My sister had her baby and we welcomed this little guy into our extended family yesterday but it has been bittersweet. Though not in the way I would have expected. His little body, so fresh and new, to tiny, is a reminder of my sweet little boy. But I can look at this little one and separate him from Chase. I don't hold him in place of what I'm missing. We've had Owen and been through this stage with him and we are beyond that. And that was a huge, very huge part of my healing process. I think an hospital, and any baby ward I walk into will always bring back first my memories of Chase, and secondly, my memories of birthing my other children as well. I wish it wasn't that way because my healthy births are the happiest moments in my life and and I wish those were the first images in my mind when I see those things. But that is not my life.
What is bittersweet about the welcoming of this new little soul is my niece and nephew. I look at them and I see my own kids and that is when the sadness rush in and I struggle to hold back tears. Beckham is almost the exact age (within a couple months) of what Reese was when Chase was born. That is so hard to believe because we see my nephew Beckham, and Owen, as the babies and they seem so little compared to what I "remember" Reese being five years ago. Reese just seemed older and it's one of those thoughts that I really try to push away when I think of losing Chase. That Reese was still a baby himself and that he had to comprehend death and carry those feelings in his little heart that day and those days after. The questions he had…I remember holding him next to me during Chase's funeral and Reese listening so intent to the preacher and then looking up at me and asking me if it was Chase on Jesus' lap in the picture and if he was in Heaven now. He was too little to have to bear that and go through all of it. It wasn't fair. And when I see Beckham's eagerness to see his new baby give him his present and hold him, I see Reese and what should have been happening when Chase was born. And my niece Gracie is just a year younger than Karly was when Chase was born and it seemed like Karly was so much older.
I don't know why our minds trick us this way, maybe to protect us. I want to believe that they were "grown up" and old enough to handle what was dealt to us--because they did and the were all amazing through it all and they still are. But the truth was they were just babies themselves. They never should have had to travel the paths they did. Children should not know that kind of pain and tragedy. It breaks my heart today just the same as it did five years ago. I failed them because as the parent I am supposed to protect them. And not only did I not protect Chase that day, I watched them get hurt, too. It devastates me. I am so sorry. As parents, we make mistakes and I think we realize we're not perfect. But this was something that was never supposed to happen and I couldn't fix it. And I never will be able to. And I don't think they look at their new cousin thinking these things, but I can't help myself. My kids were hurt. All of them. And that's the worst feeling in the world for a parent.
April is knocking on the door and I know I'm getting emotional about that already. I can't believe how the years are flying by and I feel like Jan to the end of April are full speed downhill ride. I don't want these years to fly by. I want to enjoy them and while I'm trying to do that with Owen, it's just as important I do with the older kids. I want to remember these elementary and middle school years as fun and amazing. I love them all the same, regardless of age. I hope they know that. April is just a reminder to when our world shattered into a thousand pieces while we watched everyone and everything else go on around us as if nothing changed. But we had. We had to pick ourselves up and start over, at the same time we continued on with our lives as best we could.
So I look at this new birth as a beautiful miracle….but also as a reminder that we all were kind of reborn. Not in a beautiful, everlasting, enlightening kind of way but in a you-have-to-keep-going kind of way. And we made it. We are here. But we will never forget our little boy. He is deep in our hearts and there he will stay. Missing him more today than yesterday and feeling his presence in each other and in our beautiful surroundings. I love you, little man. Until we meet again….