I can’t watch my children sleep.
I tried again last night. It was sweet Ian, awoken from his slumber by a bad dream or maybe tummy troubles. He just needed the kitty and for his mommy to hold him and back to sleep he quickly went. As I was holding him in my arms, I forced myself to look at him – to really look at him.
I saw those big beautiful eyelids hiding baby blues that almost daily steal my breath from me. I saw the little white-blond hairs lying so peacefully on his forehead, one little curl stealing away by his ear and demanding full attention. I saw the little nose, his favorite body part (for now) to say and push and pick. I saw his little red mouth beginning the journey from little o to capital O as the breaths grew longer and deeper.
And then I saw Kate.
I always do when they are this age. I have had three children since losing her and this age is so, so difficult to bear with everyone of them. This is how old she was. At that time. On that night. And then not again.
As they get older it’s the breathing. Always checking the breathing. And it rattles me every time. I fight the fear, but it is there. And it feels real. I know it is not from God. And I pray, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.” And he hears me. And I sleep once more. Just like six years ago. He takes mercy on my weary, fearful, heart-crushed soul and lets me rest. And I awake to another day. And another night.
I have fought this within myself. I should not have fear. God is in control. I feel his comforting presence; I know his hand upon my shoulder. So what is there to fear? I might lose another one. I might lose another one. I might lose another one. I might lose another one. Words I don’t ever say aloud, but that reside in that fearful place I cling to…when I’m too strong…when I make it all about me…when I forget to let God in…
Eucharisteo - the daily pursuit of recognizing God’s blessings. I fight this. I fight God. This fear gives me a sense of control! I don’t want to find thanks in this! I don’t want to be blessed. I want to be afraid…because I recognize that feeling. I don’t know how to be thankful for this, God. I need some help here.
Life without Kate has become my new normal. And navigating this new path feels treacherous at times. Feels unfamiliar. Feels overwhelming. But what choice is there, really? When I let in the fear, the guilt; I stop. It’s as if I have put a large boulder in front of my own self, blocking my path. There. Now THAT is how I control things. bam.
I am thankful that I am Kate’s mommy.
but will I be again?
I am thankful for Sydney’s hugs burrowed into my chest when once they only reached my knees.
but is it enough?
I am thankful for Paige’s eyes that light up when she sees her baby brother every morning.
but for how long?
I am thankful for Ty’s versions of worship songs integrated with Star Wars and Mario.
I am thankful for Colt’s sincere prayers for Yo Gabba Gabba and candy.
I am thankful for Ian’s spontaneous “thank-you’s.”
I am…thankful. And blessed. And beloved. And honored to be living this little ordinary life. Eucharisteo. The fearful questions roll away and I begin down the path once again. Never alone. I am thankful that I had her and I am thankful that I held her in sacred slumber. I am thankful for every breath taken by those little beings I call mine. I am thankful for their sleep; their rest. I may not be able to watch it; but I can be thankful for it.
It’s my new normal.