later, I had responded to my texts, repositioned Josie, and went to push play on the Ipad.
And this was on the screen.
I've spent the last 18 months doubting signs, but how could this not be one? I am still dumbfounded.
Hundreds of mamas and their beloved babies pictured in this video and I blindly pressed pause on you and me.
You might just be turning me into a believer.
I've spent the last 18 months missing you, and I will spend the rest of my life missing you.
That will never change, but I am learning as I go.
I'm learning what it means to be a "bereaved mother."
That life is a crapshoot and you got the shortest stick possible.
That all the wishing in the world won't change things, won't bring you back.
That I'll carry my love for you, my ache for you, my missing of you for the rest of my life.
That I'll always know how old you would be and what milestones you'd be reaching. That the first day of kindergarten is going to hurt like hell, and the day you could have gotten your driver's license is going to too.
That my grief connects me to you, but that's not my only connection to you. That I see you in the tulips in your garden, the waves on the beach, every sunrise and sunset. I feel you in the wind in my face.
That I can teach your big brother and little sister to see you in these ways too, and I can keep you alive in them.
That we speak your name in love. In missing and longing and grief, but mostly just in love.
That I think of you every moment of every day. That e.e. cummings knew what he was talking about when he said, "i am never without you." That you are in my heart always.
Always, always, always.
I wish I could offer you more. But this is what we have, Lydie Girl. And our relationship is still continuing to grow and deepen, even though we are separated. I'm still learning how to be your mom, just like I'm learning how to be Benjamin's mom and Josephine's mom too. Thanks for helping me to find my way.
I love you, my one-and-a-half year old.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
|A picture taken of Josie at daycare. I see you in these sunbeams.|