You would have been four years old last week. I guess I thought I’d be closer to acceptance right now, to a place where this didn’t hurt quite so much, but all I’ve been able to do for the past few weeks is push through each day, putting on my brave face and wishing I knew what you would be like as a four-year-old.
I do, in some ways, know. You would have been amazing. And funny. And full of imagination like your sister, and often frustrated by your sister. And you would have been kind, and sweet, and stubborn.
And now you are…well, perhaps you are all those things, somewhere. Perhaps. Or perhaps you’re more, or different, or perhaps you’re nothing at all but our memories of you. I hope it’s not the latter. We had so few memories. Your sister brings artwork home from school every week now, and we have so many photographs of her, and so many memories of funny little things she says or does. It seems an embarrassment of riches sometimes, and yet I cling to all of it, a dragon clutching her hoard.
On the day after your birthday, the day of the anniversary of your death, I cleaned out the closet in Dot’s room. It was full of my old clothes, and old baby clothes, of boxes and pillows we never use, of things that need to go to Good Will and to the dump. Your dad came up to help me, and we found your box up on the top shelf, and, darling boy, we went through your things. You don’t have nearly enough things – some casts of your hands, some foot and hand-prints, folders of medical paperwork, the outfit we dressed you in after you died, the blankets they wrapped you in at the hospital.
I am still, as it turns out, very angry that you don’t have more things, a full life’s worth.
We remembered how beautiful you were, my love. And we cried together. And then we packed your few things away, righted the box, and set it back on that shelf.
I am donating my old car to the Ronald McDonald House that took care of us while we were waiting for you to be born, and just after. The same car that drove me to Chicago, where I met your father, to the university where I earned my Library Science Degree that landed me a job here in this place we’ve come to love. It’s the car that drove us to all those specialist appointments when we thought things would probably be fine, and the car that drove us home from the appointment where we found out things decidedly weren’t fine.
It’s also the car that carried your baby sister home from the hospital. I don’t think I could part with the car if it weren’t for that – is that strange?
Anyway, I spoke with someone from the donation agency this morning. I thought about how far that car has carried me and about how it’s one more connection with you that I am releasing. And I cried over that car, Teddy, and over you, all over again. Even the good kinds of letting go hurt sometimes.
August has not been gentle. August seems to have stolen my words this year. I am waiting for the days when I feel your presence in breezes and starlight and leaf shadows to re-emerge, but right now I mainly feel your absence. This giant void that should be filled with you and all the possibilities of you. I howl the same old howl that seems to be just as powerful and impotent as it ever was: I want him back.
I hope you are well. I hope you are, somehow and somewhere. I wish I could hold you again.
I wish I knew you at four.
Love you, Huckleberry. And I will always want you back.