We don't talk about Alex as though he were something special anymore. Now, don't get me wrong, we know he's special. But we talk about him now in the same way we talk about Sam...as our son...not as the defining experience of ourselves.
I remember when I was pregnant and everything about him was special. His kicks, his weight on my spleen, his impending arrival, his bedroom...it was all covered with a bright shiny newness that made us look around and smile. Life was ours to live and we knew exactly how it was going to be. We reveled in discussing the shiny happy possibilities.
When Alex died, we talked. We cried and we talked and we tried to understand one another. A sense of urgency to return to normal versus a sense of emptiness that prevented normal from ever happening again. Life suddenly became something to survive, and we had no idea where we were headed. For a while it seemed as though we were headed in different directions and I was more scared than I have ever been in my life. It was as though our very existence revolved around our communicating how we felt with one another.
I now realize that a new happiness has found its way into our home. A new normal has come to stay.
Last night, in the middle of some sarcastic comment about why I should appreciate him more, Steve said, quite normally, "...because I sired your two children." And, quite normally, I laughed at the silliness of the thought of me appreciating him more...when I already worship his feet and kiss his...
It was all so...normal.
In those precious few months we knew Alex, we loved him and anticipated his living with us (little did we know the key word would be LIVING). When things went so horribly wrong, I remember asking people, "How do I just go on with my life like nothing happened? How do I go back to who I was?" And I remember being frustrated because there was no answer that satisfied me. Nobody could tell me what to do with that shiny newness that had turned to such absolute crap.
So we did the work. We found a way to tuck that happy anticipation in a box of memories and close the lid. What we were left with in its place was a sort of rusty awkwardness that we didn't quite know what to do with. So...We talked and we cried and we tried to make sense of it together. We don't do that anymore.
It seems we have found a place to exist where it is a part of our lives without engulfing our entire existence. We have found a way to rub the rust off the grief and make it something presentable. I think it sits on the shelf next to the box that contains the shiny happiness. We know they are both there, even if everyone else breezes by without noticing.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm not sure how I feel about this new normal. Have I moved on too fast? What's to be gained by making strides forward OR backward? Shouldn't we talk more? Do we talk too much? Do I really care?
Now I know why there were no answers to my first raw questions. Because you DON'T go back to your life...you move on in a different life...filled with doubts and fear and anxiety (and even happiness). And there IS a day when you don't talk about it. And there IS a day when you don't cry. But you know that you can, if you need to.
There is no magic fix. And my arms still ache to hold my beautiful boy. But we're alive...together and alive...and that's pretty darn good considering the circumstances.