Today. Today my sister comes. I get to spend the day with my family. Before, when we had days like these, I enjoyed it thoroughly, but missed its significance. My sister and I understand each other on nearly every level. And although Dad would say that we talk incessantly, we often communicate without the need for words. This remains true for the two of us, despite the pain we've recently endured. We're still close, though perhaps not in the same way. We still resonate with the feelings the other is experiencing, whether or not we can fully experience them ourselves. And we still enjoy being together, just the two of us. But it's not just the two of us anymore, and it probably never will be again. Now, grief comes along and butts in on our visits, and because it is a life all its own, it is difficult to ignore.
Today. Today my sister comes. She'll bring her husband and her children. The kids will likely come bounding through the door, excited to see us and receive a hug from each of their cousins. But the match up will be uneven. It shouldn't be, but it is. My sister will come through the door with four children. And they will be received by three of mine. This day will be full of reminders that he is "always all around us." That fact will be both comforting and evident, while also being painful and wildly untrue. He may be there in the excited conversation of our children. He may show himself by way of flashing a few recognizable symbols our way. But, I have to ask, when those four children run through the door to greet mine, will one of them wait their turn for a hug? Or will each one have someone to cling to? I can answer that, because I've watched this happen several times. The answer is, he won't be there. Not in the way I will desperately need him to be.
Today. Today my sister comes. We'll watch my children play several different sports today and their cousins will be there to cheer for them. They'll see recognizable faces in the stands and do their best to impress, while the adults know that most of the onlookers are more interested in the contents of Grandma's purse and the game time popcorn they'll receive. I'll smile and be happy. I'll cry and be slayed. I'll enjoy watching my healthy, happy children play the games that they love and I'll mourn the one who never took a step on his own.
Today. Today my sister comes. She'll be coming from her new home that is an hour away from us. I hate her for leaving us when we'd already lost so much, and I love her beyond measure for having the foresight to change my scenery. Visiting her at her new house is a treat for my children, but it angers them that we have to drive "so far." I walk in and breathe a sigh of relief that I'm entering a house with no haunting memories. I silently thank her for that gift, while my heart breaks at the thought of the motivation behind it.
Today. Today my sister comes. She'll bring with her, my nephew. He brings the count to four. He is the one who tipped the scales toward that foreign ratio. I love him and he hurts me. I fear touching him and I can't wait to snuggle up close and smell his baby sweetness. It isn't because he's a boy. That wouldn't have mattered either way. It's because he is the only one who wasn't here when Easton was. He's the new family member. The "after" family member. He's the reminder. The replacement. But of course he doesn't feel like a replacement. To me, his physical presence feels somehow lop-sided. He'll never know my son. No matter how many times we tell him, and no matter how much we wish for it to be true, he'll never have his own stories of life with Easton. He'll come into my mom's house and play with the toys my son just put down. I swear it was just a minute ago. Watching him will cut at my heart and fill me with a peace that overflows, all at the same time. He doesn't move the same as my son. For every limitation that Easton had, Clark is a step ahead in his motor development. That is beautiful and hurtful. It makes me seethe with anger and sigh with relief and gratitude. Today I will hug him and hold him. I will chase him and pull him onto my lap. I will probably cry into his hair, as I often do. And though he never knew my boy, he will look at me with that strange calm that he often does. That look that makes me know he is wise beyond his years, and I will wonder once again, if he can see the playmate that I so desperately wanted him to have.
Today. Today my sister comes. I'm excited and fearful. I'm energized and immobilized. I will get to spend time with the person who knows more intricate parts of me than nearly anyone else in the world. I'll be there with her and her four children. I'll wonder why that is, at times. I'll wonder why it's ok for her to have four, but not acceptable for me. I'll hate her for that, and be grateful that it's true. She'll know that. She'll understand and she'll silently ask the same question. We'll laugh and tease our dad. We'll make jokes with Mom. I'll enjoy the ease with which we can communicate, and I'll endure each terribly difficult step it takes for me to be present in the given moment. And I'll look up and ask my boy for strength, and if he has some time today, to please let me know he sees us.
Today. Today my sister comes...