He would be seven

It is impossible to imagine what he would be like today. Whenever I try, I just picture Mo but a little bit bigger. I imagine that he'd be sweet because he was sweet. I imagine that he'd be easy because he was easy. But I'll never know. That thought alone - that I'll never know - makes me feel sick. When I think about not knowing him, this person who I felt I'd known better than anyone, I feel sick.

When our rabbi friend came to the hospital to help us say goodbye to Maxie, I asked him how long it would take before I could incorporate this loss into my life. I literally meant - when will this not feel like I am living in a nightmare anymore? He said, based on his experience suddenly and unexpectedly losing his wife, "seven years".

Seven years. SEVEN YEARS. At that time, I could not imagine seven years. I couldn't imagine how I would get through the next seven minutes. And life remained that way for a LONG time - not knowing how I would get through the remaining hours of the day. Sometimes I would try to imagine how I would get through a whole life (because it felt impossible) - but trying to imagine that was too huge. It still is. I could only focus on the time that was directly in front of me.

It still has not been seven years. It's been 6 years and change. And I know there has been an enormous shift - no matter how slow and gradual its been. (SO SLOW & SO GRADUAL). I think this is the first year that I feel like I can say that I am happy most of the time. I am not in a state of panic about the health and safety of my living children all of the time. I don't feel as though I am living in a nightmare. I don't. But I miss him as much, or more, than ever. The sadness I feel at having lost him is more real all of the time. And though I don't live in a nightmare - most days are actually happy and full of things to feel joyful about - I am definitely living a different reality than most people I know.

I would give anything for a glimpse at what life would have been like with my seven year old Max. I still believe he is waiting for me. I hope he knows that I am patiently waiting for him.

It's important to me that you know

If you met me today, you'd think I was happy. Even if you heard that I'd lost a child, or found out after you friended me on Facebook, or I sat right down and told you. I'm not saying you'd like me or that knowing about what I've been through wouldn't make you feel weird (I can tell it makes people feel weird). I am just saying, you might assume that we'd made peace with our loss. We've had three children since, they are very cute and happy kids, we hang out with friends, go out for occasional date nights, laugh a lot.....our lives seem normal and good. For the most part I guess I would say you'd be right. We are happy. We have a really solid marriage and we are grateful that our loss brought us closer together, rather than further apart. We adore our children. We have some amazing people in our lives that support us.

But, Max is always there. Missing him is always right below the surface of every thought and moment. And, I am not sure why it is so important for me to make sure that you know that, because it doesn't change one thing at all for you think that he isn't. But, somehow, I need you to know that I am never not thinking about him. Never ever. Even when you think I am thinking about something else - I am thinking about him. This is one of the reasons that I often seem distracted, why I forget things even more than I did before, why I may not always seem completely engaged. I have learned to be in two places at once. Sometimes I think to myself, "I can't believe I am not thinking about him right now", which is, of course, still a form of THINKING ABOUT HIM.

His absence is everywhere and ever present. Above our kitchen counter floats a butterfly balloon that we kept after "celebrating" Maxie's birthday in October. One wing has deflated, but the other keeps it hovering. I am sure it will be in our kitchen until every last pocket of air is gone. There are times when his absence feels more obvious: When I sing my children to sleep, when I read them Goodnight Moon, when I'm in the presence of six year old boys, when I see on Facebook what the kids that were born at the same time as him are up to, when I register my second born child for Kindergarten. But he is also right there in less obvious times - as I am sitting at my computer, driving to the market, out to dinner, laughing my head off, comforting a friend, watching television, reading a book.

I don't want you to think I've forgotten him because I want you to know that he was unforgettable. I don't want you to think that I am fine and happy without him because he was the center of my heart. I want you to know that this pain is something I will carry around forever - and that it's ok because that's the way it should be. Sometimes I want you to know how much I still hurt because I am hoping you might be a little more forgiving with me or think about how the things you say might strike a chord in me. But, more than that, I want you to know that nothing at all will ever feel as big as him dying and leaving this world before I ever had the chance to do with him whatever it is that I'm doing right now.